I would put down a SPOILER ALERT but we all know Superman died in BvS and that he returns in Justice League, the leaked set photos practically confirmed it… oh, and don’t forget that we saw him in the posters too.
Justice League tells the story of-
Why am I even explaining? You should know this; a bunch of heroes band together to stop a threat that neither of them could ever hope to face alone. Sound familiar?
No, I’m not talking about Avengers, I’m talking about our childhoods; the animated Justice League TV series, to be more specific. We all know the story in some regard.
Okay, maybe not everyone knows who Darkseid is, although if you’ve been keeping up with DC’s animated ‘direct to DVD’ films then you probably know who he is, but unless you’ve been reading the comics (and I mean REALLY reading the comics), chances are you haven’t got a clue who Steppenwolf is (no seriously, I don’t think he’s been seen or even mentioned since the start of DC Rebirth; Steppenwolf barely has a proper origins story, even in the original comics, we don’t really know what his deal is and we hardly see him all that much in the New 52 either, he was just never all that popular or well known). And you might know some of the New Gods by name if you’ve seen Smallville or Young Justice (the latter of which is FINALLY getting a third season, YAY!!!).
And don’t worry, even I had to do a double take when I saw him in the first Justice League trailer.
Steppenwolf is Darkseid’s uncle, and his greatest general; he is in charge of the entirety of Darkseid’s army. Don’t ask me how Darkseid turned his uncle into his glorified servant, because that is a whole other can of worms. And so are the Motherboxes, those deserve an entire article all by themselves. Along with the New Gods, they’d need several articles all to themselves if I were to explain them properly.
See the problem here? I don’t really want to compare Marvel to DC (seeing as I loyally read comics on both sides and watch all the related films) but I’m going to have to point out an itsy bitsy problem: DC is trying to do in just five films what has taken Marvel seventeen (soon to be eighteen) films to do: setting up the big bad. And I’ll be honest, Justice League manages this, if only just barely, but there is so much stuff that you just wouldn’t understand unless you’ve been paying attention to DC’s other forms of media (being their animated films, TV series – both live-action and animated – or the comics themselves). Darkseid isn’t even mentioned by name, so newcomers to the fandom have no frigging clue who Steppenwolf is and what he means for the DCEU, let alone who Luthor was talking to in the second post-credits scene (yes, there are two, so make sure to stick around) and what that means for the DCEU.
In short: Justice League needed more setting up before diving right into making New Gods references. We need to see Batman and one of his Robins (personally, I’m looking forward to Damien, but we still have to meet Dick, Tim and Jason, although it is confirmed that Batman has already lost a few Robins, so we’ll see where that picks up); we need to see Cyborg fighting Grid; Superman fighting Cyborg Superman (or maybe take the opportunity to set up the Multiverse and introduce Red Son Superman); Wonder Woman fighting Cheetah (maybe do Cheetah’s redemption? Which she got so close to in the comics recently); Barry picking the name ‘Flash’, fighting Reverse-Flash and clearing his father’s name. There was so much that needed to be done and Warner Bros is just glossing over it all; with the first Flash film to be titled ‘Flashpoint’ (which is arguably one of the more important story arcs in DC comics history), the first Green Lantern film will follow the Blackest Night story (another very important story arc); they aren’t even taking the time to properly set the Green Lanterns up (and Blackest Night requires more than just the Greenies, the Blue, Pink, Indigo, Black, Orange, Yellow and White Lanterns also have a steak in that story).
Enough complaining about that, time for the movie itself.
Bringing Superman back from the dead probably wasn’t Batman’s smartest move, at least, it doesn’t seem like it at first. Sure, it all worked out well in the end but I’m still not happy with it. Those who have read the comics will know that bringing people back from the dead often involves that person never really being quite the same again – Aquaman mentions this in the film; but what irritates me is that Supes was crazy for all of half a minute (his three line monologue to Batman was amazing though) and then he’s fine again. I half expected him to kill someone or at least be all sulky for a good deal of the movie but no.
One thing I appreciated but still think could have been done better was Cyborg. When we first see him in Justice League, he’s all “I can’t let people see me, I’ll never have a normal life again. I hate you for this, dad!”, but then at some point, he just flips a switch and everything is alright. On the one hand, I’m thankful he wasn’t angsty throughout the movie, that’s not what we paid for, but on the other I would at least like to see his change of heart or what it was that made him change – then again, being part machine it should be possible for him to just flip a switch and be OK; but where’s the fun in that?
Oh, and we finally got to see Bruce Wayne!
Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘dude, Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person, you should know this, it’s common knowledge’.
And I do know that. But the point of having an alter-ego is that they are very different from you. This was one of my biggest issues with BvS; there was little to no distinction between Batman and Bruce Wayne; but in Justice League, we start to see the difference, little by little.
Onto Superman, and boy, do we have a problem here. Notice how Supes always has this smug little smile on his face? Superman is supposed to exude confidence, but the only vibes I’m getting from Henry Cavill’s Superman is arrogance (even if only a little); this was a problem that my fellow moviegoers also experienced (I just love going with friends, hearing other opinions, it’s amazing, certainly helps me make my writing better).
Dressed like ‘not-Batman: The Animated Series’ Aquaman, thank goodness. Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman is the Arthur Currie we didn’t know we needed. What I loved about Aquaman is that Justice League simplified him while still leaving room for more; we find out he can swim really fast, he takes pity on humans but wouldn’t mind if the Earth was completely covered in water, can technically talk to fish, has yet to take his place as King of Atlantis and had his backstory very quickly and off-handedly explained in a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moment. That was all we needed and it was all we got. Presumably, Aquaman’s first solo film will follow the story of him taking the Throne (Throne of Atlantis, anyone?), but looking at DCEU’s roster for upcoming films, they might just skip that part and jump right into Prince Orm attempting to usurp the Throne (Spoilers? I guess?).
Wonder Woman was spectacular, as one would expect after watching her solo film. She’s evidently still a bit salty after losing Steve but she didn’t have, nor need, any real character development this time around.
Although, in the same way she’s been carrying the DCEU, she did most of the heavy lifting when it came to fighting Steppenwolf.
All in all, Justice League was actually a very good film and I would definitely watch it if I noticed it was on TV, but if I had to choose from all the movies that came out this year, I’d probably go for Logan or Spider-Man: Homecoming.