You can’t be faulted for going into Justice League with serious reservations. It had a tumultuous shoot, with a extreme amount of reshoots. It was (mostly) directed by Zack Snyder, whose work on The Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the Hollywood definition from going from bad to worse. It is packed with characters, some we are just meeting for the first time, each hero bringing along at least one . Its reviews are horrid. So you might walk into the theater–or avoid seeing it entirely–because you think it will be awful.
I’m here to say that you can rest easy. While the film isn’t as good as Wonder Woman, or most Marvel films, it is better than the other DC Extended Universe offerings. I know, a low bar to step over, but this film is a good, fun action film.
Ages ago, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) attacked Earth and tried to remake it in the dystopian image of his home world using three “Mother Boxes” of unimaginable power. He was only stopped by the combined power of the Amazons, the Atlanteans, and the humans, with some help from the Mythological Gods and a certain ring-wearing alien. Steppenwolf retreated, but vowed to return when the Earth was at its darkest point in order to finish the job he started. A world in mourning due to the death of the Man of Steel is dark enough, and the boxes awaken a summon their master back. Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) start rallying a team to take on the world-destroyer, but soon realize that without Superman on their side, they don’t have the chance.
The film benefits from a lightening of mood from previous Snyder-helmed installments. Those films suffocated under the weight of their own self-importance. This film seems like a breezy situation comedy by comparison, and I mean that as a complement. The lighter tone allows Snyder and company to present characters much closer to their comic book counterparts. Batman is back to being a brilliant tactician, natural leader, and cares about lives of others. Wonder Woman is the warrior with a heart of gold. Cyborg is the damaged, self-pitying man he was in some issues of the Wolfman/Perez era of New Teen Titans.
And then there’s Aquaman, who is quite the break from the way he appears in the comics. I was probably most concerned about what appeared to be Jason Momoa’s “Roadie for Metallica” take on the character. And it might have been an issue if another actor other than Momoa in the role, my concerns might have been justified. But Momoa’s take works and we are given enough of a reason for his personality that it becomes believable.
Could there have been more character development? Sure. But we get enough to get the point across. We get a brief taste of their backstories that told me enough but left me wanting to continue their story. I almost expected a caption box to appear on the bottom right of the screen that read, “To find out more about Aquaman’s origins, see his film in 2018′
I was also concerned that the film would have become a big game of “Is it Snyder or is it Whedon,” especially after Rich‘s review. But I didn’t find it choppy at all. My mind seldom wandered from the narrative. Sure, there are enough Whedonesque moments in the film if you care to look, but it wasn’t as big an issue as you’d think.
I can see why reviewers didn’t like it. There are plenty of nits to pick if you want to look for them. But the overall film is a fun ride with good character interaction, exciting fight scenes, and enough Easter Eggs to keep comic fans on their toes. This isn’t the comic book film version of Hamlet, but for the first time it is not trying to be. And it is a better film for it.