Before Birds of Prey hits theaters we’re looking back at the entire DCEU, next up we look at Justice League.
There are a lot of reasons to dislike Justice League. The DCEU had yet to establish itself in the way that Marvel’s Cinematic Universe had. The DCEU also had two major failures in the form of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad before Justice League came along. The film does at times feel too funny, as if DC was trying hard to change course. There’s not much story surrounding the villain Steppenwolf, and the storylines for the rest of the cast are a little weak. Superman also seems to show up and just fix everything. But those details aren’t enough to bring the film down to the level many have set it at.
Justice League is a perfect way of bringing the team together and introducing us to Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg. Each character gets a moment or two to shine, and we get enough of their backstories to understand who they are and it never feels out of place; their reasons for coming together make sense. Overall, the uniting of the team and the stories for each of its members aren’t bad. The real issue is that it would be nice to have more, but you can’t fault a film for leaving you wanting more of a character — that’s a good value to have.
In terms of Superman, it’s hard to argue the case that his arrival in the middle of the film really hinders things. The film builds up his return pretty early on. The first scene of the film–despite being incredibly weak and full of crappy CGI thanks to mustache-gate–establishes that Superman is an important presence. It does so in a way that also shows we’re leading back to him. Yes, when he arrives he seems to take over the fight against Steppenwolf, and it seems like the team almost doesn’t need to be a thing because Superman can do a lot of the work on his own, but this sets up the idea that they need this team because Superman is gone. It doesn’t need to explain what they do when he returns yet; that’s something that can be explored down the line.
Steppenwolf may not be a strong character, and his storyline and motivations may be weak, but he doesn’t need to be strong. He just needs to be a force for the team to unite against. He does that. Is his CGI perfect? No. Do we care about him at all? Also no. But in no way is that the point. He’s a means to an end, which is solely to bring the team together and give them someone to punch at. He does that, and for that reason, he works.
There are a lot of moments of levity within the film, but in taking the film as it is, these moments work. They’re often true to each character. Barry Allen is the source of most of the comedic moments and one-liners, and it establishes him as a funny kid that’s still trying to understand his place in this world of heroes. Most of the other characters get at least one line that has a little bit of a comedic bite to it, but few of them ever feel out of place.
Justice League does have some flaws, but overall, the flaws within the film are no bigger than the flaws of any movie that isn’t a “perfect film.” Looking back on it now, it’s actually disappointing that the film didn’t do as well as it could have. It’s also disappointing that there are no plans as of now to make a sequel to the film, as most of the issues people had with the film would likely be forgotten if it was simply the first in a series. As time goes on, Justice League will likely become more favored by fans and critics. But given its proximity to BvS and Suicide Squad, and the comparisons to The Avengers and Marvel’s world-building in the MCU, it feels as though the film was doomed to fail from the beginning.
Justice League is currently available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital.
Be sure to keep following us throughout the week as we look at the DCEU leading up to this weekend’s release of Birds of Prey.