Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE Is Like Reading a One-Shot Comic Book But In Live Action

***This review contains things that could be viewed as small spoilers, but nothing too specific.***

I need to preface you on what was going through my mind while on the way to the theater to see JUSTICE LEAGUE. During the drive, my inner monologue was something along the lines of, "Please don't suck, this could easily suck, please don't suck, this could easily suck..."

Before you start screaming at me for what went through my mind, I'm just being honest. Especially after I was letdown by BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and SUICIDE SQUAD.

Like I said, there was a back-and-forth in my head on my way to the screening and now I can say that I somewhat enjoyed JUSTICE LEAGUE. I didn't like it as much as WONDER WOMAN but it was better than BATMAN V. SUPERMAN and SUICIDE SQUAD. In my opinion, SUICIDE SQUAD is such a low point for Warner Bros. and DC, there was no place to go but up. And since then, WONDER WOMAN and now JUSTICE LEAGUE are both positives for the DCEU.

As the headline says, "JUSTICE LEAGUE is like reading a one-shot comic book but in live action." Let me explain. If you've never read a one-shot comic it is a single issue, self-contained story that is very basic, succinct and to the point. It allows you to get into a single issue and get out with some hopeful comic book entertainment at the end of 20-plus pages. This is how I feel after seeing JUSTICE LEAGUE. It is as basic of a story as you can possibly have in a superhero movie. Its story is as follows: Steppenwolf wants the three Mother Boxes, Batman needs a team to stop him, puts together a team, the Justice League is born and fight the bad guy. That's it. Very basic, very straight forward, and nothing to contemplate.

There is some context provided about the Mother Boxes (they're powerful) as well as Steppenwolf and his Parademons (they like to conquer worlds), but it's so simplistic of a back story it's irrelevant because all you want to see is the heroes together. Speaking of Steppenwolf, if you seriously think Marvel Studios has a villain problem, the DCEU's is much worse because this is just another similar humanoid/alien/demon villain that has been recycled in each of the last three DCEU films (Steppenwolf, Ares, and Incubus). The exception is MAN OF STEEL. In fact, MAN OF STEEL has the DCEU's best villain so far in General Zod. Mainly because he was a real person and not a motion capture, CG creation. I will add that Lex Luthor was terrible, but I do have hope his time in Arkham Asylum will somewhat change his character into more of a Gene Hackman homage performance. I digress.

It's the heroes that are the focus of this movie. Wonder Woman is so perfectly played. She dominates the screen like no other and is the DCEU's greatest hero. I think the only other hero who comes close to her is Superman, who needs a sequel more than any other hero in the DCEU right now to help continue to fix his character.

Superman is not in the movie that much — explaining why he's been missing in much of the marketing — so it is hard to judge how well Warner Bros. and DC did on their "soft reboot" of his character. When he comes back to life it is the best action sequence in the entire movie. Especially a fun moment between him and the Flash, but I'll leave that for you to enjoy while in your theater seat. I really like Henry Cavill as Superman and want him to be more optimistic and hopeful. It takes a moment to come to fruition, but by the end of the movie it seems like a much better and improved Superman character could be coming in his next appearance, which is hopefully MAN OF STEEL 2. Superman deserves to be more like Christopher Reeve than a pouty hero as he's previously been in the DCEU. Let Batman do all the pouting, please.

Full disclosure, I'm not a fan of Ben Affleck's Batman and Bruce Wayne. I wasn't a fan in BATMAN V. SUPERMAN and had hope he would be better in JUSTICE LEAGUE, but he seems to be going through the paces on his path to leaving the role sooner than later. Another thing I do not like about this Batman is that he keeps going up against super-powered enemies and he's just a rich dude with expensive toys, which makes him the weakest link in the big action scenes of JUSTICE LEAGUE. In one moment with Superman, he shows up late because he doesn't have any real powers and is slower than everyone else. Batman is at his best when against his own rogue's gallery instead of these powered-up threats.

The Flash is all the fun in this film and, with the exception of his weird slo-mo running style at times, actor Ezra Miller is fantastic every time he has lines. He also looks like the one character, besides Wonder Woman, who really enjoys who they are. Lots of grumpy, frumpy, brooding from others.

Aquaman is pretty cool but the jury is still out, too. This is not the fault of actor Jason Momoa, but his character backstory and development is really being saved for his own solo movie; which is the next DCEU film in December 2018. I will say that his "bro" moments in the trailers, teasers and TV spots are it in the movie so he's really not as "bro" as marketing makes him out to be. (I'll be come back around to talk about the film's marketing in a moment.)

Cyborg is the one hero who feels like he got the short end of the stick since there were so many other new heroes who also needed screen time. So I have to give him a big "meh" for now. Maybe he will show up in a future movie, or his solo movie will get back in the development track, and he can get some more character work.

Let me get back to the marketing of this movie. After seeing JUSTICE LEAGUE I can now say that Warner Bros. marketing failed this movie because the movie has better moments than what the marketing showed you. Sure, you might have been excited going into this film because it's the freakin' Justice League, but, for me, the marketing is a big part of the reason I kept telling myself, "Please don't suck, this could easily suck, please don't suck, this could easily suck..." over and over again. I understand that nobody wants too much revealed through pre-release marketing, I certainly don't, but at the same time Warner Bros. could have created more pre-release hype had they shown more of the interactions between the heroes. These interactions were an enjoyable part of the movie and one that is its highlight despite its shortcomings in story and its villain.

Overall, you should see JUSTICE LEAGUE in the theater at least once. Although, it's story is so basic it might not be enough to get moviegoers into a theater seat more than one time. And yet, some of the action and hero banter might get some return views.

A couple of final thoughts:

  • The only time I could see some Henry Cavill mustache removal CG, from reshoots, was at the very beginning of the film. And it did look really bad.
  • There is no "Martha" moment.
  • That one look you think is happening with Superman is not happening at all; which is a damn shame.
  • The first credits scene is perfect and ripped straight from the comics.
  • The final credits scene, I won't spoil it right now, definitely gave me some 1978 vibes; you'll see what I'm referring to this weekend.
  • I really do want a new actor for Batman, someone who doesn't look like he's "phoning it in."
  • Thank goodness Batman did not have a silver bat logo on his suit as shown in marketing images earlier this year.
  • I think if there's an extended cut release on Blu Ray it will be a much better movie, thus continuing the narrative that Warner Bros. does not release the best edit of the movie in theaters.
  • And I'll repeat this again... the DCEU now has a much worse villain problem than Marvel Studios.

Written by Daniel Wolf, Founder & Publisher