We all know that there were a lot of mixed feelings regarding Batman V Superman. My fellow critics in general hated it for its lack of humor and general bleakness. They seem to love Marvel movies and their generic, interchangeable, and predictable characters and plots without any real stakes. I obviously differ from them in that I adored Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, despite their flawed, overdrawn action set pieces. But DC decided to swing closer to the Marvel formula this time around, and in some ways I think they over-corrected. However, they did make a genuinely good film, despite those over-corrections and other flaws.
I also should preface this by saying that I am very bias towards DC in comics, TV, and film. I grew up with these characters and relate to them far more than Marvel and find everything about them more compelling.
Here’s the official plot synopsis:
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act,Bruce Wayne enlists newfound ally Diana Prince to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes — Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash — it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
The difference in tone from BVS to this is jarring in almost every way, to the point where I wondered whether Zach Snyder had directed any of it. I watched BVS this last week to prepare for watching JL and it honestly feels like a completely different franchise, for better or worse. And the tone is pretty uneven throughout the movie. Yet it still works solely because of ground work that he and Patty Jenkins laid in forming these rich characters and I suspect some tweaks made by Joss Whedon in the reshoots.
One of the best changes that JL made that differs from its predecessors is the brevity of the action scenes in Justice League. Both Man of Steel and Batman V Superman had some interesting action beats, but they went on far too long and were very repetitive. This is more akin to Wonder Woman‘s action, which was absolutely exquisite.
The visual effects have improved as well (although Henry Cavill’s much publicized digitally removed mustache is a bit noticeable in certain moments). Our site owner Kevin mentioned that the look of the movie was a bit bland, and I would have to agree with him. It honestly didn’t look like a stylized Zach Snyder picture as much as the trailers suggested it would. Indeed, there were scenes that actually felt like they were out of the Tim Burton Batman universe, which of course was helped along by Danny Elfman’s score.
As the trailers suggest, this movie is VERY funny. In fact, I would say it is funnier than all the other DC movies combined. Most of the time it worked. However, sometimes it didn’t. Marvel movies tend to puncture genuinely earnest heroic moments with humor, causing the scene to lose its effectiveness. I’m sad to report that this method happens a few times in Justice League, which is probably the work of Mr. Whedon. They over-corrected in this area, and mostly with Henry Cavill’s character, to its detriment.
The new characters are mostly home runs. Cyborg was a bit forgettable, but The Flash and Aquaman are really fantastic. They both are scene stealers, which Ezra Miller’s Flash just slaying his comedic bits. And of course Gal Gadot continues to shine as Wonder Woman. She oozes so much charisma and watching her on screen is a true joy.
Justice League is a fantastical yet flawed film. There are a few problems, but they get the characters right.