Marvel has Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the Avengers, but DC has the Trinity — arguably, the three most important and popular comic book heroes in comic book history.
Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck), and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) — who made an appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice finally join forces with Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to fight cosmic invaders in an action-packed but fluffy movie that ultimately fails to shoulder the momentum of this year’s breakout Wonder Woman film.
With the world in turmoil after Superman’s death, fear has risen to new heights. Who will protect Earth from the incoming alien forces being called by the powerful Mother Boxes?
It’s up to Batman to find out. Traveling the globe as Batman and Bruce Wayne, the Dark Knight hopes to build a superteam to stop the extra-terrestrial Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds) from collecting the boxes into one construct that will redesign Earth into a fiery landscape more fitting for his kind.
After succeeding in securing two boxes, Steppenwolf goes for the third box, which has been found and placed in a secret lab by the scientist Silas Stone who uses its power to resurrect his son into the human-tech hybrid, Steel.
Yet, once the squad is gathered, the Justice League come up short against a superior force. They realize that winning will require the impossible — they’ll need to bring an old friend back to life.
Ultimately, Justice League feels more like a reaction to years of criticism rather than a step forward for the DCEU. Director Zack Snyder and fill-in director Joss Whedon have dialed back on the dark DC universe by adding more brighter colors along with more humor and theatrics to create a package that’s more in-tune with Marvel-friendly crowds.
Our heroes not only feel more comfortable in their own skin, they smile, joke, and use banter.
But underneath that shinier, happier veneer, Justice League doesn’t offer much else besides a flat plot that serves merely to connect action sequences together. Fans of the previous DCEU movies will be disappointed to see everything that made up those movies — the seriousness, the urgency, and character development that examined the cores of its character — jettisoned and replaced with imitation Avengers.
It’s a shame especially given the fact that its greatest star gets lost in the shuffle. Batman, a little bit kinder and gentler after finding a friend whose mother was named Martha, seems a little lost. It’s not clear if Batman’s the leader or suicidal odd-man on the way out. His sole purpose in Justice League is to form the team, and from there on, stick out like a sore thumb. In the comics, he’s the team’s chief executor — the tactician and chief strategist who becomes only the second person in the DC Universe to escape Darkseid’s Omega Sanction.
Instead, he delegates leadership to Wonder Woman, has his tech commandeered by Cyborg, and spends a good portion fighting off a couple random minions while the rest of the group takes on the big bad. Even as Bruce Wayne, his opinions and decisions are constantly challenged by his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons), the moral and rationale counterpart to his paranoia, egotism, and regret-filled existence.
As Batman goes, so does the rest of the film. After Superman is resurrected, the day is won. If the modern-day criticism is that Superman’s too powerful, Justice League doesn’t do him any, ahem, justice. The team goes from not having a chance to winning the war as soon as the Big Blue signs with the team.
Filled with regret for not winning at the box office, Warner Bros. has shifted their approach, swinging the pendulum far to the other side to make a movie that is more than Marvel at its worst — formulaic and with no impact.
Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman deserve much better. After seeing this movie, it felt like they deserve a little justice of their own.
Justice League (2017)
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Screenplay: Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Exra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, Amber Heard, and Joe Morton