I’m not a comic-book-superhero kind of guy. I don’t know the difference between the Marvel characters and the DC characters. I don’t get excited when there’s some new movie in their universes. That said, I occasionally see movies like this, knowing that I’m not going to be as excited about them as the vast majority of the audience is. I go in with low expectations, though there have been times when I’ve walked out satisfied, such as the first Christopher Reeve “Superman,” the first Michael Keaton “Batman,” the first Tobey Maguire “Spider-Man,” and the first Gal Gadot “Wonder Woman.” They each charmed me in different ways.
That brings us to “Justice League,” in which DC brings six of its superheroes together: Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gadot), Superman (Henry Cavill), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Aquaman (Jason Mamoa). The latter three are new to the screen, which means we have to go through mini-origin stories of those characters. Of them, Miller is the only one worth watching, as he provides some much-needed comic relief, while Mamoa just comes off as the buffest surfer of all time reciting incredibly stupid lines. As for Fisher, he’s hampered by a character that’s under-written and as confusing as he is confused.
Wonder Woman is undeniably the star of the movie, and Gal Godot has proven her worth. Her standalone movie, released nine months ago, is one of the biggest earners of the year, and “Justice League” works best whenever she’s on screen. However, I hated the way the camera occasionally panned up her body to show us how great she looks — that’s the difference between having Zack Snyder direct your movie and having Patty Jenkins behind the scenes. Arguably the most popular actress in the world, Gadot now has the power to ensure she isn’t treated that way by directors in the future, just as she’s refused to reprise the role if producer Brett Ratner (who’s been accused of multiple sexually inappropriate incidents with other actresses) is anywhere near the project.
Ironically, Affleck is better as Bruce Wayne than he is as Batman. For some reason, when he’s in the cape and cowl, he uses a gruff deep voice (which is then electronically enhanced). Perhaps it’s to make him sound bigger and tougher, but it didn’t work in the previous chapters, and still doesn’t. He does have one good line: when Mamoa asks what his superpower is, Affleck replies, “I’m rich.”
Considering that its predecessors were all too dark and serious, I was happy to see more humorous moments like that in “Justice League,” as well as some good rapport between Batman and Wonder Woman and The Flash. The supporting cast includes JK Simmons, who I usually like, but seems out of place as Commissioner Gordon, since I still associate him with the Spider-Man universe, in which he has played newspaper editor Jonah Jameson several times.
Unfortunately for “Justice League,” its villain, Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), is quite possibly the worst movie villain I have ever seen. He’s some kind of horned demon, or a demon with a horned hat or something. Whatever he is, Steppenwolf is, of course, bent on the destruction of mankind and blah blah blah. He’s boring, the CGI is terrible, and the flying mosquitoes around him only reminded me of the flying monkeys in “The Wizard of Oz.” The movie is also burdened with the idiotic decision to kill Superman in its previous chapter, but I won’t spoil how it’s handled (except to say it’s not well done).
Remember, though, my expectations for these movies aren’t high, and I’m more than willing to just sit back and see if they entertain me at all. Despite the above objections, “Justice League” mostly did. Maybe the series can go forward now with
this group of six central superheroes, forget about any more origin stories, and rely more on character interaction than CGI mayhem.
I give “Justice League” a 5 out of 10.