April 6-7, 2024
Written by Mark Beresford & Aleecia Jae Dawson
One could hardly be blamed for having their reservations about Warner Brothers’ Justice League, the chips simply could not have been stacked against this film much higher. Coming off the same production line that brought audiences a disjointed Batman v Superman and the hot mess of Suicide Squad, not to mention a visible loss of cast and company confidence alongside the personal tragedy suffered by director Zack Snyder before the films completion, the task of introducing multiple new major players at the same time as giving them a driver’s seat is a mammoth ask. Even the notable breakout success of Wonder Woman had not been enough to inspire confidence in the capabilities of the directive team during the build-up, with all things considered it ultimately felt tantamount to a case of too little, too late.
Somehow though, this cocktail of cacophony has managed to blend in just the right ways for a raucous and enjoyable DC Cinematic joyride. Maintaining the broody aesthetics and mature comic dialogue of Zack Snyder, the eccentric comedy screenplay antics of Joss Whedon and sprinkles of fan fodder from DC mastermind Geoff Johns, there’s an impacting balance of characters that propel the movie forward with an energetic force.
With the story picking up not long after the disaster ripples of Batman v Superman began to subside, with the world is beginning to descend into chaos at the loss of the man of steel. Bruce Wayne, inspired by the sacrifice made by Kent, heeds the warnings of impending doom from Diana Prince for the destructive force of a returning Steppenwolf and begins to bring together his group of unique metahumans.
Clearly, a great deal was learnt from past mistakes by the film’s creators as the team’s genesis feels light and nimble, each character getting just enough to bring them into the fold but not enough to bog the momentum, unlike the self-indulgence of prior movies. Delivering the impression of the expected ‘uniting’ movie clichés with even a simple scene of conversation, the shortened style of writing manages to cram all of the major elements needed for a collaboration of characters this large without robbing the audience of the experience.
Whilst it did feel slightly hasty and unexplained surrounding Aquaman’s backstory as well as leaving Cyborg a somewhat ineffable emotional puzzle, for others such as the previously dull Batfleck or the newcomer Barry Allen, it panned out phenomenally. Largely the comic relief for the majority of the film, Barry/The Flash is a complete scene stealer, soaking in Whedon comedy that is somewhat incredibly reminiscent of Xander Harris. The offbeat humour lifts the entire atmosphere of the film and brings the fun back to the franchise’s core, not to mention now having audiences salivating for his upcoming solo flick.
Pacing its action sequences well, the swinging camera angles and face to face brute force of Snyder’s magic still gleam under the enablement of big-budget power. The continual CGI usage is, for the most part, well integrated with the unfortunate expectation of the movie’s big bad, Steppenwolf. Ciarán Hinds brings an engaging performance as the all-powerful villain that is all too easily detracted from by the total CGI overhaul in every scene. The subtle changes amongst other characters are ignored as the minimalist use quickly flashes to the characters real-life version, however the saturation on Hinds is largely overpowering.
As much as the Marvel vs DC comparisons can be used with Justice League, ultimately, it’s a pointless exercise. Marvel launched The Avengers on the tail of five successful character introductions, all building to the single piece. DC have brought us their biggest milestone event on the back of one success and a large portion of its cast not yet properly introduced. Justice League may not be as earth-shattering as it’s ‘red-bannered’ cousin was with its first major team up, but it’s a gigantic leap in the right direction and has come out swinging through everything that was put up against it.