‘Justice League’ not as bad as it could’ve been

Courtesy of DC Comics
Courtesy of DC Comics

By Grant Stoner | Staff Writer


Aside from Wonder Woman, the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is nothing short of a spectacular train wreck. Filmmaker and director Zack Snyder’s vision for this iconic comic universe is an utter insult to every franchise being dragged through the mud. As a super-fan, I find myself becoming increasingly embarrassed to defend my favorite heroes, knowing full well that Snyder will transform them into unrecognizable caricatures. With Justice League, all hope would have been lost if not for the saving graces of a directorial intervention.

Directed by both Snyder, and thankfully Joss Whedon, Justice League finally brings a live-action rendition of the superhero team to the big screen. I could not be happier about the assembly of these characters, especially as they are battling such a notorious villain. Yet, my nostalgic levels of excitement consistently soured throughout the one hour and 59-minute film.

At least the heroes were entertaining.

For starters, each actor (almost) perfectly captured the emotions and mannerisms of their respective parts. Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot expertly reprise their roles as Batman and Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller’s portrayal of The Flash is quirky and lovable and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg appears as a timid monstrosity, trying to straddle two realities.

And then, there’s Jason Momoa as Aquaman. While I regularly caught myself laughing at his interactions with the other team members, I found myself unable to overlook the egregious amount of “dude-bro” attitude that consistently plagued each of his lines. Aquaman is the King of Atlantis. Powerful, yet human. Strict, yet approachable. He should not be trying to “crack open a cold one with the boys” every single time he appears on screen. Thankfully, with Whedon as director, Aquaman is tolerable at best.

And it is through Whedon that I do not regret spending money on this film. Why? Because he knows how to develop believable team relationships.

Take a look at his past cinematography, and you will see my point. What do Firefly, The Avengers and Justice League all have in common? Every single team is organic. They operate as a cohesive unit, have reasonable arguments and treat each other with the appropriate amount of love and respect.

Despite Whedon’s best efforts to salvage Justice League, Snyder’s notoriously awful, dark style still oozes throughout the movie, creating an inconsistent work.  Scenes where characters are brooding over their mistakes are suddenly replaced by smiles and lighthearted quips. The style switch becomes blatantly obvious when the two directors swap.

Fortunately, the plot is just a generic superhero film, one that we’ve been force-fed for the past decade. This is acceptable because this movie did not turn into a pathetic excuse for a drama that fails to rise above the quality of a soap-opera, similar to that of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s a palatable movie that I did not despise. Superheroes gathered to defeat a big, bad guy. That’s it.

Regardless of the generic overtone, the film still suffers from cringe-inducing dialogue and pathetic excuses for CGI. Surely with a massive studio like Warner Bros., the special effects should be somewhat believable. The lightning particles surrounding The Flash as he ran were exciting to watch, but Steppenwolf, the villain, and his army of minions looked like a cast of characters that could be featured on the Syfy channel.

Justice League is an enigma. While nowhere near as deplorable as the rest of the DCEU, it still spits in the face of its amazing comic legacy. With the moderate — and I’m using that term lightly — success of Whedon’s involvement, perhaps executives will finally treat these characters with respect. If you’re a fan of these heroes, then by all means, see this movie. Just lower your expectations before having a seat.