2017 has been an incredible year for superhero movies, with at least eight of them having hit theatres in the past few months. However, none was more highly anticipated than the latest installment in the DC Extended Universe, Justice League.
In the aftermath of Superman’s death, world crime has spiked and so has humanity’s fear, attracting Parademons who are hunting for the three Motherboxes on Earth and kidnapping people. This has not gone unnoticed by Ben Affleck’s Batman who is on a quest to honor the pledge he made in Batman v. Superman; to not fail Superman in death. To this end, Bruce Wayne begins to assemble a joint force of metahumans to protect a threat that not even he understands fully, until Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), tells him about the historical battle between Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) and the unified army of Men, Atlanteans, Amazons and Lanterns that caused him to retreat.
Steppenwolf’s return to Earth begins with him literally laying waste to Themyscira and Atlantis. Initially reluctant to join the league, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) and Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) both unite forces with the band once their loved ones are threatened. Along new recruit, Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), the league confronts Steppenwolf but the latter proves too much of a match for our heroes, leaving them with one last option to save the world; reviving the Last Son of Krypton.
Superman’s return to the DCEU is not at all what I was expecting but the resulting scenes were some of my favorite. In fact, the newly-resurrected Superman gives Henry Cavill the chance to drop the moody savior mode and breathe life to a version that is very accurate to the comics. While I was initially skeptic about how Cyborg would be portrayed, the film managed to integrate his character in many ways that were central to the plot, although he lacked an emotional payoff. Ezra Miller inhabits his role as if the Speed Force were flowing in his veins – certainly the comic relief of the movie, his scenes with Supes and Batsy turn out to be some of the best and have me rooting for the Flashpoint movie. While still damaged and easily driven to take extreme measures to make ends meet, Batman’s underlying hope is what brings the league together and I personally prefer the character’s tone here although we did not get a badass warehouse fight scene like in BvS. Aquaman, I felt, was the only hero whose character arc was not as fleshed out as it needed to be but his scene with Mera (Amber Heard) gives us a glimpse of what to expect next year in his solo outing. Resident savior of the DCEU, Gadot’s scenes in the movie are a delight to watch; in addition to eye candy provided (The Lasso compels me to utter the truth), we see how she has grown from naive heroine to the fierce warrior capable of saving not only the planet but the movie itself, thus establishing her as the Iron Man of this franchise. The main weakness of the film happens to be the bland villainy of Steppenwolf. Although Hinds’ voice provides much malign and terror, the CGI does not do justice and his motivation is no better than Zod’s justification of terraforming Earth in MoS.
The film, having already received polarizing reviews from critics, is neither the disappointment that was Batman v. Superman nor is it the emotional hit that Wonder Woman was. In fact, it manages to find a somewhat slippery balance between the two, trying to rectify the mistakes made in the earlier DCEU movies. What results is two hours of cinematic spectacle (thank you Zack Snyder), a botched up story (thanks again Zack) and somewhat forced hilarious banter between the heroes. As effortlessly as one can identify the scenes where Superhombre’s.. I mean, Superman’s mustache was CGI’ed, one can also point out the scenes that Joss Whedon had a hand in, the man’s fingerprints are all over the film.
The league is assembled and their first outing together is good enough to give fanboys the chills. And despite its flaws, the studio seems to have learned from past mistakes and one can only hope that they will keep aiming for better. After all, their upcoming slate is full and we are all huge fans of justice.
By Akash Sk