Earlier this week I had typed up a piece pre-viewing Justice League that chronicled my concerns heading in to the launch of the long awaited feature film that would unite the DC comic universes big guns on screen for the first time. The piece made its way through issues like my feelings on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (I didn’t like it). The lack of involvement of the crew that made Wonder Woman. The lacklustre trailers. And, most crucially, the question of wether or not I could bring my kids.
You see, I have waited a long time for the League to come to life and sharing it with my kids should be a dream come true. But, after Batman V Superman, a movie barely watchable as an adult, I needed to know there was a different tone to this movie if I was going to bring my small people.
Batman not committing mass murder every time he suited up was also a must, as was knowing that the rest of the League didn’t have mothers named “Martha”.
To make sure I gave Bruce, Diana and the gang the best opportunity to present themselves, I headed to see Justice League on a massive IMAX screen with an equally massive bag of popcorn on my lap. I crossed my fingers, sat through the 25 minutes of ads and prepared myself as the DC pantheon spread across the screen in the opening credits. It was time…
*SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT*
I liked it.
Justice League follows the “building the team” road map laid out in the Geoff Johns/Jim Lee New 52 run (also seen in the animated Justice League: War) pretty closely. Bad guys are coming, Batman needs a team, a group of loners have to come together against impossible odds, heroics ensue.
Good stuff: The League. All the characters get to have their own space in this movie. Nobody gets too much spotlight, well, except maybe Batman and Wonder Woman, but we are treated to a unique palate of characters. Cyborg, Aquaman and Flash all have good reasons for joining the action and all are played with the right amount of humour and gravity to make them stand out in the super pack.
The look of this film is about as close to a direct visual comic adaptation you are going to see this side of Watchmen. For his faults, Zack Snyder gets DC imagery in its most iconic form. Especially Batman, he really likes Batman. From Aquaman’s underwater world to the lighting tinged speed force of the Flash, this is what a Justice League comic looks like.
The story whips along pretty fast as well, dropping the characters in the action and moving them toward the big conclusion at a steady pace. Gone is the plodding grey toned depression of B V S with a clear, deliberate, shift toward brighter colours and more upbeat tick of both characters and backgrounds.
Hands down the biggest improvement for me **SPOILER** was the performance of Henry Cavill as Superman. This was the big blue boyscout we needed all along. I won’t say more, but for those that didn’t enjoy his mopping through his first two outings as the Man of Steel take heart, this is much better.
The 2 post credit scenes are also outstanding.
Not so good: The CGI is pretty rough and overdone at times. There are many moments where a practical version of one of the characters would be really welcome instead of their digital counterpart.
I can’t say for sure that I could point to every single short scene that Joss Whedon shot to lighten up Justice League while watching this movie, but I would be willing to try. Not that the lighter stuff isn’t welcome, it just stands out quite a bit from the rest of the movie.
It’s not the Avengers. This can’t be stated clearly enough to anyone that isn’t a comic book person going in. This is a DC movie, for better or for worse and it has a style, tone and level of suspension of belief that is very distinct from the MCU. It needs it, but it certainly makes the film somewhat less accessible to anyone not versed in the sensibilities of the comic universes.
My last word on Justice League is this; It was good enough. It worked as a spiritual reboot to their universe that followed the hopeful message of Wonder Woman to lead the DC from the darkness that was Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. It turned Aquaman into the sexiest hero alive, brought Cyborg from Titans tower to the big time (complete with a Boo-ya) and found a way to do super speed really differently from the bar setting Quicksilver sequences of the X-Men films. It showed us the absolutely insane potential of the DC universe (Amazons, Atlanteans and aliens… oh my!) and continued to give us the most accurate cinematic Batman we have ever see.
Most of all, I can take my kids.
So instead of a report on why I’m nervous about seeing this movie, I instead offer you this: If you have wanted to see this movie since before seeing movies like this was something we got to do, go. Find a giant screen, round up your geekiest friend if you can, get some popcorn and just enjoy. It’s the Justice League… and its just fine.
In brightest day and blackest night… cheers.