Written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon
Starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Rey Fisher, Jason Mamoa, Ezra Miller, Jeremy Irons, JK Simmons, Amy Adams, Diane Lane
Directed by Zack Snyder
Superman is dead. In a world coping with the death of the Man of Steel, many people have gotten back into their routines, including Batman. When the Dark Knight catches a burglar coming from a home, he takes him down, but not to bring him in. Batman is using the fear the criminal exudes to attract what he’s really after, a parademon. On the other side of the world, a group of terrorists take hostages with a plan to cause chaos until Wonder Woman intervenes.
Both heroes know that their individual actions are not enough to save the world, especially when Steppenwolf invades Themyscira and takes the mother box that is being guarded there. This act forces Hyppolyta to signal Diana. Both Batman and Wonder Woman know that they cannot stop these emerging threat on their own, so they go in search of the others on Luthor’s list. Bruce’s encounter with Aquaman does not go well, they can’t seem to find Cyborg and it looks like the only one willing to join them is Flash.
Steppenwolf’s actions prompt Aquaman and Cyborg to agree to join in order to save the world, but their first encounter with the villain lets them know that they need more help and in their desperation, they potentially unleash a power they cannot control and could be even more destructive.
Off the bat (no pun intended), I really enjoyed this film. I thought it was fun without losing the stakes that it laid out. The overall plot remained serious, but there was a lighter sense to the narrative. Both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman felt like they were holding the weight of the world on their shoulders. Justice League felt hopeful in the sense that things are serious and getting worse, but if we work together, we might have a chance. It’s slightly cliché, but that is the overall point of most comic books, specifically team comics.
One of the things I noticed about the plot was that both Bruce and Steppenwolf were on missions of redemption and willing to sacrifice everything in order to achieve their goals. Steppenwolf is trying to redeem a previous military failure and Bruce is trying to right the wrong he set in motion that led to Superman’s death. Bruce’s need to atone is completely natural from a character who has modeled his entire existence around one defining incident. The movie works best when it embraces the characters and their uniqueness. One of the other things that I enjoyed was that Bruce wasn’t forming the team to lead himself. His trying to create a team for Diana to lead speaks to his acknowledgement of both her power and experience.
Without spoiling anything in the film, there is an obvious nod to another DC Comics character in the war scene between Steppenwolf’s forces, the tribes of man, the Amazons and Atlanteans. Anyone who knows me personally can imagine the gasp of delight I let out when it happened. Justice League even found a way to celebrate the history of DC Comics movies in Danny Elfman’s score. There are moments when he uses the original 1989 Batman theme as well as John Williams’ Superman theme to great effect.
There are some things in the film that don’t work. There a scenes where you can clearly see that they’ve tried to digitally remove Henry Cavill’s mustache, but those annoyances don’t deter from the story unless you let them. There are a couple of moments in the second act that could have used a little more exposition and some revelations that came a little too fast, but those still didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the film.
I would definitely recommend seeing it and I plan on seeing it again this weekend.