The idea of building a movie franchise is easy. Creating one that works is a lot more difficult. Even for known properties. For instance, Universal has wanted to bring back their famous and classic movie monsters for years now, but their films, The Mummy reboot being the most recent, didn’t sit well with movie-goers. When Warner Bros. and DC Comics decided to not only reboot Batman and Superman, but also bring other DC Superheroes to the big screen for the first time, the idea was met with much enthusiasm. How hard could it be? Marvel has had great success with its Iron-Man, Captain America and Thor movies.
The first to come out of the gates was the Superman reboot, Man of Steel in 2013. Directed by Zack Snyder, this Superman was different from what many of us were expecting. While diehard fanboys loved the film, other casual comic book movie fans didn’t get it. This movie was much darker than any of the previous Superman movies. And despite how good Henry Cavill was in the role when allowed to emote, most of the time this version of Superman was super-moody and the overall tone of the story was super- serious voiding any joy whatsoever.
Then came last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which many were hoping would correct the errors made in the first film. And while there were rumors that Warner Bros. retooled it, the end product came off even worse. Even with the addition of Affleck as Batman which some fans said was the best part. Once again, the tone was still way too serious, the storyline was completely confusing and it just wasn’t any fun.
Batman v Superman introduced Batman, but unlike Superman, he had already been on the scene in Gotham for about 20 years. And a rough 20 at that. This Bat had a huge chip on his shoulder while Superman seemed incredibly distant. Neither came across as likable in the least. In fact, one of the best features of these two comic book giants was seeing them operate in their duel lives as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, who are usually presented as nice, friendly and even humorous men. Here, they just came across as jerks. Even the entrance of Diane Prince/Wonder Woman didn’t help matters much.
However, when Wonder Woman came out in her own standalone story last summer, the heroine was allowed to smile a bit more and overall, the film didn’t take itself too seriously. Much of that goes to the fish-out-of-water storyline with the princess operating outside of her own world, the comedic timing of Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor and the better storytelling under the direction of Patty Jenkins. Finally, it seemed as if DC had remembered how to make a fun superhero movie after all.
Though Justice League was directed by Zach Snyder once again, it appears that the third time is a charm (although he probably had a lot of help) as he carries on this new direction with a lighter tone, friendlier heroes and a film that was a joy to watch. Even Batman’s suit appears to be more a blueish grey instead of black. The introduction of new characters to the big screen (but not new to fans) include Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg helped to form the Justice League were welcome additions and we finally got the movie we’ve been waiting for. Well, at least, more of us anyway.
This movie moves at a faster clip than the previous ones and doesn’t drag out as long as its predecessors. Each character is allowed to emulate the heroes we want to see and admire, despite the film’s potential to be downer given its sad theme. They spout off lines with more wit and humor than before and we finally get to see the fun side of these guys. At least, a little bit. Granted, each of these superheroes still carry a lot of baggage from their previous lives, but now they choose to focus on the greater good. No one likes a whiny superhero.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Superman died in his last film. Justice League begins shortly after his death. Despite the fact that many people of earth wanted to rid the alien being from the earth (he just didn’t know his own strength) in the previous film, here he is mourned and the world is at a loss. Especially Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and his mother Martha (Diane Lane). Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) is suffering from guilt and persuades Dina Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to help him recruit some “super friends” who all have special abilities and could possibly work together to ward off the next evil attack. He has no reason to believe an attack will come – just a hunch. It takes a while, but the two are able to recruit Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to join their little club. And it’s a good thing that they did too since Steppenwolf and his team of parademons (giant vampire-ish flying insect creatures) are now ravaging the planet looking for three “mother boxes” which will help Steppenwolf destroy the planet as we know for no good reason. (So many super-villains want to destroy the planet without any good reason to do so. This is one of the film’s weaker moments. The other is the fact that Lex Luthor is mentioned, but never shown.)
Without giving anything away, any true comic book fan knows the worst kept secret that lies in this movie. With that said, just go with it. You’ll be glad you did. However, it also makes giving details about this movie difficult without spoiling.
One of the film’s standouts is Miller’s Flash. He’s a bit goofy at times, but he brings a much-needed levity to this bunch. In a way, he is sort of like The Avengers franchise adding the young Spider-Man to their team. They are both young, immature and not jaded. J.K. Simmons also makes an appearance at Commissioner Gordon in a role that is way too short. Maybe they will be able to squeeze him in a few more scenes with the next one.
Main Image: Warner Bros.
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.