Set in the aftermath of Batman v Superman, Batman (Ben Affleck) sets out to form a team of superheroes to confront an alien invasion and save earth. While it’s a very thin plot, previous films in the series have suffered from being too dense and perhaps more importantly too dark in tone. Justice League returns to a lighter, funnier tone helped by the larger ensemble cast of Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and fan-favourite Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot).
In the wake of Superman’s death (his corpse is lovingly played by Henry Cavill), a world mourns but has found itself open to the alien invader Steppenwolf and his foot soldiers known as ‘Parademons’. As a villain Steppenwolf’s unique design sets him at odds with his simple motivation, but he’s not the focus – it’s the League. The strongest strand of the film is the interactions between our heroes as they get to know each other. Wonder Woman and Batman have had their own time to shine; taking a back seat to the newcomers to flesh out their stories.
The newcomers all struggle with identity. Cyborg struggles with his identity as a monster hybrid of man and machine, Aquaman shuns being the heir to the throne of Atlantis and the Flash struggles with not having a way to prove his father’s innocence for his mother’s murder. The personal trials and tribulations of their character is brought up but nowhere near solved by the end of the film. Perhaps this is kept for each their upcoming solo franchises over the next few years.
The lighter tone of the film isn’t all goofy one-liners, even so there are plenty those. There is a delightfully macabre scene between the Flash and Cyborg highlighting that it’s the contrast between personalities and the abundance of smiling that hits a positive note. While this may be down to the addition of Joss Whedon’s influence on the script but also his additional help during filming; it would however be in poor taste to pick out which scenes were ‘his’ when director Zack Snyder had to leave due to a personal tragedy. Despite all this, the vision remains consistent, bold, fun and for the fans, it’s a loyal adaptation of the comics; taking a leaf out of Marvels book with 2 end-credits scenes.
With Justice League, the DC universe has stopped trying to reach for grander heights, taking a step back to focus on their greatest strength, the characters. In exchange, the film does suffer from pacing issues (the film is an abnormally short 2 hours) and a paper-thin plot, focusing the energy on bright visuals, big action scenes and bringing the Justice League together. Casual viewers will probably be less impressed while fans will fill themselves up with glee at seeing their favourite characters ‘come together’ for the first on the big screen.
Justice League is out now
Words by Sunny Ramgolam