"Pulling the Team Together”
A Review of "Justice League" by Nathan H. Box
Director: Zack Snyder, Writers: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon, Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa
Rating: 3 Stars, STREAM
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.
When I was a little kid, I would go to the grocery store with my mom and plop myself down in front of the magazine rack while she shopped. If I really wanted a certain issue but didn’t have enough allowance saved up, I would hide the issue behind the magazine rack and retrieve it later. My favorite superheroes were Batman and Spider-man. Batman because he was just a normal man called to do extraordinary things. Spider-man because he was sort of dork like me. Between the two major comic book companies, DC and Marvel, I always gravitated toward DC for no reason other than I liked the characters.
In the never-ending world of comic book movies, there is one gold standard film which I judge all other movies against and that is “The Dark Knight.” I believe Christopher Nolan’s movie to be more than just the best superhero movie ever created. I believe it to be one of the best movies ever made. Rightly or wrongly, I compare every Marvel or DC movie against this standard. I have yet to see a film from either company that comes anywhere near Nolan’s exceptional work.
As I snuggled into my theater chair to watch “Justice League,” the memory of how “The Dark Knight” made me feel lingered in the back of my mind. From the beginning, you can tell this film is trying to strike a somber tone. The world is without Superman and is coming to terms with that means. For Batman played by Ben Affleck and Wonder Woman played by Gal Gadot, this means any oncoming threat will have to be faced without one of the strongest beings in the galaxy. From the first scene of the movie, it is apparent something sinister is coming and it will take a powerful team to defeat it. Almost immediately, Bruce Wayne begins the work of assembling his team.
This act of pulling people together created my first major challenge with this film. When it comes to Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg, there is very little character development. Unlike the Marvel Universe, those of us in the DC realm, have had to rely on the comic books for these lesser known characters. We haven’t had the benefit of building up to the assembling of this team. In my estimation, this was a mistake. The writers of this film do their best to give us some backstory, but it feels rushed and shallow.
While the team is being assembled, we meet Steppenwolf. He suffers from one of my biggest complaints with all comic book movies and that is poor villain development. Beyond a desire to destroy the world, we never learn much about these people. We have no clue what drives or motivates their violent wrath. Instead, we are asked to believe in their evil ways and move on from there.
As you can imagine, pulling together a team such as this involves stroking some egos. It is in these moments this film really shines. Each one of these scenes is human and features a good deal of humor. At least enough humor to save us from the persistent thought of the entire world coming to an end.
In preparation for the final battle, it becomes apparent our heroes can’t do it alone. They need someone with superhuman strength fighting alongside them. I won’t say any more than that. I am not one to spoil a movie.
The final battle is pretty enthralling for comic book movie. It is still an orgy of computer animated graphics, people flying through walls, and the usually associated drama. There is enough here though to keep you engaged and on the edge of your seat. As the dust settles and our heroes come together, we are left to ponder the next installment in this franchise. Whatever direction DC chooses, I hope they focus more on developing these stories and their characters. Those of us who have longtime fans deserve that.
Be good to each other,