Justice League: A Story of Heartbreak and Let Down
I have dreaded writing this review for Justice League. I’ve been a comic book fan for as long as I can remember, and with the slew of comic book movies we have been getting for the past 17 years, most have impressed me. The development of cinematic universes has helped bring these movies to new heights for audiences to enjoy, encapsulating the true scope of the universes they are set in.
When Man of Steel came out in 2013, I didn’t like the foreknown Superman or what he stood for. He seemed like an all good guy but lacked depth or real character in my mind, not to mention his powers, which made him invulnerable and hard to connect to. This movie proved all my predisposed notions of the character wrong by breaking down the human side of him, and showing what he really stands for–hope. With this new appreciation, I understood how isolated a person with so much power could be, Man of Steel made me love Superman.
While I may be in some sort of minority here, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice further proved my love for the character and the others in the film who were broke down even more than before, such as Batman and Lex Luthor. These films brought me to the DC Universe, not only bringing the characters to the screen, but placing them in more real situations of the real world, asking and answering the question of, “What if there was a Superman?”
The man responsible for my love of these films is director Zack Snyder. Known for his other work on the beautiful recreation of the graphic novel 300, as well as another graphic novel and one of my favorite films of all time, Watchmen. So as you can guess, I was very excited for Justice League. So why have I dreaded this moment? Because while this film is very enjoyable, watching these characters I realized something. It lacked a certain complexity that Zack Snyder brought to his other films. And there is a reason for that.
During the filming of Justice League, Snyder lost his daughter from suicide, causing him to leave at the end of production. Fans and many others respected his decision to leave the film, understanding the horrible situation he was put in. He explained how he was passionate to these characters but could not bring himself to finish the film and grieve at the same time.
Taking his place was former Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon. With reports of him coming in to do minor reshoots of the film, many went into speculation on what was really happening. After finally seeing the film, I can see it was more than a few reshoots.
With many scenes being replaced or altered by Whedon, the film is bogged down to something it’s trying to be, a light-hearted and fast paced superhero flick. Although the original intention was to develop the characters to more heights and sympathize to connect, this movie let me down in how it was handled.
A film that has been uprooted and changed to something else becomes a mess. The editing in the film is messy and attempts to connect the reshot scenes with older ones, but to those who love these films, we can tell where the mistakes are.
The major problem with Justice League is the tone. We can tell who directed what, with Joss Whedon bringing more comedic scenes and Zack Snyder having more deep and emotional scenes, the tone is destroyed.
Although there are many faults in the development of the film, it is amazing to see these characters interact. From Superman to Cyborg, the actors are dedicated to the characters they play. Superman, played by Henry Cavill, is the powerhouse we know as the Man of Steel, his arch is completed–becoming a fully developed character through his now three movie run. Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, brings the soul to the film and also throws major punches throughout the movie. Batman, played by Ben Affleck, further proves his resourcefulness as the caped crusader, with a strong performance and amazing chemistry with the rest of the cast.
Speaking of chemistry, the three new superheroes bring their own fun to the film. The Flash, played by Ezra Miller, has an energetic performance that helps the film with beautiful interpretations of speed and excitement. Aquaman, played by Jason Mamoa, fills the audience with the wonders of the underwater world as well as bring his own crude humor to the film. And finally, my favorite new addition to the team, Cyborg. Played by Ray Fisher, Cyborg shines as a character Zack Snyder worked hard on. Cyborg proves to be the heart of the film, with Ray delivering a perfect performance. Starting with the somber attitude of losing most of his body to be replaced by mechanisms, is a horror realized, only for him to find out he is capable of much more than he first thought.
However, Respecting the artistry of a director’s work is important, and the way Warner Brothers Studio handled Zack’s film wasn’t the right call.
I would recommend this movie, despite it’s obvious problems and quirks. Hopefully this helps move the DC Extended Universe into a new direction of hope and wonder for decades to come. Justice League: 2.5/5