Justice League: Find Your Lane

Was Justice League a Good Movie?


Em Rush, Managing Editor. Film Fiend. All Around Cool Kid.

Last night, I was bored. I was sitting on my couch, scrolling through the near-endless program options on demand, and nothing was calling out to me. But then I saw it: Justice League. The name is inspiring, I’ll give it that-so inspiring that I decided to press play and lock in for what the media has classified a disaster. Now, I must say that earlier this week I have also watched Man of Steel and Batman versus Superman, which I’ll get to later on, so I was prepared to watch this movie. If you’ve been reading my content, you’ll know I’m a big MCU fan. If you don’t understand what MCU stands for you probably haven’t been paying attention to Hollywood for the past decade (hint: it’s Marvel Cinematic Universe) . Anyway, I decided to give Justice League an honest chance, which to me means not looking up the plot on Wikipedia at any point during the movie no matter how ridiculous or confusing it might get (I do this all the time; it’s a terrible habit).

Even though I saw this movie fewer than 24 hours ago, I can’t for the life of me remember exactly how it starts. This is not a good thing, and the audience is bombarded with so much information so quickly that it’s difficult to determine left from right, up from down, etc. I think the most important parts of the opening are Batman realizing that the Parademons feed on fear, and the little “we’re a team” montage that we get of Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman’s mom and his fiancee, hints of the Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman-but just as I write this, I can’t seem to genuinely recall if these things happened at the beginning of the movie or the middle. This is probably due to one of my big problems with the film, and a problem critics all over the world have been quick to jump on.  Never in the movie did I care about the team; I mean sure I guess I cared that Superman was dead, but I knew he’d probably be back. But I mean, a random Amazon was killed in the opening scene, and the Queen was devastated. I wasn’t. I just had the feeling that I’d missed something because I had no idea who she was (and I’ve seen Wonder Woman!).

Batman was as angsty and brooding as always; Wonder Woman was a powerhouse and not much else, Aquaman was the directors’ attempt at humor. I did like Cyborg; he had the biggest self-revolution of all the characters in the movie, but I guess Wonder Woman did have the part where she became a leader. I didn’t know much about Cyborg when the movie started.  I knew what he looked like and all, but as far as his backstory, I was in the dark. Ezra Miller’s Flash was just okay. I love the Flash television show on the CW. I’ve been watching it from the start, and I think Grant Gustin’s Flash is a lot better. With that being said, I knew I would have some problems watching Miller because to me he will never be the real Flash of the DCU. At first, I thought that Miller’s Flash was a teenager; he looks like one, acts like one, eats like one, but then suddenly he is living alone in some warehouse in the middle of nowhere?! What’s up with that? Where are the Wests? He had some funny moments, but he was a disjointed, awkward kid, and although that’s probably what the directors were going for, they went way too far.

To me the plot was ho-hum. There was this bad guy who only came back because Superman died and people were upset, and there were boxes (his mother?), and Bruce Wayne wanted to create a team. Within the first half of the movie, the bad guy had all of the boxes, and Superman was back (but he was a villain for a hot minute). There was this Russian family who made strange appearances, and then the team all got together (except Superman; he was wearing flannel at home) and decided to go to Russia. Things weren’t going great until Superman showed up and saved the day, and then everything was covered in luscious green flowers. The End.

The plot of Justice League was too rushed,  but in many ways it was too slow. It was also trying to be so many different things that it wasn’t.

Let’s start with Superman; his death was very fresh in the DCU (DC universe) during the Justice League. Maybe only a few months or so, and during that time not that much extra-terrestrial crime has gone on, with the exception of the Parademons buzzing around. Though Wonder Woman does defeat some domestic terrorists, no big baddies seem to be creeping out of the gutter. That doesn’t mean that people aren’t going nuts about it, because they are. The terrorists’ appearance made me think that they would end up playing a much bigger role in the story, but no, they were just “filler villains”. The whole reason why the terrorists, Parademons, and Steppenwolf decide to hatch their evil plans is that Superman is gone. That’s the reason Bruce Wayne feels like he needs to form a team to do what Superman did in his absence.

But then what do they do? They turn right around and reincarnate him. Not only do I think that this is lazy storytelling, but it also makes everything seem non-essential. First of all, S.T.A.R Labs was already in possession of one of the Mother Boxes, and Bruce Wayne is a powerful guy (he buys the bank that repossessed Clark’s house to get the house back). This Mother Box was used to bring Victor/Cyborg back to life and give him his powers. This box, that lives in the middle of Metropolis at the crash site, that tons of people know about. It just seems strange that Bruce didn’t try to seek it out beforehand to bring Clark back.

And then when Superman comes back, he becomes evil for a hot minute, well more than a hot minute; it lasts too long, in my opinion. Superman is back, and we all know that it’s not going to be he that is the villain in this movie, so I think many parts of that scene could’ve been cut/shortened. He was dead; now he isn’t. We get the point. And then he disappears back to Kansas with Lois, and they hug in a cornfield for a long time, and then he’s all better-but he isn’t all better quick enough to arrive in Russia with the rest of the team. Superman pretty much arrives on the scene at the very last moment, which I know that’s for suspense or something, but come on. Superman gets there, and the whole thing is over two minutes later, but that’s what we knew was going to happen. The one thing that brought Steppenwolf back was Superman being dead; that’s the only thing. So my question is…why then does the Justice League still exist? I know why it exists here in our world, for money, but Bruce was worried about not being able to take on Superman’s villains, but now Clark is alive and well. He can do his job. This movie shouldn’t be called Justice League;instead, call it Superman and The B Team. 

Okay, so we’ve discussed my problems with the plot, but let’s talk about something more important. The tone of the movie is just disjointed. In the beginning, it’s a typical DCU movie; dark, action-packed, brooding, angsty. Batman and Wonder Woman are a powerhouse pair in many ways; they internalize many of their problems, they kick butt, etc. But then enter Flash, and suddenly it’s a somewhat-emotional movie about a boy who wants to make his father proud while being sassy and awkward. Then here comes Cyborg: a boy becoming machine (and then the other way around) and finding himself along the way. And of course, who can forget Aquaman (oh wait, I can, because he was insignificant)? He was funny for a little bit, then serious, then had chemistry with a lady of the sea, but except for one time at the beginning of the movie didn’t do anything cool with water at all! Remember how Thor: Ragnorak was so great, how it was funny and enjoyable and all of that? I feel like that’s what Aquaman was trying to do for Justice League, but it didn’t work.

The number one biggest problem I have with the Justice League isn’t that it’s forgettable or generic. Instead, it refuses to stay in its lane, infringing on so many that it almost stops being its movie and instead of a kaleidoscope of half-baked ideas. No matter how much it wants to be, the Justice League is not The Avengers. The rich one, the one from another time, the kid, the funny one, and the one that can seem insignificant. No, I’m not talking about Iron Man, Captain America, Spiderman, Thor, and Hawkeye. I’m talking about the Justice League.  The fact is that Steppenwolf is a ripoff Loki, that Bruce is Tony without the charm, and that The Avengers work with their formula better.

I have complete faith in the DCU as long as they stay in their lane. We, the audience, want to be entertained by stories with heart, charm, and fun; Avengers’ formula isn’t the only way to make us happy. Comic book movies are tough because a book is always more in-depth than a film, but just because one way works doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways out there, too. So,  I guess all I have to say is Justice League wasn’t right. But I wholeheartedly believe that someday it could be.