On the ride home from the theatre after seeing Justice League, the inevitable question came up. I asked my wife and sister which they preferred: Justice League or Thor: Ragnarok? The car was split. My wife preferred the humor of Ragnarok, while my sister is a Wonder Woman fangirl, so she gave the nod to Justice League. I was acting as the tiebreaker, but the problem is, I can’t say that I enjoyed one more than the other. That’s what is so wonderful about the era we’re in right now. I happen to love these superhero films, and we have two, multi-billion dollar companies duking it out for box office supremacy. The result is two universes that offer something for everyone. The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) presents a darker, more brooding tone, while the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has shifted almost entirely to the opposite end, with films that are brighter, and filled with humor. As someone who happens to enjoy both of these equally, I’m in heaven!
Justice League is our first introduction to some characters I’ve been excited to meet on-screen for quite a while now. The three mainstays are there, of course, with Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman headlining the team, but we also meet Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman. This film is really an origin story of how these six superheroes come together to face the newest threat against all humanity: Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf is trying to get control of the three Mother Boxes to appease Darkseid. The boxes contain the power to destroy anyone and everything, and it will be the end of mankind if Steppenwolf succeeds. He also brings along some backup: his army of Parademons, which are giant, creepy bug-like creatures that are a lot tougher than one might expect for a nameless army.
It’s important to give credit where it’s due, and it’s pretty obvious to me that DC is listening to the criticisms tossed their way from the last time we saw these three main characters on-screen together in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Where Batman v Superman felt almost too chaotic with the sheer number of enemies thrown in, Justice League rights the ship by presenting one, clear-cut bad guy, and his army of demons. Though I didn’t have a lot of problems with the chaos of Batman v Superman, I know a lot of people that did, and it’s clear to me that DC heard those complaints and tried to stick to a more coherent, strong through-line with Justice League, and they’re quite successful.
Interestingly enough, much like Thor: Ragnarok, it took a little while for me to become fully invested in what was happening. With Thor, it was with the introduction of the Hulk. Here, it was once the team attempted to bring Superman back to life that the film really started to suck me in. It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying myself to that point because I was. It was just that moment when the film took on a whole new life, and it never let up until after the post-credits scene (which was fantastic and well worth the wait through the credits).
Each of the new characters brings something different to the group, but my favorite has to be the Flash and it’s likely because he’s the most fleshed out of the new guys. Not only do we learn more about him, I’d argue, than the other two, but his backstory is fascinating to me, and he brings the humor to the group that is otherwise missing. Flash and Spider-Man are very reminiscent of one another when looking at the current state of the DCEU and the MCU, but Flash is definitely the more mature character of the two. Cyborg arguably brings the most to the table, however, as he’s able to use his newfound technological gifts to give the team the edge they desperately need. Aquaman reminded me so much of WWE superstar Roman Reigns with his look, but he was a bona-fide bad ass. I cannot wait to see his stand-alone film so we can learn more about him because we just don’t get a ton in Justice League.
I enjoyed the first half of Justice League, and then was blown away by the second half. These are characters that I just adore at this point, so seeing them raise a little more hell is always a good time, and that’s exactly what they do in Justice League. If you’re like me, and just enjoy a great superhero action flick, like the characters that DC and Marvel have given us so far, and want to have a fun trip to the theatre for a couple of hours, you’re in luck because there are currently two great options at the box office right now with Justice League, and Thor: Ragnarok. If you’re like a lot of others, though, and haven’t enjoyed the DCEU to this point, then I don’t see Justice League changing your mind. The tone is spot-on to the rest of the series, for better or worse.
For me, I cannot wait to see what else DC has in store for their Extended Universe. They’ve brought some of my favorite superheroes to life on the big screen, and I’ve not been disappointed yet. If you’ve enjoyed these characters so far, there’s no doubt you’ll have as much fun with Justice League as I did!
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.