Justice League: Satisfying Endings and New Beginnings

Joshua Quan, Staff Writer

Justice League debuted on November 17th featuring DC’s iconic superhero team united on the silver screen for the first time, and it was an amazing experience! Directed by Zack Snyder, the film takes place directly after last year’s Batman v Superman, and is the fifth installment to the unofficially titled DC Extended Universe. Batman and Wonder Woman recruit the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg to face the powerful alien Steppenwolf. Together they must fight to save Earth from his conquest. Be warned, this review openly discusses the plot.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, as did the rest of the audience. The theater was full of laughter and cheering, with several moments of enthusiastic applause. The film was very fast paced and action packed, but not confusing. Justice League was pleasantly humorous, with Ezra Miller’s the Flash providing most of the comedic relief. Ben Affleck’s Batman had some quippy one liners as well, and Jason Momoa’s gruff yet charming performance as Aquaman stole the show. Wonder Woman was easily the favorite as the movie began, with loud applause upon her entrance. Cyborg really grew on me; although I was initially doubting his importance in the team, he cemented himself by the film’s resolution. The tense interactions between he and his father really made me sympathize with him; of all the heroes in Justice League Cyborg had the most heart. Ray Fisher’s performance was captivating, and I was impressed with the level of emotion he conveyed despite being a mostly computer-generated character. Although the description of the Mother Boxes are somewhat vague, we understand enough: they are advanced alien supercomputers, there are three on Earth, and when united they possess the potential to transform the Earth into a hellish squalor. I definitely felt some scenes should have been longer, like Steppenwolf’s first invasion of Earth, and the scene in the underwater kingdom of Atlantis.

While Justice League introduced us to Cyborg, the Flash, and Aquaman, it beautifully completed the arcs of Batman, Wonder Woman, and yes, Superman. In BvS, Batman was introduced as a grizzled vigilante who lost hope in the world and perceived Superman as an unacceptable threat. Upon witnessing Superman’s selfless sacrifice, Batman realizes how wrong he was, about the world and about Superman, and he vows to honor Superman’s memory. In Justice League I was thrilled to see Batman become the team leader and be the world’s greatest detective. From mentoring the Flash to constructing a plan of attack, Batman demonstrated a hopeful demeanor. He also had some of the coolest shots in the film. I’ll never forget the first time we see him on screen; crouched against a building, monitoring a criminal across the street. His gadgets were also on full display, with an armored Batmobile and Nightcrawler getting in on the action.

It was a delight to see Wonder Woman so soon after her solo film earlier this year. I felt Diana’s growth as a character, her personal quest complete. Disenfranchised and heartbroken by the atrocities committed in Man’s World during the first World War, Diana had stepped down from public superheroism. In BvS, we witness her reemergence as Wonder Woman, and inspiration by Superman’s sacrifice to be a hero again. Throughout the film we witness Diana struggle to move on from past losses. Motivated to resume the fight for Justice, Wonder Woman slowly makes peace with her past and openly performs acts of heroism by the end of the film. She expertly utilized her demigoddess powers, from dispatching terrorists and deflecting bullets to battling Steppenwolf himself one-on-one. Easily more powerful than the 3 recruits and Batman, Wonder Woman demonstrated her strength and combat experience throughout the film. Yet even her might is surpassed by that of Superman.

Easily the best part of the film, whenever Superman appeared onscreen, the audience went wild. Superman’s journey was emotionally compelling and by far the most rewarding. In Man of Steel we watched him realize his power, become Superman, and save the world. In BvS we witnessed Superman’s dismay as the world then questioned his intentions and rejected what he stood for. While Wonder Woman left superheroism for a century after experiencing trauma, Superman only exiled himself for a few days. He returned and sacrificed himself to defeat the monster Doomsday, posthumously inspiring Wonder Woman and Batman. For the first half of Justice League the world mourns Superman’s death. After the League’s first battle with Steppenwolf, Batman realizes that without Superman to inspire and fight with them the Justice League’s chances of prevailing are dismal. Using one of the Mother Boxes and technology from Superman’s ship, Cyborg and the Flash manage to resurrect Superman. Alive and more powerful than ever Superman joined the climactic battle against Steppenwolf, subduing the larger alien quite easily. Humiliated and afraid, Superman’s presence sealed Steppenwolf’s defeat and retreat to his home world. In Justice League, Superman is the embodiment of hope and strength, and even has a sense of humor. Watching his return to a world that now understands who he is and accepts him proved immensely satisfying.

I did have several qualms with the film, the foremost being the runtime. You’d think a Justice League movie deserves at least two and a half hours in runtime, but the film is just under two hours. While the movie is extremely entertaining, the fan in me couldn’t help but feel the adventure was too short. Also, there’s the issue of Superman’s lip. For some context, Superman actor Henry Cavill grew a moustache for another role and was not allowed to shave while doing Justice League reshoots. Therefore the vfx team had to digitally remove his facial hair, and while it’s only noticeable in 2 scenes, I could clearly tell something was off about Superman’s lip. Thankfully both of those scenes were brief. The villain, Steppenwolf, was also a bit weak and forgettable. For such a mighty being with a feared reputation, I thought Steppenwolf looked frail. His strength was also a little inconsistent; while he seemed on par with the Olympian gods in the flashback scene, Steppenwolf barely subdued Wonder Woman and Aquaman in the final battle. Although he wasn’t the most impressive villain, I have to acknowledge Steppenwolf’s focus and determination. While many villains fail to execute their plan and get carried away with pointless monologues, Steppenwolf was all business. He collected the three Mother Boxes, fighting only when necessary. These were small issues I had with Justice League, but they in no way ruined my viewing experience.

Justice League is an amazing movie featuring beautiful cinematography and intense action, while emphasizing strong characters. This film successfully unites an unlikely team of heroes, pumps humor and a lighter tone into a serious franchise, and excites general audiences about what will come next. A resounding applause from the audience perfectly sums up my reaction, and I rate this film a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Be sure to see Justice League in theaters now!