Batman and Wonder Woman detect Parademon activity on Earth and determine that it’s time to recruit the potential Justice Leaguers that will band together and stop Steppenwolf’s threat on Earth. The Apocalypse villain, working for Darkseid is attempting to reclaim the Earth using the three mother boxes that will terraform Earth into a copy Apocalypse and transform humanity in hordes of Parademons. As in the past, where Atlanteans, Amazons, and humans banded together, will today’s heroes be able to push back this alien threat?
If there is a theme to this movie, it is that every hero has a mother and that having grown away from them, they find themselves and attempt to rebuild their lives without them. But the mother boxes that destroy lives and worlds are also mothers, just a bit more evil.
I do not understand what is wrong with movie critics as they universally hated this film. As a comic reader, as someone who has been a fan of the Justice League for decades and who is well-versed in the lore introduced in the movie, I can claim that this movie smells and breathe DC Comics as none have since The Man of Steel reboot of the cinematic DC Comics universe. To be clear, the Man of Steel did not feel like a DC Comic film. Justice League is.
Zak Snyder was attempting to stay close to the material but unlike Marvel Comics, did no replicate the original stories with a simple update. Snyder took many elements from DC Comics and played with them crafting a totally new origin for the most important super hero team in history.
For those readers who still marvel at the Avengers, you must understand that they are the clones. The Justice League is the direct descendant of the original super hero team, the Justice Society. The Avengers were nothing but an attempt by Marvel Comics to cash in on the popularity of the Justice League in the 1960s. Quickly, the Avengers went for their own style and lore, abandoning the idea of great men and women banding together to stop an evil none of them could stop alone. The Avengers bicker much more with one another than the Justice League. This inner team conflict is at the root of the Avengers' history. But this not a staple of the Justice League.
The Justice League movie draws from this original premise of great men and women fighting together. Batman’s recruitment of Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg is part of a long tradition of the Justice League that also includes Superman and Wonder Woman going out there and finding other characters of merit who will fight by their side. The Justice League has always been about collegiality. This movie exhibits this to great extents.
Whereas in the Avengers, Hawkeye and Black Widow seemed out of their league next to Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk, in the Justice League, there are no weak members. Batman is the only one without powers, but he brings tactical knowledge, a lot of gear, and money to their endeavour. Each member of the team is incredible alone.
Wonder Woman shows that she possesses the swiftness of Hermes early in the movie when she stops a terrorist threat. Aquaman is introduced as a man of water but with affinities with both land and the oceans. Cyborg is obviously a man of technology and Flash is lost in time. Each of the three new heroes have extensive backstories which are alluded to briefly and that will surely be explored in future movies. Unlike Batman versus Superman, Snyder did not slow the movie with too much exposition and backstory.
Because of Marvel’s success, there are many jokes and friendly banter between the Justice Leaguers. Wonder Woman, surprisingly was the adult in the room and that was wonderful (apologies for the bad pun). Steppenwolf’s background was not explored in detail. He was the villain of the week that the Justice Leaguers used to face in their early days. Besides being evil, he has little to do and no second-in-command or consort with whom he can plot. He could have been called Despero, Kanjar Ro, or Starro and it would not have made much a difference. His parademons were mindless.
Over at Marvel, villains tend to be more developed. Unfortunately, Steppenwolf will surely be forgotten quickly and even while having the honour of being the first villain of the cinematic Justice League, he will probably remain a B villain in the comics. His construction as a 3D character did not help much as his face seemed to be made of plastic. His design was super cool, especially his solid beard, but not much of it was inspired by his creator, Jack Kirby.
Steppenwolf, nevertheless, fulfilled the task of being a villain that the Justice League must fight as a team. The amount of teamwork in this film is again, a staple of the Justice League and something that differentiate them from the Avengers. Sure, the Avengers help one another all the time but not to the extent of the Justice League where the weakness of one, allows the other pick up the slack and shine.
Before I jump to the spoilers, I want to remind viewers that they must stay seated in the theatre until the last credits have rolled by. There are two extra scenes in this movie. Finally, Rick and Morty fans should pay attention to their favourite dimensional travelers. I’m just saying.
Justice League is approachable and not convoluted. The villain lacks dimension, but the heroes have plenty of that. This is not a Marvel movie. The heroes here are presented as leading warriors, much like Grant Morrison reinvented them in the late 1990s. They are part of a pantheon. Snyder changed a lot of their background but only to make things work for the movie. Much of the changes still draw from some version of DC Comics’s lore, just not the current one.
Do go see this movie. P.S. the 1989 Batman theme is back!
One pet peeve, Amy Adams playing Lois Lane gets first billed ahead of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher. I commend Adams for having negotiated such a good contract but putting her ahead of the real heroes is idiotic.
The rest review will include spoilers so please stop reading now if you do not wish to know about them.
I enjoyed Superman’s handling in this movie. Snyder went for the classic one above all the others by showing that none of the other Justice Leaguers can match him. Wonder Woman and Aquaman struggled against Steppenwolf. Not Superman. Superman is now probably as fast as the Flash. That remains to be determined and something that Snyder played with in one of the end credits.
A Green Lantern was seen briefly in a flashback of heroes of the past. Steppenwolf killed him. He had red skin but not much is known about him.