[Movie Commentary] ‘Justice League’ is okay — but it should have been a milestone

Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)

When “Superman” came out in 1978, starring Christopher Reeve as the title character, it promised audiences that they would believe a man could fly. And audiences did. Although other superhero films had come before it, “Superman” was the first major one to have a budget befitting a superhero movie.

When “Man of Steel” came out in 2013, with Henry Cavill in the role, it showed audiences just how much collateral damage Superman’s brawls could cause in real life. Favouring gritty “realism” over inspiring fantasy, it was a milestone in its own way because it showed Superman resorting to killing his opponent to save the lives of countless others.

So it’s not surprising that everyone expected “Justice League” to make as much of an impact as those two films. We would finally see DC’s premiere superhero team — Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg — on screen. They even threw in references to acknowledge other lineups that the Justice League has had.

What we got was a film that was… okay.

Not great. Not terrible. Just okay.

Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)


But that’s the problem, because “Justice League” wasn’t supposed to be just okay — it was supposed to be a milestone in superhero movies. Just as Marvel’s “Avengers” was a milestone when it came out, “Justice League” was supposed to be the next leap forward.

You can’t help but want it to be good. The film starts off fairly formulaically, showing us each of the superheroes in turn and what they’re doing in their individual lives. And you want to see it succeed, you want to see it become epic, you want to see them come together to become legends.

Instead, it becomes DC’s version of “Avengers”. To some extent, that’s to be expected since they have the same basic premise.

But you’d expect “Justice League” to be darker, grander, and a lot more differentiated. You don’t see enough of the Justice League fighting together as a team, which is the whole point of the movie. When they’re finally at full strength, the climax arrives and then the movie’s over.

Granted, it was announced that “Justice League” wouldn’t be as dark as the preceding DC movies. It integrates material from its reshoots much better than “Suicide Squad” did with their reshoots. However, the tone is a jarring difference from the last time we saw them some of the characters together in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”. And to suit the new tone, it seems like Batman and Superman’s characters were completely changed — they’re totally different people now, being much chirpier and less angry than they were. While a happy Superman is a good thing, we weren’t even eased into their modified personalities. It just happened.

Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)

And while we’re on the issue of Superman…

He’s significantly more powerful than the rest of the Justice League put together, as a battle halfway through the movie shows. In the climax, he mops the floor with Steppenwolf (the main villain) while everyone is struggling to hold their own. Simply put, Superman could solve the entire movie’s problems by himself (if he were alive from the beginning), so why does the Justice League even need to be formed?

Superman’s godlike abilities have often proven to be a problem in other renditions of the Justice League, since a threat that would pose difficulties to Superman would kill a normal human being (ie, Batman). Different mediums (like the comics and television series) have handled it with varying degrees of success, mainly through successful storytelling so that you don’t notice them handwaving the fact that Batman logically could not deal with the same sort of villains that Superman can.

Unfortunately, that’s storytelling is not here. You see Superman struggling (to use a very generous definition of the word) a grand total of once, but rest of the Justice League struggles all the time. It only magnifies the fact that Superman is in a completely different league (pun intended) from the rest.

The writers should have solved this very basic issue of Superman being overwhelmingly more powerful than everyone else in the Justice League, especially given that it’s on the silver screen.

Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)

That being said, “Justice League” has some amazing gems. Ezra Miller steals all of his scenes as the Flash. Gal Gadot is delightful as Wonder Woman. Jason Momoa is amusing as Aquaman. The story behind the Mother Boxes (the artifacts that everyone are after) is reminiscent of the epic scale of “Lord of the Rings”, what with its tale of how the Amazons, Atlanteans, and humans fought together.

When you’re watching “Justice League”, you’re rooting for the film to get better. You’re cheering on the heroes to join forces as a team. You want it to be a memorable, impressive milestone that the world will remember forever (or at least they change the cast).

Instead, it’s standard superhero fare.

“Justice League” doesn’t do justice to the Justice League.

Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)
Justice League. (Warner Bros Pictures)

“Justice League” is a superhero film that’s the fifth instalment in the DC film universe.

The plot sees the cosmic threat of Steppenwolf arriving on Earth. In response, Batman and Wonder Woman recruiting Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg and Superman to form the Justice League. However, their efforts may be too little, too late.

“Justice League” is written and directed by Zack Snyder, with additional writing credits for Chris Terio and screenplay credits for Joss Whedon. It stars Ben Affleck (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Henry Cavill (Superman/Clark Kent), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman/Diana Prince), Ezra Miller (The Flash/Barry Allen), Jason Momoa (Aquaman/Arthur Curry), Ray Fisher (Cyborg/Victor Stone), Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Connie Nielsen (Hippolyta), J.K. Simmons (Jim Gordon), Ciaran Hinds (Steppenwolf), with cameos by Joe Manganiello (Deathstroke/Slade Wilson) and Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor). It is rated PG.

There are two post-credit scenes.

Score: 3.5/5

“Justice League” opens in cinemas:
– 16 November, 2017 (Singapore)
– 16 November, 2017 (Malaysia)
– 16 November, 2017 (Philippines)

This article first appeared on and was written for Yahoo Singapore.

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I’m a Singapore television scriptwriter who’s written for Lion Mums, Crimewatch, Police & Thief, and Incredible Tales. I’m also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find me on social media as Optimarcus and on my site.

Send me an email if you want to get in touch!



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