It could have been worse.
After the cinematic war crime that was Batman v. Superman, one might have expected Justice League to be a miserable movie filled with violent dude-bros and unseemly plot holes. Surprisingly, it wasn’t.
Viewers expecting travesty will be pleasantly surprised by Justice League, a film which — for the first time — unites flagship DC Comics characters Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman on the big screen.
This is not to say Justice League is good. The mediocre movie plays like an early-2000s Justice League video game. The visual effects are bad, the story is paper-thin and although fan-favourite characters are present, most are reduced to caricatures.
To understand how that translates to a welcome surprise, one must consider the shaky foundation this movie is built on.
Justice League is the fifth film in the DC comics’ extended universe (DCEU). It follows dour snoozefest Man of Steel, crappy music video Suicide Squad, the aforementioned garbage pile Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the actually quite good Wonder Woman. That last film left the DCEU on an upswing, but the average is generally low.
Gal Gadot carries this movie as Wonder Woman. The Amazon is a joy to watch. Her action scenes are captivating and she’s perfectly characterized, which one cannot say of her super friends.
The other Justice Leaguers look and sound familiar, but lack heart. Batman and Superman, two of the world’s most-identifiable superheroes, feel generic. Henry Cavill’s best moment as Superman is a cringe-worthy one-liner, and the amount of actually cool things Ben Affleck’s Batman does in the movie can be counted on one hand.
Ezra Miller as Flash is OK, but the character is better portrayed on television by Grant Gustin. Ray Fisher as Cyborg is good but under-utilized. Jason Momoa as Aquaman is inconsequential, yet actively unlikeable.
The movie’s villain, Steppenwolf, is a computer-generated bore. The unpopular comic character is a lackey to popular villain Darkseid. The decision to include him over his master is baffling.
More bewildering is Justice League’s utter lack of emotional depth.
The league comes together with about as much charisma as an office comes together for a Monday meeting.
Yes, that’s a step up in the DCEU, but it’s still inexcusable that a movie with A-list stars, backed by a powerful studio and based on 80 years of storytelling, is so lame.
The best thing one can take from Justice League is that it’s here.
Now that audiences have seen and understand the league, the groundwork is there for someone who cares to create a movie worth watching.
After all, Superman’s “S” stands for hope.
Two Mercedes-Benz product placements out of five.