No matter on which side of comic book nerddom you fall, there’s no getting around comparing the DC Universe to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, DC may have Superman and Batman, but let’s face facts: they don’t have the mega-popular X-Men, Thor, or Deadpool. At least “Justice League” is slightly better than last year’s “Suicide Squad.”
In this wannabe “Avengers” movie, the paper-paper-thin characters feel like pale versions of their far superior Marvel counterparts. There’s the Tony Stark-like Batman (Ben Affleck), the Captain America esque Superman (Henry Cavill), and a less interesting Ironman called Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Even The Flash (Ezra Miller) is reminiscent of Marvel’s new reboot of a slightly annoying teen Spiderman. When superheroes can’t stand on their own and only serve as constant reminders that, yeah, the DC characters kind of suck, the film never really stands much of a chance.
The plot is more of the same: a group of superheroes come together to save the planet from some evil CGI monsters / aliens. There’s nothing original here, but the biggest challenge the film faces is that these characters have no chemistry. Like bordering on zero chemistry. Individually they may work phenomenally but together, they’re barely ‘just okay.’
The best character here is Diana Prince / Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), yet all of the pro-feminism strides Wonder Woman made in her movie earlier this year are all but stripped away. It’s awesome when she fights off the bad guys but after every strong scene of her kicking butt, there’s some joke or wisecrack at the expense of her good looks. This male chauvinist angle aside, I do applaud writers Chris Terrio and supernerd Joss Whedon for taking Aquaman (Jason Momoa) in the only direction he could really go — they turn him into a whiskey-drinking, wannabe whale riding badass. The sincerity behind the camp is absolutely hilarious, and for all the right reasons.
It’s fun enough but not memorable nor exciting in the slightest. The majority of the attempts at humor fall flat. The special effects are mostly laughable and for a film with a huge budget like this, downright inexcusable. And as with every single other superhero film nowadays, it ends with an overly long, cartoonish action sequence that’s cut so fast you can’t tell what is going on. Everything about the project feels like a dopey caricature, harkening back to the candy-colored, silly 1990s-era “Batman” movies, only with darker cinematography. It’s mediocre, but it’s not awful.
When “it’s not that bad” is a sign of quality, it’s time for DC to do better.