There was a lot to like about Justice League but there were also some serious drawbacks which DC Comics and Warner Bros. need to work on before the series continues. You can read our full review of the film here but we thought we’d focus on some of the major pros and cons.
The chemistry between the 5 (or is that 6!) team members is excellent. With Wonder Woman and Batman sharing team leader duties it is up to Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman to provide support. More on Flash in a minute.
Aquaman provides some great comic relief though not on the same level as Flash. His surfer dude bravado is a solid contemporary twist on a character known as the laughing stock of the DCU. Though his scenes are slimmed down for the theatrical cut there’s still enough for him to do to whet the appetite for his solo adventure in 2018.
Cyborg is also a solid member of the team. Again his origin is a little murky due to the films editing but his characterisation is great. His interactions with the team are sparse until the final battle but as the others fight to protect him the sense that this group is becoming a family is palpable on screen.
Though there are very few moments when the full League appear together on screen in the same shot when they do it is exhilarating. Part of what makes the film succeed beyond its flaws is the League and their bond as a team.
Whist Henry Cavill puts in his best performance as Superman there is one aspect of his appearance in the film which lets him down: his CGI lip.
There was literally nothing Warner Bros. could do about the Mission Impossible 6 moustache. It has been well documented that Paramount Pictures held Cavill to account and contractually locked him in to keeping the facial hair. It had originally been expected that Cavill wouldn’t return to the Justice League set until after Mission Impossible 6 had finished film. When that was no longer the case Warner Bros. had to turn to digital artistry to remove the dreaded moustache.
Though not all of his scenes in the film are reshoots many are and the quality of the CGI varies greatly. Thankfully the final fight scenes come off without a hitch and moments shortly after Kal-El is resurrected are passable it is the cornfield scene which suffers the worst. It’s clear this scene was reshot to change the dialogue and this leads to some of the shakiest moments in the film.
Watch out Grant Gustin. We’ve got a new favourite Barry Allen. Ezra Miller is a shining light in this film as he lightens the mood and brings a sense of adventure to the proceedings. He has the most screen time of the new recruits to the team. Partly as he is the first to come on board but also as his scenes seem to be some of the most coherent in the film.
From visiting his father in Iron Heights prison to the reluctance to join battle there’s a clear arc for Miller to act the hell out of and he does it well. As Barry he learns to become part of the family and to pull his life together to have some meaning.
As The Flash he learns how to go from reluctant pusher to fully fledged hero. His mentor/mentee relationship with Batman is only shown in the briefest of instances in this cut but its existence gives us hope for the interplay between these two in the future.
The comedy timing works well with the script and he is able to stop the film from becoming slapstick whilst still garnering a strong laugh from audience members. We have really high hopes for his solo film.
Reshoots are nothing new in Hollywood. Plenty of films have suffered them and come out the other side for the better. It’s safe to say for a huge Hollywood blockbuster that they can be saved by adding some extra connective tissue. Justice League is not necessarily one of those films.
If there were entirely new scenes added to the film I couldn’t have pointed those out to you. They didn’t stand out from the rest of the film in the way that additional shots added to pre-existing scenes did. As you can see from the image box Ben Affleck’s appearance altered slightly between shooting periods and this where the reshoots become obvious.
Though it never borders on Kate Mara’s wig in Fantastic Four bad it is still noticeable. I’m not criticising anyone for gaining weight or growing a new beard. It’s the technique by which these moments are added to the film that make them obvious. Moments of green screen wizardry betray when the crew were unable to return to original locales or when sets had been taken down.
Haircuts change slightly. Makeup fluctuates. Lighting doesn’t quite match. The devil is in the detail and sadly someone wasn’t quite keeping a close eye when editing this film.
Justice League instills a huge amount of hope in to the future of the DC Films universe. That hope had already begun in Wonder Woman earlier this year but now we get to see the other members of the League portraying that same hopeful feeling.
From Flash’s youthful exuberance to Aquaman’s joyous screaming in battle each other heroes appears to be having fun in this film. Even when the stakes are at their highest. This is really cemented with the return of Superman.
For the first time in this new franchise we see him at his brightest. Both on screen and in metaphor. His costume is as blue, yellow and red as it has ever appeared on the silver screen. Just seeing Cavill for the first time in this way instills a feeling of hope and excitement in the crowd.
The films ending, though overtly positive, is a high point of driving home that feeling of hopefulness which needs to exist in the DC Universe. When times are dark these heroes are here to save us and at last it finally feels like that is the case.
In our review of the film I talked at length about my feelings on Steppenwolf overall. His appearance, despite being all CGI, is not the hugest of letdowns for Justice League. It’s his updated back story which is the real flaw in the character.
At some stage during the reshoot production it must have been decided to dial back on the Darkseid angle of the story and focus in on Steppenwolf as a lone wolf character. As such the scenes in which Diana explains his backstory to Bruce Wayne are also altered. In an early trailer we saw the two discussing the character in a brief glimpse of them in the Batcave. In the film this scene has shifted to a daytime walk by the lake at Wayne Manor.
As Diana explains that Steppenwolf has attacked earth before she misses out some key details. She mentions how the Mother Boxes will terraform Earth to be like his home world though never refers to it as Apokolips. Neither does she mention that Steppenwolf is acting as General for his uncle Darkseid.
It makes the film more accessible to the general audience but is disappointing for comics fans to see a great story diluted in this way.
One aspect of modern cinema that DC Films has toyed with but never fully committed to is the post-credit scene. It’s understandable given that Marvel is perhaps famous for popularising the technique of teasing future developments in this manner.
Justice League goes all in (pardon the pun) on this by having both a mid and post credit scene. The mid credit scene acts as a brilliant nod to a Superman comics cover from August 1967. Seeing Superman and The Flash race is a great final injection of humour and levity to the film. It’s also one last chance to see Henry Cavill’s fake lip in action.
The second scene is far more important to the future of DC Films. As we return to Arkham Asylum and also catch up with Lex Luthor and a character we won’t spoil here. It was a brilliant surprise and a jaw dropper to hear what Lex has up his sleeve now that he’s gotten wind of both Superman’s return and the formation of the Justice League.
We can only hope that Warner Bros. and DC Comics forge ahead with their plans despite recent setbacks.
What do you think of our picks? Sound off in the comments with your favourite and least favourite Justice League movie moments and checkout our YouTube playlist for Justice League below! (AppleNew users click the link)
Fuelled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Supermans selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes – Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash – it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
Justice League stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman and Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Joining them are Jason Mamoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg, and Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash.
The film is directed by Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon from a screenplay by Chris Terrio. Justice League hits cinemas on November 17th 2017 from Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment.