Justice League’s tonal shift a welcome change


IF you are someone that doesn’t really like comic book movies (or at least is fatigued by them at this point), I’m sorry to say that Justice League isn’t the movie that’s going to convince you otherwise. What Justice League is, however, is an exercise in delightful fan service and an ambitious, massive course-correction for the DC movie universe.

After the decent Man of Steel, horrifyingly bad Suicide Squad and atrociously absurd Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, audiences are left with Wonder Woman, which was fabulous and one of the greatest recent comic book flicks to see release the past decade. With Justice League, DC (aka Warner Bros.) has made an attempt to distance itself from the dark, overly brooding nonsense of the previous films while simultaneously trying to leverage the success of Wonder Woman and embrace the recent trend in these comic book movies being more fun than dour.

The plot is simple: the villainous Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds) wants to destroy life on Earth. Meanwhile, Batman and Wonder Woman (Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot reprising their roles), in anticipation of this threat, have begun bringing together a team of Metahumans to save the world. Jason Momoa was really cool as Aquaman and Ray Fisher stood out as Cyborg, but Ezra Miller’s portrayal of The Flash stole the show. The overarching story of how the death of Superman in Dawn of Justice has affected the world is by far the most interesting aspect of the story. The CGI baddies act as the catalyst to bring the team together (which is the whole point of this movie) but the real heart of the film is how these characters are dealing with the loss of Superman.

As a film, Justice League is structurally a mess. Technically the film was directed by Zack Snyder (who directed Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice), but after the untimely death of his daughter, director Joss Whedon (The Avengers) was brought on for extensive reshoots and to oversee post-production. His influence on the film is extremely noticeable, which is one of the reasons the film feels so disjointed at times. Snyder’s dark imagery and serious tone has been tempered by Whedon’s lighter, more comedic sensibilities. The combination of these two very different tones created an inconsistent narrative. My other complaints with the film is that it felt very rushed, and it was too short. There should have been another 20-30 minutes of character development before the considerably entertaining and epic third act.

In spite of its flaws, I really enjoyed this movie. I am a self-proclaimed Superman/Batman fanboy, and I have been so disappointed with how these characters have been portrayed recently. It was so awesome to finally see them treated with the reverence and understanding they deserve.

At the end of the day, Justice League clears the very low bar set by the previous films, but is not in the same league as Wonder Woman, Thor Ragnarok or Guardians of the Galaxy. It is however a ton of fun, and fans of these characters (especially Supes and Bats) will be very pleased with how things turn out. I am personally very excited to see where this franchise goes.

Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at tbaymovieguy@gmail.com.

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