The long-awaited “Justice League” finally arrived in theaters this past month. Directed by Zack Snyder, with post-production additions by Joss Whedon, the film features the long-awaited live-action team-up of DC Comics’ most popular superheroes.
The history of the Justice League (fully known as the Justice League of America) stretches back to long before the existence of the films. The team first appeared in National Comics (later DC Comics) and was comprised of the company’s most popular superhero characters at the time. The initial roster included Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. Together, these colorful crime fighters battled multiple menaces to save the world countless times, forming the core of DC’s popularity through the latter half of the 20th century. Over the years many new characters joined the team as others left, creating a perpetually-alternating membership. The team was adapted into a television cartoon in the 1970s as the “Super Friends,” and again in 2001 as “Justice League/Justice League Unlimited.”
Taking place shortly after Superman’s “death” in “Batman vs. Superman,” the “Justice League” movie details Batman’s efforts to bring the aforementioned heroes together when the villainous Steppenwolf (played by Ciaran Hinds), a warlord from the planet Apokolips, comes to Earth in search of three “Mother Boxes,” artifacts of power that he intends to use in a global destruction and transformation of the planet. Together, they are all that stand between the people of Earth and his massive army of Parademon warriors.
The movie is the latest addition to a series of recent films by Warner Brothers based on DC Comics characters, which include “Man of Steel” (2013), “Batman v. Superman” (2016), “Suicide Squad” (2016) and “Wonder Woman” (2017). It stars Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Henry Cavill as Superman. Replacing Martian Manhunter as a founding member of the team is Cyborg (better known as a member of the Teen Titans, another group of DC heroes), played by Ray Fisher. The supporting cast also includes Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, and J.K. Simmons. The soundtrack was composed by Danny Elfman, who provided the music for several previous superhero movies such as the first “Batman,” “Spider-Man,” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Boasting a budget of $300 million, “Justice League” is currently one of the most expensive movies ever made. However, reviews so far have been mixed. Though the tone of movie is lighter than its past counterparts, it is also very inconsistent, presenting a piece of mixed scenes and emotions. Some of the actors, especially Gadot and (surprisingly) a re-shot Cavill, offers a fine performance with the rest at least giving it their best with the material they have to work with. However, the film has a wide portfolio of flaws, including a complicated plot, lack of character development and motivation, poor CGI, muddled storytelling, and deviations from the characters’ traditional personalities. As such, it remains a mystery how Warner Bros. and DC will move forward with their take on the cinematic universe in the near-future.