Curse of the DCEU (critically-speaking)
Outside of Wonder Woman, and to some extent, Man of Steel, the DCEU has had its share of hiccups. From the underwhelming Suicide Squad, and by most measures, the disappointing Batman v Superman, the DC film universe has not lived up to the lofty expectations that its world-renowned characters (i.e. Batman and Superman) have set.
As you can see from the wide disparity between the Rotten Tomatoes (40%) score and the Audience score (80%) for Justice League, critics continued their trend (Wonder Woman notwithstanding) of frowning upon the DCEU while moviegoers generally seemed to enjoy this movie.
I think the truth lies somewhere in between. If you take the average of both scores, you get a 60%, and that is an above average movie, which I think Justice League is. Some of my friends, who are diehard MCU fans, claim that I am lowering my bar because Justice League is a DCEU film. But that is not the case.
What I Liked
So much for a no joke policy. What I like most about Justice League is that it’s simply a fun movie. Sure, the team-up setup is not new but what is refreshing here is that the movie doesn’t take itself as seriously as its predecessors. The lighter tones and banter between the world’s greatest heroes clearly have Joss Whedon’s hands written all over them. And it’s a good thing.
The new additions handle themselves admirably. The Flash is funny. Aquaman and Cyborg are solid. But most importantly, it seems like the actors enjoyed making this movie together, and it shows in the chemistry between the characters. But the standout here is Gal Gadot. Batman provides the brains and billions, Superman provides the nuclear option, but Wonder Woman is the heart and soul of the crew, reminiscent of Captain American in Marvel’s the Avengers.
What Could Have Been Better
This team-up film is inherently lacking because more than half of its members (Aquaman, Batman, Cyborg and the Flash) have not had their own stand-alone stories told. It’s always been a pet peeve of mine that the DCEU has always felt rushed, perhaps in attempt to catch up to the MCU’s run of success. I sincerely wish they stuck to a stand-alone movie plan to build up to the Justice League. I do not think it’s a coincidence that the DCEU’s only two stand-alone films, Man of Steel and Wonder Woman, are its also highest-rated movies.
Steppenwolf. It is more like stepping stone as far as I am concerned. Forget the fact that this villain has no brand name cache outside the comic book set, his on-screen depiction leaves a lot to be desired. He is a cliche, CGI-filled, and ultimately, cookie-cut villain. Earlier, I noted how this movie feels a little like an MCU film in terms of its humorous dialogue. It also seems to emulate an MCU film in another way: a cookie cutter villain.
I feel the critics are being a little hard on Justice League, and displaying confirmation bias because they are lumping it with other shaky DCEU entries. But I believe it’s better than Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, and definitely more fun than Man of Steel.
Do not compare it to the Avengers, because it’s not on that level. But do not hold that against it either. If you go in with an open mind, you will find Justice League to be fun, in a Saturday morning cartoon kind of way. And sometimes, that is just fine.