Justice League? More like Justice Beleaguered amirite. The DC Extended Universe finally have their own Avengers to play with, but it’s a case of one step forward, two steps back for the franchise. Earlier this year, Wonder Woman delivered a satisfying, emotionally stirring superhero outing that could match the high-flying consistency of Marvel’s efforts (by DC’s patchy standards anyway). By contrast, this expedited team-up is a colossal, garish shambles that offers minor relief by being a smidgen less painful than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
It’s an awkward mix: Zack Snyder’s leaden, ostentatious bombast and Joss Whedon’s nimble japery. But considering how oppressive the former’s DCEU films have been, the latter’s contributions are definitely not unappreciated (the competitive ribbing between the Flash and a teammate is among Justice League’s brightest moments).
Ultimately this assembly of superheroes just doesn’t land with the same kind of rapturous pay-off we experienced with The Avengers. The new additions — Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg, all previously teased in Batman v Superman with some of the most clunkily shoehorned exposition in recent memory — feel more like two-dimensional supporting players rather than characters we’ve been warmly acquainted with over time.
The plot is thankfully streamlined, but yet another dull rehash of comic book movie tropes: abstract artifacts harnessing apocalyptic energy, blue columns of light beaming into the sky and swarms of hive-minded demons at the bidding of a god-like, ancient, supervillain. It’s all packaged in smeary, money-can-buy CG excess that might have found a way to hide Henry Cavill’s moustache but not instill Ben Affleck with a pulse. Justice is served, and Batman is fucking bored.