While by no means is Justice League a perfect movie, it makes significant headway toward resolving many of the narrative, character, and tonal issues that have plagued DC’s cinematic universe.

Following the events which took place in 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the world is in mourning. Their hope dying with the Man of Steel, the human race has seemingly given in to despair and hate – held together only loosely by those few heroes who remain. Responding to the apocalyptic visions he received in the previous film, Batman has been searching the planet for heroes to bring together to defend the Earth from the forces of an ancient and otherworldly evil.

Justice League has, without a doubt, a lot of issues. From its rough narrative decisions and pacing issues to its iffy CGI and utterly forgettable villain, it would be easy to write off the film but for one thing – once it hits its stride, it’s actually a lot of fun to watch.

After about the first third of the film, the characters begin to lift themselves from the mire of angst that has been, thus far, indicative of the Zach Snyder DC films and they begin to become more akin to their comic book counterparts. Batman is dour and crusty, Wonder Woman is genuine and completely badass, Flash is hysterical, and Aquaman is snarky and just plain fun to watch. Cyborg, unfortunately, loses out on much of the potential character development that the other characters receive, but he does eventually move out of the “brooding” stage.

Problematically, however, these classic characters put up against a villain that seems so generic that it’s almost laughable – a placeholder baddie in a universe that is chock-full of complex and interesting supervillains.

That having been said, Justice League is significantly better than all of the recent films – with the exception of Wonder Woman. It feels like, in this film, that the studio, writers, and director are all starting to realize that there is something more important than just the inclusion of the DC characters – they are remembering to make the film fun. The heroes are good at what they do and they are learning, albeit slowly, how they complement each other’s strengths and make up for each other’s weaknesses. The characterizations are by no means perfect, but they’re getting there – and that’s a huge step in the right direction.

There’s still a long way to go for DC’s cinematic universe, but Justice League seems to be proof that the concept can work – they just need to remember that the films, and their characters, need to be multi-dimensional.

No one can be dark and angsty all the time – not even the Batman.

3 out of 5 stars

Rated: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon, Zack Snyder,Chris Terrio
Starring: Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller, Henry Cavill, Ray Fisher
Release Date: November 17, 2017
Runtime: 2h 1m
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