Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck), and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) — who made an appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice join forces with Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to fight cosmic invaders in an action-packed but fluffy movie that tries to shoulder the momentum of this year’s breakout Wonder Woman film.
With Superman dead and the world in turmoil over losing its brightest beacon of hope, fear has risen to new heights. With no protector to keep alien forces at bay, the powerful Mother Boxes awaken and call outside forces to come and claim them.
Hoping to unite the boxes into one construct that will redesign Earth into a fiery landscape more fitting for his kind, the alien Steppenwolf assaults Themyscira and Atlantis and takes the boxes.
The third box, entrusted to man, has been found and placed in a secret lab by the scientist Silas Stone who uses its power to resurrect his son into a human-tech hybrid.
Meanwhile, Batman, a little bit kinder and gentler after having seen his newfound friend give his life to stop Doomsday, works with Diana Prince to make the world a better place by scouring the ends of the Earth for superheroes.
With the squad gathered, the Justice League do their best to save the world, but come up short against a superior force. If they’re really going to stop Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciarán Hinds), they’ll need to bring an old friend back to life.
Ultimately, Justice League feels more like a reaction to years of criticism rather than a pointed step forward for the DCEU. Director Zack Snyder and fill-in director Joss Whedon have incorporated more humor, brighter colors, and more theatrics to create a more palatable package that’s more entertaining, easier to look at, and faster paced. Our heroes not only feel more comfortable in their own skin, they smile, joke, and use banter.
But underneath that shinier, happier veneer, Justice League doesn’t offer much else besides a flat plot that serves merely to connect action sequences together. Fans of the previous DCEU movies will be disappointed to see everything that made up those movies — the seriousness, the urgency, and character development that examined the cores of its character — jettisoned and replaced with fun and entertainment for fun and entertainment’s sake.
It’s a shame, really, especially given the fact that its greatest star gets lost in the shuffle. In a universe made for Snyder’s killer Batman, there is no longer a place for the Darkest of Knights. Batman’s sole purpose in Justice League is to form the team and stick out like a sore thumb. In the comics, he’s the team’s chief executor — the tactician and chief strategist who becomes only the second person in the DC Universe to escape Darkseid’s Omega Sanction.
In the movie, Batman delegates leadership to Wonder Woman, has his tech commandeered by Cyborg, and fights off a couple random minions while the rest of the group takes on the big bad. As Bruce Wayne, his opinions and decisions are constantly challenged by his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons), the moral and rationale counterpart to Batman’s paranoia, egotism, and regret-filled existence.
As Batman goes, so does the rest of the film. Filled with regret for not winning at the box office, Warner Bros. has shifted their approach, swinging the pendulum far to the other side to make a movie that is more Marvel than Marvel at its worst — formulaic and relying too heavily on its comedic elements.