JUSTICE LEAGUE is an over-the-top, bonkers, superhero film with too much slow-motion and too many on-the-nose soundtrack songs matching exactly to the action on the screen.
BUT… as a limited series watched in parts, it mostly worked for me and I enjoyed it.
This is a film I’ve genuinely waited my whole life for. One of my earliest memories in life is as a toddler, outside my grandmother’s house, riding my plastic 3-wheeled hand-me-down Batman motorcycle up & down her street. Then I’d go indoors and we’d watch reruns of the Adam West/Burt Ward series. There’s a high probability I was wearing Wonder Woman underoos, another show I loved. BATMAN, Robin, and WONDER WOMAN were my gateway into comic books and superheroes. SUPERMAN quickly followed when I saw the Christopher Reeve movie for the first time. Every Saturday morning I watched SUPERFRIENDS, the animated show that brought all my favorite heroes together. The dream of a modern-day live-action Justice League was alive inside me as a kid in the 80s, and now that dream was coming true.
Having not seen the theatrical JUSTICE LEAGUE since the weekend it came out, this felt fresher than it could have. There are absolutely plenty of scenes that weren’t in the theatrical cut here that should have been, I don’t think there’s any denying that. But it felt like there was still a lot that could have been cut, like all or most of that slow motion.
While my fandom for Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman can be traced back to the beginning of my life, I never knew too much about Cyborg, the Flash, or Aquaman until I was an adult. I did get a kick out of the SUPERFRIENDS’ Aquaman, but the modern-day version is a lot more complicated than a guy who rode a seahorse and talked to fish. It is perhaps this freshness that really drew me into Cyborg’s journey the most in this film. Between the zaniness of the rest of our JL team, Cyborg is the heart of the film, he’s the character that pulls the plot together, and this version of Cyborg with Ray Fisher’s touching portrayal is absolutely something I hope to see on the big screen again.
There’s always a lot of internet chatter about who the best Batman is. I love West, Keaton, Conroy, Bale, AND Affleck. Ben was my absolute favorite thing about BATMAN V SUPERMAN and continuing into JUSTICE LEAGUE, he shined as the aging caped crusader. I try not to pick my absolute favorite because I think each of the men I named above bring a unique quality to the role, but I can’t imagine anyone else now as the elder Dark Knight. I’m excited to see Ezra Miller grow into the role of The Flash. They delivered a lot more comedic overtones than I was expecting when they were cast in the role and admittedly I’m still getting used to it. Re-imagining Aquaman from a white blonde dude to the tattooed Hawaiian adonis Jason Momoa is perhaps one of the best casting choices in Hollywood in the 2000s.
Proudly displayed in my living room.
When I realized I waited my entire life to see my first favorite heroes on screen altogether, I immediately felt two diametrically opposed emotions: First that there was nothing that could be done to meet my expectations, and second that no matter how good or bad the film turned out to be, I’d be happy to just have it exist. And that is where I still stand now. Were my expectations met? Yes, technically, they absolutely were. Am I happy this film exists? Again, absolutely. But did I love it? Did I hate it? Neither of those feelings fits here.
Seeing the culmination of my 40 years of fandom was at times emotional. I can’t deny that this film touched me on a level that brought back every little happy moment I’ve had around these characters throughout my life. Was it the best thing ever for me? It wasn’t. But I’m not mourning that. I’m celebrating that a creator got to make the film he intended to make. I’m celebrating that he too seems to love these characters as I do. I wish the entire thing felt more like a cohesive 2-2.5 hour film. But I’ll settle for a 4-hour miniseries. I’ll try to remain optimistic that this isn’t the last time we see these iterations of Batman, Superman, and Cyborg together even though I know deep down it is.
ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE is now streaming on HBOMax.