Production on Justice League took a tragic turn when Zach Synder had to step down and thus left the film in Joss Whedon’s capable hands (having directed The Avengers). The DC franchise did need a boost, which it received with Wonder Woman, and the only likely source it would come from would be Zach Synder whose cut of Batman vs Superman was far better received than the theatrical cut so it was sad, however understandable, to see Zach Synder leave the project.
Planet Earth is trying to come to grips with the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) which has left Earth at the mercy of alien invaders. It is not long that this news spread across the universe and a potential alien invader, in the shape of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), arrives on Earth looking to join the three Mother Boxes together to destroy Earth. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) recruits a special group of people, who all have amazing talents, that may help save Earth. However, they need Superman to even stand up to this new and deadly threat.
What made Marvel’s The Avengers work was the majority of the characters had already been introduced before the film had started. We had already had two Iron Man movies (one of which Black Widow made an appearance), a Thor movie and a Captain America movie. This meant we didn’t have to spend too much time introducing characters. DC to an extent have done the same, with two Superman movies (one with Batman and Wonder Women) and a Wonder Women movie. However despite this what the film hasn’t done quite as well is simultaneously introduce the new characters whilst developing the older characters.
The film’s attempt to do this hampers the pace of the movie which feels closer to 140 minutes rather than its dead on two hour time. Perhaps because there is so much to do (namely introduce three new characters) that the globetrotting required such feels slightly tiresome as though a big effort is required to get to know these characters. That’s not to say any of the new characters are bad (Ray Fisher’s Victor Stone/Cyborg I’m still not convinced by) but the film only kicks off only once they are all together and writer (and part time director) Joss Whedon transfers the effective chemistry and snappy dialogue of The Avengers to the members of the Justice League.
The DC series has been a target of criticism for being humourless, especially the two Superman entries. Wonder Woman changed that slightly by combining the darkness of the First World War with fish-out-of-water comedy. Justice League goes further by realizing the best bit of The Avengers were the Avengers themselves and made the members of the Justice League the stars of the show. Their chemistry works, and they all have their moments with Ezra Miller (as The Flash) providing the film’s comic highlights.
The relatively short running time, and how much they had to pack into it, does hamper the film a little bit (Commissioner Gordon may as well not be in the film), but it’s not quite as bad the reviews would have you believe.