When it comes to comic book companies, it may seem like I prefer Marvel (which is true on the movie front) but in reality I prefer DC. I own more DC comics, I find the characters more interesting and the world more diverse. My anticipation for this movie was quite high. I know the trailers made it look dark and gloomy (which is not the tone of most DC comics, excluding Batman) but I loved what the film was going for and where the cinematic universe was heading. I watched the film wearing my Batman shirt and expecting a good time. Due to the negative reviews I was quite anxious, but I ended up quite liking it. There is a lot to work on in terms of making this cinematic universe better, but as an introduction to most of the Justice League it’s a decent set up.
I’ll do things slightly different from my usual reviews. I’m going to look at the good points and bad points separately, before looking at where the cinematic universe could go and how to improve. Let’s call the good portion Yay, and the bad will be Nay. Let’s look at the good first, and there will be spoilers ahead-
- Wonder Woman was awesome. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the character. Yes, her inclusion in the final fight is quite forced and she has very little to do with the overall plot (more on that later), but what she did was fantastic. The most faithful character to the comics in the whole movie. Thanks to this movie, I literally cannot wait for the Wonder Woman movie next year. I may be anticipating it more than Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Thor: Ragnarok.
- Batman’s costume is the best interpretation outside of the comics. I liked the Dark Knight suit but the one in this movie was so awesome. The mech suit also worked really well. This was also my favourite interpretation of the Batcave. As for Batman’s character, I’ll get to that later.
- I actually quite liked Superman here. He’s the only character from the Justice League I don’t care for, as I find him bland and way too powerful. In this movie, he’s more human and has flaws, making him a more interesting character. I still don’t like him overall, but he worked fine in the movie. Obviously by the end he is killed by Doomsday, but of course he’ll return.
- The action was great. Batman gets fantastic fight scenes lifted straight from the comics and the Batmobile is awesome. While the first half is slow, the action is ramped up in the second half. The titular fight was really fanboy pleasing to me, even if there are flaws with the set up. I adored the fight with the three heroes teaming up to fight Doomsday (more on him later), though I wish Batman had more to do. The whole movie felt like a comic book come to life.
- I liked most of the story and themes. I like the idea of Superman being a figure of controversy thanks to the destruction in Man of Steel, and Batman’s motivations for fighting him were quite well established. My favourite aspect of the movie was the realistic way the superheroes mesh with the real world, with news reports and political debates about Superman. One of my main concerns was how Batman was going to be set up in the movie, but his world was set up really well. I really want to watch the solo Batman movies after this, hopefully with villains we haven’t seen before like Clayface, Man-Bat and Hugo Strange.
- In complete contrast to Wonder Woman, who couldn’t have been done better, the villains were really, really badly done. Lex Luthor in this movie is basically the Joker, yet without the subtlety and dynamics of him. In the comics, Lex Luthor is a cold, calculated mastermind who plots with precision and cunning. During Forever Evil, where all the world’s heroes have been kidnapped by their evil counterparts, Lex leads a team of other villains and Batman to fight the evil versions off and rescue the heroes. The storyline is a prime example of Lex’s calm and manipulative nature as well as his wisdom and leadership skills. In the movie, not only is he not bald, but none of the wisdom or cunning is present. He’s just a mad scientist with a really stupid plan.
- The other villain was just as bad. Doomsday in the comics may not be a complex character, but he is still a powerful foe. In this film, he is a third act villain thrown in for a giant CGI fight with confusing powers and he poses no threat. I loved the fight at the end overall, but Doomsday was really poor and was killed off easily. If I was writing the movie, I would remove Doomsday, make Lex Luthor be like the comics and have the final fight be the heroes versus Lex in a giant Kryptonite suit. I would save Doomsday for another movie.
- Batman’s character was pretty hit or miss. His detective skills and fighting style is spot on, but the fact that he kills people really bothered me, and put me off the character, which is a shame because Batman is my favourite DC hero. Quite why Batman kills in the film is never explained and I really hope this aspect of the character is removed from Justice League and his solo movies.
- The plot is quite vague. It starts fine but Lex Luthor’s plans are never clearly defined and his end goal is confused. There are many plot holes and coincidences. The structure is pretty poor too, as the start of the film has many opening scenes, one of which is another retelling of Batman’s origins. The characters don’t merge until later on, which is disappointing.
- The Justice League connections are pretty bad. While Marvel have plenty of links to other movies, most of them feel organic. Having the Hulkbuster fight be in Wakanda, home of the Black Panther, was a great link which felt integral to the plot and didn’t stop the movie. Here, there is a hallucination with the Flash appearing to Batman saying something which may be a hint to Crisis on Infinite Earths or Flashpoint, but it comes out of nowhere and is never mentioned again. Even worse is the email which Wonder Woman opens containing files on the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. The scene is just showing clips of the other heroes and once again adds nothing. That really should have been the after credits scene.
I realise the Nay section is longer, but I still really enjoyed watching the film and seeing Batman on the big screen was a joy to behold. To improve the DC cinematic universe I would make the characters more faithful to the comics and make the movies flow together more. That said, I am still intrigued to see where the cinematic universe is heading, and I eagerly await Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League. If this turns out to be the weakest comic book movie of the year, then I’m just glad it was pretty decent, as it could have been worst. Now it’s time for the Civil War…