"Justice League" is now out in theaters and it's under-performing at the box-office and garnering a mixed, divisive response from critics and audiences alike, the two main attributes of most DCEU movies at this point. And with the release of any big movie that has everyone talking comes some inevitable talking of the big spoilers in said movie. In all honesty, there's not a lot in this movie that comes off as truly groundbreaking or special in terms of spoilers, but there's still just enough that I feel I need to talk about in more specific detail, so let's go.
The main plot of this movie is that the villain Steppenwolf arrives on Earth after the death of Superman and he's out to collect three Mother Boxes that are hidden around the world. When put together, these Mother Boxes basically create a newer, more derelict version of Earth and Steppenwolf is doing all of this for his master, Darkseid. The first two Mother Boxes are stolen by Steppenwolf from Themyscira and Atlantis and the third one on Earth is revealed to be in possession of Victor Stone/Cyborg, leading into my flaw with Cyborg as a character.
As much as there's an effort to make him sympathetic as half human, half cyborg, his sole purpose in this movie is to own the third and final Mother Box and get the plot rolling. There's some looks at his life with his father and how he's constantly adapting to living as Cyborg, but they all feel half-baked and obligatory. More is done with Cyborg as a character in the first half of the film, but his role in the second half is to simply possess the movie's MacGuffin and I feel more could've been done with him as an actual character who needs some fleshing out.
But back to being positive about the characters, I really liked most everyone else. Flash and Aquaman both have their own backstories with Flash's alter ego, Barry Allen, visiting his father in prison and doing everything in his power to prove his supposed innocence, and Aquaman having to live with being the reluctant King of Atlantis. Both of these characters have chips on their shoulders, but their respective pasts are interesting enough to make me want to see more of them in their own films.
Batman and Wonder Woman both have some great stand-out moments in this movie. Wonder Woman makes a grand entrance as she foils the bombing of a bank with her excellent theme blaring in the background, and once again doing her usual of trying to save as many lives as possible, thus displaying why I think she's the best of the DCEU heroes so far.
Batman also has some moments that I think are more in tune with Batman as a character in general. I didn't like how he went around killing everyone in "Batman v Superman", and I also wasn't a fan of him just standing around and brooding about how miserable his life is in that movie. But now in "Justice League", he's more of a likable mentor to the new members, specifically Flash. There's one great moment when Batman encourages Flash to save several hostages despite him not feeling ready to do so. That was a nice little moment that establishes that Bruce Wayne has been doing this long enough to understand his fellow heroes and what they go through the first time on the job. Granted, I feel like some of his one-liners and quips were out of place ("Sorry, guys, I didn't bring a sword", "I don't...not like you") but this was a vast improvement in the portrayal of this character.
Though if I'm being nitpicky, there are some moments in the movie when Batman should be straight-up dead. One scene has Bruce Wayne taking a direct punch to the chest from Wonder Woman after mocking her deceased lover, Steve Trevor, and he's able to walk if off just fine after only a few minutes. Then just a few scenes later, he gets thrown against a car by Superman at full force, wearing only his batsuit. Call me crazy, but Batman should AT LEAST be a vegetable at that point. Instead he just jokingly mentions something bleeding and gets up and ready to go in a matter of minutes. I know that I'm nitpicking at this point, but these are just small moments that stick out in my mind.
And since I just mentioned him, I might as well talk about Superman and his role in the movie. There comes a point in the movie's second act when the entire Justice League decides to bring Superman back to life to help them fight Steppenwolf and restore hope in humanity. Flash and Cyborg dig up his grave and take his body to the Kryptonian ship from "BvS" where the League uses the Mother Box to revive him. Superman is awakened, but he only has fragmented memories and he initially sees the Justice League as a threat. The fight between them is entertaining enough, but it brings the movie's main plot to a half just for the sake of some more action.
Superman is on the verge of killing Batman, but then once again Lois Lane has to pop in at the last second and save the day. Lois triggers Superman back into his normal state and they fly off back to Superman's home in Smallville. I know that Lois arriving was Bruce Wayne's plan just in case Superman went batshit crazy and murderous, but I'm tired of Lois's portrayal in the universe so far. He only purpose so far seems to be acting as a plot convenience who just randomly shows up and snaps people out of a violent rage. A lot more needs to be done with her character.
The bringing back of Superman does create a contradiction within the universe, though. The very last shot of "BvS" is of Superman's casket with the dirt floating up off of it, implying that Superman is alive and that his return is inevitable. But this movie establishes that Superman is long dead and the only thing that can bring him back is the Justice League stepping in and using a Mother Box to rise him from the grave. There's conflicting information in this movie and it really scratches your head as to whether Warner Bros. actually has a solid plan for the DCEU.
But now with Superman back, we get into the third act which is the movie's least interesting part and that's something that can be said about all of the DCEU movies at the moment. As much as I really like "Man of Steel" and "Wonder Woman", they both suffer from third acts that rely too heavily on tons of CGI and action overload and that's what we have with "Justice League". The group is fighting off a whole bunch of Parademons, some random family is being attacked by them in their home, and Steppenwolf is doing his usual shtick of being boring and cliched. I started to zone out at one point in the climax, but the return of Superman is what barely pulled me back into the movie. He enters with a line that's something along of the lines of "I love truth and I'm a big fan of justice" and then proceeds to kick Steppenwolf's CGI ass. That line is undeniably cheesy, but I couldn't help but crack a smile at it as it sounded like a tongue-in-cheek reference to some hammy line that Christopher Reeves' Superman would say.
Honesty, I think this movie has a genuinely solid portrayal of Superman. I like him in "Man of Steel" as a hero who's struggling to learn his place in the world. Some people found it unnecessarily brooding, but I enjoyed the new take on the character. But then he got turned into mopey little punk who didn't seem to find any joy in anything in "BvS". Now in this movie, he's actually saving people, cracking jokes with the rest of the Justice League, and putting on that boy scout persona that he's known for. We basically get to see the potential that lies within Henry Cavill's Superman should Warner Bros decide to hire better writers. Cavill himself comes off as a genuinely charismatic, likable person and he's had very little opportunity to display it in this role until now. Superman was back to being likable in this movie and it was something that made the third act slightly more tolerable.
By the end of the movie, Steppenwolf and his army are summoned back to their world having failed their mission and the Justice League is more or less formed. This leads to out two post-credits scenes, one of them being a humorous mid-credits scene with Superman and Flash racing to see who's the fastest, a scene that has Joss Whedon's writing all over it.
The second post-credits scene was very conflicting for me. It basically reveals that Lex Luthor has escaped Arkham Asylum and he meets with Slade Wilson/Deathstroke to talk about forming their own league of villains. The thing that made this scene difficult to watch was Jesse Eisenberg. I despise this casting choice to this day and I honestly think his performance in "BvS" is one of the single most annoying performances I've ever seen in a movie. Granted, he's much more toned down in this little cameo, but it's still difficult to take him seriously with his squeaky voice and oversized bald head. On the bright side, Joe Manganiello looks badass as Deathstroke, so I'm the least bit interested to see what type of league they'll be forming.
So those are my spoiler-heavy, reiterated thoughts on "Justice League" and nothing has really changed. I still think there's some enjoyment to be had with this movie in terms of the characters and some action scenes, but I still think it's just a middle-of-the-road comic book movie that doesn't live up to its potential. When I first saw "The Avengers" in 2012, I walked out of that theater wanting to cheer, having felt like I just witnessed something big for comic book movies. With "Justice League", though, I just kind of reacted with a resounding "meh" and that appears to be the general consensus.