Justice League made me cry.
That’s not something I usually expect a superhero movie to do, but it happened, right at the beginning. The action picks up a few months after the end of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and (SPOILER ALERT) Superman (Henry Cavill) is still dead, and the world has gone downhill, quickly. With one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard — Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” slowed down and covered by Norwegian singer Sigrid — as a backdrop, we hear the lyrics “Everybody knows the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost” while a montage of totally depressing scenes unfurls to show us how bad things are now that the Man of Steel isn’t around to serve as a beacon of hope. Sniff.
In fact, even intergalactic villains have caught wind of just how desperate the situation on Earth is, and they are ready to take advantage of humankind. Enter Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hands, via motion-capture), a demon-looking baddie with a waaaay too complex backstory and mission for those of us unfamiliar with the comics to understand. What Steppenwolf is and what he’s trying to do is so convoluted that I’m not even going to attempt to explain it. But I still enjoyed the movie just fine despite all of the confusing terms being thrown around, like “Mother Boxes” and “Unity” and whatnot.
All that matters is that there’s a bad guy with an army of nasty flying things who wants to do something that would destroy the world. And so naturally Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck), who is feeling mighty guilty about what happened to his old frenemy, needs to assemble a team of good guys to fight off this evil foe. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), aka Wonder Woman, is already onboard, but now they need to convince three other “metahumans” with special powers to join them.
I tend to enjoy origin stories more than later installments of any franchise, but despite being the fifth movie in the DC Extended Universe, Justice League IS still an origin story of how the Justice League came together, and we get to meet three new characters who were the highlights of the film for me. Ezra Miller, who is hands-down one of my favorite actors, was the best thing about Justice League and brought much-needed humor and innocence as super-fast college student Barry Allen, aka The Flash. A close second is Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman. His character had some great jabs at Batman’s lack of actual superpowers, and served as the most cynical of the new crew.
And lastly we have newcomer Ray Fisher as Victor Stone, aka Cyborg, who — as a huge fan of the cartoon series Teen Titans GO!, in which Cyborg also appears — I was especially stoked to see.
Since Wonder Woman ended up being one of the year’s biggest hits, and deservedly so, I was happy to see Gadot’s character get lots of screen-time amidst all of the alpha males running around. She and the rest of the cast turned out great performances, and their efforts — along with a good dose of humor thanks to Miller, Momoa, and Affleck (when he wasn’t being all Serious Gravel-Voiced Batman) definitely outweighed the issues I had with the plot and Steppenwolf.
There are a few more surprises that I won’t give away, but here’s one you can probably already guess: you’re going to want to stay until the bitter end to get a hint about who the Justice League might be battling next.