One-dimensional bad guy threatens to take over or destroy the world. Good guys overcome their differences and unite to take on the bad guy. It’s a scenario that plays out in the most recent batch of superhero films. Justice League, the latest entry in this category, does not offer anything glaringly new. But damn, it was fun to watch! One can’t help but succumb to the spell that its action sequences cast – Wonder Woman spinning and deflecting bullets, Aquaman shooting through the sea, and many others.
This time, the bad guy is Steppenwolf, a huge brute who beams down to Earth from the planet of Apokolips (he must be from the City of Overly Dramatic Speeches). Steppenwolf wants to find three Mother Boxes, the joining of which will allow him to take over Earth. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) sets out to assemble a group of heroes to stop the horned tyrant and his horde of flying Parademons. Wayne’s list includes the ever-entertaining Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot); the gruff Aquaman (Jason Momoa); the Flash (Ezra Miller), who views the world of superheroes with boyish admiration; and the ultra-serious Cyborg (Ray Fisher), robotized by his father after an accident. Moreover, there is a volatile potential sixth member, whom the team confronts in the film’s best scene.
Though not as funny as Marvel’s most recent blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League does have its moments. Especially enjoyable is Aquaman, who blends a rock star’s attitude with a 13-year-old boy’s vocabulary. His quotes are legendarily simplistic: “My man!,” “I dig it!,” and most profound of all, “Ye-ah!” In one scene, Aquaman, who has clearly established himself as a badass with the introspection of a sea cucumber, is duped into sharing his feelings.
Slo-mo scenes that show action from the Flash’s perspective are entertaining, though not as well done nor as humorous as those depicting Quicksilver in recent X-Men films. The funniest Justice League slo-mo scene has the Flash registering shock when another character sees him approaching at super speed.
The film also executes a brilliant marketing scheme – yes, the heroes come together as a team, but each has his or her own logo. Who’s your favorite? Though Batman has neither the strength nor the speed of his cohorts, he may be the most powerful hero. After all, he’s the one who unites the heroes. When Barry Allen/the Flash asks him what his special power is, Bruce Wayne responds, “I’m rich.” And for an instant, reality takes hold. – Douglas J. Ogurek *****