What is it good for?
Justice League: War (2014): 6 out of 10: DC Comics rebooted their entire universe (Yes again. Why do you ask?) in what they call The New 52. So you know what that means, more origin stories. Yup, if there is one thing a comic book fan can’t get enough of, it is more origin stories. I know I know shoot me now.
So this is the origin story of The Justice League which consists off Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, a black guy who shoots lighting, an Indian who can grow large, a couple of alien twins and their pet monkey… hold on I am getting a notification here. Apparently, we have some roster changes.
Well, we at least have Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman still on board. The addition of Green Lantern and Flash are also welcome and make perfect sense.
I see the pushing of Cyborg continues, however. Yup, Cyborg is on the roster. Heck, he even gets an origin story. (Shock; Surprise; Fainting Couches). Is it the same origin story as before or since? No, of course not. Does it make any sense? Not a lick.
They send Robin to the curb. Has Robin even been seen since 1997’s Batman and Robin? Man, that movie destroyed both real and fictional careers. It’s like Showgirls for the comic book crowd. Aquaman is also a no show as well this time around. Instead, we get Shazam (Captain Marvel) of all people. Our bad guy is Darkseid, of whom I am not a fan. Oh, and he brought his mother boxes and his faceless mooks… yay.
The Good: It is better than Justice League (2017)? Sure they both have mother boxes and CGI mooks but at least Justice League: War has the excuse that everyone else is CGI as well. Plus Darkseid shows up himself. As I have said above and in other reviews, I am not a Darkseid fan, but he is leagues better than Foghat or Iron Butterfly or whatever the name of that lame villain in Justice League was.
Speaking of Darkseid, without giving too much away, he is in for a rough time of it in this film. These superheroes did not come to play. He won’t be watching Un Chien Andalou for a while without wincing. Come to think of it, I see little cinema in his future.
Batman is good in this film. They do his origin in a sentence or two instead of a flashback to Crime Alley, so let us all be thankful for small favors.
There is a decent amount of action in this film. Wonder Woman, in particular, is good in her fight scenes though she does fly without her invisible jet at least once which I don’t remember as one of her powers.
The Bad: Let me quote the fantastic Tv Tropes for a moment as they say it better than I can. “the film isn’t just dark, it’s incredibly mean-spirited to the point of being petty, and the majority of its heroes are completely unsympathetic egotistical jerks.”
Let us go down the roster. Batman and The Flash are entirely off the hook. Green Lantern is a bit cocky but honestly, that can work for the character, and it isn’t Cyborgs fault his origin and powers wouldn’t work in a story told by a five-year-old with an overactive imagination. (He is crushed inside a glorified vending machine, but three minutes after coming back to life he has these little mini-rockets and a targeting system?)
Then we have Wonder Woman and Shazam. Wonder Woman is all over the map. One minute she is using her Lasso of Truth to expose a cross-dresser (this is in no way an exaggeration nor a misprint) and not a second later she is marveling at ice cream and threatening people with her sword for more…well ice cream. Is she a five-thousand-year-old diplomat or is she a boy crazy idiot with no ability to talk to other people. Pick a bloody lane movie.
Shazam’s problem is two-fold. For those unfamiliar Shazam is a kid who can become a superhero by saying the word Shazam. In this iteration, the kid is an ungrateful thief with a personality that makes one wish an unfortunate accident. As an adult-sized hero, Shazam is fine but having him on the same team as Superman tends to water down his effect as they share many of the same powers, but Superman is… well Superman.
The Ugly: Superman. Man, this is rough. A combination of Alan Tudyk’s voice work and a script that doesn’t seem to go where it may have wanted to go. Was the script going for Superman as a powerful, angry alien that hates humanity? Because they nailed that. I have a feeling they were trying to go for an edgier Superman, but they missed it by a country mile. If you want to have Superian from The Tick or Ozymandias from the Watchman then put them in the show, don’t turn Superman into that because that is not Superman. Also, yes, I know there are entire websites, nay careers, dedicated to Superman being a jerk in the comics, but often it was inadvertent. Here they purposely went for darker and edgier in for the one character in the pantheon who doesn’t wear it that well.
In Conclusion: I would say a missed opportunity. But the deck was stacked against them from the get-go. The action scenes are well done, and there are some nice bits here and there. Justice League: War may not have been the Justice League movie you wanted, but it could have been a lot worse. I mean, watch Justice League again if you don’t believe me.