Justice League is an entertaining but controversial superhero story

The film’s heroes save the world with style and finesse, but they cannot save the film from itself

(Image courtesy of Warner Bros.)

By: Jonathan Pabico

Depending on your perspective, director Zack Snyder’s Justice League provokes mixed feelings or total resentment as a sequel to his other movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Justice League has a talented cast and gives the DC film universe momentum that it lacked before, but it is layered with flaws and controversy.

     Colossal battles pitting main antagonist Steppenwolf against the Justice League and Themyscira’s Amazons provide the film with stylized, intense action. Snyder gives equal opportunities for showmanship to all six heroes of the Justice League. One did not overshadow another in their individual moments, especially during the film’s action sequences.

      Henry Cavill’s performance as the resurrected Superman is impressive. Jason Momoa’s portrayal of Aquaman as a heavy-drinking tough-guy loner is passable enough to entertain. Ben Affleck continues portraying Batman as subdued, gruff and brooding. Among the gifted actors portraying the movie’s superheroes, Ezra Miller as Flash really stands out as the story’s central source of comic relief. Miller’s performance brilliantly evokes Flash’s fascination and excitement in working alongside Batman and the rest of the League. He portrays Flash as a naive goofball, whose child-like mentality and hyperactive quips provide a good dose of humour. His comical interactions with the film’s superheroes develops into a natural synergy with the more dramatic encounters between other League members.

     Snyder explores each hero’s personal suffering through their hardships and failings in a way that deeply humanizes these characters. One instance of this is an interaction between Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). The two heroes form an understanding during their time on screen together that genuinely conveys their emotional strife in coping with loss, and in tolerating a world that they feel isolated from. These encounters make the film’s superheroes relatable and grounded individuals, struggling with real-life problems.

     Gadot as Wonder Woman gives a performance that is powerful in every sense of the word. However, the movie has provoked backlash on social media due to significant changes made to the Amazons’ costumes in the film. These costumes deviate from the previously fully armoured uniforms for a more skimpy look. Unlike Lindy Hemming’s meticulous costume design in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman movie, the Amazons’ costumes in Justice League are more revealing, including impractically bare midriffs. Although the film’s Amazon warriors maintain their fierce resolve and courage as a people, the film has drawn criticism for sexualizing these characters.

The Amazons’ costume controversy will linger long after the film’s box office run ends, so we can only hope that future DC superhero films will portray their female characters more realistically. Overall, Justice League is an entertaining story of superheroes.