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The following feature dives into multiple spoilers for Zack Snyder's Justice League. You have been warned!
After years of waiting, Justice League finally is in theaters! Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) are building their team of metahumans, ready to defend the planet now that the Man of Steel, Superman (Henry Cavill), has sacrificed himself to stop Doomsday. And reviews be damned, you went to go see Zack Snyder's superhero ensemble team (or, you skipped our spoiler warning and are reading ahead in preparation).
Good. Despite the fact that there are missteps in the maiden voyage of DC's league of super friends, Justice League still gets a number of things right, and provides enough of a foundation to once again have us believe that future DC films can continue to course correct and give these heroes the types of big-screen adventures that they deserve. You won't see Steppenwolf on this list. Instead, here are four things that really worked in Justice League (and one that didn't), starting with:
Cyborg's powers, and his overall look
Because he's the newest member of the team, and a DC hero with less name recognition than, say, Aquaman or Superman, I really wasn't sure how Cyborg was going to translate to this team. Also, because of his design, the bulk of Ray Fisher's appearance had to be digitally rendered. (I visited the Justice League set. I saw Fisher in his leotard. He's mainly CGI.)
And yet, Cyborg walked away as one of the most interesting members of the JL, because his powers are out of his control, and connected to the Mother Box tech that Steppenwolf seeks to acquire. Cyborg didn't choose to become this monster -- it was the decision of the "monster" he calls father, the head of S.T.A.R. Labs. And even as the movie progresses, his powers evolve... in ways that surprise him. I felt like Justice League scratched the surface of what DC can do with Cyborg, and I left wanting to see more. Great final shot, where he finally perfects his costume, too.
Flash's speed force
How do you present "excessive speed" in a new fashion, after we have seen Quicksilver (in Avengers: Age of Ultron), another Quicksilver (in two X-Men movies), and a Flash who has occupied his own TV show on the CW for multiple seasons?
Justice League has its own fun creating Flash's speed force, wrapping our hero (Ezra Miller) in a blue-lightning cocoon that trails behind him as he zigs and zags through the action. The movie uses the character's speed for quick jokes (no pun intended) -- as when Barry draws on the face of a rude dude, or accidentally lands on Diana, only to move off her rapidly. The Flash will truly kick into another gear when Barry learns he can manipulate time, eventually. But for a debut effort, the movie Flash and his signature speed force stood apart from its competition, and that's super impressive.
Batman received an excellent introduction in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Wonder Woman received her own, excellent solo film. So far, though, Superman (Henry Cavill) has been shortchanged by a series of bad decisions that have stymied the DCEU, turning him into a loner refugee, a reluctant alien superhero, a rejected "stranger" shunned by the citizens he wants to protect and, finally, a sacrificial lamb. When will Superman get to be a full-blown hero, a defender of truth and justice?
Well, in this movie. Eventually. I didn't buy, for one minute, the brainwashed Superman who's resurrected, only to be mad at the DC heroes he basically has never met. That whole battle felt like it was included because DC thought that this is what fans wanted to see... not because it fit the story. Thankfully, the trance was temporary, and Supes was fighting alongside the League by story's end. If nothing else, Justice League finally retcons Superman so he can start being Superman! Now, when will he return to the big screen?
The introduction of this team into the world
One complicated subplot that I actually enjoyed was the guilt trip Bruce (Ben Affleck) kept leveling at Diana (Gal Gadot) because, for decades, she hid from her destiny because she was sad at losing Steve Trevor. We're led to believe that Wonder Woman fought crime under the radar since World War I, unwilling to let the world know of her power and ability.
But like Superman's shift, Diana Prince is now a recognized savior on our planet. Batman's out of the shadows. The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg are ready to fight. And Bruce is turning his Wayne Manor into a Hall of Justice! The building of the team might be a little clunky, but by the credits, a Justice League has been established -- likely to fans' delight.
The end credit sequence
OK, let's get to the one thing that Justice League does wrong, from a big picture standpoint. DC movies have played with end credit sequences before this. Suicide Squad included quick ones. Wonder Woman put one on its DVD. But Justice League includes two... and that last one is a TOTAL headscratcher. For this reason.
You saw it. You know what happens. Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) has escaped Arkham. He's meeting with Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello) on a yacht in the middle of nowhere. Lex says that, like the Justice League, they should form a villainous league of their own.
Great! When is that going to happen? In Aquaman, the next DC movie, due to arrive in 2018? Likely not. Will they be in Shazam or Wonder Woman 2? Unlikely, as those films will have different villains that connect deeply to the heroes. Could this be a set up for Matt Reeves' Batman movie? Maybe, but that film has no release date.
At the earliest, the scene sets up a movie that might arrive in 2020 at the earliest... but probably teases a movie that will never happen. Why do this? No clue. It's like DC took a page from Marvel's playbook, then stuck it in the wrong book. The existence of he scene may be cool on its own. But if you stop to ask what it really means, it raises far too many questions, and makes me question why it was included at all.