Film review: Justice League succeeds in setting up the spin-offs to come in its wake
It might have a slightly disjointed feeling, its japes can feel crowbarred into the relentless action and its fight scenes may sometimes seem incomprehensible, but there's much for comic-book fans to enjoy in Justice League, writes Laura Harding
JUSTICE LEAGUE (12A, 120 mins) Action/Adventure/Fantasy. Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Ciaran Hinds, Connie Nielsen, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, JK Simmons, Henry Cavill. Director: Zack Snyder
WHILE the tills are still ringing with Marvel's box office takings for its latest offering Thor: Ragnarok, DC is hoping for a massive hit with its first gathering of its biggest superheroes.
A lot is riding on the project after tepid reactions to Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad and then the overwhelmingly positive reaction to Wonder Woman's impressive standalone movie.
The film picks up a few months after the devastation at the end of BvS, with the world mourning the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) and a newly awakened threat on the horizon in the shape of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) and his army of red-eyed flying Parademons.
The imminent disaster prompts Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) to enlist the help of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to recruit a team of people with special abilities to defeat the new enemy, in the shape of Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller).
And for fans of the comic books there is much to enjoy, as long-awaited scenes finally make it to the big screen for the first time.
There is a deep dive under the ocean with Aquaman and the first introduction to Mera (Amber Heard), giving a taste of the next standalone movie which just wrapped production. There is also some quality time with Barry Allen/The Flash as he discovers the full extent of his powers and heroism and plenty of lingering shots of the gang gathered in scenic formation to illicit cheers from the diehard supporters.
Miller is really the break-out star here and the dialogue sparkles the most when it comes from him – he's baffled by people eating brunch and is afraid of bugs, guns and "obnoxiously tall people".
While the screenplay is written by both Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, Miller seems to benefit the most from the Whedon-esque humour made famous in Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Marvel's Avengers films.
Affleck's Batman doesn't fare so well – "I don't have to understand [the world], I just have to save it," is a notable clanger.
While Zack Snyder is the only director listed in the credits, it was Whedon who filled in when Snyder stood aside after the death of his daughter, guiding it through reshoots and post-production.
But that presence of two directors makes for a slightly disjointed feeling, the light-hearted japes are sometimes crowbarred into almost relentless action and the film slips into the common comic book movie trap of incomprehensible fight scenes.
But the movie succeeds where it needs to – in setting up the raft of standalone films to follow – Aquaman in 2018, Wonder Woman 2 in 2019 and Flashpoint in 2020.
Devotees will want to wait for the two scenes after the credits for a taste of what's to come.