‘Justice League’: Teamwork and the Return of Superman

“Justice League” is about redemption and how much the world needs Superman as its beacon of hope. For those that don’t know, in the second installment of the DC Extended Universe, the man of steel died. “Justice League” is about how through teamwork, he’s brought back to life.

Now very few superheroes stay dead in the comics and part of the fun is seeing the mechanics of the resurrection. In “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the super villain Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) plotted to mislead both Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) a fatal feud. But how would Batman kill Superman when Bruce Wayne’s only super power is that he’s super rich? Luthor gets krytonite from General Zod’s ship. A spear is created as well as a monster generated from Zod’s DNA. To defeat Luthor’s monster, Wonder Woman joins forces with Batman and Superman, but Superman apparently dies when the creature stabs Superman, who has been weakened from the kryptonite. The ending had Luthor in prison, Clark Kent buried and Bruce Wayne planning to gather metahumans like Diana  Prince to help protect Earth from aliens. There is a hint of hope at the end of the movie.

“Justice League” begins on a rooftop where the newspaper at the bottom of a pigeon cage reveals Superman is dead. We will later learn that not only is Superman/Clark Kent dead, but his widowed adoptive mother Martha Ken (Diane Lane) has lost the farm to the bank and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) has been reduced to writing fluff pieces due to depression.

The person caring for the pigeons confronts Batman who uses the man’s fear to find and defeat strange dragonfly-like flying alien that feeds on fear, a parademon. The parademons seem to be part robot and part insect and behave with a hive-mind, but the parademons are not the real threat to the world. That’s Steppenwolf.

Steppenwolf looks neither like a wolf nor like a steppin’ champ. When he appears before his former foes, the Amazons, you think he would have paused to ask them about their shampoo-commercial-ready tresses or what their skincare regime is. Amazons (and Aquaman) seem to live forever (until they meet an untimely demise battling super villains) but their skin care keeps them on the right side of thirty-something. Steppenwolf keeps his hair under his helmet and has wrinkles that make a prune look unwrinkled and cause a sharpei howl with envy. Maybe evil prematurely ages you.

In any case, it’s Steppenwolf’s visit to the Amazons’ island that brings him to the attention of Wonder Woman. He steals one of three boxes and the Amazons send a warning fire arrow which lights a bonfire at a well-known site. Wonder Woman understands the centuries old alert system and goes to Bruce Wayne.

Bruce Wayne follows up on his plan to build a force and just as Luthor’s intelligence investigations led him to Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Wonder Woman and Batman, aided by Wayne’s butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons), introduce themselves to this new crew: ADHD-dude and gee-whiz kid Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), gruff good guy with tattoos Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and saved-from-the-dead-by-dad Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher).

Besides Aquaman, Wonder Woman knows about Steppenwolf. Their peoples battled him before. It’s a mystery why the Justice League can’t call upon the Amazons or the Atlantans, but this is all about extraordinary individuals teaming up (and why the world needs Superman) and not nations uniting.

This league is just too little for the likes of Steppenwolf who succeeds in getting two of the three mysterious boxes. The third had been found and used to create Cyborg and here’s where the plot thickens. The decision is made to use the third box to summon Superman from the dead. In doing so, the team unleashes another danger–a Superman who doesn’t know who he is and the third box ends up in the possession of Steppenwolf.

You do know how this is going to end, right? What makes this engaging is the backstories/introductions as well as the humor injected by The Flash who is being introduced to superheroism. The camaraderie and the adaptation from playing alone to playing well with others is a bit short on development, but there are a lot of fanny shots and thigh-gap shots of Gadot as well as hunky chest shots of Afflect and Cavill to satisfy both ends of the desire spectrum.

The world is safe for another day, but those villains are also lurking about and Luthor is as forward thinking as Bruce Wayne. If you have a Justice League, then why not a league of villains learning to play well at evil together?

Cavill doesn’t have the adorable yet chiseled perfection of Christopher Reeves, but he’s an acceptably charming Superman/Clark Kent. Affleck’s Batman is showing his age, which hurts when he looks at immortals like Aquaman and Wonder Woman. While the “Justice League” could use more character development and bonding moments and more girl-power on the team (and more of Robin Wright or Amy Adams), the movie is fun enough to take your mind off the real evils of the real world for two hours. And it does ask but not answer the intriguing question: Who’s faster? The Flash or Superman?

 

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