To people who follow these sorts of things, it’s been like watching the most absorbing train wreck since The General to see Warner Bros. try to compete with Disney’s Marvel-money-minting machine. For every beloved Avengers sequel or discofied Thor spin-off, WB has soldiered on with its stillborn DC Comics franchise, resulting in such stinkers as Suicide Squad or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, two ridiculously bad movies that should have killed the superhero craze dead.
Still, this summer’s Wonder Woman was a breath of fresh air (any kind of oxygen was required, frankly), and it seems that the course has finally been corrected: Justice League gets the band together but remembers to bring the banter along with the boom. The plot is almost unnecessary to relate: Spandexed warriors do battle with one of those intergalactic bad guys (Ciarán Hinds) with a fetish for gleaming power cubes, here called 'motherboxes.' Try not to laugh at that—at least when you’re not keeping track of all the insectoid winged henchmen buzzing around our heroes in the final sequence’s bloodless, too-long showdown.
But something’s gone right with the cast—not just returning Wonder Woman Gal Gadot (owning every subtle smile) but Ben Affleck, too, roused out of his bat stupor. As the junk-food-cramming speed-demon the Flash, Ezra Miller introduces some welcome comic neuroticism (he yearns to fist-bump with his colleagues). Even the movie's jaunty, cavorting orchestral score, supplied by Tim Burton’s old foil Danny Elfman, harks back to a better time, when 'Why so serious?' wasn’t the rule. The pendulum swings.
By Joshua Rothkopf