Steven graduated Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications, focusing on film studies, journalism and theatre arts. Dubbed a "prolific" writer by Hollywood icon Kenneth Johnson (The Incredible Hulk, V, The Bionic Woman, Alien Nation), Steven has been honored by the Arkansas College Media Association for his story writing prowess. He has also received recognition for his dramatic writing from the Eerie, Shriekfest and Screamfest horror film festivals. Publications include: Carroll County News, Saline Courier, Forum, Echo and Moroch.
LITTLE ROCK — Euphoria is back in the DCEU and that's saying something when you consider the attempted ruination of Detective Comics’ cinematic universe courtesy of the Suicide Squad (2016). Mainstays of the Avengers (Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor) are officially put on notice, as a new superhero team rises to challenge Marvel Studios' opulence at the box office. And with enormous respect to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok, 2017 is clearly the year of DC thanks to Justice League and Wonder Woman.
Justice League is a sterling entry in DC’s fledgling cinematic universe. And even though Wonder Woman was a triumph over the summer, Justice League is a far superior film. In fact, it easily rivals Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) as the best installment in the DCEU. And it goes toe-to-toe with The Avengers (2012).
While our heroes face a perilous threat in the tyrannical axe-wielding Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), Justice League successfully unites six of DC’s most beloved characters and creates an exemplary motion picture for the DCEU to wield like a God Killer sword against the titan known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Superman (Henry Cavill) is genuinely dead in the early stages of filmmaker Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie, which is an intriguing deviation from the Death of Superman (1992-1993) source material. Earth has become a playground for the wicked and the corrupt, without Kal-El’s presence to inspire hope and serve as a beacon of light.
With the world unprotected by the Last Son of Krypton, Steppenwolf and his Parademons seize their opportunity to take the Earth after having tried thousands of years before. During their first invasion, Steppenwolf and his Parademons were thwarted in an epic war. The defenders of the Earth included the Gods (nod to Shazam/Captain Marvel), the Atlantians, Amazons and the Green Lantern Corps.
In the present day, Batman (Ben Affleck) uses fear to lure out a Parademon, while fighting crime in Gotham. Bruce Wayne realizes that his worst nightmares are coming true after he confronts Steppenwolf’s warrior. After counsel from Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons), Bruce decides it is time to unite the heroes of Earth.
Meanwhile, Steppenwolf lays claim to two of the three Mother Boxes he needs to transform the Earth into Apokolips for Darkseid. After the first invasion attempt by Steppenwolf, the three Mother Boxes were separated so they would pose no threat to the Earth. Man is in possession of one box, while the Themysciraians and Atlantians have the other two.
Steppenwolf engages in a one-sided battle with Diana’s mother Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and her Amazonians to take the first Mother Box, before he invades Atlantis and wages war against Aquaman and Mera (Amber Heard) to abscond with the second Mother Box. But Hippolyta manages to fire off an arrow to warn her daughter Diana (Gal Gadot) of Steppenwolf’s return.
With the aid of Diana, Wayne sets out to recruit the metahumans he discovered in Lex Luthor’s (Jesse Eisenberg) classified files from Batman v Superman. Bruce fails to recruit the Aquaman (Jason Momoa), but lands the help of the Scarlet Speedster Barry Allen, aka the Flash, (Ezra Miller). Diana also has trouble recruiting the Cyborg, Victor Stone (Ray Fisher).
After Cyborg’s father (Joe Morton) disappears, Victor decides to join the Justice League. In the team’s first confrontation with Steppenwolf, the League is nearly drowned beneath Gotham Harbor. But the Aquaman shows up unexpectedly commanding the flood and saving the lives of the others. After failing to stop Steppenwolf in Atlantis, Aquaman offers his services to the league.
Cyborg realizes that his father had the third Mother Box and the JL takes possession of it. After Bruce comes to understand the limitless powers of the Mother Boxes, he suggests that the League uses theirs to try and resurrect Superman. Bruce, who is consumed by guilt for Clark Kent’s death, not only realizes the importance of Superman to the world but also to the Justice League.
Bruce and Diana engage in a heated debate about trying to revive Superman that ends with Wonder Woman physically lashing out at the Batman. The discussion derails when Bruce tells Diana she could have been a beacon of hope, not unlike Superman, for the world, but instead she chose to go into hiding because of Steve Trevor’s death.
After Diana calms, the team decides to play Dr. Frankenstein. Aquaman, Barry and Diana are not crazy about the idea of bringing Superman back to life, and the Flash even jokes about the endeavor being reminiscent of Pet Sematary. Cyborg thinks it can be accomplished though.
Cyborg and Flash dig up Clark Kent’s body. With the help of the Kryptonian ship and the third Mother Box, the League brings the Man of Steel back to life. Confused, Superman flees. Thanks to his death, Superman is flummoxed. The result: another menace for the Justice League.
The League finds Clark at the broken monument that was built in Superman’s honor. Obviously, Clark is not himself, as he is confronted by the heroes. Superman grabs Batman by the throat and hoists him into the air, as he asks, “Do you bleed?” There’s also an awesome moment when the Flash realizes that Superman is fast enough to see the Scarlet Speedster at super speed. The League is helpless to stop this Bizarro-ish Superman.
Apparently, Bruce remembers Flash’s warning from Batman v Superman: “It'sLois Lane. She's the key.” Thanks to Bruce, Lois (Amy Adams) shows up to help Clark. Superman and Lois fly off together and her presence helps Clark overcome the memory malaise symptomatic of his death. Reunited with his fiancé, and later his mother (Diane Lane), Superman returns and is reborn.
The final battle for the Earth begins, as the League engages Steppenwolf and his massive army of Parademons. With all three Mother Boxes finally in his possession, Steppenwolf proceeds with transforming the Earth into Apokolips. Steppenwolf inches ever closer to his victory, until Superman arrives. The league is now complete and the scales of justice tip.
With their big gun now in his rightful place, the Justice League takes control of the battle. Steppenwolf is no match for the might of Superman, as the Kryptonian wails on the monster with his superpowers, including his freeze breath. Steppenwolf's axe is destroyed and the villain's Parademons overpower him once they sense his fear. Steppenwolf flees through a boom tube and only his helmet is left behind. The team is triumphant, and the future is bright for the DCEU.
There are two scenes hidden in the credits. Lex Luthor has escaped prison and is visited on his yacht by Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello). Lex and Slade Wilson converse about the return of Superman and how the heroes are forming a team. Lex then asks, "Shouldn't we have a league of our own?" In the other credits' scene, Superman and the Flash race. It’s an amazing homage to the comic book mythology, as the Man of Steel and Scarlet Speedster compete for "the fastest man alive" title in the DCEU.
The Green Lanterns make their debut in the DCEU, as the GL Corps aids the Gods, Amazons and Atlantians against Steppenwolf in the first invasion. A Green Lantern is killed during the battle and a power ring can be seen flying off to find its new master.
Cyborg says his trademark “Booyah,” which he is famous for, and he uses his technology to stop the Mother Boxes. Since his tech is based on Apokolips' technology, it’s only right that Victor Stone took out the Mother Boxes. Cyborg also upgrades to his New-52 suit, or a very similar-looking costume, at the end of the film.
No black suit for Superman, or long hair for that matter, but a confused and bizarre version of Clark Kent does give the Justice League hell until Lois Lane helps him find his way back. This short-lived, angry and mentally-challenged version of the Man of Steel is an obvious nod to his notorious villain Bizarro. Superman also uses his freeze breath for the first time in the DCEU when he takes out Steppenwolf.
“For Darkseid,” Steppenwolf shouts. This is an homage to the death-dealing villain the Justice League will have to face in the future: Darkseid aka Uxas. This is the only verbal mention of Uxas in the film. The New God is the architect of Steppenwolf's attacks on the Earth.
Danny Elfman pays homage to the original John Williams’ Superman: The Movie (1978) musical score when Cavill’s Man of Steel triumphantly returns in the third act. It’s just a few notes, but still a wonderful nod to Superman's cinematic mythology. There are also hints of Elfman’s 1989 Batman score peppered throughout the picture.
At the end of the film, Bruce utilizes the ruins of Wayne Manor to set up headquarters for the Justice League, which is an homage to the Hall of Justice. No Watchtower just yet, but then there is always "room for more."
Despite some extremely jake CGI issues, particularly the way Superman looks in closeups, plus a relatively unknown villain in Steppenwolf (outside of die-hard fans), Justice League delivers. But who would have thought Henry Cavill's mustache would actually be a legitimate issue? Watch Cavill's face closely.
Critics' consensus on the baddie is nothing short of bashing, but Steppenwolf is a beast in the film physically. He handles so many super-powered beings, particularly Aquaman and Mera, like a boss. Sure, he has the wit and charisma of stale bread, but Steppenwolf is imposing. But his CGI appearance is atrocious in so many shots. The special effects' team is not going to be in contention for any kind of Oscar consideration. These artists should be ashamed of themselves, and it's sad that a higher-quality product couldn't be achieved with a $300 million budget.
The story follows a simple plot, which is one that has already been exploited in Man of Steel (2013): alien invasion. Even that doesn't diminish the magnificence of Justice League. The splendid chemistry between the superheroes, and their resulting interactions, drive this movie. And there are plenty of awe-inspiring action sequences, too.
Fantastic acting trumps some clunky dialogue that is unbearably cringeworthy at times. There’s not a weak link among the superheroes themselves though, in terms of likability. Flash really stands out, especially as comedy relief, but you’ll find something to relish in all of the Justice League members new and old. The characters' sense of humors border on inappropriate at times, as do some of the Amazon's much sexier costumes compared to what we saw in Wonder Woman.
When all is said and done though, congratulations to Zack Snyder, and his team, for traversing the criticism to bring this classic DC team to the Silver Screen.