Better than 'Batman v Superman': 'Justice League' is lighter, funnier than its predecessor
You don’t have to be a hard-core comics fan to know that Marvel’s superhero movies (which, in recent years, have transformed into a huge franchise enlisting characters as bizarre as those of the "Guardians of the Galaxy") have been performing better than DC’s attempts to do the same. Unfortunately for DC, the performance of "Justice League" in the box office is a new low for the already less-successful DC Extended University—which is unfortunate, considering how despite its flaws, it’s still a better superhero movie than "Batman v Superman" and its forerunners.
Director Zach Snyder has long been criticized for inserting a depressing haze of gritty realism over what many see as a more lighthearted genre. Outside of more deconstructive works (which seem to be all that Snyder’s read), most comic books are about people in tights defeating villainy by solving pun-based puzzles and punching someone with bad fashion sense in the face. "Batman v Superman" marked the height of Snyder’s melancholy, featuring a cold Superman who debated whether humanity was even worth constantly saving (outside of his mom or girlfriend) and a gun-happy Batman whose first reaction to Superman’s existence was planning his murder. Though these characterizations were arguably justified in the darkness of Snyderverse, they lacked the ultimate elevation and fun that make Marvel movies (and arguably superheroes as a whole) so enjoyable to watch.
"Justice League," on the other hand, is a movie all about hope. Instead of bitterly fighting amongst themselves, the heroes band together over the course of the film in a way that is genuinely heartwarming to watch. Unfortunately, the pacing and development of their banding together is a little patchy. Between last-minute direction issues and studio insistence that a full hour be cut from the runtime (yes, this movie was going to be three hours long), some character moments seem to come out of nowhere with little backup, while other parts drag on at their expense (I’m looking at you, adorable screen-hogging Russian family that ultimately had nothing to do with the plot).
What interaction there is between the main characters, however, is genuinely enjoyable, and I definitely came out of the movie interested in seeing more of newcomers Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash—and, of course, Wonder Woman, who carries over her pure, concentrated charm shown in her own movie (which still carries the burden of being the best film in the DC continuity). Though a few jokes may be forced, there’s a levity to "Justice League" that makes it a consistently fun watch and at least one epic action scene in the middle that might make the whole movie worth the price of admission for superhero fans.
In terms of pure quality, "Thor: Ragnarok" is still the best comic adaptation in theaters for the time being, but if you’re interested in a fun action flick that still captures the high spirits of the superhero genre, "Justice League" is “leagues” ahead of many of its predecessors in the DCEU.