With the MCU breaking numerous records with each release, many other studios are inevitably determined to try and clone its success with similar attempts at crafting shared franchises. Perhaps the most notable rival is of course DC Comics, who also home some of the most iconic superheroes in the modern world. Though its critical and financial success is yet to replicate that of its Marvel opponent, the DC Universe now finds itself with perhaps its largest release yet, bringing together some of the most iconic heroes in an Avengers-esque adventure that's been met with mixed results by many. Justice League is certainly an enjoyable modern blockbuster, but as with most films in this evergrowing franchise, it often finds itself hindered by frustrating narrative hiccups.
Following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), billionaire Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) seeks out a number of newly rising heroes to form a team dedicated to protecting the world from crime and injustice. His actions are further influenced by the sudden return of the sinister Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), leader of the extraterrestrial Parademons, who is hellbent on conquering all that surrounds him.
Justice League certainly puts a gargantuan budget to good use with admittedly impressive results; the costumes, set design, and visual effects are all well crafted, integrating these heroes into the live action world without leaning too much toward unnecessary realism or overly campy and dated depictions. The renowned heroes are then brought to life by a fine lineup of talented actors who all perform brilliantly. Whether it's Affleck as Batman or Gadot as Wonder Woman, or even newcomers Jason Momoa as Aquaman and Ezra Miller as The Flash, this is a well chosen cast that fit their roles nicely and who clearly put a lot of effort into their performances, despite some unfortunate setbacks.
What setbacks? Well, of course this ensemble hasn't been released at the same pace as The Avengers; by the time that film hit cinemas in 2012, each leading MCU hero had their own movie and so were introduced with a lot more depth, which isn't the case with DC's project. As a result, some awkward integration of extensive backstory is shoved in, and a number of plot threads are thus jumbled together with occasionally messy results. Many characters find themselves quite poorly developed, and despite a fairly intimidating performance by Hinds, the villain Steppenwolf ends up somewhat bland and forgettable. It's this lesser attention to storytelling that has made Justice League such a major disappointment for many, with a potentially powerful narrative sacrificed for a stronger focus on visual thrills. While the story we're left with is certainly enjoyable at times, it just isn't as memorable as one would hope. Despite these flaws, the finished product still remains an entertaining (and somewhat underrated, in my eyes) superhero adventure, with a solid blend of humour and genuine thrills, not to mention some superb set pieces. It's just a shame that they didn't go that one step further to truly do the source material justice.