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Justice, anyone?: The DC cinematic universe may not be nearly as profitable as the MCU, but Justice League is a good start

By Joshua Lloyd, A&E Editor

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      Is the DC Extended Universe’s “Justice League” kind of dark? Bet your ass it is, something that the franchise’s detractors are always quick to point out.

     Wake up, Marvel purists; DC was never meant to be all rainbows and butterflies. Even at its genesis in the late 30’s, there was war, murder, and all kinds of hardboiled pulp-style overtones. The DCEU writers aren’t afraid to get serious, and that’s exactly the backdrop for the start of “Justice League.”

      The world is still reeling from the aftermath of “Batman v Superman.” Krypton’s favorite son is dead and buried. Crime and terrorism are running rampant in his absence, and Bruce Wayne (a grizzled and guilt-ridden Ben Affleck) is struggling to build his dream team to combat the coming darkness.

      That darkness is Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), who arrives by boom tube and starts swinging at whatever gets in his way. “He lives to conquer,” Diana (Gal Gadot) tells Bruce, and boy, is she right.

     Steppenwolf’s after the Mother Boxes, three cubes of apocalyptic power, and if he finds them – well, you get the idea. It takes some nudging from Batfleck and Diana, but soon the gang is on a collision course with Steppie and his insectoid army.

       Things get real crazy when Wayne decides to go with the proverbial nuclear deterrent, but hey, there’s no room for subtlety in the JL’s big-screen debut. There was plenty of trepidation surrounding its release, though.

       Would it differ too strongly from the aesthetics of its predecessors, or not strongly enough? Would it be a three-hour marathon like “Batman v Superman” or be riddled with plot holes like “Suicide Squad?” Turns out all our fears were for naught.

      “Justice League” is the most slimmed-down of the DCEU films at barely two hours, but that doesn’t mean any of the fun gets cut out. A crisper, fast-paced storyline keeps things rolling and the battle sequences just don’t quit.

      An all-star hero lineup demands all-star talent. Luckily, “Justice League” has it. Viewers who were “Teen Titans” fans in middle school (who wasn’t, honestly) will root for Ray Fisher as Cyborg, a tragic figure who’s trying to navigate the confines of his own robotic mind.

      “Game of Thrones” vet Jason Momoa is Aquaman, a big slice of bro who does a lot more than just talk to fish, despite what you may have heard. Gadot is aces once again as Wonder Woman, the film’s moral core through and through. “Technology without reason, without heart destroys us,” she warns Bruce when he gets a little too enthusiastic about the potential of the Mother Boxes.

     Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight is battered from twenty years of war on crime, but not broken. Everyone knows the Bat doesn’t play well with others, but when his supergroup comes together, you know he’s marking out on the inside. Then there’s Ezra Miller as Barry Allen, the Flash, for the nerdy fanboy/fangirl in all of us.

       Surrounded by heavy hitters like Bats and Aquaman, he’s simultaneously awed and scared shitless; as a result, he gets the most laughs by far. The supporting cast looks like the guest list at the Oscars; Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Diane Lane and Jeremy Irons are along for the ride, watching as monsters descend and heroes rise.

      Maybe “Justice League” can’t match Marvel for charm and sentiment. Maybe there’s some work to be done in the plot coherency and character development sectors. But the DCEU is steadily growing into its own breed, and the best is yet to come. Boo-yah.

        Even though “Justice League” had a weaker opening at the box office than its DCEU companion films: Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Batman vs. Superman, it set the tone for the DCEU and introduced Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash, who will all have their own solo films in the next few years.

 

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Justice, anyone?: The DC cinematic universe may not be nearly as profitable as the MCU, but Justice League is a good start