Zack Snyder's Justice League

  • 27 Mar - 02 Apr, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

As the film begins, the whole world is in mourning after Superman’s death, and humanity is now menaced by the intergalactically evil Steppenwolf, who is after three “mother boxes” that are somewhere on Earth – three occult crucibles of cosmic power which together give their owner complete universal control – left behind, apparently, from a previous incursion. So plutocrat Bruce Wayne wishes to assemble a crack crew of superheroes, the Justice League, to defend the planet in Superman’s memory. They will be the disciples of Superman, and Diane Lane and Amy Adams play Superman’s mum, Martha, and girlfriend, Lois Lane, respectively the Blessed Virgin and Mary Magdalene of the Superman story.

Wayne is played by Ben Affleck with stubble, a perennial expression of lantern-jawed discontent and a voice that drops to a growly lowness when he’s in character as Batman. Gal Gadot is the stylish, creamy-browed Wonder Woman, while Jason Momoa is Aquaman, who is in civvy street as Iceland’s answer to Crocodile Dundee, hanging out with bearded, jumper-wearing Nordic fisherfolk in the pub until the time comes for him to embrace his superheroic destiny.

Ray Fisher is the troubled bionic teen Victor Stone, or Cyborg, and Ezra Miller has the quirky and smart-alecky role of Barry Allen, the Flash, whose job is to supply the ironic self-awareness. There are some nice supporting performances, most notably from Willem Dafoe, who somehow confers actorly dignity on the role of Nuidis Vulko, an undersea personage of Atlantis. Jeremy Irons is Wayne’s manservant Alfred, who is reimagined as a silver-fox hipster and gadget specialist, waspish of tongue and fussing over the tea served to the Justice League, but who will keep saying “Master Wayne”.

You can see from a mile away where it is all going – or rather from three hours and 55 minutes away – and for us, the Justice League still does not have the colour, flair, snap and zap of the Avengers in the MCU; it comes to life most in the regular cityscape settings that it seems keen to avoid. But there is something absorbing about this operatically strange twilight-of-the-superhero-gods that might yet turn out to be daybreak.

The film has something preposterous but surreal, and there is a disturbing epilogue in which Wayne is confronted by his personal demons. Snyder’s film may be exhausting but it is engaging. Justice is served.