I have run fast enough from the theater in the future to break the time barrier and return here to give you my review of the movie.
There was a lot about the JLA movie that was sheer awesome! A lot of cool, snapshot poses, a lot of awesome uses of superpowers.
But by the end I felt disappointed, and even a bit bored.
The first problem was the character intros.
As expected, we spend a good chunk of the movie meeting the new heroes, and getting bits of their backstory. Flash. Aquaman. Cyborg. This was the first big challenge of the movie, to make us care about these characters, so that later when they are fighting and in danger, we actually care whether or not they win, whether or not they are hurt. Care whether or not they achieve some kind of happiness, or peace, as a result of the choices and changes they make through the course of the movie.
But we simply did not get enough time with each character to feel connected to them, to care. I rooted for the Flash just because he was funny and likeable. But what Pixar did in five minutes at the beginning of Up, JLA did not manage to do in the roughly ten minutes of character establishment per character.
Even Batman did not move me much, because we haven’t really spent much time with Affleck’s Batman except in his ragey conflict with Superman, so all his pain and the tragic experiences of his past that would make forming a team and being responsible for others a fear to overcome for him (e.g. the loss of a Robin to the Joker) has not really been established here.
Wonder Woman, at least, we understand a little after her LONG overdue solo movie. Which is probably one reason she was the most relatable hero beside Flash.
Heroes aside, though, I think the biggest problem was the enemy.
Basically, our heroes did not have an interesting villain with goals and motivations that we could relate to on some level. I never felt the villain had personal stakes that I cared about yet knew would be bad for our world and our heroes. Instead, we had a CGI Alien Armor Big Bad who wants some evil boxes, and a bunch of CGI aliens and robots to help him get them, and that would be bad. Because it is bad.
Yes, the battle scenes were epic and full of superpowered awesome. But I never felt that Steppenwolf forced a hero to confront their deepest fear or flaw and overcome it. I never felt that Steppenwolf presented a personal challenge to any of the heroes, that he was the worst possible enemy the hero could have had to face at this time because of what they had been through, or what they were struggling with.
Steppenwolf is a master strategist, yet I never really felt there was a clever cat and mouse game going on between him and Batman that made Batman question his own brilliance or ability or willingness to lead others into danger and death. Steppenwolf never really made me feel he had pushed Batman to the edge and the Bats might lose it if anyone died on his watch. They just were racing each other to get the boxes, a simple set of escalating challenges.
Steppenwolf is a badass, but I never felt that in his conflict with Wonder Woman or Aquaman that any of them were forced to question their own strength, the responsibility or consequences of strength, or who they were without it.
Part of the reason the Avengers worked well by comparison is that they faced off against Loki, a villain we had come to know already, a person filled with pain and anger and tragic, twisted need that drove him, a guy who really just wanted to be loved above all others (is that so wrong?). And because Loki played on each hero’s insecurities and flaws and fears, and turned friend against friend. Likewise, in Civil War, the enemy plays the heroes own flaws and pain against each other, turning friend against friend. And in Avengers 2, Scarlet Witch does something similar.
Steppenwolf did not really achieve that. He was not an enemy of the Justice League, of the heroes individually or as a team. He was just big badass enemy, a threat.
And as demonstrated by the Phantom Menace, simply destroying an army of enemy robots in an epic battle can in fact be extremely boring.
Finally, I understood why of course they had to keep Superman out of it for most of the movie, for much the same reason that Hulk wasn’t in Civil War (he would have just smashed anyone on the opposing team, etc). But his moping/angst over the events in Batman vs Superman was a bit of a lame reason for the delay.
In summary, I of course went and saw this movie, and overall it was a fun popcorn flick. How could I not go to see the JLA on the big screen? Not to mention Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot kicking ass and looking hot doing it. But if you are going to have all the grimdark and Pew Pew, you need to balance it with a tad more humor, and a lot more heart, than JLA delivered.
Maybe the Extended Cut DVD will fix it.