The joyous “Justice League” features, from left, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

The joyous “Justice League” features, from left, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

‘Justice League’: A team come true

Well, this is a happy surprise. After the sludgy, lumbering, overly serious smash-fests “Man of Steel” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and the misfire of “Suicide Squad,” it looked like the DC Extended Universe was down for the count.

But then came the summer’s inspiring, uplifting “Wonder Woman” and now a truly joyous, lovable “Justice League.” It’s like a great comeback in the World Series.

A huge reason for the success of “Justice League” lies in a change of pitchers. When director Zack Snyder suffered a personal tragedy in March, he eventually made the difficult decision to step down.

He was replaced by Joss Whedon, whose work with the ensemble in Marvel’s 2012 “The Avengers” was remarkable, as were the liveliness of his writing and the clarity of his directing.

The result is not exactly cohesive — it’s as if Orson Welles were called in to re-shoot an Ed Wood film — and it’s easy to guess which scenes are Whedon’s and which are Snyder’s.

Any scenes that contain laughter or joy, or moments of humanity, are probably Whedon’s. Anything that includes digital globs bashing one another against walls is probably Snyder’s.

Yet it works wonderfully. It has the feel of something handmade and patchwork, of different personalities stacking ideas on top of one another. Perhaps the two opposites coming together have created a movie that all superhero nerds can love.

The story has a dull digital supervillain called Steppenwolf, employing an army of big bugs straight out of “Wreck-It-Ralph,” and coming to take over the world. To do so, he must gather three “power boxes.” It’s pretty basic bad guy stuff, and the movie’s biggest drawback.

But the good news is that he inspires Batman (Ben Affleck) to form a team. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is already on board.

They recruit a silly, eager Flash (Ezra Miller), whose socially awkward comments are pretty funny. A hard-drinking, badass Aquaman (Jason Momoa) takes a little more coaxing. And Cyborg (newcomer Ray Fisher) is still adjusting after technology from one of the power boxes was used to save his life.

Superman (Henry Cavill) appears in a delightful, winning flashback/prologue.

Incidentally, no one calls anyone by their superhero names. It’s a first-name basis: Bruce, Diana, etc. It’s like a club that any misfit could join.

The first three films in this series favored a gray, grimy look, in which the bright red and blue uniforms looked like they needed a wash. “Justice League” turns up the lights and brings back boldness and brightness. Brooding and depression are gone.

Whedon also hired Danny Elfman to compose a more old-fashioned, trumpeting superhero score; he pays homage to his own 1989 “Batman” theme as well as John Williams’ legendary 1978 “Superman” theme.

Even non-superhero Lois Lane (Amy Adams) becomes more human, and not just a victim to be rescued.

As the movie ends, she writes up her latest, sure-to-win-a-Pulitzer story, saying, “Darkness is not just the absence of light; it’s the conviction that the light will never return.”

With “Justice League,” the light has returned.

REVIEW
Justice League
Three stars
Starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams
Written by Joss Whedon, Chris Terrio
Directed by Zack Snyder
Rated PG-13
Running time 2 hoursAmy AdamsBen AFfleckEzra MillerGal GadotHenry CavillJoss WhedonJustice LeagueMovies and TVZack Snyder

Just Posted

The Walgreens at 4645 Mission St. in The City is among those slated to close. <ins>(Courtesy photo)</ins>
Walgreens says it’s closing five SF stores due to crime. Where’s the data?

Walgreens should be transparent, enlighten city leaders about crime’s effect on business

While some pedestrians enjoy walking on the car-free Great Highway, others, who drive to work, want the road reopened full-time to vehicles. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Converting the Great Highway into a Great Walkway makes no sense

It’s helpful to take a detailed look at the environmental and transit effects

Stephen Curry and Draymond Green of the Warriors hope to vie for another title in the 2021-22 NBA season. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Warriors and Lakers analysis: Two teams, two approaches

While L.A. has been a tear-down project, the Golden State has been busy remodeling

San Franciscans are likely to have the opportunity to vote in four different elections in 2022. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Electionpalooza: SF school board recall will kick off a flurry of local races

‘It’s going to be a lot of elections and a lot of decisions for voters to make’

Most Read