Justice League Early Reviews: A Fun But Flawed DC Rebirth

Justice League Movie Official

The first reviews for Zack Snyder's Justice League are now online. Warner Bros. launched their DC Comics-based universe (unofficially known as the DCEU) with Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 - a follow-up to his 2013 film, Man of Steel - which brought back Henry Cavill as Superman and introduced audiences to Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman - and all three will be returning in Snyder's Justice League this Friday.

Justice League also introduces viewers to the rest of the world's finest heroes - The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) - as they band together to defeat the supervillain Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his army of Parademons, who've returned to Earth after several centuries to reclaim their three Mother Boxes that were left behind during the New Gods' first war with Earth (the subject of Justice League's ancient prologue sequence).

Related: Watch the Justice League Press Conference

The review embargo for Justice League has lifted, and the first batch of early reviews for the film are now online. We've compiled multiple SPOILER-FREE excerpts from different outlets. You can read the excerpts below and click on the links to read the full reviews on each respective website. (Read Screen Rant's Justice League review HERE!)

Ben Affleck as Batman in Justice League

EW - Chris Nashawaty, C+

Justice League is better than its joylessly somber dress rehearsal, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Now the “but”…you knew there was a “but” coming, right? But it also marks a pretty steep comedown from the giddy highs of Wonder Woman. When Gal Gadot’s proto-feminist Amazonian avenger got her solo showcase earlier this year, there were a lot of DC partisans who finally had a reason to feel bullish about the state of their union. Following the exit of Christian Bale in 2012, it was the first real glimmer of hope that maybe the studio was headed in the right direction. That the future was bright. Justice League won’t extinguish that hope. Not by a long shot. But it also doesn’t quite translate into a winning streak either. It’s a placeholder in a franchise that’s already had too many placeholders.

THR - Todd McCarthy

The increasingly turgid tales of Batman and Superman — joined, unfortunately for her, by Wonder Woman — trudge along to ever-diminishing returns in Justice League. Garishly unattractive to look at and lacking the spirit that made Wonder Woman, which came out five months ago, the most engaging of Warner Bros.' DC Comics-derived extravaganzas to date, this hodgepodge throws a bunch of superheroes into a mix that neither congeals nor particularly makes you want to see more of them in future. Plainly put, it's simply not fun.

LA Times - Kenneth Turan

For superpowers notwithstanding, these folks come fully loaded with enough gripes, grudges, issues and back stories to supply an army. They so get on each other's nerves that being in the same room, let alone on the same team, is hard to manage. As directed by Zack Snyder, and, more importantly, co-written by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, character is more than destiny here. It is the key reason "Justice League" is a seriously satisfying superhero movie, one that, rife with lines like "the stench of your fear is making my soldiers hungry," actually feels like the earnest comic books of our squandered youth. Unlike the glib denizens of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, residents of the DC Extended Universe have always had a somber gravitas, a sense that the weight of the world's troubles might all but crush them.

Variety - Owen Gleiberman

In superhero movies, sheer lively deliver-the-goods competence can be a quality you’re grateful for — or one that seems awesomely innocuous. In “Justice League,” it’s a little of both. The film is the definition of an adequate high-spirited studio lark: no more, no less. If fans get excited about it, that may mostly be because they’re excited about getting excited. Yet the movie is no cheat. It’s a tasty franchise delivery system that kicks a certain series back into gear.

IndieWire - Eric Kohn, C

Taking more than one page from Marvel’s first “Avengers” installment, “Justice League” rounds up the current spate of active D.C. franchise superheroes, and the resulting 119-minute pileup of showdowns and one-liners is an undeniably tighter, more engaging experience. It’s also a tired, conventional attempt to play by the rules, with “hold for laughs” moments shoehorned between rapid-fire action — a begrudging concession that the Marvel formula works, and a shameless attempt to replicate it.

ComicBook - Brandon Davis, 4/5

he narrative of Justice League may have suffered from the director swap, sometimes feeling no need to explain certain elements or wrap up others. None of the elements are significant enough, however, to damage the fun viewing experience which does exactly what Justice League always needed to: leave fans wanting more of the best DC heroes. Justice League is the real deal. It's an epic ensemble of super heroes. It's the most fun you'll have with Batman and his super friends, until their next adventure together, and marks the beginning of a brand new era of super heroes on the DC side of the spectrum.

The Wrap - Alonso Duralde

If “Wonder Woman” provided a glimmer of hope that DC Comics movies might start looking, moving and sounding differently than before, “Justice League” plops us right back into “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” territory, albeit with a little more wit and humanity. But if you like your superhero battles in deep dark tunnels or under skies purple with alien soot, director Zack Snyder is back with yet another installment that looks the way Axe body spray smells. Not that there isn’t a little more levity, and a touch more interest in character this time around — and whether or not those attributes can be credited to Joss Whedon’s additional photography can be interpreted by those who will read this sequel like it’s the Dead Sea Scrolls — but much too much of this team-up adventure is given over to ridiculous posing and posturing as our heroes battle a not-very-interesting villain over, you guessed it, the fate of the world itself.

IGN - Jim Vejvoda, 7/10

Warner Bros. and DC Films had two major goals to achieve with Justice League. First, to cleanse the palette of those turned off by the relentlessly grim BvS; and second, to make viewers enjoy these superheroes enough to want to see further screen appearances by them. Justice League mostly succeeds in accomplishing those two key objectives, despite its sloppy execution. It’s messy and flawed but it still offers enough entertainment value (mostly thanks to its likable characters) to make it worthwhile.

Empire - Dan Jolin, 2/5

It’s breezily fun at times, in a what-the-hey way. But, lumbered with a story that struggles to find resonance beyond its improbable plot devices and preposterous MacGuffinry, Justice League isn’t about to steal Avengers’ super-team crown.

The early reviews, more or less, appear to fall in-line with the Justice League early reactions that were posted on social media last week. It's no secret that Warner Bros. has struggled to adapt the Justice League onto the big screen, with their last major attempt being George Miller's Justice League Mortal in the mid-'00s, and considering the constant barrage of negative press leveled at the DCEU since its inception, some may find it incredible to see that the movie has finally hit theaters after all this time.

Although the DCEU's upcoming slate is mostly planned out - with James Wan's Aquaman coming in 2018, and David F. Sandberg's Shazam! and Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman 2 releasing in 2019 - the shared universe's future will mostly be determined by the critical and commercial success of Justice League. Still, judging by the early reviews, it seems the future of the DC film universe has a direction to go in, though there are still quite a few narrative issues they need to work out first.

More: Why Rotten Tomatoes is Delaying Justice League's Score

Source: Various (see links)

Key Release Dates
  • Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
  • Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • Green Lantern Corps. (2020) release date: Jul 24, 2020
  • Cyborg (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020
  • Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
Jesse Pinkman in El Camino
Breaking Bad: El Camino's Surprise Cameo Had Just 36 Hours to Happen

More in Movie News