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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Justice League is DC Comics' all-star superhero adventure, with Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. As in previous DC movies, this one has lots of large-scale, explosive violence (close-up battles as well as mass destruction of property, all with loads of different weapons). But it's not as dark, and there's far less romance -- minus comments about Wonder Woman's attractiveness, a few shots of shirtless men, and a couple of kisses. Language includes occasional use of words including "s--t," "a--hole," and "son of a bitch." With its big ensemble and messages of teamwork and courage, expect this installment to appeal to viewers of all ages, but it's most appropriate for tweens and up. And while it's not strictly necessary, it's best to have seen Wonder Woman and Batman v Superman to really follow along. (Note: Be sure to watch the entire end credits of Justice League, because there are two extra scenes that set up the sequel.)
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What's the story?
JUSTICE LEAGUE starts off in a world that's mourning Superman's death after the events of Batman v Superman. In Gotham City, Batman (Ben Affleck) notices that flying alien creatures that feed on fear keep popping up. And in Themyscira, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and the other Amazons face off against reborn supervillain Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), who's returned to Earth to find three "mother boxes" of energy (one is with the Amazons on Paradise Island, one is with the Atlanteans under the sea, and the final one is hidden among men). When joined together, the boxes will cause mass destruction and a new world over which Steppenwolf can preside. Bruce Wayne enlists Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to help him recruit a team of superheroes -- including young Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), reclusive Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and rebellious Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) -- to stop Steppenwolf and his fear-devouring parademons from destroying the world.
Is it any good?
DC's ensemble adventure works best when it's highlighting co-screenwriter/director Joss Whedon's signature team-building elements, which humanize each superhero. But it's ultimately not as cohesive or memorable as Wonder Woman. It is, however, better than Batman v Superman (though once more it's the melancholy Superman subplot that brings the story down). The cast, led by Affleck and Gadot, is certainly good, but the band of superheroes doesn't quite gel until the final battle sequence. Until then, they're all sizing one another up -- and, in the case of Aquaman, finding others (with the exception of Wonder Woman) lacking. At one point, Aquaman literally says to Bruce, in what becomes a running gag, "You have no powers, no offense."
A big part of the reason that the movie feels uneven is that it was directed by both Zach Snyder and Whedon (official credit notwithstanding), who stepped in after a family tragedy forced Snyder to withdraw from the film. Snyder is an action stylist (all those slow-motion shots of the superheroes mid-air, about to punch, stab, hit someone!), but he isn't exactly a master at realistic dialogue. Whedon, meanwhile, is a specialist in witty banter, ensemble relationships, and dialogue. Those familiar with both filmmakers' styles will find it easy to tell which aspects of the movie are Snyder's and which are Whedon's, but they don't always blend together well. On the bright side, the additions to the team are all compelling in their own ways, with Miller's The Flash as the punchy, adorkable teen of the bunch (like the new Spider-Man over at Marvel). This may not be the universal win DC wanted after the studio's Wonder Woman high, but there's a lot of potential for the sequel, as well as individual Justice League movies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of superhero movies like Justice League. Why do you think these larger-than-life comic book characters continue to enthrall viewers?
What do you hope to see in the next Justice League movie? What do you think of the post-credit scene that hints at the team's next challenge?
- In theaters: November 17, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: March 13, 2018
- Cast: Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot
- Director: Zack Snyder
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes
- Character Strengths: Courage, Teamwork
- Run time: 121 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of sci-fi violence and action
- Last updated: March 28, 2020
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