I am a little late to the game, but bear with me, I came into this with low expectations. Largely because, with the exception of Wonder Woman, the DCEU continually grows weaker. Justice League is far from perfect, but it is a significant step in the write direction. Most of the problems come from the previous entries in the DCEU. Tone, pacing, cinematography, characterization: all bleak hyper realistic, and ultimately plagued by the death of Superman.
I have no problem with realism, it is one of my favorite aspects of the Nolan verse. I do however take issue with Snyder’s intentional avoidance of humor and focus on the macabre. This intentionally bleak focus is centered around the climax of BVS. Beyond conflicting visions, too much CGI, and a weak villain; supes still has to come back. He is integral to the completion of the League.
In the end, Snyder leaves the project in Whedon’s hands. And despite his tragedy, Snyder’s departure is an overall positive. Whedon’s reshoots are obnoxiously cgi’d, but his trademark humor is evident. His jokes are tacky, but an element this universe lacks desperately. “What’s your super power again? I’m rich.” Cliched sure, but maybe the DCEU will finally stop taking itself so seriously.
Whedon’s influence is not all positive. His reshoots are almost universally panned, because the cgi is blatant and his vision for the film is clearly different from Snyder’s. But fortunately the characterization has improved dramatically. And Superman is an example of this shift. For the first time in the DCEU I was happy to see him; we are finally able to root for him. A significant shift from the mopey whiner we see in both Man of Steel and BVS.
Ezra Miller is another good example, and his acting is stellar. Barry is just an average kid, plagued by fears and insecurities. He serves as the campy comedic relief and humanizes both Batman and the team as a whole.
Ray Fisher runs away with the show though, who despite being mostly cgi manages to create a character of strong depth and complexity. This is where Justice League succeeds, despite everything stacked against it. It suffered from conflicting direction, an overuse of cgi, and a disappointing villain. But it created characters I cared about, injected some much needed humor into the universe and actually managed to keep me entertained. Which is more than can be said for most of the entries in the DCEU.