Or, was he always "optimistic", as evidenced by the fact that he was willing to sacrifice himself for the Earth at least twice, and his perceived pessimism was only an immediate reaction to the events of the previous movie? We follow him through his deadliest battles, as he wrestles with the government and military, or in private with people closest to him, where he can be vulnerable, and be consumed by internal struggle; it doesn't mean that in-universe, the world sees or perceives him that way, as exemplified by the opening scene where he's shown as a friendly and approachable idol to his young adoring fans (although it should be noted it is a reshoot that was enforced to drive the point home about this).
Steppenwolf is seen as a creep and a pervert due to his assertion that, following the Unity, the Amazons will all "love" him. However, is he saying that in the sense that they'll be his personal harem, or that they'll simply be more mindless slaves like the rest of his parademons? Granted, neither option is particularly appealing.
The parademons were quick to attack Steppenwolf as soon as he felt fear. Given they were all forcibly mutated into his slaves, could they have been motivated by more than just their beastly instincts?
The movie makes a point of showing Superman and the Flash breaking away from the fight to rescue civilians in danger, as well as the focus on one family during the invasion. This is almost certainly in response to the unending criticism that Man of Steel received over the film's perceived lack of concern for all the innocent people during Superman's fight with Zod in which Metropolis was wrecked, although Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice already addressed this by taking the Final Battle into space and then on the abandoned part of Gotham City's harbor.
The Green Lantern that appears in ancient times wears a much less elaborate outfit than the ones in the 2011 film, giving rise to the possibility of the rebooted Green Lantern costumes not being needlessly composed of CGI.
The movie simply being called "Justice League" seems to be a response to how much Dawn of Justice was mocked for being an unnecessary subtitle, and it also lacks the complained-about "dour" feeling that two previous titles (Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) had, whilst also fitting in with them nicely.
The production team allowed an unprecedented all-access press tour of the set (on day 31 of 111 for principal filming) and even invited some of the harshest critics of Batman v Superman to see what they are doing. While it was stated before the release of BvS that Justice League would have a lighter tone, this press tour was designed to prove that, allowing them to watch the filming of a critical group scene, wander around some of the sets, vehicles and concept art, talk with Ben Affleck in costume and even watch an assembly cutnote A rough cut including everything in the script and all footage filmed, without regard to the final edit of Bruce recruiting Barry to the League. While some still had their reservations, all noted that it was warmer and much more funny than anything in the DCEU so far. Snyder even admitted that he was caught off guard by the negative response to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and that it caused him to take somewhat of a different approach to Justice League.
Batman gets a healthy dose of What the Hell, Hero? for his actions against Superman in Dawn of Justice, from himself, from Diana, and even from a resurrected Superman. Also the more grounded and vulnerable version of Batman, worrying about how he's Overshadowed by Awesome as a Badass Normal in a world of superpowered beings, and is physically struggling to keep up with his peers, has made him more relatable, likable, and heroic, with many fans preferring this version and appreciating the end of "the Batgod" whereby Batman in comics, and games, was frequently shilled as being better and superior to supers purely out of Popularity Power.
The Flash. Fans either found him to be a humorous breath of fresh air after the infamously dark Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, or found his constant jokes and social awkwardness to be an annoyance from start to finish. The fact that he is more like Wally West from Justice League cartoon instead of Barry Allen from the comics didn't help matters.
Aquaman. He's either a cool badass or a one-note "surfer dude".
Batman. It really does come down to how deeply you regard the previous versions of the character as to whether you appreciate the struggling, vulnerable, Overshadowed by Awesome, introspective and ridiculed Batman that we have here. Those who prefer the so-called Batgod version did not take to this version of Batman at all.
Character Rerailment: After being a Classical Anti-Hero with emotional hang-ups in the firsttwo movies, Superman is portrayed with his more upbeat characterization. It came at the price of feeling rushed and Pandering to the Base to many still, as there was a slow buildup towards Superman's iconic hero status with both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, and Justice League was supposed to be one of his final steps towards this (for instance, Zack Snyder shot the shirt-ripping scene). The Executive Meddling just rushed things with short-term thinking and the contrast with previous films is jarring, as if the Mother Box made him cocky when he was way more humble before.
Complete Monster: Steppenwolf, military commander of Apokolips, had burned countless worlds when he came to Earth, killing millions and raising them as monstrous Parademons, before he tasted defeat. Returning thousands of years later, Steppenwolf seeks to recover the lost Mother Boxes to enact his plan of wiping out life on Earth to turn it into a blasted hellscape like his own homeworld, hoping to offer Earth to his master Darkseid and end his exile. Massacring the Amazon warriors guarding their Mother Box and later doing the same to the Atlanteans, Steppenwolf captures humans who may know of the third Mother Box, killing them when they don't have the info he wants and preparing to torture another until he talks. When the newly formed Justice League moves to stop him, Steppenwolf puts his plan into motion and unleashes his forces on civilians, intending to annihilate all life on Earth to erase the memory of his past failure.
Critical Dissonance: While critical reaction is lukewarm, as evident with Rotten Tomatoes recording a critical score around 40%, general audience opinion finds the film serviceable, as evident by the audience scores on Cinemascore sitting at an 'B+' grade and the Rotten Tomatoes score sitting at 77%, even if they agreed it doesn't reach Wonder Woman.
With fans of the Arrowverse once again, with the Crisis on Earth-X crossover event and because this film introduces Deathstroke into the DCEU... which meant that the much beloved Arrow version played by Manu Bennett is now off limits, again. To add insult to injury he was actually brought back into "Arrow" before this film was released for a redemption arc — and now it'll most likely never be completed.
Perhaps low-key, but there were comparisons made by fans between this film's versions of Superman and The Flash, and the long-running TV version of The Flash (2014), and the version of Superman featured on Supergirl (2015), with some fans takings sides as to who was the better/more true version of the characters.
Fanon Discontinuity: Many DCEU fans (mainly those who want to see a Snyder director's cut released) consider the theatrical cut to have never happened, or at least many of Joss Whedon's additions to it, feeling they come off as unnecessarily corny/cringeworthy, full of Special Effect Failure, dumbing down the Superman arc the two previous movies were building, mishandling Wonder Woman and making Batman a laughingstock. The reshoots are frequent targets for removal in fan edits. With the gradual reveals that many Snyder scenes were scrapped, that the original script was way different and that Darkseid was originally going to have important appearances in the movie, this has only intensified.
Harsher in Hindsight: While doing a publicity piece for Thor: Ragnarok over at IGN, Taika Waititi read a comment from a poster with the username "Bruce Wayne," who insisted Ragnarok looked "beyond stupid." Waititi responded by sarcastically saying the movie was indeed beyond stupid, and that's why it would "take all the money from Bruce Wayne." He ended up being correct, with Thor: Ragnarok having a far better opening weekend than Justice League, and box office analysts suggesting that releasing Justice League so close to Ragnarok was a bad decision that ultimately hurt the film's chances. While Ragnarok would make over 850 million worldwide, Justice League grossed about 657 million which makes it the lowest grossing DCEU film to date. While that may sounds like a decent sum, the movie's production budget ballooned so much due to extensive reshoots and cost so much to market that it ended up losing at least $50 million dollars in its theatrical run (it likely ended up being profitable due to home release sales, merchandise, and selling it for TV).
One of the first scenes described for the film include Bruce confronting Barry in his apartment with the footage of him using his superpowers. The apartment is also filled with random gadgets and a rudimentary suit designed to work with his powers. It feels almost beat for beat the same as in Captain America: Civil War where Tony approaches Peter Parker in his own home, shows footage of him using his powers and talk about improving his costume to work with his powers. The Justice League scene was one of the first filmed, and thus planned well in advance of Civil War's release, not to mention "recruited for your special powers in your own home" is its own well-worn trope, but the similarities are nonetheless amusing.
When Barry uses his powers the lightning effects generated is blue (well, bluish white) instead of the traditional yellow. Just several months before the comic-con trailer The Flash (2014) made a specific plot point that blue lightning from a speedster is because they are using a specialized drug trying to enhance their speed and is evidence of them actually being sick and their powers unstable. The Big Bad of season two, Zoom, is defined by by the blue lightning he generates.
Jason Momoa previously played Conan, a Cimmerian, descendant of Atlantean colonists, in 2011. Fast-forward to 2017, he plays Aquaman, a.k.a. King Orin of Atlantis, in Justice League. And he had a role in Stargate Atlantis.
Ho Yay: Batman harbors this with Superman throughout the film. Not that this is the first time this has showed up in their team-ups. He feels as broken up about Superman's death as Lois does, and when he resurrects, Batman is heartbroken when Superman sneers about his uselessness, and then when Superman saves the day against Steppenwolf, he stares at him with open-mouthed awe and delight. And when Superman snarks that Batman probably didn't bring him back because he liked him, Bruce pouts "I don't not like you". His buying off the bank that foreclosed Ma Kent's farm likewise has the air of a grand romantic gesture.
Justice League has an alien invasion as its main plot, which was also the plot of Man of Steel and The Avengers (2012). Now admittedly it's a classic origin, and the Justice League of the comics and cartoon was also formed to meet a similar threat (Starro and the White Martians respectively) but among the moviegoing public, some felt that the time was right for the League to square against a different kind of threat to distinguish itself from the crop (for instance the Secret Society, Vandal Savage, Dr. Destiny, or the AMAZO Android). Likewise the film features Steppenwolf with the implication being that a follow-up would feature Darkseid, meaning the film is a set-up for two League films with the same plot. The film likewise has a plot outline similar to The Avengers, i.e. a herald (Steppenwolf/Loki) for an unseen threat (Darkseid/Thanos), searches for a particular MacGuffin (Motherbox/Tesseract) and brings with him an army of dumb alien mooks (Parademons/Chitauri) and the finale involves a beam of light and a portal. Forbes speculated that this ultimately contributed to the movie's poor opening weekend, as potential audiences may have felt that Justice League looked like an inferior knock-off of The Avengers.
In addition, Justice League is highly similar to Man Of Steel in the fact that both films involve alien conquerors coming to Earth, with their ultimate goal being to forcibly terraform the planet to resemble their own homeworlds.
Memetic Badass: the Russian family's daughter is one, with some fans even calling her a future league member. The characters google search yields surprising results and theres this article which argues she and her brother are the Wonder Twins (despite a noticeable age gap).
A photo of J.K. Simmons with well-muscled arms has attracted a lot of attention, with some people theorizing that it was actually Gordon who smashed the Joker's teeth. Simmons has denied that he did it for the film as he's been serious about his fitness for several years already.
Within hours of the Comic-con Footage being released, the ever (in)famous Bat-meme of Bruce Wayne adopting plucky orphans manages to overlap onto Barry Allen, largely due to his youth, their chemistry and the color red, of course.
Also from the scene of Bruce recruiting Barry is the odd fascination some fans have with the fact that Rick and Morty is playing on one of Barry's TVs.
Additionally, Aquaman slamming Bruce into a wall has been memed to Hell and back. Popular variants include the fake headline "Breaking News: Batman Doesn't Learn Lesson, Insults Another Superhuman", Batman telling Aquaman to "let go of [him], you fucking mermaid", and this:
The poster is popular for fan remakes. It's also got comic, Superfriends, Lego Justice League, DCAU, Arrowverse, and even Marvel versions (all easily findable in a quick Google search.)
A report on reshoots for Justice League talked about conflicting schedules and that Henry Cavill grew a mustache for Mission: Impossible Fallout and was not allowed to shave it for JL reshoots, it would be digitally removed in post production. This led to loads of jokes like "Freddy Mercury is Superman," and photoshopping mustaches on prior depictions of Superman.
This face◊ has been used many times on Twitter to encapsulate how most people felt about the new trailer.
And of course thanks to the omnipresence of Mother Boxes in the plot of the film, the inevitable nickname Martha Box has gained traction.
In box office discussion circles, this movie is used as a tongue-in-cheek unit of measurement of blockbuster performance thanks to its infamous box office underperformance (one Justice League equals $229 million).
From the trailers alone, people have already made a game out of picking apart Joss Whedon's contributions from Zack Snyder's like the alleged inserted humor and brighter colors, and criticizing (or praising) either in turn. There was a perception among some fans that if the film succeeded, Whedon would get all the praise, while if the film failed, Snyder would get all the blame. However, websites on release and other observers noted that the Uncanny Valley CGI of Cavill's Mustache/Upper Lip clearly indicated where the reshoots and edits came in, and if anything, many have criticized the reshoots for looking lackluster compared to Snyder's shots and adding more repetitive jokes, with many, even among Snyder's critics, lamenting that the film feels botched.
After Rotten Tomatoes withheld the film's status until its new Facebook show the very day of the film's release, quite a few people accused the site's co-owner Warner Brothers of making them do it over worries of bad reviews like the first three films in the franchise got. Rotten Tomatoes actually started doing this for their Facebook show a little earlier and Justice League is just one of the movies affected. Specifically, it's the second film they had done this for, and the first blockbuster and highly anticipated film they had done this to.
Steppenwolf, thanks to Ciarán Hinds' line delivery and scenery chewing. Having the creepy eldritch-being teased by the deleted scene in Dawn of Justice gloating about his love for torture, murder, conquest, possibly rapenote If his creepy exchange with Hippolyta is anything to go by, with his only quirk being his attachment to the Mother Box, is anti-climactic but not without a certain B-Movie charm.
With the villain's defeat, exotic flowers spontaneously grow out of the wreckage. It's cheesy as hell, but seeing the little girl survivor go up and pick one is downright adorable.
Clark spontaneously shedding his glasses and clothes in public to reveal his Superman outfit underneath and leaping into the sky, akin to what many fans have been waiting for. Overcut with Lois saying "Look up in the sky."
Superman's "big fan of justice" line is cheesy as hell, but quite endearing and reminiscent of Christopher Reeves's version of Superman.
When Aquaman's official look was revealed online, many were quick to criticize it, believing the long-haired, beared warrior look to be derivative of Marvel's Thor, despite the fact that this is clearly inspired by the character's appearance in the 90s comics◊ (minus the hook hand, of course). If there is a Marvel character it is derivative of then it's Namor the Sub-Mariner, whose rights are currently with Fox, and who preceded Aquaman as an aquatic superbeing from Atlantis, and whose Darker and Edgier and more badass revisions tended to make him more Namor-like than before.
Speaking of Aquaman, a number of people quickly criticised the look of his trident. Specifically that it had five prongs rather than three and thus wasn't really a trident. These people tended to cite this as an example of problems with the Darker and Edgier approach to the source material and an invention of Zack Snyder, except that the five-pronged trident actually does exist in the source material (known as the Trident of Neptune in the comics), and has existed for several years longer than Aquaman's presence in the DCEU. Aquaman's real three-pronged artifact of power was actually saved for his solo movie, as concept art revealed he was initially supposed to use it in JL but Snyder agreed upon James Wan's request, that is showing Atlantis, the iconic suit and the legendary weapon for the first time in his movie.
Cyborg's status as a member of the Justice League has been status-quo since the New 52 and likewise in the Justice League: War and Justice League: Doom animated movies, so it wasn't made for the film, not to mention the final incarnation of Super Friends, Super Powers: Galactic Guardians. The reason for Cyborg's inclusion was the need to avert Monochrome Casting and the fact that DC wanted to restore and revive Hal Jordan over John Stewart (who filled the role for Green Lantern for the very same reason in the DCAU) before including him in future movies.
The very idea that the founding members of the Justice League are well entrenched and havent changed is this. In actual fact, beyond the Martian Manhunter, the League line-up in both comics and adaptations has been quite fluid. Post-Crisis, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman were retconned out of founder status, with Black Canary retconned in to take both the badass normal place from Batman and the original female place from Wonder Woman. The DCAU version left Aquaman out of the founding team members, using him in specialized episodes instead. They also inserted Hawkgirl rather than the more well known Hawkman to avert The Smurfette Principle. And they used the then-current Wally West as the Flash instead of comics founder Barry Allen, and John Stewart as Green Lantern rather than Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner or Kyle Rayner to avert Monochrome Casting. For most of comics history, both Batman and Superman tended to be solo-heroes, while Wonder Woman was notoriously the "secretary" of the JLA in the original run. Among the Bat-Family, Dick Grayson as Robin/Nightwing has a longer record as a leader of Teen Titans than Batman does, and is a far more respected and liked member of the superhero community. Even in the DCAU, Batman was officially "part-time" and never a full-time member of the League although this became Informed Attribute as he appeared more and more often with the team.
This isn't the first DC superhero movie bogged down with Troubled Production, behind the scenes shenanigans, Executive Meddling, and change of directors mid-production, including replacing the original director who had a serious vision with someone who was known for his more humorous and light touch. This happened in Superman II where Richard Donner was replaced by Richard Lester, after completing 75% of the film with Lester working on reshoots and the edits, similar to Whedon taking over for Snyder after the latter had completed principal photography, and like Lester, Whedon made extensive reshoots, and added in more comedy.
Warner Bros. hastily course-correcting in response to backlash to a very dark superhero film that upset family friendly entertainment-seeking audiences for its dark themes and tones, with the follow-up film deliberately going Lighter and Softer and making the brooding anti-hero likable by pairing him with a quippy sidekick (Robin/Flash), more or less mirrors Batman Returns and Batman Forever, complete with the departure of a director with a very strong visual and thematic style (Tim Burton/Zack Snyder) from the helm of the franchise. Indeed, Forbes journalist Scott Mendelson noted that the film's poster was quite reminiscent of the Joel Schumacher films.
There's been some backlash towards the idea of Batman being the one to try to form the League, many discontent fans referring to the aforementioned "part-timer" commitment he had in some recent incarnations and being a (mostly) solo hero. In The Brave and The Bold #28, the League's first appearance, it was ultimately Batman who brings up the idea of officially forming a team to the other heroes.
The flashback of Steppenwolf's first invasion has a whole slew of this. The Alliance of The Greek Gods, including an unnamed Artemisnote She is Wonder Woman's quasi-namesake, her Roman Aspect is called Diana taking out a floating Apokoliptan warship with a single golden arrow, Zeus leading the army and hurling thunderbolts, an unnamed alien Green Lantern using Green Light Hammers against Apokoliptans only to fall heroically in battle to Steppenwolf.
The Amazon warriors in both the flashback and the present. Especially the heroic soldiers who sacrifice themselves in a relay to keep the Mother Box away from Steppenwolf, sacrificing their lives for the cause, and the women who use their strength to hold up a collapsing cave so Hippolyta can run away from the vault of the Mother Box away from Steppenwolf.
The reactionary terrorists led by the fan-favorite Michael McElhatton, for their coolness, menace, and snappy dressing-style.
Amber Heard's Mera and the Atlanteans cast a good impression in their brief scene, with Mera calling out Aquaman for his Prodigal Hero irresponsible shtick, and using her powers to repel Steppenwolf and create a vacuum of air in the middle of ocean for her and Aquaman to talk.
The film's infamous Troubled Production wound up damaging the critical and commercial reception of the final product. Zack Snyder, the original director, stepped down partway through production after his daughter's suicide, causing co-writer Joss Whedon to take over directing duties. Whedon's appointment was initially thought as Win the Crowd until his ex-wife revealed he cheated on her multiple times during their marriage, which started a backlash against the popular director. Towards the release, many involved in the film were dogged by sex scandals including star Ben Affleck (who can under scrutiny for his ties to Harvey Weinstein) and producer Brett Ratner (whose production company was involved in Wonder Woman and was fired after being outed for his sexist behavior). By the time the film came out, Snyder ironically won the most sympathy despite his reputation as a Scapegoat Creator.
Joss Whedon's reshoots for Justice League were meant to lighten up the film's atmosphere after it became clear that most people had rejected the needlessly dark and edgy tone of Batman v Superman and were losing faith in the DCEU. Whatever improvements Whedon had made to the final cut were overshadowed by the infamous "Mustache-Gate".
To make-up for his polarizing characterization in the previous films, Justice League goes to the other extreme with Superman in response to fan complaints. The Justice League see themselves, collectively, as his Poor Man's Substitute. The whole world and they themselves are Holding Out for a Hero. Batman, The Determinator who never backs down from any threat and challenge, willingly admits that they need to revive Superman in desperation against Steppenwolf, more or less throwing in the towel of his resolve. They lose pathetically to Superman in a Let's You and Him Fight situation, where a revived Superman, on hearing Batman state that the world needs Superman, sneers in reply that the world doesn't need Batman, who already in earlier scenes admitted to feeling out of place in a world of superbeings and filled with self-loathing about being manipulated by Luthor. The finale against Steppenwolf becomes a massive Curb-Stomp Battle when he shows up, which more or less makes the entire League a squad of sidekicks rather than the more collegiate incarnation that it is in the comics and cartoons. Some fans liked the change and portrayal, while others lamented it came at the price of making a superhero team movie entirely about how one guy makes the rest unnecessary.
Adding Whedon's brand of humor to pander to the crowds that usually flock to theaters to watch Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.
Scapegoat Creator: Zack Snyder was this even before production began, mostly as a result of the backlash to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was so severe that the production went out of its way to reassure reporters and observers that this film would have a lighter tone, and even showed clips and trailers very early in production to Win Back the Crowd. Snyder ultimately left the film before production completed in the wake of his daughter's suicide and left reshoots to be handled by Joss Whedon. The film that came out in theaters is definitely NOT the one Snyder intended to make in any case.
The Scrappy: Steppenwolf is widely considered to be the most forgettable and least-liked villain in the DC Extended Universe (among other disliked DCEU villains such as Lex Luthor and the Enchantress) due to having a bare-bones personality and his character design being drastically different to what Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had promised. It didn't help matters that he was chosen as the main villain of the film instead of the more popular Darkseid or actual League villains like Starro, Amazo or the Crime Syndicate.
The opening scene with the credits playing to a mournful cover of "Everybody Knows" was widely liked by many, with many comparing it to the "The Times They Are Changin" montage at the start of Watchmen. Which is ironic since the sequence was entirely Whedon's idea as was the choice of song, done specifically as a Homage to Snyder's style.
As mixed as the reception can be, most everyone can agree that they enjoyed the scene where Superman catches notice of the Flash while he's in super speed.
So Okay, It's Average: The general reviews state is that it's an unambitious film that hangs together despite its chaotic production and is better thanBatman v Superman and Suicide Squad, but most argue that it's not as spectacular as it should have been, and cinematography of the reshoots is still clearly inferior to that of Batman v Superman and Wonder Woman. The film's big moment, Superman coming Back from the Dead, was surprisingly soft-pedalled. It currently sits at 45/100 on Metacritic, indicating "mixed or average reviews", and 40% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 5.2/10.
Critics' consensus:Justice League leaps over a number of DC movies, but its single bound isn't enough to shed the murky aesthetic, thin characters, and chaotic action that continue to dog the franchise.
Special Effect Failure: A lot of reviews mention some of the CGI in the theatrically released movie being downright atrocious, with the most common offender being Steppenwolf, who is completely a CGI creation. The VFX failures are due to the very tight schedule that was allowed to do the reshoots, as the November 2017 release date was somehow maintained and the reshoots started in July, which is baffling considering reworking such a big movie obviously needed much more time.
Superman's face. Henry Cavill's mustache had to be digitally covered after the reshoots, which meant rebuilding his entire face with CGI and it shows, reaching Uncanny Valley levels of weird. Zack Snyder commented on this, saying "We all know that doesn't work".
Flash's CG is very obvious near the end of the film during Lois' monologue, as he looks like he's being pulled forward by strings.
Zack Snyder has since confirmed that the terraforming effects from the final confrontation (such as the crystalline tendrils) are not part of his original vision. While these effects were alright on their own, the fact that they were prioritised over other issues during the reshoots doesn't reflect well on the executive team. Whatever one may say about Snyder's directing and storytelling style, his films always have polished and stunning CGI when he's allowed full control over them, which wasn't the case here.
Cyborg looks awesome... if you don't stare at him too long in the reshot scenes. Look too closely, and you start to notice that he's just not really there, and your eyes just slide off of him. He looks way better and more polished in the missing trailer scenes.
Fans of Zack Snyder and others, while sympathetic about the tragic personal circumstances that led to Joss Whedon to stepping in and do the reshoots, have taken issue with the extent of the changes, and the uneven mix of Whedon's style with Snyder's style. As people like Dan Olson of Folding Ideas pointed out, the reshoots were far more extensive than claimed as evidenced by the CGI used to cover Cavill's mustache whose Uncanny Valley effect highlights which scene comes from where and when the Mother Box is used to resurrect Superman is entirely different looking from the others, and he believes that Superman's resurrection was conceived differently in Snyder's version. A near constant flow of behind-the-scenes information including leaked unfinished VFX scenes, pieces of storyboards, concept arts and screenshots (many of the latter being provided by Snyder himself on Vero) only added fuel to the What Could Have Been fire in the years that followed Justice League's release.
The film undersells the New Gods and the Fourth World as Darkseid is left unseen. Only his lackey Steppenwolf appears, who is not even among the most famous of Darkseid's underlings, let alone of the Fourth World overall. Many lament that the DCEU did not show Darkseid before his more-or-less Alternate Company Equivalent Thanos' on-screen splash in Avengers: Infinity War, defeating the purpose of the film as a delayed response to The Avengers and the MCU. Some fans were hoping that Superman's resurrection would lead to him fighting Darkseid himself either on Earth or on Apokolips in imitation of their beloved rivalry in the DCAU. The fact that Darkseid's debut would have had him lead the conquest of Earth would have arguably been a one-up on Thanos, who did next to nothing for 6 straight years after making his first appearance.
Michael McElhatton and his squad of "reactionary" terrorists who want to restore humanity to the Dark Ages make a solid impression in their small sequence. Their vague motives as Western Terrorists with reactionary goals could have been easily reworked to make them into the DCEU version of Intergang, the crime syndicate that serves as the front for Apokoliptan invasion of Earth in the DCAU and later becomes a Darkseid Mystery Cult (Post-Crisis, New 52), serving as a good way to introduce the Fourth World mythos into the DCEU (since that's how both Jack Kirby and Bruce Timm introduced it in their takes on the story), while also clarifying Luthor's madness in the previous film.
Cyborg's implants are stated to incorporate Mother Box technology. Since the whole plot revolves around Mother Boxes, you might expect this to be an important plot point, but nothing comes from this. Since the bad guys can apparently detect a Mother Box anywhere on Earth, this could have been extended to track Cyborg and for him to thus become a liability. Or that he could have a unique ability to interface with a Mother Box. The closest one could claim is that he is somehow able to calculate that a Mother Box contains the power to resurrect Superman, but there is no clear connection made from there.
While many have praised the film for giving Superman an Author's Saving Throw and restoring his characterization to something closer to the classic, iconic depiction of Superman, there's also a sense about how it negates Zack Snyder's first two films in general, while also making Superman's death via Doomsday kind of pointless, since it doesn't provide a compelling reason for the Justice League's formation. As was clear in the DCAU, Superman formed the Justice League because there were threats that he couldn't meet by himself, and the team was needed to meet threats bigger than themselves and be more effective. This was also the message, or in some cases the stated message, of The Avengers and other superhero team movies (like X-Men, Fantastic Four, and even Suicide Squad). In the film, Batman forms the League as a replacement for Superman and to make up for his guilt, then Superman comes in the finale and saves the day by himself against Steppenwolf with most of the team and the planet Holding Out for a Hero (as the opening cover of "Everybody Knows" by Sigrid states). The entire debate about collateral damage and Hero Insurance, Batman's "Knightmare Sequence" and the coming of Darkseid which was hinted and set up for the first two films get washed away and left unaddressed, even if it could have cohered for a meaningful motivation to found the League, i.e. be more effective in limiting damage from battles, hold themselves accountable and serve as a check and balance. As such there's seemingly no clear reason for why the world needs a Justice League, or why Superman should need allies.
In a somewhat retroactive example, Superman's dramatic character shift highlights some of the characterization problems in the previous films. A number of critics and fans have observed that the central conflict of Batman v. Superman would have been far more compelling and better written had it starred this version of Superman, since the ideological differences between the dark, angsty Batman and the hopeful, optimistic Superman would have made way more sense. Indeed, that sort of ideological clash was the exact basis for the beloved World's Finest animated movie.
A similar situation exists with Batman. In the film, Batman is shown as a Butt-Monkey who is barely able to keep up with the Justice League, a situation that is played for both drama and comedy. While this was largely greeted as a well-deserved dressing down for his controversial portrayal of the previous film, others lament that the Science Hero version of Batman, the one who could legitimately tackle superpowered beings (Clayface, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Ra's Al Ghul, Solomon Grundy, among others), who was also Crazy-Prepared, doesn't get to take his place alongside his peers. Many see this as a consequence of Snyder's revision in Batman V Superman where he cast an older Batman who was largely a Badass Normal (dubbed "crossfit bro") who was a bulky brute, and the film generally implies that he mostly tackled street-level thugs in his career and costumed criminals like Joker and the Penguin, with Alfred stating "I don't recognize this world", when the Batman of the comics and cartoons, and games, had experience tackling science-fiction and paranormal threats, and this allowed him to be a major part of the League, outside of his superpower of "being rich".
The opening of the film, via exposition, maps out a lot of World Building and connections between the New Gods, Fourth World, Greek Gods and Atlanteans via the Mother Boxes, which in the Alternate Universe of DCEU recur throughout its history. The exposition provided a lot of thematic heft to Snyder's allegorical and symbolism-laden superhero films — for instance arguing that the despair felt by the world after Superman's death led to Steppenwolf's return — and yet the rest of the film doesn't explore this beyond using it to explain and justify the fight against the villain. Had this been built or sustained, the film could likely have built upon the cosmic side, as well as make the formation of the Justice League the mythical grand event that it always has been, and should have been.
Parademons feast upon fear. Who is among Darkseid's laundry list of enemies in the comics? The Guardians and their Lanterns, a force dedicated to fighting fear in the universe. Other than two brief cameos and a line that didn't even make it into the film, the Green Lantern Corps are absent. This would have been the perfect way to introduce the cosmic side of the DCEU while making the story seem greater in scale.
Took the Bad Film Seriously: If there is something universally commendable about the movie is that the interactions and emotions of the characters come off as genuine and believable. Particular praise went to Henry Cavill for capturing the charisma and idealism Superman is known for, as well as for Ezra Miller making a very empathetic Flash; and Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck continuing their good dynamic from Batman V Superman to develop a friendship that allows both of them to develop as characters.
The DCAU is positively received by fans of the DC Comics and ensures that successive adaptations (both animated and live action), ranging in quality, have a particular standard to meet.
The Arrowverse has been doing annual crossovers ever since The Flash (2014) started airing. The 2016 crossover "Heroes Vs. Aliens" with all of the shows currently aired was very well received (and based off the classic Dominators story), which when coupled with the lackluster reception of nearly all of the DCEU films means that Justice League has a lot to live up to.
The film is also the DCEU's equivalent to the MCU's The Avengers, which was highly successful with both critics and audiences alike, and was released after Marvel Studios built critical and audience goodwill with their previous films in Phase One. This means that when coupled with the DCEU's lackluster track record thus far with critics, this film had an uphill battle ahead of it.
Wonder Woman served as a standard to match, being the first critically successful film of the DCEU.
The film was released just a couple of weeks after Thor: Ragnarok, which was beloved by critics and audiences alike and was successful at the box office. In fact, some have suggested that releasing the film just two weeks after Thor: Ragnarok hurt this film's chances, along with the previous negatively-received movies driving away audiences from seeing the film.
Unacceptable Targets: A rather tragic example. While Zack Snyder's reputation as a director remains anything but this, the Internet as a whole moved swiftly to offer their condolences and strongly condemn those attacking him personally when it was revealed that he had stepped down from working on the film due to his daughter's suicide.
Uncanny Valley: It's very easy to identify the Superman reshoots thanks to the dodgy CGI used to recreate Henry Cavill's face since he couldn't shave his mustache due to his contract with Paramount on Mission: Impossible Fallout. It causes Superman's face to look downright weird at times.
Unconventional Learning Experience: The post-production disaster of this film was actually quite educational for a number of fans, who learned the ins and outs of modern post-production, such as the differences between the "first cut" and director's cut and rough cuts (all of which are entirely different things).
Commissioner Gordon is a vital element of the Batman comics, but is non-existent in Justice League comics because of the larger scale. Here he is an ally of the League, and there to see its formation.
Steppenwolf being the Big Bad in Darkseid's place came across as surprising to a lot of people. Ultimately, it would appear that Zack Snyder didn't want to blow DC's most infamous villain in the first Justice League movie (as has become the standard since Batman Begins), which is why another New Gods villain was used in his place - but even then, Steppenwolf is hardly the most popular antagonist from that series, and was always a minor villain compared to Desaad, Granny Goodness, the Female Furies, Kalibak and Virman Vunderbar.
The test footage showing Deathstroke walking onto the set came out of left field, particularly due to the movie's plot revolving around an alien invasion. Likewise, another Titans mainstay in the movie is Cyborg. While the other heroes are expected to be in a Justice League film, Cyborg is more closely identified with the Teen Titans than the League, and having him in over, say, Green Lantern or Martian Manhunter, is a bit surprising, though as per Older Than They Think Cyborg HAS been established as a Justice League founder in the modern comics (in the New 52 to be precise). Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter have different reasons for why they were left out of the Justice League's first gathering on film and Cyborg's synergy with Mother Boxes makes him a rather logical choice. Green Lanterns are confirmed to exist in the DCEU, however.
The Greek gods, among which Zeus, Ares and Artemis are clearly seen (and credited) and help repel Steppenwolf's first invasion together with an alien Green Lantern.
Aquaman returning to the ocean and a wave swallowing him up.
The Flash almost literally riding the lightning (electrical arcs appear in front of him just as he takes off, giving it a real punch).
Wonder Woman loses her sword during the shaft fight and lunges off a ledge to retrieve it, with Flash in Bullet Timerunning along the wall to bounce the sword back into her hand with the tip of his finger.
Batman flying down into a battlefield and tossing a grenade with a strikingly vibrant sunset background looking like something out of Crisis On Two Earths. His drifting the batmobile while shooting at parademons also.
Win Back the Crowd: The movie's upbeat portrayal of Superman reignited some public interest in the character, to the point it gave more fan pressure to DC and Warner to give Superman another standalone movie and have him appear in SHAZAM!.
What an Idiot!: Batman, realizing that the League is no match for Steppenwolf in it's current state, decides to revive Superman, using a Motherbox, knowing that he'll be heavily distorted, possibly a case of Came Back Wrong. You'd Expect: Batman to have either Martha Kent or Lois Lane (or both) be the first person Superman sees upon being resurrected. He knows both people know Superman's real identity, and doing so would help Superman adjust to being resurrected, and have the rest of the Justice League wait in reserve in case Superman doesn't immediately adjust to being resurrected. Instead: He doesn't even consider bringing Martha along, and only brings Lois along as a backup, instead making the first people Superman sees be Wonder Woman (who he barely knows), Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash (3 people who he's never met). To the surprise of no one, Superman's distorted state causes Cyborg's armor to go haywire and attack the former, resulting in a fight between Supes and the Justice League. Batman only brings out Lois as a last resort.
The Woobie: The Russian family that are stuck at ground zero of Steppenwolf's invasion. Given that the parademons will attack anyone who feels fear, the odds of them being killed at any moment are extremely high.
The "leather bikinis" some of the Amazons wore on set (see here) drew some controversy. Said leather bikinis don't appear in the theatrical version.
Most of the designs have gone over very well, but there exists a bit of a Broken Base over the Flash's costume. Some people like it, while others dislike its segmented armor-like appearance (similar to his Injustice: Gods Among Us suit, or even the Netflix Daredevil (2015) suit) with wires wrapped around it (though not as thickly as Mr. Fantastic's suit in Fantastic Four (2015)), as well as having so much black. While Snyder revealed early on (in a special set visit provided to critics, aiming to Win Back the Crowd) that he'll get a second one over the course of the film, it was absent from Whedon's theatrical cut.
Cyborg's almost completely CGI design is being criticized along similar lines as Green Lantern's costume in his 2011 movie, and for looking too busy like a Bayformer.Unlike Barry Allen, he does get a new look, but only in the closing scene as he experiments with his shape-changing abilities.