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Good old back-to-basics superhero story
IT'S curtains this time. Planet Earth is under siege, criminals are running rampant and superheroes are in short supply.
Superman isn't around to save the day. He died - along with viewer expectations - in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016), a stinker that did more to hurt the DC Extended Universe than any villain ever did.
Justice League signals a new dawn, so to speak. Metropolis is mourning Superman's death and over in Gotham City the Caped Crusader is dealing with a severe case of survivor guilt. Things are so bad that even a song in the opening scene informs us: "Everybody knows the good guys lost."
But help is on the way because this instalment, directed by Zach Snyder with a screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, serves as a sort of recruitment poster for superheroes - a kinder, more upbeat serving of comic book cinema whose main purpose is to lift the gloom that its predecessor inflicted.
The film focuses on the forming of the so-called league - a fancy-dressed ensemble with special skill-sets. To some extent, it also compensates for the loss of Superman and allows viewers to root for the good guys - which was harder to do in Batman v Superman when the protagonists spent a lot of time beating each other up.
This time around, the battle lines are clearly drawn. A new threat in the form of megalomaniacal alien-du-jour Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) is on the attack, keen to obliterate humanity. All he needs is to recover three cube-like Mother Boxes - the keys to unlimited power in the universe - from their protectors. And he has a fearsome force of winged metallic warriors, called Parademons, to complete the task.
Aware that he needs all the help he can get, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) scours the planet for fellow heroes. He and Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) are already acquainted (they met in the previous film) and they boost their prospects by rounding up Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller). They all have a vested interest in harnessing the power of the boxes.
Much of the fun in Justice League comes from the getting-to-know-you phase, when the superheroes find out about how to interact with each other and together as a team.
Unlike Aquaman and Wonder Woman, The Flash and Cyborg don't come from other worlds - they're altered humans, the result of experiments gone wrong. "We're the accidents," mutters the lightning-fast Flash to the techno-human Cyborg.
Each of them has a necessary skill but when Bruce is asked what his special power is, he simply says: "I'm rich." Which is why he has a range of highest-tech gadgets (and an endorsement by Mercedes-Benz, apparently) to go along with his batarangs (ninja-style projectiles).
Even as a team, they're finding it tough to defeat Steppenwolf, but there's still one more piece of the puzzle to come.
In many ways, Justice League is a back-to-basics superhero story, where good is expected to triumph over evil - and love will definitely conquer all. In between, there's room for humour, good-natured banter and special effects.
Can the Man of Steel (Henry Cavill) be far behind? Batman himself is still a bit of a bore, carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
But there are signs that the franchise is heading in the right direction. Bring on Justice League 2.