Perhaps that's why Justice League begins with cell phone video of a smiling Superman reaching out to his adoring fans and ends with Lois Lane writing an article about heroes who represent a kind of hope we all take for granted. Anyone keeping fingers on the pulse of the DCEU might read the latter as a meta monologue delivered to a creative team that kept cutting the Batman v Superman theatrical release, the ones who re-edited Suicide Squad to be "funnier," the ones who feared Wonder Woman might bomb before its release. The audience has been speaking clearly for a long time: we'd like Superman to stop being so grim, please and thank you. It took four years, but here we are. In Justice League, Superman smiles.
The movie itself is a patchwork mess. After Zack Snyder stepped down in the wake of a personal family tragedy, Joss Whedon took over and delivered a movie that is not the conclusion to Batman v Superman. You can feel the movie trudging through the remains of an actual Dawn of Justice sequel to a lighter, high-flying space: the villain, Steppenwolf, is a non-entity; Cyborg isn't so much a character as he is a plot device to crack the Mother Box code; The Flash's jokes are faster than his legs, reminiscent of Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War; and Superman's revival feels like another Marvel-ish, echoing how The Vision came to be in Avengers: Age of Ultron. That's not to say Justice League is a Marvel movie, but that this hybrid effort assembled the correct superhero blockbuster moments that promised we'd never again see a Batman movie where Lex Luthor pees in a jar to threaten the government.