From start to finish, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. And one that I didn’t want to get off.
ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE
It is finally here. The film DC fans have been crying out for ever since Joss Whedon’s version crashed and burned in 2017. Fans have been demanding ‘The Snyder Cut‘ ever since. Did it exist? What was it like? How much of Snyder’s vision was actually in the original release? It had to be released. For many years, the fans’ hopes and dreams were dashed. Until they were realized. Despite people calling it a vicious and targetted campaign of terror, the film would be completed and released. The fans were ecstatic along with several of the actors involved in the film. Several of them even retweeted the hashtag #ReleaseThe SnyderCut.
And now, Zack Snyder’s cut has done away with all the buildup. There are no more trailers. No more teasers. No more dropped posters or images. It is now out there. Complete with a new score from Junkie XL, replacing Danny Elfman’s from the original release. The film runs a whopping four hours in length. The question that is now on the lips of everyone is: Is this new version of the film worthwhile? And more importantly, is it any good?
ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE | HBO MAX / WARNER BROS
Let me say this: Joss Whedon’s version is HISTORY! The stain on the DC universe has been completely wiped off until there is no trace of it. Anywhere. What is surprising is the amount of footage that Whedon put into his version that was shot by Snyder. Not all of the criticism of the 2017 version has been swept away. But what we have been given is going to go down as the quintessential DC film. The perfect completion of Zack Snyder’s time within the DC universe. Sadly, as there probably won’t be a continuation of his vision, he does the perfect thing. Always leave them wanting more.
You know the story by now. Thankfully, it hasn’t changed too much. But what we get is a much darker film, a much more violent movie. But it is completely worthwhile. A large part of the movie that was put in by Whedon has been replaced. And Snyder’s original idea that replaces it is much more satisfying. Batman fans may sit on the fence with how he is portrayed in this version though. There are still moments of light-hearted banter. But for the main part, Affleck’s Bruce Wayne/Batman is more in line with the graphic novel portrayals. Out goes any campness, incomes brooding and violent.
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is a much more rounded character than before. In Whedon’s version, she comes across as a mother figure, similar to Bruce Wayne’s fatherly version. Here, she is the warrior we know she is. She still encourages people as before but here, she battles and fights with grace and anger. Kudos must go to Snyder here. He has added in a depth that wasn’t there before. And he manages to tie the story into ‘Wonder Woman 1984‘ with some dialogue.
Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/ Aquaman is still like a petulant child in places. But he embraces his character as he did in his standalone movie. Gone is the silly comedy from the original version, here he is as he should be. And again, his arc ties into the ‘Aquaman‘ movie. Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/ The Flash remains the comedy relief but he has a much larger part to play this time. And it is a vital one for the story. Whereas before the character didn’t have much of a big part to play, here he does. And out goes the silly race to the ocean scene with Superman thankfully.
Henry Cavill plays a larger part this time around and not just as Superman. His resurrection is altered slightly and out goes the digitally removed mustache. In fact, the original opening with Superman answering questions is gone. As has the ‘Do you bleed?’ speech with Affleck’s Batman from the original version. Here the character is much more thought out and Cavill brings a bigger vulnerability to Clark Kent than before. It is much better and his arrival in the final battle is a moment to cheer.
But the heart of the film, as already quoted by Zack Snyder is Victor Stone/ Cyborg. Joss Whedon removed a hell of a lot of Ray Fisher’s scenes from his version. Here, Fisher gets a chance to shine, and believe me, he grabs it with both hands. His story and his arc anchor the film and keeps the story moving with ease. Experience the conflict between father and son. Discover his emotional core laid bare. We get inside the man/machine hybrid and understand him a lot more. Fisher is arguably the best thing the film has going for it. His performance is wonderous.
The supporting cast, for the most part, nail their characters completely. Amy Adams as Lois Lane has a more integral part to play in this version and pulls it off with ease. Diane Lane as Martha Kent likewise. They make their characters believable again, not the shadows they were in the original version. The brief appearances from Willen Defoe as Vulko and Amber Heard as Mera are welcome but strangely, Mera now sports a British accent for some reason. But Snyder laid the foundations for the standalone movie and make for a welcome addition.
The appearance of Jared Leto as The Joker, already known to the audience is a brief three minutes near the end of the film. But Leto has redeemed himself with this portrayal of the character. Gone is the ‘Suicide Squad‘ version he created. In comes a version, not unlike Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning version. And it is a marvelous payoff. Leto owns the character finally. THIS is what we wanted to see in ‘Suicide Squad‘ and now we finally get it. Jesse Eisenberg returns as Lex Luthor in the same scene from the original version of the film but it is slightly extended. The same goes for Joe Manganiello as Slade Wilson/ Deathstroke but again, his appearance lays the foundations for a sequel we will probably never get. And his appearance makes more sense this time around.
The same goes for Steppenwolf. In the original version, he was someone who showed up, said a few lines, acted as a villain but was unfulfilling and with a very weak payoff at the end. Here, he is big, bad, and extremely nasty. This is how the character should have been from the start. Joss Whedon diluted the character down to a petty villain. Here, he is restored to his potential. And is finally a worthy adversary for the assembled league. The audience must also listen to what is being said as there are several easter eggs embedded within the dialogue. And there are a few cameos that will surprise and delight the audience.
Is the film the greatest comic book movie ever made? Doubtful. But it is DC’s version of ‘Avengers: Endgame‘. It is epic in scale, big in ideas, and has one hell of a payoff. The cliffhanger ending they talked about? Yes, you could use that terminology for it. But it is another seed that would have sprouted fruit if a sequel was to be made. It would have been great to see how these plotlines and seeds would have played out. This version deserves a sequel to it. Alas, it isn’t likely to happen. More’s the pity.
I can confidently say that IF Zack Snyder gets his wish and the film gains an IMAX release when the movie theatres reopen, then the queue will start behind me. The film deserves an IMAX release. It deserves to be seen on the biggest screen you can find. The film does still have its faults but they are minor. Compared to Whedon’s version, this wipes the floor with it. Is it any good? It’s more than good. It is one of the best superhero films I have seen. From start to finish, The Snyder Cut is a rollercoaster ride of emotions. And one that I didn’t want to get off.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is streaming exclusively on HBO Max NOW!
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!