While ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ is a testament to the creative vision and the true passion of the fans that supported it, it’s release has left a bittersweet taste in everyone’s mouth. Despite the success and overwhelming love it’s getting from the fans, Warner Brothers has no plans to continue with this story. The chaotic mismanagement that Warner Brothers has over this franchise is just as frustrating as it as confusing. They have ditched an episodic approach in favour of a gamble with each movie they release. Movies from different realities like ‘Joker‘ and ‘The Batman‘. Movies which will retcon previous movies like ‘Birds of Prey‘ and the upcoming ‘Suicide Squad‘ sequel. The only remnants from the canon 2017 ‘Justice League‘ movie are ‘Aquaman, The Flash and Wonder Woman whose upcoming movies will probably act as if that movie never even existed. Who knows when Cavill’s Superman and Affleck’s Batman will ever appear again after this. ‘The Snyder Cut’ may a creative win but this seems more like a finale than a starting-off point for Zack Snyder and DC.
MILD SPOILERS FOR ‘ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE‘ ARE INCLUDED IN THIS REVIEW.
It’s quite impossible to treat this movie as a stand-alone story when it ends with what is arguably the world’s longest cinematic tease. It’s so frustrating to see a movie of this calibur by DC actually done right and get to the heights of the MCU’s biggest scenes only for it to be retconned completely. ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ is a genuinely fantastic comic-book movie. It is the movie the DCEU has been waiting for to be taken seriously. This was the right step after multiple missteps. All of this is coming from someone who couldn’t even finish ‘Man of Steel’ and despises ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’. To be completely honest I wasn’t anticipating four hours of something I might potentially hate but I was genuinely surprised, flabergasted even at how much I enjoyed this movie. For the first time ever, I was excited to see what would happen next and unfortunately none of us ever will.
‘The Snyder Cut’ is a completely different movie than what we got back in 2017. It isn’t the same movie stitched together with the deleted footage, it looks, feels and sounds different. While the first three hours arguably follow the same major story beats of the 2017 version, the last hour is the DCEU at it’s best which cannot be said for the lackluster underwhelming third act of the theatrical version. When it comes to the response to the theatrical version, there was never a strong sense of hatred, it was always an underwhelming disappointment. Seeing this uncut version and noticing what was deleted was truly baffling to think about. Most of Cyborg’s character was cut out, Steppenwolf’s motivation was never fully adressed, scenes that contribute to character development were swapped out for jokes. The Flash, for instance got some depth to his character this time around instead of purely being the comic-relief. The importance of Batman and his need to protect Superman’s legacy by fighting together was portrayed effectively. The overall theme of fighting together as opposed to fighting alone was really heightened with the incredible flashback of Darkseid coming to Earth. It made the Justice League teaming up feel more epic and necessary instead of doing it because it would look “cool” like the theatrical version.
Sitting at four hours and two minutes, this mega-blockbuster passes by in a flash, (pun intended). Pacing is a very subjective element in film. Some might see this movie and experience a slow-burn, almost grating pace which turns them off. Some might feel like the movie never loses momentum and is consistently entertaining. I fall in the latter. Considering my lack of patience towards any type of media nowadays, the fact that I rarely got bored during a four-hour movie is still a shock to me. This movie alltogether felt like a different experience, there was a strong sense of nostalgia because for the first time ever since the pandemic started, I felt a sliver of the experience of watching a superhero blockbuster in a theater. It also felt unpredicatable in the sense that despite this being an enhanced version of a movie which already exists, I still found myself not knowing what was about to happen. Make no mistake, ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ is a new movie. The amount of detail and really just time to let these bigger-than-life character do their thing makes this version feel intensely richer. While it is visually epic and it definitely carries a constant state or urgency purely because of the look it has, I personally didn’t mind how the 2017 version looked. The perfect aesthetic would be a mix of the two but even so, this is still very pleasant to look at.
That being said, the writing is still that of a comic-book blockbuster, it still wears it’s cliches proudly on it’s sleeve so much to the point of possibly getting called pretentious. It follows the comic-book movie tropes and traditions. Also keeping in mind that this is the third entry in the DCEU, at least that’s what it was meant to be. The idea of introducing a slate of new superheroes and get us to care about them and believe that they are a team is really a bold move which this version gets away with… to an extent. While there is more character development, this still feels like a first Justice League movie. While watching the movie, I had this reoccuring thought that I’m only enjoying this as much as I am because I am a DC fan, I know these characters outside of this movie so there’s that added layer of appreciation. To people who are not familiar with these characters at least not Cyborg, Flash and Darkseid, this movie must feel like a dump of information to obtain for future movies. Aquaman has the benefit of having his own solo movie come out between the two version of this movie but the other characters are mostly new to the cinematic scene.
What really hurts the impact of this movie is the entire epilogue scene. It felt like a cheap shot to get us excited for a sequel that would’ve never happened. Let’s be honest, a four-hour cut of ‘Justice League’ would’ve never made it to theatres, Warner Brothers. would have never allowed it. If this extended cut has proven anything it’s that this was never meant to be a movie because it feels so much like a miniseries. I don’t think there is a single cut of this movie below three hours which would’ve satisfied people as much as this one. Would a shorter version of this cut perform better than the 2017 version? It’s up for debate honestly, ‘Batman V Superman’ didn’t even make a billion dollars and that was all Zack Snyder. The entire Martian Manhunter / Epilogue footage should’ve been cut so that at the very least, people could think of this movie as canon. I think I can speak for most people when I say that I would love to see a sequel to this movie somwhere down the line even if it’s ten years from now. What this movie did was truly exciting and epic and it would be a damn shame to let it die here.
‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ is available to stream on HBO Max in the U.S. and on Sky Cinema in the U.K.