I remember November in 2017. I remember going to Justice League with my Dad and building up all the defenses in my mind about why I felt the movie “could still be good.” I knew about Zack Snyder “leaving” due to his daughter’s death. I knew that Joss Whedon was the “respected” director of the first two Avengers films and could “make it work.” And when I came out of that film I felt it was…”fine.” You could tell the shots that Whedon added, the ones that Zack made, and how it was a hodgepodge of a film. Then I heard rumblings, ones of a “Snyder Cut”.
They grew and grew, and then the TRUE story of what happened behind the scenes of Justice League emerged and I (alongside many fans) were furious. Zack Snyder was robbed of his chance to make his “true vision” for the film out of fear and a desire to be like Marvel. But now, three and a half years later, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has arrived in its full uncut form.
It was worth the wait.
I’ll be upfront, because some of you might think, “Oh, this guy is a ‘Snyder hardcore’ fan!” No, I’m not. I loved Batman v. Superman and Man of Steel, as well as 300. But I never had an interest in Sucker Punch and I stopped Watchmen halfway through because I just didn’t want to watch it anymore. And no, The Snyder Cut isn’t getting a perfect score from me. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great film. It was, and the best reason for it is because Zack Snyder was able to tell his tale his way with all the fibers and scenes that helped bring it together in a way that was believable, cohesive, and fun.
From the opening scene, you can tell that this film is different because it enforces how Superman’s death was an “awakening.” One that would start a chain of events that would lead to the arrival of the world of Apokolips. His death cries were what activated the Mother Box, his death “rung the bell” as Lex Luthor said in BVS, and thus started the chain reaction. It’s these simple yet effective scenes that really make the plot shine.
But it’s more than that. Zack Snyder’s Justice League also focuses on the mythology of the DC Comics universe that the theatrical cut ignored or treated as filler. You get a bigger view of the original battle against Darkseid (more on him in a bit), you see familiar faces like Vulko (who was cut from the theatrical cut as well) and new ones like Ryan Choi (a character who would become The Atom in the comics). You get new references to the gods, like the fiery arrow of Artemis that Hippolyta shot to warn Diana of the invasion. THAT’S why that arrow was able to go so far. We get to see the meeting of Barry Allen and Iris West in a way that is perfectly fun and perfectly Barry Allen. That’s not even mentioning all the characters we see on Apokolips and how they’re all connected. Or a certain “green alien” who makes a few key appearances to help show there are even more heroes to be found in the world.
This isn’t just a film, it’s a tapestry. One where every thread leads to new stories, new potential, new ways that things could go should more movies get made (more on THAT in a bit), and so on and so forth.
People have accused Zack Snyder of “not understanding” the DC Universe, but he understands it better than people give him credit for.
This is a perfect segue into the most important part of the film in my opinion, the characters. Because a BIG difference between The Snyder Cut and the theatrical cut is how everyone is portrayed. Gone is the needless humor (and some very egregious shots that I’ll dissect), replaced with a hard-hitting focus on each character and what is driving them to make this all work. Don’t worry, Barry Allen is still infinitely hilarious, but unlike in the theatrical cut, he’s not useless (“I just do the stopping people and then…run away!”) — he shows his intelligence and precision as well as his heart. His Speed Force scene is breathtaking and happens in a way that enforces why he might be the strongest member of the team.
Batman meanwhile is a more focused and “faith-driven” version of himself. He’s a man who made a promise and wants to right a wrong. He knows it may not work, but he has to try. He has to believe that this team he makes can truly save things else everything was for nothing.
As for Aquaman, we get more into his backstory in a way that honestly ties it heavily to the Aquaman movie (unintentionally, obviously, as James Wan didn’t see this film) and showcases that Arthur is “running from two worlds” and wants to take a stand for something and maybe find something to tie him to others.
Wonder Woman absolutely shines in The Snyder Cut. Not only do we see more of the epic warrior who can take on the New Gods, but we see the kind side that makes her Diana Prince. Her scenes with Victor Stone are much more fleshed out, and the terrorist scene in the early parts of the film has one of the best Wonder Woman lines ever that’ll make everyone smile (unless you don’t have a heart, just saying).
Superman has a more reserved role, but his presence is felt throughout the film. We see how Snyder’s version really did inspire people, and how many in the League want him back more than anything, especially Bruce and Barry. The scenes he is in showcases his heart, his soul, and yes, his power.
But the true star of the film…is Cyborg.
Arguably the biggest crime that the theatrical cut did was go and downplay the role of Cyborg in the film. While slow to build at first, Victor’s portrayal of the “forgotten son” turned cybernetic hero is powerful. Ray Fisher gives gravity to every scene he’s in and shows his pain as well as desire to be more. One scene where he’s learning about his powers and uses it to help others (despite his father urging him not to) is a testament to how Victor feels and how sometimes you NEED to do something even if other’s think it’s reckless. Because people need help, even if they don’t know who’s helping them. His ending in the film is much different than the theatrical cut and Ray Fisher DESERVES more time in the role of Victor Stone.
But don’t think that the villains get shortchanged here. Far from it. Steppenwolf was another major casualty of the theatrical cut. From his generic look, to his, “I’m here to take over the world and make you love me” speeches, it was bad. But here? He’s a New God looking for redemption in the eyes of Darkseid. He wants to go home, and the only way to do that is to conquer more worlds. He is powerful and menacing, and he slices and dices people left and right and isn’t afraid to get his own hands dirty (and kill many horses) to achieve his goal.
Oh, and as for Darkseid? Total…boss. Ray Porter delivers Darkseid’s scenes with grandeur and makes you fear every word he says. We even get glimpses of him in his early days fighting the forces of Earth, and the “future version” of him where he uses his Omega Beams and more. THIS is a version of Darkseid we need to see more of. Why? For Darkseid.
One more thing: a key difference in regards to the characters is respect. The theatrical cut had MULTIPLE scenes that were honestly demeaning to Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, Martha Kent, Barry Allen, and even Batman! Those scenes are gone and good riddance. You’ll be surprised how many “touched up” or “added onto” scenes were in the theatrical cut to make it “Whedon-esque” or “Marvel Style” and how different these scenes feel and the story connects with them gone.
I’ve seen a lot of references in regards to Zack Snyder’s Justice League in stating that it’s like the Justice League animated series in certain ways. At first, I really couldn’t understand it, given that they’re very different in their tones. But as the movie unfolded and certain memories flashed back of the cartoon, I understood.
It’s not just that the movie encompasses a large part of the DCU (like the cartoons dared to do), it was the chemistry. Whedon took a very Avengers approach to things with characters like Batman and Diana fighting and Aquaman bullying Barry and stuff like that. But Snyder instead focuses on them coming together for a common goal despite them having truly different personalities. Not unlike “Secret Origin” in the Justice League cartoon. There are small scenes included that showcase how similar they are even though they’ve never met.
One such scene has Diana talking to Arthur about how long it’s been since their peoples worked together, and he cites a quote that Diana finishes…because both races said it. Or how Cyborg was willing to risk his life to stop the unity of the Mother Boxes because he had the gifts to do so, and Barry supported him because he trusted him.
When they’re at the end of the film, and they’re standing, united, on that ledge, you know that they’re a true team and one who is willing to fight for our world against any who stand against it, and it’s a cool moment for sure.
Wait, I’m already 1500 words in? Doesn’t feel like it. Oh, there you go, the 4-hour timespan. Yeah, it doesn’t feel like it. No, really. I paused the film multiple times because I thought for SURE I was halfway done, or almost done, and then I still had an hour to go. You’re watching so much unfold that it just feels like you’re watching more than four hours. It flew by me and I couldn’t believe it when I was done because four hours didn’t seem to go by.
I could honestly spend hours talking about all the cool things that happened in the film that stood out. Like the absolutely epic Knightmare scene that helps end the film that shows WHY Jared Leto should get his true shot as The Joker (seriously…it’s bone-chilling how good he is when he’s ALLOWED to be the character). Or, the much-beloved extended Amazon scene where the Amazons proudly show, “WE HAVE NO FEAR!” The climatic end battle with Steppenwolf is awesome, especially with the “finishing move” (Zack Snyder: “In my movie, gods kill gods”) and how Darkseid reacts to the loss. Oh, and don’t forget the epic soundtrack by JunkieXL. He made some big touches to key soundtracks and it totally shines.
There’s just…a lot in the movie.
Now, what are the flaws? There are some scenes that I felt could’ve been cut, including a singing scene that honestly felt a bit out of place but I’m sure it had a meaning given how Zack Snyder’s mind works. And obviously there is a set of MAJOR cliffhangers that fans are going to ache about because we don’t know if we are going to see them ever unfold. It sucks because these were REALLY good cliffhangers!
So where does that leave us? Honestly, at a crossroads. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is unlike anything that has come before it. It’s a labor of love and passion and should be acknowledged as such on certain levels. This film was NEVER going to be released, but the fans willed it to happen, and it happened. But can it happen again? Will it happen again so we can get the trilogy Snyder wanted to do? It’s hard to say.
This is why if you go and watch The Snyder Cut, you should appreciate it for what it is. A movie about heroes, gods, men and women striving for a singular goal. This is a movie about the grand scale of the DC Comics universe and showing how you can fit a lot of it in a single movie without it feeling bloated.
The Snyder Cut was a dream made form, and it was a good dream. A great one even. It’s impossible to know where it goes from here. I honestly can’t tell you the future of what happens next. But there’s hope, there’s always hope. Especially with us…united.
Oh, one more thing: For Autumn.
Zack Snyder's Justice League Review
With The Snyder Cut, we get to see Zack Snyder’s true vision of the DC Comics movie universe, and what a vision it is. With great character depictions, major changes and additions that really brings the story together, fun action and an infinite amount of references to the large DC Universe, this 4-hour cut is truly a wonderful thing.