By Christian DiMartino
Well, I was wrong.
In the case of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I was wrong on two counts. The first being, for the years after the release of Justice League, fans cried out for the quote-on-quote “Snyder Cut.” The background surrounding this cut, I shall try to dive into in a minute. Me being the pessimist I am, I naturally assumed this was one of those things that was never going to happen, kind of like when people make petitions to get people fired (speaking of which, has Amber Heard finally been cancelled? God I hope so, if not for Johnny Depp, than at least for her horrendous English accent that appears out of nowhere in Zack Snyder’s Justice League). Well, surely enough, since we’re talking about it, we know that it has happened. On the second count, when it was announced, I couldn’t help but think, again, being a pessimist, that Snyder wasn’t going to actually pull off something good. See, there are people who believe Snyder can do no wrong, then there are people who think he only does wrong; I stand in the middle. Snyder has made decent movies- some actually really good- but he’s also had his blunders. To my very pleasant surprise, Zack Snyder’s Justice League isn’t one of those blunders. Yes it’s four hours and yes it’s a lot of movie… but it is spectacular. Basically, if you go into the movie looking for flaws, you probably will; but if you go into it looking for a good time, then Snyder does indeed deliver.
So let’s provide a little background, for those unaware. Justice League was released on November 17th, 2017. Why do I remember that? Because it was my 21st birthday, and I saw it the previous day. I was in good spirits, and despite its goofy effects and messiness, again, I was in good spirits. Snyder’s name was on that film, but his touch wasn’t. As you may recall, Snyder’s daughter committed suicide in early 2017. So due to this unexpected tragedy, Snyder, who basically held the messy reigns to the DCEU at that point, decided to bow out. If you read more into it, apparently Warner Bros. was so-so on the direction that he was taking the film, and so Joss Whedon was brought in to do re-shoots and add his touch.
The idea of Justice League being released when it was released never sat well with me, because not all of these characters had standalone movies, so they were basically just throwing characters at us that we had no connection to. Unlike, say, The Avengers. Yet watching Zack Snyder’s Justice League, my memory of the previous cut was mostly in tact, and… not only is this a mostly different movie, but it is way, way better. Like, if you kind of enjoyed yourself at the previous one, watching Snyder’s new version will make you realize what garbage the original movie actually was.
The story is still mostly the same. Following the death of Superman, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) sets out to gather a team together to fight off whatever unexpected evil might come their way, and to ensure that Superman didn’t die for nothing. Said team contains one Arthur Curry/ Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), who is one with the fish; Barry Allen/ The Flash (Ezra Miller) who has super speed, and some other neat tricks; Cyborg (Ray Fisher) a mechanical man who also has some neat tricks, and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) who is so fabulous, she needs no introduction. Said evil is an evil being named Steppenwolf (if you’re an old man like me, chances are the song Magic Carpet Ride comes to mind when you hear that name), who is after these “Mother boxes” that’ll destroy the earth and yada yada, you get the drill.
Looking back on the previous movie, and comparing it to this one, it feels as if Warner Bros. took Snyder’s movie, and hacked it to death. That film took anything in terms of development and substance, and instead gave off the impression that everyone just wanted the movie over with; like the movie wanted the movie over with. It’s as if Warner Bros. saw the final copy, questioned it, and then said, “eh, throw it out there anyways.” Snyder’s film does have the advantage in terms of development, duh, because it’s four hours. But now it feels like an actual movie; a real event. One I would’ve seen in a theatre, even at four hours, but am more than grateful for HBO Max for giving us the chance to see it. Snyder’s Cut does have a lot of slow-mo, and some of the music choices (actually, just about all of them) elicited a groan. Yet in terms of the movie itself, the storyline feels fully fleshed out, rather than going through the motions. Not to mention, if the previous film is still in the memory, what has been changed in this version is certainly for the better, and the cooler.
What a lot of people will enjoy about Zack Snyder’s Justice League, as I did, is its comic book-iness. This film is, essentially, a comic book brought to life. It looks splendid (as opposed to those wonky visual effects from the previous film), it’s covered in all sorts of lore (a lot of which, I’ve been informed, is straight out of the comic books) and it’s filled with images and ideas that feel as if, again, they were brought to life from a comic book. Not to mention, it has moments that are honestly so cool, even I, who sometimes finds myself tired of the genre, was left in somewhat awe.
Snyder is a filmmaker who, at times, is very much up his own posterior. In fact, before the film started, a card appeared on the screen saying that the movie was, “brought to you by a blah blah ratio to stay true to Snyder’s vision.” That made me roll my eyes too… but it would be hard for me to deny his vision. Sometimes he can be pretentious, but it’s not really present here. If any film has stayed truest to a filmmaker’s vision, this is it. His vision even made me appreciate Batman vs. Superman a little more, in that stuff that I thought was just pretentious filler in that film actually had a purpose all along, but Warner Bros. never let him see his vision through… until now. This is a film that will start a lot of conversations- it’ll have its naysayers, and then there’ll be people who hail it to be the new Dark Knight. The Dark Knight it is not, but it is still a rich, hugely enjoyable nerdy nirvana that I honestly could’ve watched in one sitting if circumstances had let me. As a sometimes Snyder fan, I’ll be damned if he didn’t get me this time.