Directed by Zack Snyder
March 18, 2021 (United States)
Superman has fallen and now the Mother Boxes have awakened after eons of sleep and are calling to their dark master.
The Age of Heroes has come again. Four years. Rumors. Denials of its existence. A social media campaign. And now here we are. Zack Snyder’s vision for Justice League has arrived. This is much more of a slow burn than the original film. Unlike the Whedon Cut, this does not launch right into everything. We get some definition for the characters that make up the team. Looking back, Whedon’s version did not do much to character build. The heroes here had no movie universe to define who they were prior to joining forces but Whedon had treated them as if that were the case.
Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) is a defined villain rather than a bad guy doing bad things because he is bad. Because of previous failure he has been banished from the sight of his master whom he worships and is desperately seeking to get back in his favor. One could almost feel pity as he struggles to regain the love and acceptance of his leader whom he worships. I am a little perturbed about a missing line though. In 2017 Steppenwolf said to Wonder Woman “My axe is still slick with the blood of your sisters.” That was such a great line that is missing here.
The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) both get a story. We understand what motivates Barry and we understand the relationship between Cyborg and his father. Heck, Cyborg actually has a story here. Under Whedon he was more of a McGuffin to move things along.
And the bond between Cyborg and Flash is much better defined here than in the Whedon Cut. Despite who they are and what they can do, they are perhaps the most normal of the Justice League. Both had pretty normal upbringings and had average lives until fate tossed them a curveball. This is in contrast to the others. Batman (Ben Affleck) is obscenely wealthy. Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is the product of interspecies love. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is the only child to leave an island populated entirely by woman. Not normal.
A complaint I have seen is that it is the same movie only longer. And it is. I do not think anybody ever said that Zack Snyder’s Justice League was going to be a completely different film. If you assumed that I am not sure what to tell you. I understood it was going to be a retelling of the same story. What I went in wanting was a better version of that story and I feel that is what we got.
It held my attention from beginning to end and is a much better film than the Whedon version. I will not deny it is mostly the same movie, but it is a superior version of that movie. More serious and in the end much more rewarding. We get better motivations and Steppenwolf even becomes a different and better character.
There were some changes. Nothing so big that you got a new film but things that in my opinion improved the film. The facility where Steppenwolf set up shop for example is not inhabited. It is completely abandoned so gone is that family that was oddly focused on as well as their bug spray joke.
There are new scenes that tie in with previously seen material while other scenes are simply extended. And by extended I mean footage was returned such as when they are formulating the idea to resurrect Superman.
The final battle is a mostly new thing in structure. Flash is integral to the finale and we even get a bit of a hint at what will cause the Flashpoint story if the current reporting on the Flash film is to be believed. Barry hints that the closer he gets to lightspeed the stranger things get with time. Heck, Flash is just as important to victory as the returned Superman or Cyborg is rather than a dude saving civilians. Whedon had no idea what to do with the character.
The scenes with the Amazons provide the first “F yeah!” moments of the film. Without even doing anything they are extremely bad ass. Reminded me of old school Klingons who could come on screen and just by uttering a few lines be amazeballs. Sometimes attitude is enough.
This has to be one of the longest films I have seen in quite some time. According to what it said on HBO Max it was four hours and two minutes. That is a serious investment in time that does not always pay off. You need to hold your audience’s attention no matter the length and the longer a film is the harder that task becomes. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a slow build that keeps you hooked. There is always something happening and contributing to the narrative.
I am happy Zach Snyder was allowed to finish this film the way he wanted to. There is finally a cohesive tone and vision here that was missing from the original release. WB and Whedon both wanted to convert this into something else and given what we got here and what I can tell made it into the original release it is clear why the original release did not click. Whedon and Snyder are to both very different directors. Their films have very different tones. They tried to turn something aiming for mature into something more family friendly.
We even get the introduction of the Anti-Life Equation. This is a mathematical formula that proves the futility of living and is sought by Darkseid as a source of mind control and conquest. That is a major thing in the comics and certainly set up big events for the then planned future films.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League does end on a bit of a cliffhanger. Darkseid is stated to be coming to Earth to conquer us using the “old ways.” And we get a vision of the Knightmare future that they will be fighting him in. Or would have of had the films continued. I know it is hoping for the impossible, but I would like DC to continue with the Snyderverse. Give us one more Justice League film that satisfies the tease of Darkseid arriving at least.
The major players in this film were to get their own movie. Wonder Woman and Aquaman both did eventually get theirs. Ben Affleck’s Batman was supposed to get one but that got scrapped in preference for a whole new movie with a whole new set of actors. Affleck’s looked good from what little I heard. The Flash appears to be moving forward.
I know it has a lot to do with the actor’s stance on things that occurred when Joss Whedon was directing but of the central characters in this movie Cyborg is probably the lesser known and there was no hint in this film as to what his movie could be about. Most people are pretty familiar with Batman’s rogue’s gallery so they could think of a few villains that would be included in that and even if they couldn’t we were given a villain that would be included in that. Wonder Woman was given a hint of what her movie was going to be about in BvS. One could surmise that the Flash movie will have something to do with his dad. Cyborg’s dad and mom are both dead and there was nothing teased.
Seeing Darkseid in this was a real treat. He was not the main villain, but he was a great villain and they really managed to communicate the idolatry that his followers are supposed to possess of him. As a bonus we got DeSaad (Peter Guiness) as well as a brief appearance of Granny Goodness (actress unknown). And we got to see Darkseid use his Omega Beams which if you are familiar with the characters is pretty cool.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a vast improvement on the original release. Though long it moves quickly enough that you will not be bored. Watch it!