Judey Reviews: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

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Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the DC Comics team-up movie fans deserved three years ago and it is genuinely a crime on Warner Bros’ part for sabotaging this version of the film from releasing in the first place.
To discuss Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I feel it needs to be preluded on how director Zack Snyder’s true director’s cut came to be. When working on 2017’s Justice League, Snyder had to leave the project after the passing of his daughter and Warner Bros hired director Joss Whedon to reshoot a number of scenes as well as direct new ones. Turns out, the amount of reshot and newly added scenes ended up vastly outnumbering the scenes that Snyder had already shot. In the two-hour film, only around thirty minutes of Snyder’s original scenes were used. Not only that, but Warner Bros chose Whedon for the job because of his previous work within the acclaimed Marvel Cinematic Universe and was hoping to stylize the film like a typical MCU entry. What resulted was a Frankenstein-esque botch job where scenes varied from campy one-liner deliveries to sweeping cinematic fights and then back to canned lifeless dialogue.
Fans, understandably disappointed, rallied behind the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut after hearing about the behind-the-scenes mayhem at Warner Bros and after Snyder hinted that his cut of the film still existed. For three years, fans campaigned for the release of Snyder’s cut, believing that if Warner Bros could see their enthusiastic support of the project, that there could be the possibility of an eventual release. In 2020, after years of online support and even donations made to suicide prevention organizations in the film’s name, Snyder announced Zack Snyder’s Justice League would be released to HBOMax in spring 2021.
After watching the film, it felt surreal; the movie that was long thought to be a hoax or would never leave the inside of a Warner Bros editing room had just ended. I didn’t have HBOMax, so I biked 3.3 miles with a flat tire in the cold to a friend’s house so I could witness the Justice League movie fans were supposed to see back in 2017. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
Everything about this movie is superior to the 2017 version. There is not one moment from Whedon’s version that I found myself wishing was included. The action in this film is lightyears ahead of what was on display in Whedon’s version. The original invasion of Darkseid, the League’s confrontation with Superman (played by Henry Cavill), and especially the climactic battle were all masterfully directed and choreographed.
What stuck out to me the most were the flashforward glimpses that would have been further explored in the planned sequels. The apocalyptic Knightmare timeline first teased in Batman v Superman looked totally insane in this film and I wish that storyline could continue some way or another. The exchange between Batman (played by Ben Affleck) and the Joker (played by Jared Leto) is actually the first time the two iterations have an onscreen interaction together and they fit together so well.
This film also achieved something that Whedon’s cut got horribly wrong: the character of Barry Allen AKA the Flash. Barry (played by Ezra Miller) in the 2017 film was a forced humor machine who apparently could not run without tripping to save his life. Barry’s introduction is a bit obnoxious at first in this film, but nowhere as near as annoying as most of his dialogue in Whedon’s version. Why Whedon’s version omitted several incredible speedster scenes in favor of a joke where the Flash lands on Wonder Woman’s cleavage is beyond me.
An issue I have with the film is that there is a small runtime problem. The film is four hours long, but a half-hour could be easily shaved off without affecting the immediate story in any way. Another thing I noticed is that up until the two-hour mark, the plot progresses just as it does in the 2017 version, albeit executed differently; this however is not so much this film’s fault, as the 2017 version derived their story from this one and cut out a lot of needed development. Also, since some of the film’s VFX was worked on during the pandemic, there are some characters/landscapes that don’t look as polished as they could be.
Overall, I definitely believe that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is the definitive, canonical version of the Justice League’s unity, and I hereby declare 2017’s Justice League as terrible fanfiction. I would love to somehow see how the story Snyder had in mind for the DC Extended Universe would play out– #RestoreTheSnyderVerse.