Does Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” live up to the hype?

By JAMES WHELAN
On March 24, 2021

Photo courtesy of AntMan3001, Flickr

“Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” also known as the “Snyder Cut,” is the long-awaited director’s cut of the original “Justice League” film, originally released in 2017. This director’s cut restores Zack Snyder’s original vision for the film, utilizing unused footage, storylines, characters and designs that were cut from the theatrical release.

 “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” also features updated CGI effects and additional scenes shot exclusively for this new release. The film is four hours long, but is divided into chapters for viewers who may not want to watch the full film in one sitting. The film is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, which may seem jarring to watch at first, but overall does not detract from the viewing experience. 

The production of “Justice League” deserves a film of its own. Snyder left the film originally due to his daughter Autumn's tragic passing, as well as tiring of fighting with the studio. Joss Whedon was then brought on by Warner Brothers to rewrite and finish the film. However, the different visions of Snyder, Whedon and the studio were competing and clashing with one another, resulting in a mess of a film. 

Frustrated fans later took to the internet with the hashtag “#ReleasetheSnyderCut,” wanting justice for Snyder’s original film. Thanks to various fan campaigns and HBOMax, the “Snyder Cut” was finally released on March 18, 2021. 

With the wait finally over, it is safe to say that “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” lives up to the hype. While some scenes feel drawn out, the four-hour runtime gives viewers valuable time with each character. These individual moments flesh out characters such as Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, giving them each a proper introduction to audiences. 

The theatrical version’s awkward attempts at humor and shoddy reshoots are replaced with heartfelt character moments and beautiful cinematography. For example, Batman and Lois Lane were the undeserved brunt of many jokes in the theatrical version and are taken more seriously in the director’s cut. Luckily, the scenes with Henry Cavill’s digitally removed facial hair are also absent from this version. 

The plot and characters of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” also receive several revisions. In particular, the character design and motivation of the antagonist Steppenwolf are changed for the better, making him a more formidable opponent and fleshed out character than his generic appearance in the theatrical release. The history lesson sequence is also revised, adding in additional characters and a more orderly explanation of the film’s lore. 

Many fan-favorite characters omitted from the theatrical release, like Darkseid, Martian Manhunter, Iris West and Ryan Choi make appearances. Thanks to additional scenes, Deathstroke and the Joker also appear. Seeing all these characters together is incredible fan service for DC Comics fans. 

Even if you didn’t like Snyder’s previous DC films such as “Man of Steel” or “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the director’s cut is still worth checking out. “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” has a lighter and more hopeful tone than the previously mentioned films. Nevertheless, it still maintains plenty of slow-motion action that Snyder is known for. The R-rating of the film is also misleading. Beyond some extra blood and cursing, the film has the same amount of action and violence as a PG-13 film would. 

“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is an absolute win for comic book fans. Snyder’s film is a much more coherent and satisfying film than its predecessor, finally doing the Justice League proud on-screen. While it is up in the air if the director’s cut will receive a sequel, I am sure that many fans are happy that at least Snyder’s vision for the Justice League has been fully recognized. 

“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is currently streaming on HBOMax. 

4/5 stars

 

jwhelan1@ramapo.edu

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