After watching it I decided to write down some thoughts – When Justice League was released in cinemas back in 2017, it was well reported that Zack Snyder left the film before its completion, with Joss Whedon taking over in his absence. Snyder’s earlier entries into the DC cinematic universe (Man of Steel, and Batman v Superman) were divisive amongst movie goers, but as he was never able to complete his version of Justice League there remained a question mark about what could have been.
As was announced last year, Snyder was given the opportunity to go back and complete his version of the film, with additional funding to complete a four hour cut broken up into several chapters to be released direct via streaming.
Having spent some time away from these films, I found revisiting Justice League to be a fresh reminder of Snyder’s tone, and interpretation of the DC comic characters. Love it or hate it he brought a distinctive feel to his superhero films, which are a significant contrast from Marvel’s approach to its own cinematic universe. Snyder articulates these characters more as gods on earth, and in his own artistic way treats them with great reverence,
This new cut of Justice League easily serves as the definitive version, leaving no need to revisit the 2017 release again. This new cut delivers a complete film, and is far from the heavily edited and cut back two hour version released into cinemas a few years ago.
While the nature of this release clearly allowed Snyder to operative with little (if any) restriction in terms of creative control, it consequently includes more than just a little self-indulgence, I’d say within this 4 hour epic is an excellent 3 hour film.
Notwithstanding my criticisms of the ‘Snyderverse’ at the time, the 2017 Justice League was just so disappointing. To have it reduced to such a shallow villain and story, with laughable visual effects (the moustache) and a clear directive to distance itself from the tone of previous films completely derailed the momentum of the franchise.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League gives its characters their dues, starting with Steppenwolf who’s villainous ambitions finally make sense. The introduction of Darkseid gives Steppenwolf’s actions more purpose, and helps Snyder’s world building in terms of his overall plan for further Justice League films.
Cyborg and Flash both benefit hugely from the new version, with fleshed out stories and character progression throughout the film, Cyborg in particular shines in the new cut ands is the heart of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Ray Fischer delivered a great performance with a lot of dramatic material to work with.
Beyond improving upon the story and characters Snyder brings with him new action sequences as well, he has an excellent eye for action and set pieces and no-one benefits more from this than Flash with his super speed depicted in a unique fashion on screen, his pivotal action moment in the film has become one of my favourite action sequences in any superhero film, its brilliant.
Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman probably benefit a little less from this cut, though the characterisation of Batman made a bit more sense to me in terms of his growth since Batman v Superman. Superman and Wonder Woman probably benefit the least from the changes here.
At four hours long this version of Justice League was obviously never going to make it into cinemas, and at times it’s obvious that Snyder hasn’t held much (if anything) back. The film would benefit from some light edits at least to cut back on some of its indulgences.
What’s also interesting is that Snyder did indeed film new footage for this version, largely relating to an epilogue packed full of references and nods to where he had planned on taking the series. It comes across a little tacked-on given the broader context around this film’s release, and the unlikelihood that we’ll ever see Snyder’s sequels (though we can always hope).
That said the Knightmare scenes hint at what was probably a fairly extreme take on the DC cinematic universe (particularly for films costing upwards of $200m), and its not difficult to see where studio reluctance to commit to Syder’s sequels was coming from.
Now that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is out there, and given how strong its reception has been, I’m hopeful that in future it may help studios have just a little more faith in their creative teams in the event of tensions over the direction of future projects.
In terms of what next for DC superhero films, there is The Batman on the way, as well as The Suicide Squad and a sequel to the Shazam film. Whether Zack Snyder has shaken things up enough for any changes to the current plan of DC films in development, we’ll just have to wait and see.