Last night I finally sat down and watched Zack Snyder’s Justice League in one sitting, something I never thought I’d be saying, as I can’t believe it was actually brought to life after years of being an urban fan legend.
But Snyder wanted his movie back and WB wanted HBO Max subscribers, so here we are. And the end result is much better than I was anticipating it would be.
The four hours did not feel particularly long to me. No more than a sprawling Avengers movie, at least. I got used to the seemingly odd 4:3 aspect ratio in a matter of minutes, and by the end, I could see the benefits. But a number of things stood out to me as being specific fixes that were clear over the original version, and I thought I’d go through them here. Spoilers follow.
Steppenwolf Look and Motivation – Before this, Steppenwolf was probably one of the most poorly realized comic book villains onscreen. Now? His new look was terrifying, and a number of extended scenes gave him actual motivation for his actions, an attempt to regain the favor of Darkseid by delivering him earth, but also potentially the Anti-Life Equation. His character was one of the biggest beneficiaries from this cut.
Cyborg as a Through Line – Ray Fisher’s Cyborg really gets a chance to shine in this cut with a whole lot more to do, and effectively the core of the film with his direct connection to the motherboxes. I can see why Snyder thought Fisher could get his own solo film after this, and it’s been a tragedy how DC has treated him instead. This is as close as he’ll get to vindication, it seems.
Superman’s Return – It felt less like an afterthought and like the proper amount of work was put into his resurrection this time around. Cavill was great here, and it’s easy to see why everyone wants to see him return in full to the role. Also: no more horrible CGI mouth to deal with.
The Score – The switch from Danny Elfman to Junkie XL is extremely noticeable, as Junkie XL’s soundtrack was another casualty of the Whedon cut. The use of all the different character themes was extremely on point, especially many returns to Superman’s this time around.
The Flash Ending – The culmination of the final battle was a lot more exciting this time around with Barry Allen needing to rewind time briefly to save the entire team and ensure the defeat of Steppenwolf and the thwarting of Darkseid. That was just a really cool sequence, and well set up by the motherbox rewind scene earlier.
The Clear Sequel Set-Up – The addition of Darkseid and the idea that earth was the one planet he was looking for as the location of the Anti-Life equation was a great set-up for a potential sequel that…may never happen, but it was a far more well-crafted ending than the original, and Darkseid absolutely should have been in the film from the start, even as just a tease.
The Overall Tone – The original film was very clearly two drastically different director’s visions mashed together at the behest of WB to try to make things more “MCU-like.” This version is very much Snyder through and through and just feels like a coherent whole. There’s still humor without needing Whedon to write it, but the general self-seriousness works here, similar to what we saw with Man of Steel or Watchmen.
So yeah, I liked it. More than I figured I would. I would jump on board the “restore the Snyderverse train” to try and get a 4 hour Justice League sequel, but I’m not sure if that’s in the cards at this point. Though if the Snyder Cut exists at all, I suppose anything is possible over at DC, and maybe enough buzz and views could make something happen in the future as the DCEU still seems relatively unsteady (seriously what were they thinking with Wonder Woman 1984?).
Anyway, glad to see this finally come to pass, and even more glad to find that it’s actually worthwhile and does indeed “fix” the original in so many clear ways.
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