It’s finally here. The film that fans have been campaigning for since 2017. They said it couldn’t be done and that it doesn’t even exist, but here it is. Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
Director’s cuts and extended editions aren’t anything new to films. They’re mostly the same as the theatrical version of a film, with a couple of changes or more scenes to flesh out the plot. Ridley Scott’s director’s cut of Blade Runner is considered by many people to be superior to the theatrical version. And the Lord of The Rings trilogy is infamous for its absurdly long extended editions.
But Justice League is different. This isn’t just a couple of new scenes or a few changes to existing ones, this is a completely different movie. With 2 hours of new footage and major changes to the rest of the film, it’s night and day when compared to the theatrical cut.
So Why Did They Make a New Version of the Same Movie?
After the release of Batman vs Superman, director Zack Snyder was set to continue the world he’d created in Justice League. But, after Synder’s departure as director due to family reasons, the studio brought in Avengers and Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon to finish the film. Whedon and Warner Bros. decided to reshoot a majority of the film and cut it down to a nice 2 hours.
The film came out to overwhelmingly negative reviews, scoring only a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw called the movie “ponderous and cumbersome”. It’s safe to say it didn’t quite do what the filmmakers wanted.
The movie we got in 2017 was filled with a forgettable villain, bad CGI, and characters we had no reason to care about. Whedon’s reshoots also caused a few continuity errors, Henry Cavill’s infamous moustache, and a conflicting tone throughout the film. On top of all this, Cyborg actor, Ray Fisher, has accused Whedon of abusive behaviour on set multiple times since the release of the film.
After hearing how much different Snyder’s original version of the film was, fans demanded that Warner Bros. release ‘The Snyder Cut’. I always thought It was a far-fetched idea. That there was actually a completely different version of the film that had already been shot and was just waiting for post-production work was impossible. But I guess the joke is on me.
So They Made a Movie, But Could They Really Save Whedon’s Train-Wreck?
The short answer is: absolutely. Mainly because there isn’t anything left of Whedon’s film.
Almost the entire first half of The Snyder Cut is full of scenes that were completely cut from the theatrical release. Diving a lot deeper into Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash’s backstories and setting them up as characters to care about. Especially Cyborg, who goes through the best character arc of the film, which was completely absent in Whedon’s version.
Even the villains in this movie are vastly superior. Steppenwolf, who has become infamous as a forgettable villain, is given a lot more depth by explaining more of his backstory. As well as subtle choices by Game of Thrones actor Ciarán Hinds. And we finally got a good look at Darkseid, who was only mentioned once in Whedon’s cut. Now, he’s set up as a powerful villain that sent Steppenwolf and is even seen in action in a flashback.
But all this extra stuff does make the movie a bit long. Even though it is 4 hours long, it’s not boring. The film actually manages to keep your attention throughout its ridiculous runtime. With a lot of editing, you could maybe get it down to about 3 and a half hours at minimum. But we all know a 2-hour cut simply doesn’t work.
Snyder even managed to fix the Superman problem that Whedon’s cut suffered from. In that movie, all the heroes were helpless against Steppenwolf and needed Superman to save them. Once Clark Kent showed up, it was all over. My favourite moment is when Flash saves a car full of people, only to look over and see Superman saving a whole building of people. It’s like Whedon wanted us to know that every character is useless except Superman. Fortunately, Snyder found a way to make Superman seem powerful, but still make sure every other hero is just as important.
So it’s the Perfect Film?
Well I didn’t say that.
The main problem is the runtime. A 4-hour movie is a tough commitment for anyone. I found myself struggling to actually find time to watch the whole thing. When I did see it, I still needed an intermission in the middle.
And the first half is also admittedly a bit slow. It’s a lot of establishing character and stakes rather than actually moving the plot forward. It’s all very good and works well, but it does take a while for all the characters to come together. Without all these scenes, the climax of the film just doesn’t work, but I can see why some people may find it tedious.
Finally, the CGI isn’t that great. It’s fine for most of the movie, and there’s no Superman moustache, but there are some points where it gets a bit weird. Once scene has Wonder Woman throwing bad guys around like they’re balloons. It’s an awesome scene, but it’s hard to see past the bad CG. It works for the most part but it doesn’t quite live up to the effects of Marvel’s blockbusters.
But what the movie does right, it does very right. It’s definitely not perfect, but at least the pros outweigh the cons.
So Worth the Wait?
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a resounding success for the director and fans alike. And while it leaves a few threads open for a sequel which we will most likely never see, it’s easily the best film from the DCEU.
If you enjoy Marvel or DC, you will love The Snyder Cut.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is streaming on HBO Max in the US, Sky in the UK, and Binge in Australia
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The film that fans have been campaigning for since 2017. They said it couldn’t be done, but here it is. And it’s one hell of a good time.
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