Zack Snyder has delivered with his version of Justice League, shaping it into a character-driven epic of mythic heroes among us. A massive improvement over the heavily CGI coated, significantly changed and the extremely lame version we got from Joss Whedon in 2017, Zack Snyder’s Justice League restores the original vision he had for DCEU shared universe and also gives the viewers a glimpse of the grand, ambitious plans he had in store for the future. Crafted with sincerity and great passion in every frame, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is an epic extravaganza that aptly fulfills its genre’s obligations but also dares to be more than that.
Even though the main story remains the same, the way it’s presented has a world of difference. No events happen one after another just for the sake of it. Every scene is perfectly set up by the previous one and it wouldn’t exist if the previous one didn’t conclude. And every character has their own realistic motivations and arcs to benefit the story. They don’t show up just because Batman asked them to. Even for Steppenwolf, he isn’t just doing his shit for unexplained reasons, but rather to win his place back again. In fact, we go into a wholehearted analysis of each and every hero, which adds vibrancy and boldness to each and every part of the film, and optimistically, making a better structure for the film.
Cyborg is the MVP of this movie. That’s surprising because he was probably the joint-most two-dimensional character in Whedon’s cut. His arc actually makes you feel and care for his character in this version. His character’s involvement in the plot is much larger and is much closer to a comic book version of his character and serves a purpose through the whole plot. It’s astonishing to think for the reasons as to why Whedon or WB would cut his arc out and make him a side character because this film would’ve not been the same without him.
The same can be said for the Flash. He does so much more than just blip around occasionally. He doesn’t just joke around just to add Marvel humor into the film but it’s a counter-measure to actually show his sorrows in life. He is a little more reigned in by the third act and actually servers a purpose other than being a budget sink.
Batman has actual Batman moments and does actual Batman things. Ben Affleck is absolutely capable of carrying this character in the right direction, should he be given the chance to do it right. Considering what his character was in Batman v. Superman and compared to this film, it shows the great character transformation inspired by Superman and the team. A great example of this is when tells Alfred that he has “faith” that everything will work out fine. This is a million times better than most of his lines in the Whedon cut like “something is definitely bleeding”. Even in the end when the Martian Manhunter pays him a visit, he’s so casual and like ‘these things don’t surprise me anymore’. It shows the evolution of his arc.
Wonder Woman not only feels more intriguing than in the original film (as well as the most recent film she was in), but she actually feels strong as a character. This was one of the best depictions of Wonder Woman to date. She’s a fighter who is all about being powerful, feminine, empowering, and downright fierce. She’s a perfect match for this film, and Gal Gadot gives an equal performance to match the depiction.
Aquaman is represented as a unique version of the character that feels better than the previous version. Jason Momoa brings a lot of heart to the character while still keeping the darker tone that we like. This performance perfectly blended with the James Wan movie.
Superman’s spirit from the comics shines through much better in this version which is a little shocking when you consider how dark Snyder likes to take the character. His role is perhaps a bit diminished compared to the previous version while still feeling important which opens up space for other characters to shine. It also completes Clark Kent’s arc very well. The buildup has always been there since Man of Steel. Snyder wanted to build up Superman. He doesn’t start in greatness, he was raised as a human. This movie completes his transformation into the man of steel, yet keeps him human.
This film also solves the villain problem of the Whedon cut which makes the story much more interesting. Steppenwolf feels like a menacing and intimidating threat and you understand his motivation much more. Ciaran Hinds also does a great job providing Steppenwolf with a deep and sinister voice. You can fully understand him this time around. He’s not just here for conquering, but to actually win his place back with Apokolips and Darkseid. Among the thousand’s of worlds which Darkseid had conquered, Earth was the only world which he lost. This made Steppenwolf look clever knowing if he could win what his master couldn’t, then that would definitely win back his place. This was a great arc and Steppenwolf onscreen made it look even better, even for an alien. I am not saying this is Thanos levels from Infinity War, but considering the Whedon cut, this is an almighty difference. And you could actually feel sorry for him in the end when Darkseid crushes his head knowing he never got any respect for his efforts. On the other side, that’s what makes Darkseid even more menacing and interesting. He doesn’t believe in efforts but only in results. This makes him such a terrifying villain. If only we could get the second part.
It’s hard to pick any bad stuff from a film that entertains you this much but this film does have a few of them. One is the runtime. Yes, to get all the character arcs completed, you need time. But was 4 hours necessary? I don’t think so. It could’ve easily been a three to three and a half-hour film without erasing any of the arcs. It’s not that any scenes are unnecessary but rather the time it took to complete them that suffers. It has so many scenes that are dragged or are in slow motion unnecessarily. The slow-motion action scenes were over the top. Almost every action scene for the first hour or so was slowed down and it was often accompanied by a slow song that overlapped the sound. Another problem I had was the Epilogue. Yes, it was amazing. But why was it put in the runtime of this story? BVS had it too but then, Batman and Superman were in a feud so you understood the consequences. It was a great scene but definitely needed to be shown after the end credits. It made this story feel something different from what it actually was. Especially now that we won’t get to see that story unfold (I hope we do).
What pushes Zack Snyder’s Justice League further into its greatness is Snyder’s unmatched visual eye in crafting beautiful images. Snyder, unlike any other filmmaker that works in the genre, views these characters as mythic beings. This is well complemented by Fabian Wagner’s Cinematography which is breathtaking. The Editing is decent but could’ve been better considering the runtime. While the score by Junkie XL is far from a disappointment, it was certainly lackluster. His main failure was to create a singular, “Justice League” theme. The music is effective in multiple scenes, however, the scenes where the score is at its most powerful is when it is using a character theme from Hans Zimmer. I wish more thought had gone into this score, for it could have been a storytelling device on its own. His Batman theme is probably what shines the most.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is one of the best do-overs one could ask for, for it turns an unbearable atrocity into one of the most amazing and visually stunning features of its kind. The script still isn’t without its shortcomings and the film is also self-indulgent at times but the end product is nonetheless a huge upgrade and is rewarding for the most part. This is an engaging, stunning, and brilliant film that is well worth the wait and viewing. This will definitely go down as the biggest director’s cut in history and I hope this is not the last time we see Zack Snyder in the DCEU. It’s not a masterpiece, but not every film needs to be.
K- Score: 82%
STW: 25/30, D: 20/25, C: 8/8, E: 3/5, PVD: 10/12, A: 10/10, S: 6/10