Faith, Alfred. Faith.
Somehow, someway…Zack Snyder did it. The eclectic director finally got to release his original vision for Justice League, and it was a lot better than anyone expected! Except for the diehard Snyder fanboys. You guys win this round.
In the wake of Marvel’s smash hits at the box office, Warner Brothers put Snyder in charge of heading their own superhero saga. His films got mixed reviews, and during his post-production of Justice League, Snyder had to leave due to the death of his daughter. Studio executives scrambled to find Avengers director Joss Whedon, who finished the movie, cutting it down from 4 to 2 hours. The finished 2017 Justice League is a bit of an underdeveloped mess as a result, becoming a tonally confused movie with a lot of contrived plot points. It felt like it was trying to cash in on the success of Avengers. For four whole years diehard DC fans have been clamoring for Snyder’s original vision to be released, and I didn’t pay them much mind. I didn’t think Justice League could be saved by anyone, let alone the guy who made Batman and Superman stop punching each other because their moms have the same name. But, through the power of fan campaigns (and HBO Max seriously needing content right now) the infamous Snyder Cut got released. And you know what? It’s pretty darn good.
It’s not perfect by any means, but Snyder’s Justice League is a quality superhero movie and a treat for the eyes, if you can get past the 4:3 aspect ratio. There’s an over-reliance on slow-mo, a few too many sequel hooks (why the epilogue?), and there’s this weird yodeling Amazonian chant that plays whenever Wonder Woman does literally anything. However, the good far outweighs the bad, and you can see that in every single character. Although the story beats are the same, the whopping four hour runtime allows for every scene to have more weight and more purpose. Take Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. His arc of learning to love himself and others in his new mechanical form and reconciling with his father is honestly beautiful, and serves as the emotional through line for the movie. Almost none of this is in the original cut; in which Cyborg just kind of stands there in the background. But after this…give him his own movie, DC! Other characters benefit greatly from the added runtime as well, like Ben Affleck’s Batman. Batfleck was a grim and brooding chore to watch in the last movie, but now he’s revitalized with a sense of drive and purpose: to bring together a team to save Earth in Superman’s absence… because he got Superman killed in the last movie. Happens to the best of us! Jason Momoa is never not charismatic as Aquaman, and Ezra Miller’s Flash gets to have much more depth beyond “makes jokes and goes zoom” (although he does an excellent job at both). I liked Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and her action scenes are probably the best in the film, but a lot of her dialogue is relegated to exposition dumping. I wish we got more of her actual character out of her scenes. Superman is also treated with much more gravitas and respect this time around. Without spoiling anything, the villains benefit greatly from Snyder’s revisions, especially Steppenwolf’s CGI. He both looks and acts better in this one, which isn’t much, but it’s nice!
Now I give all of these compliments, and I mean them, but it begs the question of who exactly should be watching the Snyder Cut. It’s four whole hours of your time, and if you aren’t into DC’s cast of heroes, I can’t imagine you’ll enjoy it. It’s also on HBO Max, which is another barrier of entry. Still, if you happen to own a subscription to it (or Crave in Canada) I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re curious. The film is divided into 6 parts and you can treat it like a miniseries or just take a break halfway through. However you decide to watch it, it’s an interesting little moment in both superhero and movie history, as it’s rare for directors’ cuts to get this much attention. I’m glad I was wrong about Zack Snyder’s Justice League. These characters I love so much have finally gotten justice.