Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a good movie. At many points, a very good movie.
Its cast brings the famous DC superhero team to life through performances that
range from reliably solid to very strong. Its action is clear, creative, and in
a few places downright stupendous. Its thematic work is interesting, both on its
own and in the greater context of its long and winding road to existence. There
are multiple moments that qualify as full-on fantastic filmmaking, sequences
that successfully connect western superheroes to the larger-than-life feeling of
mystical Arthurian lore. There are triumphs both intimate and grand. There’s
noise and stillness. There’s all-caps COMIC BOOK MOMENTS and genuinely lovely
little grace notes and the places where those intersect. To put it simply, I
like it. I like it a bunch.
When a powerful super villain named Steppenwolf rises and begins wreaking havoc
with his army of para-demons, he travels the globe seeking three mythical
devices known as Mother Boxes. Assembling the boxes will allow his master, the
powerful Darkseid, to enter Earth through a portal and begin a massive invasion.
Anxious to stop the inevitable war and redeem himself for his conflict with
Superman, Batman assembles a team of super powered heroes to help him stop
Steppenwolf once and for all. But as Steppenwolf’s eagerness grows, the team
(with the help of Alfred) realizes they may need to resurrect the Man of Steel.
There’s just so much here that works but some fodder that just doesn’t. Whether
it’s the five epilogues, or the endless back and forth between Mera and Arthur,
it’s padding. That said, Snyder’s version of “Justice League” is still a strong
superhero epic that shows much more respect for these characters this time
around, and he’s much more restrained, focusing less on chaos and more on the
mythology. What director Zack Snyder has done is created his own “Justice
League” film but by way of J.R.R Tolkien. It garners an epic scale, and features
a slew of mismatched heroes all with their own abilities, tasked with
confronting an ancient menace who is seeking a powerful weapon.
Once again Snyder crams in a whole trilogy in to four hours and he mostly
focuses on what the Whedon Cut was missing. Superman is much more fleshed out,
Cyborg is much more emphasized, and bad guy Steppenwolf is vastly improved.
Rather than being an over powered thug hitting people a lot, here he’s a complex
and imposing monster who will do whatever it takes to show allegiance to the
film’s primary antagonist. He’s a solid villain with a clear motivation and I
had a great time watching him give our heroes a hard time. There were times I
was entrenched in Steppenwolf’s battles with the heroes, and he proves to be an
imposing menace with a clear motivation this time around. The mother boxes are
also less maguffin’s this time around and clear cut crucial plot elements that
stands between us and the end of the world.
Let’s be honest; the 2017 version of
was one of the biggest cinematic disappointments of the last decade. What should
have been the glorious peak of the DC Extended Universe was ultimately a sloppy,
disjointed mess that was the inevitable result of switching directors at the
eleventh hour. After the tragic death of his daughter, Autumn, director Zack
Snyder handed the project over to Joss Whedon and the rest is mostly remembered
for the ghastly digital removal of Henry Cavill‘s moustache.
Reshoots and script rewrites saw Justice League limp into cinemas barely
resembling Snyder’s original vision for the film. It was crucified by critics
and its worldwide box office of $657.9 million was barely half that of its
rivals of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Almost immediately, the rallying #ReleaseTheSnyderCut
calls of fanboys all over the globe began, demanding Snyder be given the chance
to complete his original film. Most of us never thought Warner Bros. would
The studio had been in a similar predicament before when Richard Donner was
controversially fired from the production of Superman II in 1978 despite 75% of
the sequel already in the can. It would take almost three decades for The
Richard Donner Cut to see the light of day. Perhaps if Twitter was around in the
late 70s, fans wouldn’t have been waiting so long. Four years after the Whedon
misfire and Snyder fans have finally seen their wish come true with the director
being handed $70 million to complete post-production on what will be known as
Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
As much as it pains many of us to give credit to a social media campaign that
often fell into shamefully toxic behavior, this new cut of the 2017 disaster is
a vast improvement in every conceivable way. Its plot is cohesive and coherent.
Its darker tone permeates throughout the entire piece. There’s deeper character
development for all involved. The visuals are often spectacular. And the
four-hour running time isn’t quite as nauseating as initially feared. When all
is said and done, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is surprisingly pretty damn
It is just so much more polished, entertaining, and engrossing, even when it
stumbles here and there. As a redo, it’s a huge step up, as a movie on its own
merits, it’s a strong cinematic adaptation that I could see re-watching. Snyder
has finally delivered the film these beloved characters deserved and that has to
cause for celebration. With an equal measure of frustrating and satisfying
elements, this re-imagining of a total train wreck is hedonistic, thrilling,
flawed, sporadically amazing, and ultimately entirely enjoyable popcorn cinema.
If you were left bitterly disappointed by the catastrophe of 2017, set aside
four hours and dive on in.