Zack Snyder’s Justice League: A Review

Jose Carlos Serrano

Zack Snyder’s Justice League, an essential remaster and remaking of 2017’s Justice League is an immensely dark, and extremely action packed R-rated DC superhero film produced by director Zack Snyder. The film released on March 18 of this year, exclusively on HBO Max. In addition, the film is 4 hours long, uncut, to show Snyder’s original plan for the film. The movie is very well done, with an engaging story, realistic CGI, and a masterclass in what amazing storytelling and editing can do to a film.
                                                       

The reason Justice League had to be completely redone and filmed was due to the utter failure and poor execution of 2017’s Justice League who was actually directed by Joss Whedon, director of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron back in 2015, as Snyder had to leave due to the death of his daughter. Before Snyder left, Warner Brothers actually attempted to fire him for making the movie too dark, and wanted to add corny humor and lightheartedness in a way to a dark film, and that was the worst choice they made, trying to suppress a creator’s story to the point where it’s unrecognizable. Whedon made rookie mistakes in his version of the movie, by recruiting Danny Elfman to do the music and removing the original composer Junkie XL, who worked with all time great Hans Zimmer on 2013’s Man of Steel. Elfman worked on the 1989 Batman movie starring Michael Keaton, and reused the same, campy music in a film that was supposed to be dark. In addition, Whedon put a weird, almost sepia-orange tint over the movie rather than Snyder’s more noir-tone. He removed scenes that were beneficial to the movie and added ridiculously poor fight scenes, awful CGI, and campy, corny one-liners and dialogue. 2017’s Justice League became a financial failure and left deep wounds in the DC Extended Universe Franchise. Even after these wounds healed, the scars would remain, leaving millions with the stigma of DC being unable to make a decent movie, and began to hate and look down upon any DC film. 

Dedicated fans who understood what happened with Snyder and the situation to why the movie was poor, created the slogan, #ReleasetheSnyderCut and back in 2019, Zack Snyder announced plans to produce such a movie as the newly created HBO Max, giving him the opportunity and outlet to do so. Snyder brought back old composer Junkie XL to do the music for the Snyder Cut, reditied scenes, reinstituted old ones, and even brought back some of the actors for reshoots, spending a reported $70 Million doing so. Fans were understandably so skeptical however, with the mediocre to poor results of other DC movies after 2017’s Justice League, primarily Aquaman and Shazam and even more recent ones such as Wonder Woman 1984. As the movie got closer to release, Snyder came out with a website entitling all the edits in his new movie as well as set photos and skillful trailers to emphasize the drastic changes in story and cinematography. The skepticism was lifted once the movie premiered on March 18, and fans suddenly had a new outlook on the future of the DC entertainment industry.

 

The story of the Snyder Cut is changed completely, with a bigger emphasis on Darkseid, one of the main villains of the story as well as on Steppenwolf, the major antagonist of the film and why he wants to collect the mythical mother-boxes for Darkseid. The Snyder Cut clarifies the reason why Steppenwolf is trying to redeem himself to Darkseid by collecting the mother-boxes and finding the legendary Anti-Life equation for Darkseid. The main motives for the antagonists have improved meaning collectively. However, to the casual viewer, or someone who might not be familiarized with the comics or these characters might want a little bit more of an emphasis in the film to how these villains came about and their abilities. If Steppenwolf and Darkseid’s plan was a little bit more explained and a bit of a backstory for them as well such as perhaps a tease in an earlier film, it would improve the understanding of the movie to casual watchers. In addition to the storyline improvements, many characters are also developed much more In the story, primarily the antagonists but also the members of the Justice League. Characters such as the Flash and Cyborg really didn’t have any character development at all in Whedon’s version, and were instead seen almost as backup characters to the main three: Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. In the Snyder Cut, we learn more about what made these characters join the Justice League and also their moving, and in some cases, dark past events that turned them into who they are today. We see that especially in Cyborg who had a terrible relationship with his father, and blames him for the death of his mother. We get to understand Cyborg’s abilities much better as it’s revealed that he has access to all the technology in the world and has the ability to essentially change the entire world for the good or bad. He has to deal with this newfound responsibility after becoming Cyborg and if he is ready to take up this immense mantle that requires a high level of responsibility. For the Flash, we learn more about his powers and what that means for the future of the DC franchise. In one scene in particular, we see him running at full-speed to reverse time after the Justice League fails to separate the three mother-boxes from becoming the Unity. He has to run back in time to technologically transport Cyborg into the mother-boxes in order to separate them, in which Darkseid would use the Unity to take over the world and enslave Earth and its inhabitants. We never saw any level of depth to his abilities in Whedon’s cut and I find it fascinating and curious how we never saw this side to Flash until now. In terms of cinematography, the film exceeds the superhero standards of film. The camera angles, cuts, CGI, and tint on the film all add to the dark premise of the movie, which I commend and find intuitive. In addition, the music used in Zack Snyder’s Justice League is incredible. It’s dark, filled with action, and fits each of the scenes in the movie perfectly. I found that when watching the movie, I kept thinking to myself how good the music was and how it helped scenes in the movie accomplish their main goal of being dramatic or dark. 

 

The Snyder Cut boasts a powerful story, cinematics, character development, and a gritty atmosphere to keep the movie fresh and different from the rest. The addition of newly added scenes such as the Epilogue scene in the movie, perhaps inspired by the DC Injustice comic book and video game series, pitting team Batman against team Superman over the death of Lois Lane due to the actions of the Joker, all add this new level of storytelling and setting. The movie shows the possibilities of someone having a completely free creative approach to something and the benefits that can be reaped from it: a strong, powerful film. The backstories of the characters are interesting and allow the viewers to make more of a connection with them. While for the casual viewer, characters such as Darkseid and Steppenwolf may raise a couple of questions at first, the movie smoothes them out, explaining a generous amount in its equally generous 4-hour runtime. The Snyder Cut sets the professional standard for what fans will expect from the future of the DC Extended Universe and has officially brought back the franchise from the ashes of Hollywood.