Unite the league.
Zack Snyder's Justice League is a 2021 director's cut of the 2017 superhero film, Justice League. It is directed fully by Zack Snyder, written by Chris Terrio, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Films, Atlas Entertainment, and The Stone Quarry, and distributed by HBO Max. The film is based on various Justice League comics by Gardner Fox. It was not nominated for any Academy Awards. While technically being the tenth installment in the DC Extended Universe, it acts as a re-tread of Justice League, which is a sequel to Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Wonder Woman.
"Faith, Alfred. Faith." -Bruce Wayne
After the death of Superman, the world is in a vulnerable state. After learning of an alien invasion, Batman and Wonder Woman try to assemble a team of superheroes to defend Earth from the vile Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons. As Steppenwolf grows stronger, the Justice League must fight back against the devilish villain...and possibly an even more powerful force behind him.
What is Zack Snyder's Justice League?
For most of you, I'm sure you're confused as to why a different version of Justice League is being released. If you don't know the story, you will continue to be confused. So I decided that if you are going to read this review, you should know why this film exists.
After Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder, who directed both BVS and Man of Steel wanted to make the first movie starring the Justice League. He set out to make this massive, three-hour epic that was going to be dark and gritty and act as a good sequel to the previous two films. However, due to the mixed reception to Man of Steel and the negative reception to Batman v Superman, which both are very dark movies, Warner Bros. was not confident in Snyder. They disagreed with him and told him he had to make the movie under two hours long.
With about 80% of the film finished, Snyder's daughter tragically passed away, so he understandably stepped down from the project for his mental health. To finish the film, Warner Bros. hired Joss Whedon, who directed both The Avengers and Age of Ultron, which were successful. Whedon reshot, re-edited, and completely changed Justice League, making it lighter and more like The Avengers.
The film was released to mixed reception and box office failure. Fans were enraged when they learned the story of the studio's interference and Whedon's reshoots. A trend was started on social media called #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.
Last year, after the DCEU had continued to have a mixed critical and commercial response, Warner Bros. announced that they were going to give Snyder $70 million to finish his version of Justice League. And now, we have Snyder's full vision of his vision of the DCEU.
This, in my opinion, is a much better version of Justice League.
While I do not think this is the definitive version, everything about this movie is simply better. Whether you're talking about the action, the characters, the depth of the story, it's all just executed in a more satisfying and sensical way.
The first thing that I noticed is that the characters have much more depth and backstory. Cyborg and Flash were somewhat sidelined in the first film, and they are handed the spotlight in this movie. Cyborg gets a full character arc with a backstory, motivation, origin, and payoff. Snyder said in an interview that he was the heart of the story, and that is very, very true.
Steppenwolf is also significantly better. He has multiple dimensions instead of being a generic dude that wants to take over the universe...because. There are motivations and backstory with him as well. The Mother Boxes and Unity stuff is given much more time to sink in and develop, meaning it makes more sense inside of this film.
And it also does a much better job of being a sequel to Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Stuff that is setup in those films is built up more in this movie. There is setup for future of the DCEU, a future that I would now love to see.
As a viewer, this definitely seems much more like a singular director's vision. To be clear, this is a much different version of Justice League. There are probably three and a half hours of new footage that changes the story dramatically. It is the same general plot line, but almost all of the details and characters do different things. Anyway, you can tell that this is what Zack Snyder wanted as his Justice League, and it makes it a much less awkward experience.
The action in this film is handled much better. Almost all of the action sequences are longer and better. The fight on Themyscira is a million times better and cooler. The finale has a couple of big payoffs that really feel satisfying. Character introductions in action scenes are incredible. Without spoilers, Aquaman and Superman have two spectacular entrances that just summarize how much better the action is handled.
The film is also very layered. The story doesn't just scratch the surface like it did in the original. It has multiple levels, each with a lot of depth. Since the movie is ridiculously long, everything is given a lot of time to be built out. This means that tensions are higher, payoffs are more satisfying, and every plot line and character has some kind of intrigue.
Finally, there are a couple of teases and cameos that are fun. I won't say who, but it's a really cool moment when he or she shows up. This was teased in the trailer, so it isn't a spoiler, but the scene with Joker is also really great. Like I said earlier, the setup for sequels and the future of the DCEU has a ton of potential, and I truly hope Warner Bros. follows up on that.
And, obviously, this movie is way, way, way, way too long. It took me three days to watch it. That is absolutely ridiculous. The reason I said that this isn't the definitive cut of Justice League is because the runtime is so unreasonable. I can't imagine how people who watch four hours straight of this feel after, but I'd just feel gross. Even though it is a good movie, the length is truly unacceptable. There is a three-hour long cut of Justice League that can be great, and that is the definitive cut. That would be the Justice League I'd want. There are a lot of slow, unnecessary scenes that could be eliminated. Also, the movie probably gets an extra fifteen minutes from slow-mo.
Because of the runtime, the first two hours are relatively slow. The film is almost devoid of action until about an hour in, and the next action sequence after that is maybe two and a half hours in. People will have trouble sticking with it, and I think that that's a really big problem.
And a lot of the CGI is pretty spotty. Cyborg's suit can be distracting at times, and Steppenwolf and Darkseid don't really look great. Most of the action is entirely CG, which I don't think was completely necessary. There are a lot of times where things looked like they were cut straight out of a PS4 video game.
And I was surprised by this, but a couple of things were copied almost directly from the MCU. Martha Kent basically repeats a line said by Spider-Man. The continuation of Batman's nightmare from Batman v Superman is very derivative of Iron Man's vision in Age of Ultron. I didn't think that that would be a problem...but, shockingly, it was.
Also, this stopped bothering me eventually, but the film is shot with a camera that has a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning that the black bars are on the sides of your TV instead of the top and bottom. It's a bit jarring at first, but you will get used to it eventually.
Lastly, I wasn't always a huge fan of the acting in this film. I've never liked Henry Cavill in anything, and he was just as bad in this. For some reason, I wasn't a huge fan of Ben Affleck, either. He's very quiet and delivers a lot of his lines with this same brooding voice. I didn't like it. Gal Gadot was surprisingly inconsistent. There were some lines that would come out very awkwardly. And I don't like Amy Adams as Lois. She's a great actress, but she is miscast as Lois. Lois is supposed to be louder and more snappy, but Amy Adams is very quiet.
I think the film works best as a comparison to Justice League 2017. If this had been the first one, it wouldn't be as well received, but when compared to the first one, it's a lot better.
I've been looking on the internet for the past few days, and I see people saying that this is the greatest comic book movie ever. It can't hold a candle to half of the MCU films and isn't even close to that. It's significantly better than Justice League, and one of the better installments in the DCEU. Cut down the runtime, and I would be more positive on it.
However, it's still a Savory. Age range is 8+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
"Zack Snyder's Justice League"
Fun Factor: 7.5/10
Directed by Zack Snyder
Released on March 18, 2021
Rated R for superhero violence and action, disturbing themes and images, language
4 hours and 2 minutes
Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg
Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/Flash
Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/Superman
Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth
Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta
Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf
Ray Porter as Darkseid
Joe Morton as Silas Stone
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Willem DaFoe as Vulko
Amber Heard as Mera
Peter Guinness as DeSaad