Honesty. If I were to give a one word summary of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it would be honesty. The film that was released in theaters in 2017 is a compromised work that is quite patronizing and begging the audience to love what it’s doing after the reactions to Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As I was watching this four hour director’s cut, I obviously will see what’s new and what the same. There are many scenes that I thought were part of the reshoots that Joss Whedon did when he took over after Snyder left the production following the death of his daughter. These scenes were still in the film indicating that Snyder did shoot them, but they contain an emotional honesty that the theatrical release never had. The knock on Snyder is why is he taking this so serious? Yes. Take it serious and don’t play for jokes.
This version of Justice League, while double the length of the theatrical is far more cohesive. Even with the length I never found it meandering. It’s broken in to 6 chapters and an epilogue. It’s packed with the type of heavy metal action you expect from Snyder. Another thing of note is that it’s not very heavy on the thematics. Snyder prior 2 DC entries caught fire because of his particular worldview and whether or not that should have been part of films for these heroes. I personally welcomed it, but it didn’t go over well with people. This film is far more focused on super-heroics. Each of the league gets their moments. One that really hit me was a Superman moment punctuated by a a key piece of Hans Zimmer’s music from Man of Steel. Hearing that essentially brought Kal-El’s story full circle for me. Speaking of the music, Junkie XL turns in a great score that fits the project, unlike Danny Elfman’s work in the theatrical film.
During the release of Batman v Superman, much was made of the cameos of Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg. Mostly that how could a Justice League film justify them when they had no prior film buildup like a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Only Wonder Woman had a film before JL. Zack Snyder’s Justice League does just fine in that arena, giving us moments to breathe in the lives of Barry Allen, showing him more than the clumsy person he was in the theatrical version. Ezra Miller has a moment in the climax that’s just so touching. Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry, who did get a solo film after JL, is not the jerk of a bro he’s presented as in 2017, but rather a solemn man doing good for people and torn between two worlds. Momoa’s performance is a hidden gem here. A moment he shares with Miller’s flash about him caring or not was a favorite of mine. The heart of the characters, is Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. I thought it a great choice that Snyder gives a focus to Cyborg. Like Batman and Superman, his origin is steeped in tragedy. Fisher gives an incredible performance. It makes you sad when you learn of the behind the scenes difficulty he had with Joss Whedon and other WB higher ups after Snyder was off the film.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League for me washes away the film that was released in 2017. It’s a DC Comics epic that feels like a graphic novel. Full of heart and great character moments. I finally get the conclusion to the story that began with Man of Steel. People may not want to hear this, but I want this story continued. Even if it’s not Snyder, there are enough threads to keep this going. I look forward to future rewatches.