By Mark Mwine Guma
Resurrected from the ruins of an underwhelming blockbuster, Zack Snyder’s Justice League sees a vital comic-book movie property revamped into a supersized superhero spectacular that manages to carve out its own identity amidst an overcrowded market, even though its expanded nature and movie run time may be too much for the regular movie goer.
First, some background: Justice League, released by Warner Bros. in 2017, suffered a difficult production. Its script underwent major changes before and during production between 2016 and 2017. In May 2017, Snyder stepped down during post-production following the death of his daughter, and Joss Whedon was hired to finish the film, completing it as an uncredited director. Whedon oversaw reshoots and other changes that incorporated a brighter tone and more humor, and cut the runtime down significantly in accordance with a mandate from Warner Bros. The theatrical version of Justice League received mixed reviews and was a box-office bomb, leading Warner Bros. to re-evaluate the future of the DCEU and focus development on individual films.
As details surfaced about the film’s troubled production and its state before Snyder stepped down, many fans expressed interest in an alternate cut more faithful to Snyder’s vision. Fans and members of the cast and crew petitioned for the release of this, which they nicknamed the Snyder Cut. At the time, industry insiders regarded the release as unlikely. However, Warner Bros. decided to move ahead with it in February 2020; in May, Snyder announced that the original cut would be released as Zack Snyder’s Justice League via the streaming service HBO Max. It cost around $70 million to complete the visual effects, score, and editing, with new material filmed in October 2020. The cut was originally planned to be released as both a six-episode miniseries and a four-hour film, but plans for the miniseries were scrapped by January 2021. The film is dedicated to the memory of Snyder’s daughter, Autumn.
The film begins with the death of Superman (Clark Kent). His colossal scream as he dies wakes up three indestructible “Mother Boxes” (whose origins are not really explained) that when combined gives whoever possesses it unlimited power. This also alerts dark forces in the universe about their location. Haunted by visions of an upcoming invasion, Batman aka Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) attempts to assemble a team of heroes – Amazonian princess Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Atlantean prince Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), the human turned Speedster the Flash (Ezra Miller), and human-machine hybrid Cyborg (Ray Fisher) – to defend the Earth. That threat arrives in the form of monstrous Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), who scours the Earth on behalf of his master, the god-like Darkseid for the mother boxes.
While the bare bones of this “Snyder cut” resembles the 2017 theatrical release, this version feels like a much together different, stronger beast. With time to let his story and characters breath, Snyder has created a superhero saga that truly fleshes out its world building to successfully separate itself from other superhero franchises.
The assemblage of these superheroes is less rushed, with focus on individual storylines adding more depth to these characters and their motivations. Cyborg is presented as a much more human construct of regret, grief, and agony; the Flash proves himself as more than the rapid-fire comic-relief with undoubtedly two of the greatest scene in comic book movie history (the scene to ignite the 3rd box to bring the Man of Steel Back to life and the scene in the final battle where he has to reverse time to save everyone thus creating Flashpoint (presume this will be explored in the upcoming Flash solo film); and Batman, who brings the team together.
There are problems to be found in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, for sure. The screenplay is very exposition heavy, and the films runtime will no doubt not be everyone’s cup of tea. We even had that Knightmare scene that felt out of place and the inclusion of Martian Manhunter felt forced. There is no denying, though, that this Zack Snyder cut is a triumph. DC needed this film to hit it out of the park after the disaster that was Wonder Woman 1984.
- Steppenwolf’s new edgier design.
- The flash running through the speed force.
- Cyborg as the heart and Soul of the Movie.
- The history lesson fight scene.
- Aside from Darkseid & Steppenwolf, the rest of the CGI looked dated for 2021.
- Aquaman barely had anything of note to do. Jason Momoa is perfect for the role but it is so hard to suspend belief for Aquaman fights above water.
- Lois is the Key…
- Very little Darkseid
Solid B+ movie. Worth the wait and I hope the next directors treat the property with as much care as Zack Snyder. To me this feels like his best movie since 300. He planned this to be his trilogy (Man of Steel, BvS then this) and the movie left several story arcs open for future directors to make quality films.
Mwine Mark Guma