During the production of the first ever live-action Justice League movie, director Zack Snyder had to step down due to a family tragedy, leaving Joss Whedon to finish the film. With a slew of controversies, rewrites, reshoots, and terrible editing choices, the theatrical release was far from what Snyder originally envisioned, had missing characters and story arcs, and overall odd visual choices. After fans campaigned for Snyder to be able to complete his vision, Warner Bros. gave them what they wanted. Earlier this year, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was released on HBO Max. Is it everything fans had hoped? Is it better than the theatrical cut of the film? Let’s search on to find out.
This version of the movie flows much better than the theatrical cut. Events and characters feel like they’re given enough time to be fleshed out. It’s not as choppy and does not jump around quite as much as the original version either. The order of events plays out to tell a story that flows organically. That should be a part of any movie, but it’s nice to see it in this edit where it was a bit of an issue in Whedon’s cut.
It’s clear that Whedon made some changes in his version that don’t make sense. He cut out important characters like Martian Manhunter, Darkseid, Ryan Choi, Iris West, and Vulko, did away with Cyborg’s entire story arc, made the sky red for no apparent reason, and had characters say lines that are pretty out-of-character for them like Bruce suddenly talking down about Steve Trevor to Diana. Thankfully, those random and harmful changes are fixed in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
The action is extremely exciting to experience. It feels like the action from a comic book come to life. The fights are well-choreographed, and each character gets to show off what they’re capable of. The Flash not only uses his super speed, but also uses his lightning and the Speed Force in combat, Batman uses a wide variety of gadgets and vehicles, Wonder Woman battles with her ancient Greek weaponry, and each of Superman’s powers are showcased throughout the film. Even Mera gets to show off her water-bending powers to pull the water and blood out of Steppenwolf’s body, and the Amazons’ war tactics get the spotlight at times. Arm cannons are fired, Parademons are decimated, and horses are thrown. The action is truly epic.
The visual effects are absolutely stunning. The Flash’s lighting, the Parademons, Darkseid’s laser eye beams, and every other part of the super-heroics looks incredible and lifelike. They do a lot to help with the immersion into the film and help the story feel real. Plus, just being fun to look at certainly isn’t a bad thing either.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League tells a story on such an epic scale that it feels close to that of Greek or Roman mythology. Not only does that make for a more entertaining viewing experience, but that’s how a comic book movie, especially one with so many of the most iconic characters in comic history, should feel. Countless critics, bloggers, and writers have deemed comic books to be modern mythology, and they’re not wrong. This film is a total embodiment of that idea.
Most of the central characters of the film receive their fair share of development. Batman learns to trust others, Cyborg embraces his change, the Flash learns to step up and take responsibility, and Aquaman learns to accept a duty that is thrust onto him. It all helps to add to the heart of the film and create a more emotional story. It’s touching to see Barry proudly show off his job offer to his father or Bruce trying so hard to make up for his past mistakes.
As a comic book fan, especially a DC fan, it’s extremely exciting to see a movie that has Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg, Martian Manhunter, Darkseid, a former Green Lantern, one of the people who would become the Atom, and more altogether in it. It feels like a giant celebration of DC, which is really fun for comic readers.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a little over four hours long, and you really feel it by the end. Perhaps if the DCEU did more to set up these characters more beforehand, then this film wouldn’t need to introduce them all and need to be so painfully long. It’s difficult to find the time to watch a four hour movie as an adult with a full time job.
Even though this version of the movie flows much better than the original cut, it still feels disjointed in the first third of it. It cuts to different scenes that feel more like different movies. Batman tries to convince Aquaman to fight alongside him, then Wonder Woman stops terrorists at a bank, then the Flash applies to be a dog walker. Those events don’t really go together too well. However, once the League has assembled, the movie plays out quite nicely.
Much of the way the Flash is handled is less than ideal. First of all, the film takes place while he’s still a college student even though he gets his powers working in his lab as a forensic scientist in which he needs that degree for. That timing doesn’t make sense. Also, his lightning is blue which, according to the source material, means he has become stronger with using his powers and is more in tune with the Speed Force. This doesn’t make sense since they wrote him as a hero still learning how to use his powers correctly. Plus, there’s a point when the Flash is helping Cyborg dig a grave but doesn’t use his super speed to get it done in seconds. Wouldn’t it be better for everyone involved to get that done quicker?
This is more of an issue with how the DCEU was planned out, but because Superman died in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this is a Justice League movie that barely has Superman in it. Superman is one of the mainstays of the Justice League, so it hurts seeing him receive so little screen time when he should be one of the characters front and center.
There’s an awful lot of setup for future movies that certainly seem like they will never get made. Darkseid is readying his invasion, Ryan Choi is put in place to become the Atom, Martian Manhunter announces he’s ready to join the fight, Lex Luthor recruits Deathstroke to the Legion of Doom, and Bruce has another apocalyptic premonition of the future. It seems like a lot of fun events were planned to take place, but given what Warner Bros. has been saying and doing regarding future DC movies, we’ll never get to see any of it actually happen. Because of this, it’s not hard to feel disappointed. They teased what could have been and are now moving away from that direction, so there are several unresolved stories set up by the end of the film.
After seeing Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it’s clear that Joss Whedon made his own movie from scratch when he stepped in. Between this, and the fact that an artist got the chance to complete their vision despite a tragedy, it’s hard not to be supportive of this project.
This film offers riveting comic book action, spectacular visual effects, and heartfelt emotions. It’s tough to find the time to watch it, but it’s worth setting aside a day for it. It’s definitely an incredibly fun watch for any superhero fan.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is without a doubt better than the theatrical cut, but it is still held back by other issues within the DCEU, like having the crossover film take place before standalone movies. Because of this, it is overly long and not all of it fits together the way that it should. Ultimately, it’s clear that even though there are fantastic movies within the DCEU, it was poorly planned from the start, and if it was better thought out, then perhaps this movie would have been that much better. That being said, it’s still definitely a fun and epic superhero tale that is a must-see for comic lovers..
Rating: 7.5 / 10