In 2017, Justice League was released in cinemas around the world. And it BOMBED. It lost an estimated $60 million and was detested by fans. In the years since, the blame for the film’s dire reception has been firmly planted at one man’s feet, Joss Whedon. Joss was brought on board because the studio disliked the direction in which the director, Zack Snyder was taking the film. Shortly afterwards, Zack’s daughter died, forcing him to leave the production of the film, which left Joss Whedon being placed in charge. That is when the horror took root in the film’s production. 80 extra pages of script, approximately 90% of Snyder’s footage left unused and a replaced composer created what was described by critics as a “Frankenstein” film.
So, the question was asked, would Zack Snyder’s Justice League have been better? Was a cinematic masterpiece in the making harpooned by the studio and the petty whims of a replacement director? Well fans of the DCEU thought it was, so a petition that gained more than 180,000 signatures called for the release of “the Snyder Cut”. Fan movement and support from many involved in the film, such as Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa and Christopher Nolan, kept the dream alive. In 2019, Zack Snyder confirmed that there was a “Snyder Cut” and it was up to Warner Bros. to release it. Well, after a bit of additional footage and the re-hiring of the original composer to create a new score, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has been released. After all of that, was it worth it? Read on to find out what FinalBoss thought.
This article is spoiler-free apart from the section “Spoiler Talk”.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League: The Good
I’d like to start off with the most important point in this review. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is much better than the original, which is mockingly known as the “Josstice League”. And that’s coming from a person that didn’t detest the original Justice League. I mean, it was a bad film, but I happily sat down through it. What worked so well with the Snyder Cut is that everything that was bad about the original has now been transformed into the film’s absolute resounding successes. The tone was brilliantly consistent, the plot made much more sense, the visuals were incredible, the action was fantastic and the pacing (despite the film being four hours long!) kept the film moving very smoothly.
There were a few stars of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. As always, Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) was fantastic, and I love the direction they have gone with Aquaman (played by Jason Momoa). The Amazons are always really cool and the two “apprentice” heroes, Cyborg (played by Ray Fisher) and The Flash (played by Ezra Miller), now have fleshed out stories that we care about. The two villains looked outstanding and now have fully realised motives. Especially Steppenwolf, who has become one of my favourite supervillains I’ve seen on screen (I’m going to stick my neck on the line and say I think he looks better than Thanos). They have done an excellent job making him look badass (love the fluttery metal whatnot and his gnarled, tortoise-like skin) and he is much more watchable in the fight scenes now.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League was interesting to me as well because of how changing the look and sound of a film can create a completely different feel. The score is fantastic in this film, it really sets the mood for each scene beautifully. But it’s amazing to see scenes you are familiar with from the original be placed in a different order, given new music and a different colour “filter”, to feel almost completely new. It’s the aesthetics that really drives home Snyder’s tone in this film. And it’s a tone I think works better in this movie than in some of his others.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League: The Bad
Well, there isn’t much that was bad to be fair to it. Most of the negatives I have for this film come down to personal preference. The film’s big bogey is its four-hour runtime. For most people, that is much too long (I mean, it’s no Return of the King, that’s for sure). The film has been split into some handy chapters though, which is a great touch. However, it’s not like there aren’t bits of the Snyder Cut that couldn’t have been removed or shortened. The Wonder Woman fight near the beginning was something detested from the original, so to see it in this cut was really disappointing. The fight feels so unnatural and unnecessary. There is a particular shot, where Wonder Woman is standing on a big justice statue that looks SO fake. I get they need to establish her fighting ability in this film but I’d have loved it if I’d been given a completely new scene that was actually relevant to the story.
There is also a weird scene where these villagers sing as Aquaman returns to the ocean. What was that about? Why are you trying to be Éowyn from the Two Towers? And I know a lot of people have issues with the Flash hotdog scene, which I get. Much of that sort of thing could have been made much shorter. There is a character that turns up a couple of times (see spoiler talk), that I like but nonetheless, his presence could have been removed.
The last negative I have is definitely a personal taste thing. I have enjoyed a few of the DCEU films and I would put the Snyder Cut up there with the best, which I would say is Wonder Woman and Aquaman. But it’s still, for me, worse than probably a third of the MCU films. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s my preference for a certain style. Maybe they have made an absolute pig’s ear of investing us in their characters up to this point. I honestly can’t put my finger on it. I just watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League and think “well, Infinity War and Endgame are better and manage it in at least an hour less”. Sorry DCEU and Snyder fans…
I really like Martian Manhunter but why was he in this film? You could have cut his two scenes completely and you’d have had exactly the same film. I find it odd that an obviously powerful character would stand back and be like “Yep, you guys have obviously got this end of the world thing covered, I’m gonna go and have some coffee disguised as an old woman”. Another scene I’m not sure why it was included was the post-apocalyptic dream scene at the end where Batman has a spat with the Joker. I thought it was a fantastic, tense, incredibly intriguing scene but why was it there? Surely there is no point including that scene unless they are hoping to use it as ammunition to get the SnyderVerse reinstated. And it’s a spoiler minefield. They literally say exactly who dies in the potential future films.
I absolutely adored the final sequence (Part 6, I think). Not only do we finally get some decent Batman action, but we get a climactic end that has real gravitas and tension. Superman felt overpowered but in a good way. It felt like a god had wandered into the fight and finally given the Justice League a chance against the baddies. And that moment when Darkseid stamps down on Steppenwolf’s head was great. His tease throughout the film, his big battle action sequence from the past and his aesthetic was brilliant. On a side note, though, how did Wonder Woman know Earth was the only planet that has ever defeated him? How did he forget which planet defeated him and where the Anti-Life Equation is? That Anti-life Equation does sound cool though, it was a real draw for me and made me want to see how it plays into the post-apocalyptic visions Batman has.
Was Zack Snyder’s Justice League worth it?
To quote Pirate Captain from “The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!” …
In one sense, the creation of a movie from the ashes of a complete and utter commercial train wreck into one of the DCEU’s finest films is a resounding success. I think the aim was to create a great film that is tonally consistent with their other works, which they succeed in doing. So, in that sense, yes, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was worth it. It’s also worth noting that Zack Snyder did not, himself, get paid for doing this cut of the film, so he could retain creative control. The Snyder Cut cost $70 million to complete and if the film is a big enough success, there is a real chance it could recoup the loss the original made, especially if it gets given a nice little run in the cinema. So, for the studio’s bank balance, it could potentially be worth it.
But overall, no, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was not worth it if the current trajectory of the DCEU stays as it is. If there is never going to be Zack Snyder’s Justice League Two, Three, Man of Steel Two, Ben Affleck’s Batman etc., then releasing a film that teases so much more than it gives is completely pointless. And imagine if the studio is now like “Yeah, sorry about all that Whedon stuff mate, here’s the reins to the DCEU”, then where will that leave the incredibly promising “The Batman”, with Robert Patterson taking over the mantle from Ben Affleck? Where does that leave the other films out or upcoming that are going in a different direction with their characters and their tones? My gut feeling tells me that they should scrap the DCEU, have DC films that can reference each other but are not directly related and give Snyder a chance to finish his vision by giving him creative control over three to five films, creating a separate “SnyderVerse”. Otherwise, I feel like Zack Snyder’s Justice League will become meaningless, which would be a real shame.
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