It's difficult to understate the uniqueness surrounding this film. So much so it's difficult to really categorize it to people who haven't been following the biopic-worthy drama behind it. Is it a remake? A director's cut? A sequel? Alternate universe? Is it canon to the rest of the DCEU? The most direct answer is, Zack Snyder's Justice League is simply, the Justice League film we were meant to have way back in 2017. It is Zack Snyder's unfiltered, unhinged, and unrestricted vision for the iconic heroes of the DC Universe.
There will be think pieces, op-eds, documentaries, and video essays outlining every bit of the tumultuous journey it took to get us here for perhaps years to come.
There will be mass speculation about what the release of this film will mean for not only the DC Cinematic Universe, but for the movie industry in general. Does it set a dangerous precedent for film studios bending to toxic fanbases? Or does it prove that studios can gain great profit by actually listening to the fanbases that make up a good portion of their audience? Does it prove that artists should be left to create with minimal studio interference? Is the future of film really on streaming where there are less restrictions on time?
That is neither here nor there.
The fundamental question is: Is it good? Was it worth all the effort of the #ReleasetheSynderCut movement?
The answer is: Hell. YES.
Snyder's Justice League differentiates itself from its mongrel predecessor in the very opening scene. Similar to how Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice opened with the Black Zero event from Man of Steel seen through Bruce Wayne's perceptive, Zack Snyder's Justice League opens with Superman's death at Doomsday hands through the POV of the shockwaves that he created with his final screams.
The shockwaves travel throughout the Earth, revealing Cyborg, Atlantis, Themyscira, and most importantly, the Mother Boxes which have awakened due to the death of Earth's strongest protector. It's an effective piece of visual worldbuilding and storytelling that introduces the audience to the important players of the story while still reminding them of what had occurred before.
From there, the film dives headfirst into its four-hour runtime and does not waste a second of it. From exposition, establishing scenes of heroics for the heroes, quiet moments of character development and reflection, and bombastic action set pieces that look like they were lifted straight from the Justice League comic books, the film makes good use of the four hours and not once did I feel that it was overstuffed, too long, or dragging.
If you are able to watch a ten episode Netflix or Hulu drama with hour long episodes in one sitting, a four-hour film should be no challenge. And if so, the film is mercifully divided into six chapters and an epilogue to create natural stopping points to pause and pick it up later.
While the film establishes themes of unity, teamwork, and the like, the core of the film and much of the emotional weight goes to Cyborg. His development from a traumatized, self-hating, husk of man to a courageous, effective, and proud hero is a joy to behold. Ray Fisher had every right to be upset when the 2017 film nixed his scenes and turned his character into a mostly meaningless tag along for the team.
Flash also shines. Gone is the shallow comic relief character whose purpose is to.... fall on Wonder Woman's chest, run into parademons, and serve as the annoying little brother. Instead, we have a young man who is a more than capable hero in his own right, has almost a full mastery of his powers, but like Superman must keep testing his own limits to save the day, and is absolutely essential in saving the world.
Wonder Woman is allowed to be the fearless, inspirational warrior she was always meant to be. Aquaman is the reluctant, doubting hero rather than just the "cool, drunk, biker fish-guy", and Batman returns to his proper role as the wise, determined leader, rather than....whatever that Batman was trying to be in 2017.
Superman, no longer a CGI facial abomination, flies to his full potential as the Earth's strongest protector with his scenes being some of the most visually satisfying and heartfelt.
But what are heroes without a villain?
Steppenwolf shines, and it's not just the new armor for his design. The agent of Darkseid is a monster through and through. From his opening battle with the Amazons where he demonstrates a brutality and fierceness not seen in the 2017 version to his final battle with the Justice League, Steppenwolf displays that he is very much a Justice League level threat.
Most importantly however, we see WHY he is on Earth and WHY he is seeking the Mother Boxes, which by the way have an expanded origin that actually make them interesting and intimidating pieces rather than "generic hero-villain McGuffin #4573".
The big boss, Darkseid, while never engaging directly with the heroes, is a continued presence of dread who guides Steppenwolf's actions. Even at the end, Steppenwolf delivers a win for Darkseid in the long-term that left me wanting more from this universe.
And ultimately that is the take away. I wanted more. (If there actually will be more from this universe, is a question for another day).
Visually, the film is stunning. The estimated 70 million dollar price tag given to Snyder and his team to finish post-production was put to good use. The action, the driving force for any comic-book movie, surpasses almost every battle seen in the DCEU prior. You as the audience fully believe that these characters are demi-gods in the way their strength, speed, and movements are portrayed. Flash's scenes in the Speed Force alone make the film worthwhile.
The score is a complete and heartfelt work of passion that gives the quiet scenes more heft and provides an extra punch during the battles.
There are four "endings" to the film. And if there is one thing I can say negative about the movie is that two of those "endings" could have been cut-out as they are only set up and do not add to the overall story that was told.
In the end, Zack Snyder's Justice League delivers justice to its characters, its director, and fans who campaigned for its release. Love him or hate him, Zack Snyder has left his impact on the film industry and much like Superman's echoing screams, I have a feeling we will be feeling the shockwaves of the film for a long while.
About the Creator
I am an aspiring author with a focus mainly on epic high fantasy, mythology, westerns, and action-adventure, with the occasional op-ed. If you're seeking daring adventure, and fun, diverse characters you've come to the right place.