“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” was directed by Zack Snyder and stars Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and Henry Cavill as Superman. In this movie, Batman and Wonder Woman assemble the Justice League after the death of Superman (although he is revived later into the film) to defend the Earth against an alien conqueror named Steppenwolf. It’s a basic superhero movie plot, but it works because the characters are so well developed.
This film is very unique in that a Justice League movie was already released in 2017, but the difference is that it was made by Joss Whedon during extensive reshoots. This 2021 film is actually the original cut of the movie, but Warner Brothers (the studio behind the film) got “cold feet” during the making of the movie and used the tragic death of Zack Snyder’s daughter in his personal life to fire him and bring in Joss Whedon of “Avengers” fame. Whedon made an almost entirely different movie that is one of the worst blockbusters in recent memory. The story was rushed, the characters lacked ANY development, and there were a ton of awkward jokes at the expense of characters like Batman & The Flash. There was also bad CGI, extreme color saturation, a laughably bland & cartoonish villain, and CGI lips for Superman (I’m not kidding — they had to remove Cavill’s mustache after reshoots). The theatrical cut in 2017 is so bad that the internet calls it “Josstice League.”
I was really excited to see Snyder’s take on the Justice League, not only because I knew it would be better than the abomination against humanity that is “Justice League” 2017, but also because I was happy to see him show his true vision and honor his daughter who sadly passed away.
It’s important to note that this movie is FOUR HOURS long. While that may seem daunting, don’t worry: the movie is divided into parts so that it is easier to take breaks from watching it, and it also has terrific pacing. “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” feels like it’s 2 and a 1/2 hours. It’s actually quite impressive how Snyder and company were able to pull that off.
As I stated earlier, the character development in this film was fantastic. In the 2017 version, all the characters were either not themselves or lacked any basic character moments/dialogue. The dialogue that was in the original version was beyond cringy, specifically The Flash’s brunch monologue and the Batman and Superman stupid exchanges. Almost all the characters in this version were fantastic. Batman had an actual arc continuing from “Batman v Superman” in which he went from wanting to kill Superman to feeling guilty for what happened to Superman and gaining faith in humanity once again. The Flash is a lot less annoying and he has actual things to do. Wonder Woman stood out in this film as the noble warrior that she was in her solo film instead of the joke she was in “Wonder Woman 1984.” I also thought Superman was significantly better than he was in “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” since he was rejuvenated with hope after his resurrection. And Aquaman is… Aquaman. He was fine I guess. No one cares about him, so it doesn’t matter. He looked cool and Jason Momoa is likeable, which is enough for me.
But I must say, Cyborg is the heart and soul of this film. He is FANTASTIC here, and his story is tragic and super compelling. In the film Victor Stone gets into a car accident that results in him nearly dying, so his father uses alien technology to heal him. However, this turns Victor into Cyborg, and he becomes resentful of his father for it. However, throughout the movie, he learns to accept himself and love his father as he works with the other heroes. Ray Fisher’s performance as Cyborg was heartbreaking and it’s sad that we had to wait so long to see his emotional, career-making performance. I loved the character, which was shocking since he was incredibly undeveloped in the 2017 cut.
Another HUGE upgrade from the 2017 cut is the villain: Steppenwolf. While he isn’t great or anything, he’s an interesting character in this version. Steppenwolf is basically a humiliated henchman who is trying to impress his boss, Darkseid. I also loved the action sequences, specifically one with The Flash at the climax of the film. Speaking of the climax, this climax must be in the Top 15 Superhero Climaxes of All Time. Every hero actually has something to do during the final battle and each of their roles are related to their powers/abilities.
Despite all this praise, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” still isn’t a perfect film. For one thing, about 80% of the soundtrack in this film is cringe-inducing or out of place. This is a common trait in most of Zack Snyder’s films. Sometimes there will be an exciting action sequence or important character moment that gets interrupted by some tacked on blues music from the 1970’s or 1980’s. Besides just the poor song choices, it’s important to note that Wonder Woman is given a theme that is LAUGHABLE. It basically sounds like a teenage girl trying to hum a terrible opera while experiencing a voice crack. This may seem like a small nitpick, but this sound pops up during EVERY action scene Wonder Woman is in, which were some of the film’s most thrilling sequences. Here’s a compilation:
Up until the second-to-last scene, I would have given this film an “A” for its grade. But then I saw that second-to-last scene between Ben Affleck’s Batman and Jared Leto’s nauseating Joker. I’ve made this clear in past articles that I’ve written: I’m a HUGE Batman fan. That’s why I love Affleck in the role; he clearly respects and loves the character. Batman means a lot to me, and he’s one of those characters that helps people, including myself, go through trying times. HOWEVER, Affleck is completely overshadowed by Jared Leto’s ABYSMAL Joker. Leto was atrocious in “Suicide Squad” and he’s atrocious here. He’s a bad Joker for a thousand reasons, but my three main takeaways from the scene are these:
- Leto can’t decide on what voice to use. He keeps going from high to low, and it makes for an incoherent mess of a character.
- Leto’s laugh is UNBEARABLE. It sounds like he has asthma.
- The dialogue Leto is given is terrible. Leto’s Joker made sexual jokes and goes on lazy, stereotypical Joker monologues that don’t work since he doesn’t know how to play the character.
“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is a vast improvement over the 2017 theatrical cut, and I’m grateful that Zack was given the opportunity by HBO Max to complete his original film and let the public experience it. It’s important that directors get to share their visions, especially when they’re as good as Snyder’s was. I loved almost every scene and I can’t wait to watch this four hour film fly by for a second time.
My Review for “Wonder Woman 1984”: https://reel-opinion.com/2020/12/25/wonder-woman-1984-an-honest-review/