After the abysmal 2017 version disappointed fans, Zack Snyder and HBO Max give fans what they’ve wanted for years – Zack Snyder’s Justice League – the director’s true (and much improved) take on the titular superhero gang.
Zack Snyder has been a controversial figure in Hollywood ever since his major debut in 2004 with his well-received Dawn of the Dead remake, and especially since his involvement in the DC Universe with 2013s Man of Steel. Snyder planned a five-film arc that would begin with the iconic hero and end with three Justice League movies. However, after the lukewarm reception to 2016s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, his plan went under revision by the studio, prompting swift, crowd-pleasing changes to his first Justice League movie, which was already well into production.
A family tragedy caused Snyder to step down from post-production as the film was wrapping up, meaning The Avengers (2012) director, Joss Whedon, would come in and finish up what was left. What followed were months of rewrites and expensive reshoots, which eventually left the film a mess of conflicting tones when it came out in November of 2017. Since then, many DC and Snyder fans demanded the proper version of the film be released, and now in 2021, they’ve gotten their wish.
To say this is an improvement over the original would be both an understatement and a pointless comparison. Zack Snyder’s Justice League surpasses it in quality, tone, plotting and especially characterisation, standing wonderfully as its own entity. Everything merely hinted at in the 2017 version is expanded upon in significant ways, giving the film more intensity and weight as a result. Snyder shines in the visually stunning action sequences that have tension and genuine entertainment value, and a big reason for this is the characters he and Chris Terrio wrote.
Every character has motivation and humanity that sticks when the visual spectacle and truly out-of-this-world events occur. A big player would be Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, who is the heart of the film. While not always perfectly balanced or paced, the four-hour runtime does go by relatively quickly, with engaging scenes and interesting setups peppered throughout the gargantuan running time.
That being the case, the film could have been twenty-to-thirty minutes shorter to flow better. Some scenes drag on much too long (like a scene on Wonder Woman’s home island) and others are much too short. The villain, while more motivated, is still almost just a pawn for the BIGGER baddy that is yet to come in a sequel we may never get, so it feels inconsequential, and slightly marred by some iffy effects here and there.
A big complaint about the original Justice League was the score, which felt cookie cutter and forgettable. While Zack Snyder’s Justice League has a great new score by JunkieXL at its disposal, the music placement in certain areas can make the film feel tonally off. Snyder is notorious for his bizarre music choices that don’t always pay off.
With this being a hugely anticipated and hyped project, there were certain expectations the film needed to meet, and it absolutely did, in grand fashion. If Snyder and his previous efforts in the DCEU or otherwise didn’t sound appealing before, this film would not change anyone’s opinions on him. However, this was a colossal film that improved in almost every way over its awful counterpart, being a highly satisfying, albeit imperfect, engaging epic that will leave fans clamouring for more.
In order to keep full creative control and ensure that the fans receive the most benefit from the Snyder cut, Zack Snyder refused to be paid for finishing his Justice League.