Zack Snyder’s Justice League: A review, discussion and comparison and I promise-no spoilers

Time is a funny thing, they say it heals all wounds, it vindicates, it unmasks, it reveals.

Image Courtesy of Warner Media

Part 1: Four Years Ago

Back in 2017, the highly anticipated “Justice League” was released in theaters, during that time, I had just given birth and was still recovering from my post-cardiomyopathy. I was focused on my then new-born baby and getting better, so I wasn’t really privy into the going-ons behind the movie, I guess, during that time, a lot of us weren’t. I remember making an exemption to attend the press screening with my sister. I remember being underwhelmed with the Atlantis stronghold were a motherbox was kept, I thought it didn’t even look deep enough under water to be in, I remember how poorly the stronghold was, barely had any guards at all! I did like the scene with the Amazons though, I remember being at the edge of my seat while they basically made a relay with their motherbox. I remember thinking that Henry Cavill’s mouth did look weird, especially at the first scene, with the two kids interviewing him. Calling this out early-there is no Henry Cavill with a weird mouth in the Snyder Cut, so you can rest easy on that and there is no weird Russian family also.

I guess, in hindsight I was just happy to see the Justice League on the big screen, I grew up watching the animated series on Cartoon Network and seeing my heroes on the big screen was a treat enough for me. Yeah, sure, there were some plot holes here and there and a bit of a let down that the big baddie-Steppenwolf wasn’t really defeated in the end but was instead carried off by his own Parademons because he smelled of fear.

Um. Okay.

I left the film at the back of my mind and went on with my life but there were others who, thankfully couldn’t and wouldn’t. Over the years, #ReleaseTheSnyderCut became a call from fans who rallied to have Director Zack Snyder’s cut of the movie released. Apparently there was a lot of studio interference with how the film was edited and due to a personal tragedy (the death of his daughter) Snyder had to step away from the project. Joss Wheadon (Avengers: Age of Ultron) was hired to take over and apparently give Justice League a more “Marvel movie” feel, i.e. lighter and funnier, which explains those awkward and actually not funny jokes. Case in point, that bit where The Flash falls on top of Wonder Woman, I mean, what was that all about? Gal Gadot didn’t want to do the scene, so they had to use a stunt double. I for one, didn’t think it was funny at all. Snyder on the other hand, has always strayed away from the MCU formula, ‘Man of Steel’ and ‘Batman V Superman’ was always seen as too dark by critics and fans but Snyder knew, to duplicate what Marvel was doing was insanity “Because they were so good at it, he said in an interview with the New York Times, link here (and below). “What DC had was mythology in an epic level, and we were going to take them on this amazing journey.” And yes, they do deliver this (and more!) in the Snyder Cut.

Image Courtesy of Warner Media

Now there may be other names and producers who could be blamed and put at fault at how the 2017 Justice League version turned out but that’s not why I’m writing this (if you want a more in-depth idea of what happened during that tumultuous time of shooting and editing of the Justice League movie, read the in-depth Variety Fair article, link here (and below)-the earlier mentioned examples (there will probably be more later on) were only to compare the two films, which we will get more into later on. Moving forward I will just be referring to the old Justice League/Joss Wheadon version as to the 2017 film and the Snyder version as the Snyder Cut.      

Fans petitioned for the Snyder cut to be released, said petition started as early as 2017 and four years later, their hard work paid off, because here we are, incidentally that also means that my son, who was hovering around me while I was watching my press screener for the Snyder cut and who was also awake at an ungodly hour while I’m writing this is turning four this year! I told you-time, is a funny thing.

Set to be released on HBO’s streaming services (HBO Max in the US and HBO GO in the Philippines) the Snyder cut will have a four-hour run time, compared to the original 2017 cut, which only had two. Wowza. The film will be divided into six parts, beautifully named as the following:

Part 1: Don’t Count On It Batman

Part 2: The Age of Heroes

Part 3: Beloved Mother, Beloved Son

Part 4: Change Machine

Part 5: All The Kings Horses

Part 6: Something Darker

and an Epilogue which after seeing the film, I think is a good gauge to have so you would know when to take a break when seeing it. A good idea, would be to take a break (bathroom break, snack break) after Part 3, just before Part 4. If you noticed, I also took the liberty of breaking down this piece in three parts, the first part from when I saw 2017 movie four years ago, second part was after seeing the Snyder Cut and the third, a bit of an afterthought, sort of an epilogue, what can I say? Zack has been rubbing off me.  

Image Courtesy of Warner Media

As soon as I got a confirmation that I was going to get to see an advanced screener for the Snyder cut, I re-watched the 2017 version (it’s on HBO Max) so I could compare the two. I saw the movie, without my rose-tinted glasses on (the optimism and excitement of a fan) and well, I was still disappointed by the same scenes and saw more “conveniently shot scenes and dialogues said” (the burglar Batman used as bait, seemed to say all the right lines about those Parademons, and that painting of Aquaman with the motherboxes in the sea-side tavern was an all-too convenient plot device also) and well, more loopholes (that the third motherbox was easily taken by Steppenwolf while the Justice League were busy with Superman was frustrating-like duh! Kind of makes you want to smack your face with your hand. And again-that Steppenwolf gets conveniently carried away by Parademons-ugh, no satisfaction that the big evil was defeated by the good guys!

I realized that the 2017 film was like a mish-mash of things, some good, mostly bad that was wrapped and tried to look pretty with a garish bow-when in fact it was anything but pretty.

Part 2: The Snyder Cut

Four hours later-I was overcome with emotions. I had been crying, shouting and honestly, it was a whole new movie. It looked better, it sounded better, the science and logic were better. It had more heart. This was my initial reaction, my mini review so to speak.

I don’t believe it.

-Believe it.

Image Courtesy of Warner Media

The Snyder cut opens with the death of Superman, the moment he dies, and goes on to show how all the motherboxes reacted to his death- which I think ties both movies (Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League) together nicely, among other things. The film then proceeds to show our characters at a better light, it then explores their sacrifices and their losses. First time watching the 2017 movie, my favorite scene was the one with the Amazons in Themyscara, (and I think that already says a lot that when your favorite scene isn’t even the fight with the big boss or the film’s climax) the Snyder cut enhances this scene by raising the stakes on the action sequences (okay, it gets more brutal, if that is your kind of tea and there is blood, something which was absent in the 2017 film) and also emphasizes the sacrifices of the Amazons. I saw the 2017 twice, but I didn’t realize that the Amazons who were left behind in the stronghold of the motherbox were sacrificing themselves, the Snyder cut heightens the drama and emotion in-time with the high-octane action; a delicate balance but one he was able to pull off, so there was more love to this scene now that it was essentially, better.

Speaking of battles-the Golden Age of Heroes of Battle was even more majestic and I’m glad that they actually said Zeus and Aries’ names, I think they deserve a little shout out.

I read somewhere that Snyder always intended for Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to be the heart of the movie and well, anyone who’s seen the 2017 cut wouldn’t be able to come to that conclusion. Well, I’m happy to say that the Snyder cut not only redeems Cyborg’s arc but indeed does make him the heart of the movie. We get to see and know Victor Stone before he became Cyborg and get to understand his strained relationship with his father and this sets up for more drama and emotion towards the end of the movie (and also fixes a loophole that got me disappointed) but which I won’t be talking about here, because it’s a new scene in the Snyder Cut and a bit of a spoiler.

Image Courtesy of Warner Media

We also get to see and understand more of Lois’ grief, in the Snyder cut she hasn’t been back to work since Clark died and has been visiting the fallen Superman monument every day. Keep your eyes peeled at an object inside her bedside drawer (hit me in the comments if you catch it) and one thing she’s carrying back into the Kent house (Did you see it? Let me know!).  

It Sounds Good Too

I have to applaud the choice of songs and music in the film. Even the choice not to use any music to heighten the emotion in a scene, such as when Barry was speaking to his father over the phone in the prison. There was no music, no song used, it was just their voices over the prison phone and I think that that’s beautiful, that we can only hear their voices, and in a real-life setting, that would have been the same case, they would just hear each other’s voices. I also love that every time Wonder Woman or the Amazons would appear, they had a selection of their distinctive music that was used.  

The Future Is Taking Route in the Present

The Snyder cut presents a new completely thrilling climax, the part that got me screaming and shouting at the screen? Yup. The stakes were up, the pressure was high and the resolution was absolutely satisfying and sets up another DCEU film, currently in the works, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Speaking of satisfied-fans get what they deserve, a satisfying end to Steppenwolf, so no, he doesn’t get carried away by Parademons, our heroes give him such an epic and brutal ass kicking, it is sure to get a couple of cheers and shouts from the audience watching and I can imagine that would have been a super fun moment in the cinema.

Speaking of the cinema –

Image Courtesy of Warner Media

Part 3: An afterthought   

The world is not fixed in the past but in the future and in a world post Covid (huh, wish I could say the same here) and in a world where streaming has become the norm, perhaps executives and the big hats shouldn’t be afraid of a movie that has a four-hour run time. Given the chance would I see the Snyder Cut in a cinema? In IMAX? Hell yes! Just put that break in between, for the sakes of our bladders and other bodily functions. As I was watching I would think, this scene would be awesome in the movie house, oh, the fans would be shouting at that line, oh the whole cinema would go bonkers over that.  In a world where Covid is still present, would I consider paying to stream it instead in my home, through a legal serving app? Yes! I’ve seen it twice now and I have decided to get either a physical copy of purchase it over the Google Play Store once it’s available.

We also have to talk about that epilogue, in an effort to continue to stray away from what the MCU has set up (post credit scenes, Snyder puts all of the post credits scenes, which traditionally can be found at the middle of credits or at the end of the credits in Marvel movies, in an epilogue. So, it’s actually before the credits.

The credits actually begin with- (For Autumn)

In a way, having the epilogue, (which has so many reveals and opens up so many possibilities it will be a discussion party among fans, lots of fan theories here for sure but of course, which I will not spoil but feel free to hit me up in the comments if you have seen it and have any thoughts you want to share) before the credits is the perfect way to honor his daughter, and to the cast and crew who worked with him and believed in him, and as a friend said, it’s also the best way to end the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement.

For Autumn

It would be a great disservice in my part if I did not mention that the real tragedy here, is that, while Zack may have redeemed himself and his work through the release of the Snyder cut, but there is no coming back from the loss of his 20-year-old daughter, Autumn, who after a long struggle with depression, took her own life. Remember that this family tragedy happened while Zack was working on Justice League and having a creative conflict with Warner Bros.

The film ends with a text that says: ‘For Autumn’ and instead of a heavy rock version of The Beatle’s ‘Come Together’ for the ending theme, we hear Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as performed by Allison Crowe, a family friend who also sang it at Autumn’s funeral, it was also her favorite song.

Zack Snyder did not accept any payment for the Snyder Cut, this he did for creative freedom from the studio. The film will also help raise money for suicide prevention programs, which the Snyders hope will spare other families the grief that shook their own.

“For the first time, I’m operating entirely on faith!” Ben Affleck’s Batman tells Alfred (Jeremy Irons) and like time, faith is a funny think. Fans believed in Zack and his work. And through faith and hard work, his work, which would have been lost in the corner of his office is now set to be released to a world that needs faith, a world, trapped in a very unsure and difficult time who needs to believe, who needs hope.

“You will give the people of Earth, something to strive for” a voice (one of his fathers) tells a newly resurrected Superman and I think for a while (more than four hours for sure, because it’s so epic, you will need some time to process it) and the Snyder cut gives us that-faith and hope.

And as promised, here is that Variety in-depth article and the true story behind the Snyder Cut.

Variety Interview:

New York Times Interview: