Zack Snyder’s Justice League is nothing short of epic and is aesthetically and tonally an entirely different film from the theatrical cut.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League has been one of the most talked-about films for the past four years. In 2017, prior to Justice League’s theatrical release Zack Snyder walked away from the film to deal with the death of his daughter Autumn Snyder. A tragedy that shook the DC fandom and most importantly, a moment that shook The Snyder Family to its core. Due to the tragic event, Warner Bros. was faced with several tough decisions, delay Justice League’s theatrical release, release it unfinished, or bring in a new director to finish Zack Snyder’s work.
Warner Bros. chose the latter and decided to bring in The Avengers (2012) and The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) director Joss Whedon to finish the film Zack Snyder started. With the hiring of Joss Whedon, Justice League was reworked, rewritten, and reshot. A move that brought forth a number of issues that weren’t revealed at the time and have been recently revealed by Justice League star himself, Ray Fisher. Who has accused Joss Whedon, Geoff Johns, Walter Hamada, and others for unprofessional conduct and enabling during the Justice League reshoots.
In 2017 when Justice League was released, it was met with mixed reviews and claims that this was not the film that Zack Snyder intended on releasing. Soon after, the Release The Snyder Cut movement was birth and while initially met with some blowback from within the fandom, the calls did not fall on deaf ears entirely. Despite multiple reports, the official word from Hollywood trades, Warner Bros., and a long list of others claimed that The Snyder Cut did not exist. However, The Release The Snyder Cut movement fought and maintained.
Unfortunately, The Release The Snyder Cut movement also became a toxic wasteland in which believers of The Snyder Cut belittled, shamed, and threatened others who did not believe in their cause. Sadly for The Release The Snyder Cut movement, that toxicity and negativity quickly overshadowed those who respectfully and positively fought to have The Snyder Cut of Justice League released in some way, shape or form.
After years of protest, fighting, and pushing, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was announced in May of 2020 and it was revealed during that announcement that Zack Snyder’s Justice League would be releasing on HBO Max in 2021 as an HBO Max Original Feature Film. Costing Warner Bros. a whopping $70M, Zack Snyder and his fans would finally see his version of Justice League see the light of day. Zack Snyder’s true vision birthed, finished, and unleashed upon the world.
In a world where a Josstice League and a Zack Snyder’s Justice League film both exist, times couldn’t be anymore weirder. Many fans have wondered if Snyder’s true vision would indeed be better than what was released theatrically in 2017 by Warner Bros., while others lost any hope for this film to deliver anything exciting and new. Whether this is personal gripes with Zack Snyder or personal gripes with Warner Bros., only those who have seen both the Josstice League and Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be able to settle that debate.
*WARNING MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE*
To say that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is anything short of epic would be a heavy understatement on my behalf. And to put it simply, we, as fans of comic book films, as fans of DC Comics and fans of Justice League and its source material were robbed of an epic live-action debut of DC’s heavy hitters. From the moment you press play on Zack Snyder’s Justice League, you can immediately tell that this film, while the same as its predecessor, is an entirely different beast.
Clocking in at four hours and two minutes, Zack Snyder’s Justice League delivers a deep, emotional, yet action-packed comic book film that will cement itself as a staple film not just for DC Films and the DCEU but live-action comic book films as a whole. While the runtime might scare many viewers, that should be the least of your worries as you will have the option to watch this film on HBO Max in chapters or as a full-on four-hour feature film.
We at The Nerdy Basement watched the film in its entirety from start to finish and we can confidently say that while the film is indeed long, the pacing of the film does not equate to its runtime. In fact, by the time the film was actually over, I wanted it to continue playing. I wanted to see more and that’s how most people should feel after watching this film.
If you’ve been keeping up with The Nerdy Basement since we started way back in 2017 and listened to our podcast review of the theatrical cut of Justice League. You are fully aware of how much we crapped on that version of the film. Seeing that film again prior to watching Zack Snyder’s Justice League, you can only help but wonder, who in their right minds looked at this film and said “let gut it”. It just doesn’t make any sense.
The Snyder Cut delivers everything fans have wanted from a Justice League film. Characters we care about, proper origins for newly introduced characters, deep and emotional plot points for us the viewer to empathize with, and the action you’d expect to see when DC’s holy trinity, Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman can display when banded together. More so when they’ve put together the Justice League. Top that all off with a truly menacing villain in Steppenwolf and you can have your cake and eat it too.
And that for me is where The Snyder Cut truly shines. It lives up to the hype that fans expected and that fans have built up over the past four years. Personal expectations included. You’d be surprised as a viewer to see how much from the theatrical cut was indeed Zack Snyder’s work but you can obviously tell by the scenes that we didn’t get in The Snyder Cut, that those were Joss Whedon’s filmed scenes.
As much as Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a vast improvement from the theatrical cut of the film it is not without its flaws. Those little hiccups come in the form of giving certain scenes and characters who don’t factor much into the bigger picture a little too much exposition and some scenes we could’ve truly done without. While the over exposition was welcomed, some scenes do drag a bit. To get even more specific, the film’s epilogue gives us a pretty lengthy scene that includes Deathstroke, Mera, Jared Leto’s Joker, Batman, Cyborg, The Flash, and a brief appearance from Superman, further expanding the Knightmare sequence doesn’t really have much to offer.
The Knightmare scene from the epilogue is something I personally could’ve have done without. While it was nice seeing Jared Leto’s Joker and Ben Affleck’s Batman in the same scene together, knowing not much is coming out of that is the true disappointment in that entire sequence other than it also being a premonition Bruce Wayne keeps having.
Another issue with the film is the lack of use of Martian Manhunter. I personally have a huge problem with the Justice League not consisting of seven members as it always has, no matter which iteration of the team you’re looking at. This Justice League doesn’t have a Hal Jordan or John Stewart Green Lantern as its core member nor does it find a way to make Martian Manhunter a useful member as well. Other than impersonating Martha to give Lois Lane that extra push to get back on her feet, Martian Manhunter’s inclusion in the film serves little to no purpose. Especially given that he’s been around since Man of Steel.
However, Martian Manhunter looks amazing and his design is very welcomed and a huge, and I mean huge upgrade from what we’ve seen in Supergirl on The CW. I know it’s different budget levels but I think its an ample comparison since this is the second live-action iteration of the character we have seen.
To put it all simply and tie it all together, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is still for the most part what we got in the theatrical release with all the much-needed exposition and connective tissues that tie it all back to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. With such a historic cinematic moment that is sure to change how directors engage with studios when it comes to the studio meddling too much with the director’s vision, to how studios listen and engage with fans to deliver what the fans ultimately want to see.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is solid proof that good storytelling, cohesive structuring, good editing, cinematography, great musical production, and solid post-production can be a benefit or a detriment to a film and how every aspect of filmmaking is crucial to a film’s success. Most importantly, The Snyder Cut further proves that Warner Bros. could’ve easily delayed this film to let Zack and Deborah Snyder handle their tragedy instead of getting this film out at the deadline to receive any yearly bonuses.
Accountability > Entertainment
Zack Snyder’s Justice League premieres worldwide March 18th on HBO Max.
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Founder/Editor-in-Chief of The Nerdy Basement.