‘Zach Snyder’s Justice League’ is a dark improvement on the 2017 film


In 2016 Zack Snyder was hired to direct the film “Justice League,” the fifth movie of the DC Extended Universe.  However, Snyder’s idea for the movie differed from the Warner Brothers executives. Snyder wanted to make a dark, R-Rated, 4 hour long, epic of a movie, and the studio wanted a lighter-hearted movie.

In March of 2017, Zack Snyder’s daughter Autumn Snyder tragically passed away, causing Snyder to step away from the film. Warner Brothers then brought in Joss Whedon to finish the film in Snyder’s absence. Or so they said. Whedon was not just brought in to finish the film, but he completely changed it. The movie felt rushed, with a distinct lack of character development. The film received poor reviews, and underperformed at the box office, netting only 657.9 million dollars. 

Many fans took to social media, starting the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement. After years of pressure from the fans, Warner Brothers announced that they would be releasing the Snyder Cut on HBO Max, in March 2021. Zack Snyder got to show his vision for the film, releasing a 4 hour long dark Justice League movie, which was a great improvement over the theatrical release and was met with much more positive reviews. 

The Snyder Cut of Justice League slots into the timeline of the DCEU, following directly after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film follows the team of superheroes as they fight off the supervillain, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds)

The story follows these heroes as the world learns to cope with the death of the loved Superman (Henry Cavill).  The film commences with the death of Superman, which awakens the mother boxes, with the goal of world domination.  The mother boxes are boxes of energy that have been preserved by humankind for thousands of years.

The film does a better job of explaining the backstories of both Steppenwolf and the mother boxes, than the theatrical release. The Snyder Cut also introduces Steppenwolf as a pawn for the larger, looming threat, Darkseid (Ray Porter).  Although it is an improvement over the original, the storyline of Steppenwolf and Darkseid can be often basic at times:  Steppenwolf, a pawn searching for a power source for his master Darkseid can be seen in films like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, where a mercenary Ronan the Accuser is sent on a mission for the power stone by his master, Thanos.  

After the film opens with the death of Superman, the movie follows Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) who is searching for the rest of the metahumans in the world. This is a proper continuation of the series, as it shows Batman fulfilling his promise to Superman, by finding the others, and bringing them together to protect the world. 

Throughout the film, Bruce is seen as the leader of the team, bringing them all together. He is an intriguing character, as the film portrays him as trying to right his wrongs, and fix the mistakes that he made that led to the death of Superman. However, the action sequences were often less exciting, as Bruce is often overshadowed by the others. This is why the character Batman is often better in solo movies, which can be seen by the success of the Dark Knight Trilogy, and the disappointment of Batman v Superman in the DCEU.  

Bruce Wayne is first seen interacting with Arthur Curry, Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), in a small village in Iceland. He is not interested in helping Bruce, and he pushes him away, telling him that he wants to be left alone. The film shows his conflict, feeling that he was betrayed by his people, the Atlanteans. He meets his mentor Nudis Vulko (Willem Dafoe) and he convinces him to return to Atlantis, as the mother box that they are protecting was woken up. When he sees the threat posed by Steppenwolf, he is convinced to join Bruce and the rest of the team. The Snyder Cut gives an explanation of Aquaman, which develops his character, and sets up future movies. 

Bruce then pays a visit to Barry Allen, The Flash (Ezra Miller), the character most enhanced by the Snyder Cut. He is trying to prove his father’s innocence, after being accused of the murder of his mother. He instantly agrees to join Bruce, because he desperately wants to be a part of something. In the theatrical release of the film, they cut out most of his development and heroism.  However, the Snyder Cut gives Bary Allen a character arc, where he finds the hero within himself, and he is a key member of the Justice League.

After Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), goes back into hiding, staying away from the rest of the world. This is until she sees that Steppenwolf invaded her tribe, the Amazons, an she finds Bruce Wayne to help her cause. Bruce sends Dianna to bring Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) to the team, and the relationship between these characters is compelling. Although Dianna proves interesting, her character is not developed well in this movie.

Another character that is well improved in the Snyder Cut is Victor Stone, Cyborg. Wonder Woman is sent to bring him on to the Justice League, and he resists at first. The Snyder Cut develops his relationship with his father, before and after he is resurrected through the Mother Box. Cyborg is constantly upset, as he is constantly hiding from the public, without a purpose. His relationship with his father develops, as at first he pushes his father away, for bringing him back  to the state he is in, but they both learn to warm up to each other. The film makes the audience care more about the character of Victor Stone, and he is more important to the Justice League than he is in the Theatrical Cut.

Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League is a great improvement over the original theatrical cut of the film. Snyder’s film developed the characters in a better way and gives the characters more time to explain their individual story arcs and journeys.  

At some points, the movie felt as if it was dragging along, as opposed to moving the story forward. Although many of the changes were necessary to give background to the characters, the 4-hour runtime was excessive. However, Snyder and HBO Max split up Justice League into 6 chapters, including an epilogue that sets up future DCEU films.

Snyder has stated that this will be his last superhero movie: if this is the case, then he went out with a solid, fun superhero movie, a massive improvement over the theatrical cut of Justice League.

Grade: B