With the launch of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max, one thing is clear. This is the movie we should have received in 2017.
While it’s no secret that modern movies cut tons of content out to decrease run times over the years (while still raising theatre prices) to contend with viewers rapidly decreasing attention spans, which lead to director cuts coming out on DVD that usually fill in missing plot points and completely removed characters altogether (X-men DOFP Rogue cut anyone?). Some movies are just not meant to be cut, and this was one.
Justice League 2017 was a letdown, to say the least. Plagued with terrible studio decision-making, a change in directors, and tons of (possibly pointless) reshoots. We were handed a miss-mashed mess of a movie that seemed to force important characters together with no back story other than to simply please the comic mythos and do its best to compete with extremely popular Avenger’s movie. While the idea of bringing in Avengers’ director Joss Whedon raised eyebrows (mine included) and gave the feeling of hope that we would see Justice League handled with the same caliber as the MCU, I couldn’t help but feel the hidden powers behind the MCU wouldn’t approve of their competition receiving that same kind of treatment, and possibly cut some deals to ensure that. Now while this is merely speculation, one only needs to watch the 4-hour version of Justice League to see how such a thought can be formed.
Now I won’t be spoiling anything about the movie, and if you are thinking “I already saw the original version, how different could it be?” Well, let me stop you there as this isn’t just a re-addition of cut parts, but practically an entirely different movie in its own right. Every character in the Snyder cut is fleshed out with their backstory that isn’t just needless exposition, but essential to their character development and explains their stake in the movie outside of just being another hero fighting for screen time. Aquaman’s scenes set him up perfectly for the Aquaman movie that was released not long after Justice League 2017 and make the transition of his character development a little less jarring. Cyborg also receives a TON more screen time which shows he was meant to play a much larger role in the original cut than we saw, and in my opinion is the actual heartbeat of the team. Something that was missing in the theatrical release. Even the Flash gets more depth added to him allowing us to see him as more than a comedic speedster giving off teenager vibes but tap into his character’s drive, intelligence, and even speed force. Even the main antagonist Steppenwolf gets a much-needed do-over in appearance and presentation with his own back story that elevates him from “oh it’s this annoying guy again.” To “uh-oh it’s this ax-wielding guy again!”
The musical score is greatly improved as well opting to bring back Junkie XL over Danny Elfman who headed up the musical score for the 2017 version, and it works. Junkie XL’s soundtrack resonates with every scene well enough that it pulls you in. This is truly showcased in the completely re-worked final battle that sheds the bright red color tone (and the random Russian family) for a much darker blue that works.
Now as much as I love the movie and prefer it 100% over the Whedon take, it does have its’ issues. One being the massive amounts of subplots that can be overwhelming for your casual viewer. While easier to digest in the comfort of your home, it would have been frustrating to keep up with while watching in theatres without the ability to pause and rewind. Snyder has saved no expense in removing any signs of Whedon’s involvement, though a couple of Whedon’s edits could have synced well with Snyder’s version to make certain scenes feel more “complete”. Such an example is the future flash dream Bruce has that sees flash appearing to him with a cryptic warning about the future. Where in the Snyder cut it merely has Bruce explaining the dream to Diana with no future flash scene at all. Both scenes could have been spliced together nicely for a full explanation that wouldn’t have detracted from the story at all.
While 4-hours maybe a bit much for your average moviegoer nowadays, it works perfectly for modern home streaming services and just makes me feel that some movies probably work better as streaming-only releases. Also, with it being broken up into 6 parts, it’s easy to pause and walk away from when needed. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a must-watch even if the 2017 version left you with a bitter taste, just seeing the movie in its’ original form is a treat. You can watch the Snyder cut now on HBO Max.