Zack Snyder's Justice League - Spoiler Review

After watching Zack Snyder's Justice League (ZSJL), I am positive that Warner Bros. (WB) and DC were wrong to try and alter Snyder's vision for the film.  The Justice League we got to see in theatres in 2017 was a mess and the choice to try and lighten the tone of the film failed miserably.  I know DC/WB felt that after Man of Steel and Batman v Superman both failed to make as much as they had expected, there was a need to alter the tone of the film.  WB/DC looked at what Marvel was doing with The Avengers, and they wanted to have a film universe similar to Marvel's.  DC thought the best way to succeed was to copy Marvel, DC wanted to lighten the tone of their films.  Aquaman and Shazam were the first two films to really embrace the lighter tone.  While I adored Shazam I was not as big of a fan of Aquaman; in my ranking of the DCEU films article I thought Aquaman was entertaining, but a film you need to turn your brain off to enjoy.  Enjoying Zack Snyder's Justice League as much as I did is a double-edged sword.  I am very happy to get a properly executed Justice League film, but the film also sets up some amazing plot lines for Justice League sequels and the stand-alone Batman film; all of which we will likely never see.  There is a very small possibility that DC tries to move forward with the sequels, but I think the Ben Affleck Batman film is never going to happen.  Affleck is currently scheduled to reprise his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman in The Flash solo film, but I think Affleck will have no interest in solo Batman film.  I can't say never since for years fans were told we would never see the Snyder Cut of Justice League, and here we are.  

I know my review so far is more about me sandbagging DC/WB, but I am trying to give context for why I am such a massive of Zack Snyder's Justice League.  I have felt that since DC/WB tried to meddle in the production of Justice League they have made some questionable decisions.  They alienated Henry Cavill, Cavill has been a fantastic Superman, and his reward is that he will no longer be Superman and they are rebooting the character.  Since the Superman reboot news came out, Cavill has been linked with taking a role in the MCU.  If Cavill joins the MCU I could not be happier, and I am sure DC/WB will not care.  Ray Fisher the actor who plays Cyborg in Justice League has been very vocal about how the Justice League reshoots that were overseen by Joss Whedon were a nightmare.  Fisher publicly asked for an investigation to take place, DC/WB was forced to cave to his demands.  The investigation took place and was wrapped up, but Fisher was unhappy with the results; it appears that whatever the investigation found there was little to no discipline handed out to those who were at fault.  Joss Whedon's career is likely over, he will likely only get work as an uncredited script doctor.  Whedon, who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Angel and wrote and directed the first two Avenger films has apparently been terrible for a long time.  Whedon's career ended because stars of some of those shows have publicly come out and said some stuff about Whedon.  There has been a rumor circulating that the brass of DC/WB are unhappy about Zack Snyder's Justice League.  The rumor states that the studio blames Snyder for all of the bad press they have received since he was let go from directing Justice League.  DC/WB's issues are of their own makings, if the report is true then it just shows that the executives who feel this way do not take responsibility for their bad decisions.  I hope we get to see a sequel at some point, but at least I can now say that Justice League rocks.


Man of Steel currently sits atop the list as my favorite film in the DCEU, but Zack Snyder's Justice League is now number two and possibly will only rise upon future viewings.  With a running time of just over four hours, there is no denying that ZSJL is long, but as I watched it, there are no scenes that stand out as something that did not need to be there.  This version of Justice League is an epic, it is long, but also feels big.  Avengers: Endgame did a great job tying together the various characters and storylines of the preceding 23 films.  ZSJL only had to worry about 3 preceding films (I don't count Suicide Squad), I thought Justice League (2017) was a messy film.  JL 2017 was not able to pay off the previous films and cut out a lot of the story for Cyborg.  I really liked Cyborg in Justice League (2017), but in ZSJL you get even more of Cyborg and all the added material makes me want to see more of his character.  It is very unfortunate that Ray Fisher and WB/DC have had a falling out that seems irreparable unless WB/DC publicly makes amends for how it handled everything.  It is shocking how much of Cyborg's story was cut from the 2017 version, I now understand Ray Fisher's frustrations.  Not only was Fisher's role in the film greatly reduced and some of his best scenes excluded, but he also had to put up with reshoots that horrible.  I have been reading a lot about the obvious dysfunction in the DCEU; I was curious to know why the studio is so reactionary.  The answer seems to stem from Man of Steel (MOS), apparently in making MOS Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan made their film and pushed back again DC executives who did not agree with their story.  The bad blood has existed since then, and when MOS and then Batman V Superman both did not succeed in the way WB/DC expected the executives started to interfere more.  Suicide Squad was the first film that was interfered with, the end result was a film that the director (David Ayers) now does not endorse as his film.  Wonder Woman did turn out great except for the big boss fight at the end of the film, I really liked the Steve Trevor stuff in the climax.  After Wonder Woman we got Justice League and that film was a disaster, after JL we got Aquaman, and even though I thought Aquaman was okay, it is still not one of my favourite DCEU films.  One of the DC meddlers is Geoff Johns, Johns is a comic book writer I adore, but I have lost a lot of respect for him during the last few years.  Johns was directly named by Ray Fisher as someone who enabled Joss Whedon to be a jerk during the Justice League reshoots.  That is all the dirty laundry I will share about WB/DC, but as you can see there is a lot of bad stuff that doesn't reflect positively on WB/DC.

Back to ZSJL, the film is just amazing.  It is hard to properly explain how much of an improvement I find Zack Snyder's film over the 2017 one.  I will admit that I am a Zack Snyder fan, I have enjoyed all of his films with only one exception, Sucker Punch.  I know there are others that will say that Snyder's style and tone is not something they enjoy, but to me, this is the film I wish I saw in 2017.  Snyder's got such a strong signature style to his films that I just connect to, Whedon is more known for his dialogue than his style.  The extra two hours of footage is spread out with more time being spent with Cyborg, Barry Allen, Aquaman and the Amazons.  We got an Aquaman film already, so getting more of Barry Allen (the Flash) and Cyborg was time well spent.  For Barry, we get what is likely his meeting with Iris West who in the comics is his love interest.  In the scene we see Barry bump into Iris as he is going to a job interview, during the interview Barry sees a car accident involving Iris and he uses his speed powers to save her.  We also see Barry go to visit his father; Barry's father is in prison for murder his wife (Barry's mother).  Barry's father is innocent, and it is a major part of Barry's story is him trying to prove his father's innocence.  Ezra Miller is cast as Barry Allen, I think he is okay as The Flash, but I am not as attached to his performance as I was with others.  I really enjoy the Barry Allen storyline in ZSJL, I think the storyline with his father imbues the film with a lot of heart.  The scene towards the end when Barry is running to reverse time works because we saw his connection to his dad and his desire to save his dad and be someone his dad is proud of.  That storyline was not as fleshed out in the Whedon version, in the Whedon cut Barry was not the one who saved the day.  Barry in both versions of Justice League was used as a comic relief, but in the Snyder cut we got to see more of the relationship Barry has with his father.  It is a little unfair to keep complaining of Whedon's cut of Justice League, the film is half as long as Snyder's cut and Whedon was likely under pressure to keep the running time of the film two hours or less.  Billy Crudup plays Barry's father; Crudup was amazing in the role and I was excited to see him come back in the solo Flash film due out in 2022 or 2023.  Crudup was forced to drop out of the solo Flash film due to scheduling conflicts, I hope that is something that can be fixed or maybe he doesn't want to deal with the WB/DC dysfunction anymore.  Ron Livingston has been cast as his Crudup's replacement for the solo Flash film, Affleck and Michael Keaton are also appearing as Bruce Wayne/Batman.  You heard me correctly, Affleck and Keaton are playing the same character in the film.  This solo Flash film is apparently inspired by Geoff Johns Flashpoint comic book storyline.  In Flashpoint, Flash goes back in time and saves his mom, but the future he wakes up in is entirely different.  In this future he has no powers, Superman does not exist, Wonder Woman and Aquaman are in a war that is destroying the world, and Batman is actually Thomas Wayne (Bruce Wayne's father).  I don't think the film will go through all of that, but I think it will use Flashpoint as an inspiration.  The plan is for Michael Keaton to be a key character going forward, I am not sure how, but that was the rumor.  Flash is due out in 2022 (possibly 2023 since it has not started filming), we will hopefully get this long-gestating film.  

A character that has not wowed me yet is Aquaman, I like Jason Mamoa, but Aquaman is a character I just don't care about.  The Aquaman solo film did not help, and in both the Whedon and Snyder's cut of Justice League, he is the least interesting member of the team.  Mamoa has not been given a lot of interesting material to work with, and hopefully, they correct that issue with Aquaman 2.  In ZSJL we see more of Aquaman and Mera (who now has a British accent) and the action scene of Steppenwolf taking the mother box is better, but Mamoa and Heard did not really have any chemistry in their scene together.  Amber Heard who plays Mera was okay in Aquaman, but in ZSJL she has a weird British accent that just makes me laugh for all the wrong reasons.  The main new addition to Aquaman's story in ZSJL is the appearance by Willem Dafoe as Vulko, in the restored scene Vulko shows up to try and get Aquaman to take up his rightful title of King of Atlantis.  I enjoyed the scene and I thought it gave Aquaman more depth, by the end of the film I believe he may be interested in becoming King of Atlantis.  I don't think Snyder's cut makes Aquaman better for me, but I did enjoy the Vulko scene and thought that scene did add something to Aquaman's character.  

Batman's story arc in ZSJL was also much improved in the Snyder cut, those who had issues with the Batman we saw in Dawn of Justice got a more rounded character in ZSJL.  Batman in Dawn of Justice seemed cruel and singularly focused on stopping Superman, but in Justice League, we see that now his focus is on saving the world and righting his wrongs.  Batman/Bruce Wayne does not have a lot of added material, but the material we get is better.  This is not an angry Bruce Wayne, this is a desperate Bruce, he is trying to save the world and he is worried he will fail.  I admit I liked the angry Batman in Dawn of Justice and I wish we got a little more than here, but I appreciate that Snyder's cut is showing Batman to be the hero we knew he is.  Ben Affleck was okay as Batman; I heard a really good take on his portrayal.  The take was that Ben Affleck is too blue-collar to properly play Bruce Wayne, I can see it, but I also enjoyed Affleck's portrayal of "Bruce Wayne" in Dawn of Justice.  I had hoped that Armie Hammer would get cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Hammer's performance in The Social Network was proof he could play a Bruce Wayne type of character.  Hammer also has the size and intensity to be Batman.  Armie Hammer has been having some very bad public relations issues in 2021 and he is unlikely to get cast in anything big until he can prove his innocence.  There was another Justice League film that was due to start filming in 2008, it was called Justice League: Mortal.  Mortal was going to be directed by George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), and it would have starred Armie Hammer as Batman.  The film was never made, there was a writer's strike and even though it was about to start filming the decision was made to scrap the film entirely.  I bring up this other Justice League film and Armie Hammer because I hope we continue to see the character of Batman evolve.  Robert Pattinson is starring in a new Batman film due to arrive in 2022, the first trailer is amazing and is apparently based around Batman using his detective skills, something all the movie iterations of Batman don't really do.  I think Affleck was okay, and I really would have been interested in seeing the Batman film he wrote and planned to direct and star in.  In one of the scenes in ZSJL sets up this film, we see that Lex Luthor has escaped Arkham and he is now on a yacht.  Luthor is visited on the yacht by Slade Wilson (Deathstroke), Luthor gives Deathstroke a vital piece of information, Bruce Wayne is Batman.  Deathstroke was to be Batman's main antagonist in the solo Batman film.  That film is no longer happening, there has never been a definitive reason why, the public reason was Affleck stepped down from the film/role to focus on his health.  That might be part of the answer, but there were rumors WB/DC did not like his script, once they tried to alter Affleck's plan he stepped down.  I could see that being true, it seems that WB/DC started meddling in all of the films in production or about to go into production to change the tone away from what Snyder had set up.  Affleck as of now is set to show up one last time as Batman in the solo Flash film.  

One of the main components of ZSJL is Superman, even though he is dead at the beginning of the film, we get a more detailed look at him in the 4 hours film.  Superman's arc between the two cuts has only slight differences, but they are big.  In Whedon's cut all of the Superman scenes that were part of the reshoots had the same issue, Henry Cavill's mustache.  The mustache was required as part of his performance in Mission Impossible: Fallout, he was doing reshoots for Justice League during a short break in the Mission Impossible shoot.  WB asked Cavill to shave the mustache off, but it was essential for his role in Mission Impossible so he could not shave it off.  The strange decision was made for Cavill to film the scenes with the mustache and then have it digitally removed.  The digital removal of the mustache was terrible, it ruined how Superman looked.  It was noticeably bad, it gave Superman a very creepy face, similar to Joker.  Superman also wore the blue suit, but in Snyder's film he was going to wear the black suit, which was the suit Superman wore in the comics after he came back to life.  The Superman we saw in ZSJL was in personality very similar to the one we saw in Whedon's cut, but the nightmare version is where things get interesting.  Snyder started to set up this nightmare future in Dawn of Justice, we see more of this nightmare here.  When Cyborg tries to bring Superman back to life, he gets a vision of the future, we see the world in ruin and Superman holding a charred corpse (presumably Lois).  In Snyder's plan Batman would have been responsible for protecting Lois, Batman would fail, and Lois would die.  Lois' death would be the key, Batman's failure would allow Darkseid to turn Superman and take over the planet.  The plan for the trilogy would end with Bruce realizing his mistake and Flash would warn Bruce and things would turn out differently, Batman would have sacrificed his life to save Lois.  That is a very big departure, I think it is more interesting than what WB/DC will do.  The nightmare stuff is very weird and dark, but I think it is very cool, I know some people want the tone to be lighter (go watch an MCU film), I appreciate that the DCEU was going in a different direction than Marvel.  I have been a reader of comics for a long time, DC comics are darker than Marvel, not all of them, but DC does go a little more into darker territory.  I thought what Snyder was doing fit with some of the best DC comics created.  Another big departure was that little scene in ZSJL where we see Lois open her nightstand and we see a pregnancy test; Snyder was hinting that Lois might be pregnant.  Superman having a child is something that we see a lot now, in the comics and in the new TV show Superman and Lois.  There was a lot of opportunity to create a very interesting series, but WB/DC cannot settle on a direction.  I think there was room to do the Snyder plans while also doing other stuff, but that is not what happened.  We will likely get a new actor playing Superman and the character will get a reboot, I hope the reboot does not make Superman into a character only a child can appreciate.  My one main issue with the MCU is that they often steer away from darkness, sometimes being edgy is not a bad thing.  Making something that a more mature audience might appreciate more is also not a bad thing.  I hope WB/DC continue to take chances with some of the material they make, since I am not a fan of Wonder Woman 84 or Aquaman I hope the sequels to those films do better.  

The biggest change to Wonder Woman's arc in ZSJL compared to the Whedon cut is Wonder Woman's role, in ZSJL she is more like her character from Wonder Woman.  In the Whedon cut, WW was constantly fighting with everyone, she did not want to lead and had to be pushed into action.  In ZSJL WW is a leader, she is supportive of the team and she is a fighter while also having a big heart.  When Diana foils the terrorist attack, we see her powers unleashed on the terrorists, it is brutal and amazing to watch.  I know some people felt she was too violent, but these were terrorists out to kill 4 blocks worth of people, I have no issue with what Diana did to them.  Diana's moment with the little girl was nice, it showed Diana's compassion and her ability to inspire.  Diana was a more rounded character in ZSJL, she did not fight with the team but rather helped and supported them.  I know in Whedon's cut there had to be cuts made to keep the film around two hours long, but the story decisions regarding Diana look really bad now.  Diana was a nag in Whedon's cut, she was annoying and often not helpful, in Snyder's version she was a bad-ass and an inspirational leader.  Another problem between the two cuts is the portrayal of the Amazons, in Whedon's cut they were used to show Steppenwolf's strength.  In Snyder's version Steppenwolf looks powerful because the Amazons are such strong brave warriors, both the Amazons and Steppenwolf come out looking good.  Snyder's version of Diana showed a much stronger, more influential and a more enjoyable character.  

The biggest winner by the release of ZSJL is Ray Fisher, he is amazing in the film as Victor Stone/Cyborg.  Cyborg was one of the only things I appreciated in the Whedon cut, but in ZSJL he is even more amazing.  We get all of Cyborg's backstory and it crushes, some of the most emotional moments of the film are tied directly to Cyborg.  Fisher has been very outspoken about his criticism of When and WB/DC.  I think Fisher being so outspoken has hurt his career, but I hope after watching ZSJL his agent gets hounded with offers.  Fisher is the heart of the film; it is shocking how much of his story was removed for Whedon's cut.  I hope people at WB/DC apologize to him at some point for all of this (they likely won't), Fisher was an unknown actor and Cyborg is a lesser-known character, but his storyline is amazing.  I do not understand how you cut out so much of his storyline from the film, Fisher hopefully will get more roles.  I would love a future where both Cavill and Fisher become key actors in the MCU, WB/DC alienated both actors and it would serve them to have both actors join the MCU and help Disney continue to rule the world.  We see Victor as a football star (in what might be the best-looking scene in the entire film), we see his complicated relationship with his father.  We also see how Victor as Cyborg continue to have a connection to his humanity despite what has physically been done to him.  Victor in the end embraces what he has become and him putting back together the tape recorder and hearing what his father said to him brings tears to my eyes.  


I will say that ZSJL is one of my favourite comic book films ever, it is easily top five might be top three.  I know ZSJL is not a great film, but I have seen it twice and I don't see as many flaws as I thought I would.  The film is an epic, and it is a massive improvement upon the Whedon version that was released in 2017.  ZSJL is a more coherent story, it gives us backstory to the new characters, we see better dialogue, better action, visual style of the film is better, the villain is a lot better, and the score by Junkie XL is amazing.  Danny Elfman was brought in to do the score for the 2017 film, I hated the score and I felt it was incredibly forgettable.  One of my favourite film scores is Man of Steel, which was done by Hans Zimmer.  Zimmer and Junkie XL worked together on Dawn of Justice; Junkie XL's Justice League theme is amazing.  Not everyone will agree with me, but I think the general belief is that ZSJL is a better film.  The story decision between the two cuts is what stands out for me, I think the Whedon cut makes it clear that WB had no interest in doing Darkseid.  The ending where Flash failed to help Cyborg in time and then reversed time to set things rights looked amazing and felt more epic.  Unless you want to punish yourself, lost a bet or writing an article do not ever watch the Whedon cut of Justice League again.  The Whedon cut should be removed from the world and we can pretend it never happened.  One of the only things that frustrated me about the Snyder cut was that I really want those sequels now.  What was teased was incredible and I doubt we will ever see the planned trilogy finished.  The nightmare scene near the end featuring Joker is one of my favourite scenes, it connects to Bruce's dream in Dawn of Justice, but also teases an interesting future.  I never had an issue with Jared Leto's Joker, he went for something that was different than Nicholson and Ledger.  Since I read A Death in the Family, I have been waiting to see a live-action version be brought to life, I have a feeling if we got another two Justice League films there would have been a flashback.  I am talking about the death of Tim Drake (Robin), who was murdered by Joker.  In Dawn of Justice, we see in the batcave there is a costume in a glass case that had yellow writing on it "hahaha jokes on you batman".  Upon seeing the costume, I knew something bad must have happened to Robin.  The nightmare scene confirms that, and we learn something bad happened to Harley Quinn too.  I was so excited by their dynamic together, it is a shame we will never get to see that play out.  

One day, hopefully soon we will get to read a fantastic book about all of this, it will make a lot of people look really bad (they already do).  I was searching for some of the people that ruined the 2017 Justice League, I wanted to see if any had issued statements about ZSJL.  I am unsurprised by all of those people's utter silence on the issue.  I am disappointed by Geoff Johns, as a comic book writer I really enjoyed his work.  I thought Geoff Johns would be a great storyteller in TV or films, but his behaviour with Justice League suggests that he maybe should have stayed in the world of comic books.  Joss Whedon is not having a great year, he has been attacked by multiple people he has worked with, his last film has been savaged with the release of ZSJL and his career is likely over.  If the stories of Whedon's behaviour did not come out, I might have felt sorry for him, but now I get the feeling he is getting what he deserves.  I hope that Ray Fisher gets more roles, he is amazing and now that audiences get to see his full performance his career should take off.  I also wish Henry Cavill the best, he got screwed over by WB/DC, not only did he never get a sequel to Man of Steel, but he is also being replaced.  Cavill is a great Superman and a good Clark Kent, I wish we got the sequel to Man of Steel rather than WB/DC forcing a new Superman on us.  Nothing would make me happier than seeing Henry Cavill join the MCU, it would be the middle finger WB/DC deserves for not doing right by him.  Last of all, the man of the hour Zack Snyder, his film is a work of art.  Snyder is a director that has a distinct style, whether you like it or not his films are an experience.  Snyder was wronged by WB/DC, the man lost his daughter, and they had the audacity to force him out of film that was ultimately better the way he envisioned than what WB/DC released.  I hope WB/DC crawl and beg for Zack to come back, they messed up and have never publicly admitted their mistake.  I know it is not like studios to publicly admit their errors, but the Snyder cut has shined a spotlight on the dysfunction inside WB/DC.  ZSJL is an example of how a director's vision can shape a project and how a studio can smother a vision.  Zack Snyder's Justice League is fantastic and if you are a comic book fan please watch it and leave your thoughts on the film.  

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