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'Zack Snyder's Justice League' Review: Long-awaited director's cut is melancholic high-octane opera on steroids

The Snyder cut does justice, and in many ways is justice for the DC legion that has waited feverishly for a man who all but wanted to tell a story
UPDATED MAR 18, 2021
A still from 'Zack Snyder's Justice League' (Warner Bros)
A still from 'Zack Snyder's Justice League' (Warner Bros)

Spoilers for 'Zack Snyder's Justice League'

'Justice League' was a dud. Zack Snyder's version isn't. Not by a long shot. It's almost as if the world wanted to see a movie made by a man passionate about telling the story about the golden age of heroes coming together to stop pure evil. And if this sounds cheesy enough, expect the whole exhaustive four-hour opera to be that way. 'Zack Snyder's Justice League' is a meticulous, melancholic slambang action opera on steroids.

This was for Autumn Snyder. The 20-year-old died by suicide after a battle with depression. This was for the fans who were not amused by Joss Whedon's fill-in after Snyder left the project midway due to Autumn's death. While Whedon blended action with comedy to make the 2017 version a damp squib, Snyder's cut explores themes of heroism, sacrifice, depression and most importantly, hope. 'Man of Steel' aficionados will welcome this epic extravaganza with open arms, and a few tears with claps while the end credits roll shouldn't come as a surprise.


'Zack Snyder's Justice League' Spoilers: How did Superman get his black suit in director's cut?

'Zack Snyder's Justice League' Spoilers: Leaked Knightmare scene has Superman battle Cyborg and other superheroes

Snyder has pieced the old version with enough new footage to make 'Justice League' a watchable affair. That he's interspersed the new scenes with the ones the world had watched means there's no room to skip the old scenes. The graphics that were reported to vault well over $70 million were worth it as he gives his own touch to Steppenwolf, the baddie who opened the gateway to introducing an iconic villain in Darkseid.

Ray Fisher as Cyborg (Warner Bros)

What makes the film special is the vision Snyder had. It wasn't perfect, but it was that charge that DC needed to come on par with Marvel. The tone, somber. The action, intense. And the comedy, sporadic, the director's cut is a slow-burner taking its time to establish the characters who would go on to form the league. And even if Henry Cavill's Superman in the black suit steals every scene he's in, Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Victor Stone) play crucial roles in the film.

Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne/Batman have the same timeframe they had in Whedon's version. A film broken into parts and a rather gloomy and worrisome epilogue does feel draggy during parts 3 and 4, but Snyder justifies the reason behind every unwanted scene. For instance, the relationship between Martha Kent (Diane Lane) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) after Clark's death is touching but could have been done without. 

Similarly, some scenes could have been done without, and maybe if Snyder did direct the film in its entirety in the first place, 'Justice League' might have been as massive as 'Avengers: Endgame' spanning three hours. The movie revisits Supermans's death right at the start that sends ripples across Themyscira, Atlantis and all of the earth. It is revealed that his death triggers the mother boxes to reactivate as they were afraid of Superman's powers.

Steppenwolf gets a bit of an upgrade in Snyder's version (Warner Bros)

What 'Justice League' lacks in the form of strong, meaningful dialogues, it makes up in high-octane action. The film largely is for the DC fandom that practically protested all over social media for the release of the Snyder Cut. The film ends with the league formed but also sets up the 'Knightmare' storyline where Superman hunts the members of the league after Darkseid takes over the world and Lois Lane is among the casualties. A berserk Superman reportedly has killed Aquaman. Wonder Woman is a dead superhero.

The team comprising of the Joker (Jared Leto), Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello), The Flash, Cyborg, Batman and Mera (Amber Heard) are the survivors and the final scene sees Superman confront them as Bruce wakes up from the 'Knightmare' and comes face-to-face with the Martian Manhunter who presents his case to be part of the Justice League. Technically, his appearance sets up a potential sequel, but with Snyder not returning to make any more DCEU films, that's a film that might never see the light.

The Snyder cut does justice, and in many ways is justice for the DC legion that has waited feverishly for a man who all but wanted to tell a story. Now he has.

'Zack Snyder's Justice League;' is available for streaming on HBO Max.