The Return of Justice in ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’

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“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” (Courtesy HBO Max)

By Luke Jackson, Arts Writer

 

In 2017, fans were left extremely disappointed by the film “Justice League.” It was a confused, muddled mess of CGI, bad writing and little artistic vision. There was an understandable spark of excitement when director Zack Snyder officially announced that his personal cut of the 2017 film would be hitting HBO’s new streaming service, HBO Max, in 2021. Snyder, unfortunately, had to step down from the original film amidst family tragedy, and the reigns were handed to Joss Whedon. What Snyder presents us in “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is not just a different adaption of the film, it feels like a different film entirely.

“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is the third installment of what fans are calling “The Snyderverse.” The Snyderverse began in 2013 with “Man of Steel” and immediately introduced a darker and more brooding take on the superhero stories we are all used to. It was a departure from the extremely popular Marvel film formula, and critics did not take as kindly to it. Despite bad reviews, Snyder pushed forward in 2016 with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” This film was dark, edgy and once again, poorly received. Thus, we arrive upon the 2017 release of “Justice League.”

As someone who hadn’t seen the original cut, I decided to endeavor to watch both films back-to-back. What followed was an epic six-hour journey of loss, redemption and most of all, justice. “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is a four-hour love story to the characters Snyder brought to life in his first two films, and it absolutely blows the original cut out of the water.

Every inch of the Snyder cut is dripping with passion, style and heart. Everything which was lacking in the original cut is found here. Our superpowered heroes are not simply flat characters merely meant to entertain, but gods fallen from grace, complex in their emotions, striving to protect the world they call home.

Granted, with a run time of 242 minutes, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” seems daunting. However, I was amazed at how quickly the film went by. Even though it is twice the length of the original film, it manages to feel far shorter. Snyder masterfully departs from the campy and bright tropes so common in the superhero genre and perfects the dark and gritty universe he has striven to create. The film shows violence, death and pain in a way that gives a sense of realism that I don’t find in other superhero films. There was one instance where Wonder Woman, whilst saving children from a mass shooter, throws a villain into a wall. There was an audible splat, then a pool of blood where this villain fell. This detail was minute, background and mostly unimportant, but to me, it showed the essence of what Snyder was intending.

Snyder’s heroes don’t exist outside the qualms of our world. They are not perfect beings but individuals with gifts striving to do what is right. They often fail and they always experience pain, but yet, they persist. As a kid, I always loved Batman. I would be at the comic bookstore each Wednesday, ready to pick up my new issues. Batman is a regular guy, like me; he felt alone, like me; but each week he’d get up and fight the good fight. That made me feel like I could too. The Batman of my childhood was in “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” and on behalf of my childhood self, I’d like to personally thank Zack Snyder — thank you for doing these characters justice, Zack, and thank you for coming back.

 

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