After Superman’s death, Batman decides to gather a team of heroes to stop a prophecy from passing. With the director’s original vision this goes bigger and bolder.
I’ll be the first to tell you, I don’t like Zack Snyder’s vision for these heroes, yes he can do some pretty looking shots, but I often find his work shallow. This is not meant to trash the man, I don’t know him, I’ve heard nice things, but in some interviews I find his words to be careless, especially in regards to this... okay you know what? Before I review this I should introduce a new segment, sometimes some movies are surrounded by real world events that must be discussed, which is what I’ll do now.
What Happened Around This?:
So, at this point it should be known that this project is the result of a bunch of fans harassing and bullying people online... Yes, seriously, obviously not all did, some fans are nice, but it’s a lie to suggest that a large portion online are not. As a Sonic fan, a Star Wars fan and even an MCU fan (realistically a film fan in general as both sides to that Scorsese thing is annoying) I get it. It sucks to have your positive love be represented by the worst people, but you have to accept that they are the face of this, whether you like it or not.
While some may laugh at the idea of toxicity causing a studio to deliver (which itself is a pretty toxic reaction); never forget that while yes, WB never got a gun to it’s head to make this, the interns, or whoever ran their Twitter/social media accounts were bombarded with constant messages to make the fabled Snydercut a reality. Some messages just voiced concern sure, but so many were much more insulting, and that’s without getting to how much this was spammed. Yes they spammed this to unrelated tweets, ones announcing stuff for cartoons, or acknowledging Kobe’s death (yes I remember this happened) and of course harassed anyone who suggested it didn’t exist/wasn’t completed. Fans of course cried it was real, until WB announced it would be spending money (70 million dollars) to complete it, which then lead to those same fans acting like their stance was that it just needed to be finished, which is what detractors mostly said to begin with... Look I’m not here to explain the entire history in detail, I’m just recounting the basics, so if I’m mistaken in parts you’re missing the point. There was a lot of toxicity in the demand for this, so much so, that even if I wanted it I would not be happy that this is how we got it. I don’t like Pokémon fans who demand the national dex from Gamefreak by insulting them, I don’t like that they harass people who liked the recent games, I don’t like that negativity even if I get something nice out of it. Even if I loved Snyder’s work I wouldn’t want them to release this because it fuels entitled assholes. It’s here though and it got made the way he wanted, so it’s a win for him, which is fine, but it’s also a win for entitled toxic fans, which feels like a loss.
I think I should make it clear, I don’t hate Zack Snyder as a person, I don’t know him, most detractors don’t hate him. It’s easy to hate someone for the work you disliked from them, but eventually you have to accept that someone’s work quality isn’t proof of who they are as people, John Lasseter is a monster who made great Pixar films, Adam Sandler is consistently said to be one of the nicest celebrities in film. Zack Snyder is consistently said to be a nice guy, I sympathize with his loss, and from a no context standpoint, I respect that he got to finish his vision for a film he couldn’t complete. Unfortunately, I also believe his work is often not good, sometimes bad, and in the case of Batman v Superman, the worst I ever saw in theaters. I don’t think he’s right for the material and would rather see him do other things, some people are just not right for some things. My point is that we all need to chill about who likes what, and who doesn’t, no one benefits from constant immature fights, I don’t have to trash fans of Snyder for loving his stuff, you don’t have to trash me for not liking his work, but if you do I will not tolerate it. Sadly, so much of the Snyder fandom has been people who trash others for not liking his work, which has just left a bad mark on DC for years.
At the end of the day, I’m certainly glad whenever someone gets to make their dream project (so long as they’re not toxic people). Zack Snyder seems to be nice, though some of his responses can be a bit careless (look, saying his fans were the nicest felt incredibly cruel to many who’ve endured the wrath of large portions of the toxic fandom) which makes this success feel bittersweet. It also hurts because there have been many other directors who were screwed on their vision (David Ayer on Suicide Squad, Richard Williams on The Thief and the Cobbler, just to name a few) and never got their true cut, guess they needed loud toxic fans... but that’s my bitterness speaking, Zack got his shot, so now let’s see what he made.
The Review...For Real
My thoughts on the original theatrical cut of Justice League? Not bad honestly, it was a mess, but a mess with some decent ideas and moments. Yes, there’s some bad jokes that are now worse due to what we know of Whedon, but I didn’t hate it upon initial viewing. Superman, as awkward as the cg mouth thing was, did start feeling more hopeful and fun like the comic book character I love, that alone made me happy. Still, the movie was clearly a mess due to WB kicking out it’s director (though given what he went through with his daughter having died by suicide, likely would’ve happened regardless) and hiring another person to complete it while doing damage control on a franchise that had a bad reputation already was a recipe for disaster. What I’m saying is that while many choose to blame Joss Whedon (a creep for sure) I think this was always destined to be a mess in 2017. I found it to be a decent enough mess, but I wouldn’t defend it from those who disliked it, now that we can see the original vision though, it’s more competent, less messy, and yet my overall feeling is that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is still just okay.
I honestly had no hope for this thing, so I suppose this is a win, action beats are better, story threads make more sense, I was amused throughout the four hour film. While not a masterpiece, Zack Snyder finally made one of these I can say I enjoyed overall, so good on him, but it’s a lukewarm victory. Not just because of the way it came about, but seeing the finished product just shows that for all his visual talent, Zack still needs someone to rein him in, longer doesn’t mean better, at times you can find the parts that could be cut. There’s no denying characters like the Flash and Cyborg are improved here, but there’s no reason that it takes them an hour to join the film proper. The Flash even gets a pointless intro where he saves Iris West, I know who Iris is, but she adds nothing this story, why include it? The film is full of teases like that, most would be better off left as deleted scenes, or included in a feature that would utilize them. We even get another pointless trip to the “Knightmare” future which adds nothing, in fact it pads out a film that had already ended, closing on Cyborg’s emotional conclusion is better than telling me what to expect 20 films from now.
Every positive review for this has emphasized on that one front, Cyborg is the heart of the film now. While I think many are overstating his importance, I can’t deny Cyborg is much improved in this, I disliked that it took an hour for him to start doing things in the movie, but he is a better character. We understand his struggle more, Cyborg is allowed to find his humanity despite his appearance, it’s all solid stuff that I’m shocked was completely gutted in the first cut of the film. I still think the film would benefit from some more moments showing his inner struggle, so long as it replaced other moments the film didn’t need.
The rest of the cast though, I’d argue remain mostly the same. The Flash gets some better scenes, so he improves on the action but he is mostly the same personality wise. Batman and Aquaman, while some of their sillier banter is lost, still left me feeling the same as I did in their theatrical cut, which surprised me that some of what I thouoght were Whedon additions, were there all along. Wonder Woman is also improved, largely due to a lack of sexist jokes and choices at her expense, but I can’t say it’s anything that made me too crazy with joy. In a similar manner, the film’s villain, Steppenwolf is better, due to a goofy, but more memorable design, adding back that he is just a soldier of Darkseid, and making him desperate to repay his debts made him at least more focused as a villain. Overall this certainly feels like everyone was on board for this version, the sole excepton being Henry Cavil, I liked that theatrical version, he was joyful, kind and fun, this one loses that humanity which makes it the one area that got downgraded. Yes the CG mouth effect was bad, but if Whedon got anything right, it was seeing Superman talk with kids, seeing Superman stop fights to save people, and yes even Superman racing the Flash for a cute mid credits gag. Beyond Supes and Cyborg though, it mostly left me feeling the same, so again not bad, just not great.
It’s funny, for as much as I was told this would change the movie, the substance remains largely the same. Yes, scenes are expanded, things are better explained and on those points the movie is overall better, but the message remains largely the same. It’s still a movie about Batman trying to get a team together to stop a bad guy, Superman being dead is still the reason this must happen, his revival is the solution, the ingredients are the same, but the use is what matters. I should be much more positive to this movie, it is better in its usage of its subjects, but the lack of a kind, inspiring Superman really hurts this for me and yes, the long, needless scenes that pad this out make it drag more than it should. A leaner movie would make this an easier sit and a better one, but I still enjoyed it overall so I guess it’s a win.
While there’s no denying this movie came about due to some toxic campaigns, it is nice to see a director get his vision on screen. There’s no excuse for the harassment, I’m glad WB is essentially sticking to their guns on not doing more Snyder films, instead of giving toxic fans more power. Still I hope the luck and kindness given to Snyder is someday given to another movie with less toxicity around it. While this is definitely the better made movie, I feel no stronger about this than I did about the theatrical cut, they’re both fine for me for different reasons, but still just fine. I appreciate that Cyborg got a bigger role, POC actors getting more recognition is nice, but I still wish Superman would be more inspiring than Snyder has made him. It’s fine, if you love these movies you’ll love this, if you don’t you might be surprised, but no guarantee. Zack Snyder producing a DC movie I feel pretty positive about though is a win so consider the Snydercut a success born of toxic cults.
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Written By Octaviano Macias