After years of hashtags and fan obsessions Zack Snyder has finally been able to finish his cut of Justice League and share it with the world. And after watching it from start to finish there’s no doubt in saying it stands tall among its fellow DC superhero films and has a few tricks up its sleeves that others could take note of.
Running at close to four hours it’s by no means a short film. In comparison the 2017 version (let’s call it the “Whedon Cut”) is just over two hours while Avengers: Endgame clocks in at three. The reasoning behind that makes better sense now as the film was going to be spending a lot of time introducing not only Cyborg and Flash but Aquaman too. All of these characters really needed their time on screen but the Whedon Cut butchered much of these stories. Both Cyborg and Flash suffered the most and the additional footage now shows how essential it was for letting audiences see why these new heroes were just as important to helping save the world as Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. That the movie has been afforded the time to give each character their moments is perhaps its biggest strength. As often seen in superhero ensemble films a lot of heroes don’t get time to shine or reveal their motivations so are left with cameos that don’t show progression in their own stories. Admittedly it was also a necessity as DC were trying to fast forward their franchise into Avengers territory (minus the lead-in movies) but what was produced here does a good job of allowing room for spinoffs without necessarily starting off with origin stories. While I personally think the length of the film was a blessing I can also see it be a curse for others if they don’t get invested enough in the film from the start. It’s the second half where the action really ramps up but for a long movie like this that’s one hell of a long wait if it doesn’t work for you. For me the time passed by quickly as I did get into the move from the start.
Visually the most striking change with the movie is the 4:3 aspect ratio which results in bars to the sides of the picture on a 16:9 screen. It’s certainly a change from the norm where the bars can appear above and below for widescreen content. I don’t think it harms the presentation at all and if you’re watching on large screen it’s still going to be an impressive sight. And with some sequences making use of verticality being able to frame more that way avoids a lot of wasted space. The soundtrack from Tom Holkenborg is great and even taps into Snyder’s previous films with a few musical cues from both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Having him return for the soundtrack (instead of using Danny Elfman from the Whedon Cut) makes it completely clear that this is entirely a product of the original creative group.
How you ultimately respond to Zack Snyder’s Justice League I think is going to depend a lot on how much you were invested in the idea in the first place. Whether that’s because you’re someone disappointed with the Whedon Cut, or a DC comics fan wanting to see their best heroes together, or whether you’re a fan of Snyder’s film making style, or maybe even someone who just likes to sit back and enjoy grandiose effects heavy blockbusters, there should be something here for you. No matter how you feel though I think you can’t deny that it’s a complete film… one that’s not afraid to leave a lot of story threads untied (like the epilogue) that we may never see resolved. If the intent was to stir the fans up again into helping Snyder see his movies through to the end I think it succeeded. 🙂