Let me be clear on everything here. I don’t like the direction Zack Snyder took with the DC universe. Man Of Steel, as I said in my review, was a decent superhero movie but a terrible Superman movie. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice was so far removed from what I wanted to see in a Batman/Superman team-up movie that I didn’t want to see it before learning Lex Luthor became the Joker, motivations for the hero fight were questionable, and the plot goes every which way. Then there are the interviews, where Snyder says that if superheroes were real they’d all be killers and to think otherwise is living in a fantasy world. You know, like a MOVIE! Or the COMICS YOUR MOVIE IS BASED ON! So I was not disappointed to learn that Joss Whedon was being brought in to punch up the story a bit. The timing however was terrible as Snyder’s daughter had just died, and from what I heard the end result was a mess as their two styles clashed horribly.
Now comes all this talk about the “Snyder cut”. Fans were demanding this cut for months, sometimes talking about it in social media threads and site comments sections if they could at any level fudge the conversation to allow it. And then did it anyway if they couldn’t. So WarnerMedia, the merger of phone and entertainment stream AT&T and Time Warner, decided completing Snyder’s original vision would be a good boost for HBO Max, their new attempt to join the streaming craze that has hit the entertainment industry without any real thought. Fans were thrilled, but the Warner Brothers side is not because it exposes some of their mistakes in going this route, whatever my personal thoughts on Snyder’s misunderstanding of the DC Universe might be. I’m happy the fans are getting what they want (if only to shut them up) but the access media wants to be on WB’s good side and joined their trashing those demanding a director’s cut of Justice League. With the original on my DVR (via TBS) I figured why not see what the hype or antihype was about. Is the Whedon-ised version of the film really that bad?
RELEASE DATE: 2017
RELEASED BY: Warner Brothers & DC Entertainment
RUNTIME: 2 hours (+ an extra maybe 30 minutes on TBS)
DIRECTOR: Zack Snyder, altered by Joss Whedon and the WB studio heads
GROSS REVENUE: $657,924,295 worldwide ($229,024,295 domestic)
ESTIMATED BUDGET: $300,000,000
The Plot: After the events of Batman V. Superman the Metropolis champion is still dead. This is when Steppenwolf (computer animation, voiced by Ciarán Hinds), agent of Darkseid, returns to Earth, having got his butt handed to him last time by an army of man, Atlantians, and Amazons, plus a little help from some Green Lanterns. Now the three groups don’t play along and the world’s only chance is for Batman (Affleck) to bring together other superpowered heroes to stop Steppenwolf from during Earth into his homeworld (Apocalypse in the comics and cartoons, not really stated in the movie). But even the Amazon Wonder Woman (Gadot), Atlantian Arthur Curry, aka the Aquaman (Momoa), a super speedy teenager (Miller) and a cyborg (Fisher) powered by the same Mother Boxes Steppenwolf needs to complete his plans may not be enough. Can they bring Superman back from the great beyond and save the franchise…I mean world?
Why Did I Want To See it?: At this point, morbid curiosity. Even before the “Release The Snyder Cut” movement got what they wanted I wanted to see if it was as bad as people say. I heard about how Whedon’s lighter alterations clashed with Snyder’s more dark take, and it is the first appearance in theaters of the Justice League, something I’ve been a fan of since I was a boy. The announcement that the Snyder cut was finally being greenlit and the anti-fans where having a hissy fit about daring to question the great studio, source of their press announcement and interviews, all hail the studio.
The Snyder take on the DC Universe wasn’t sitting well with a lot of fans either, remember. Man Of Steel got Superman all kinds of wrong but it had its supporters, something Batman V Superman had less of, even when that director’s cut was finally released. Someday I will make myself watch and review that but not today. Making Superman into Batman was a bad move and Whedon’s additions were in theory going to bring the lighter tone DC fans wanted. With Geoff Johns serving as one of the many, many producers on this film (seriously, according to IMDB the total count of producers, co-producers, and executive producers is like 20 people, though IMDB is only slightly more trustworthy than Wikipedia…especially as of later but that’s not the argument for here) this would be more in-line with the proper DC Universe. Sadly it’s the New 52/DC You version, which is why I can’t bring myself to watch Shazam! but I won’t get into that here. This is already longer than this category usually goes so let’s get to the actual review.
What Did I Think?: This may not be a popular opinion, especially now as the Snyder fans and the anti-fan shills are at war over…pretty much everything right now, but I didn’t hate it. Oh, it has a lot of problems, but as someone who didn’t like Snyder’s take on these character I didn’t hate the changes. The tone changes didn’t bother me as much, but they were there and did bother me. Some of the jokes felt forced and I only found one of them actually funny, when Barry doesn’t realize they were doing the old “disappear when Commissioner Gordon’s back is turned” routine. (Speaking of which, J.K. Simmons does a good job in is brief appearances. He’s not only the best J. Jonah Jameson in live-action, he might be the best Jim Gordon in live-action.)
However, a number of the problems still come from Snyder’s approach, though I don’t know who is responsible for Barry not being called the Flash ever in this movie, Apocalypse not being named, Victor only being called “a cyborg” and never Cyborg proper (Fisher got to do the “boo-yah” that’s been a part of Cyborg’s character since the other Teen Titans cartoon), or Batman now having some kind of strange spider robot in addition to STILL having that stupid Bat-tank! Again, Bruce’s regular car would make for a better Batmobile. This why I give Matt Reves’ version a bit more slack. It’s an actual car, and not a racing tank or all-terrain tank. Superman’s return also felt obligatory but not really thought out, but killing him was a lame move the way this continuity handled it anyway. Snyder wanted the fame of being the first to do a Batman/Superman crossover story and do “Death Of Superman” but shouldn’t have done both together. The Parademons being dead people, aka zombies, I’m also not a fan of. What’s wrong with soulless artificial constructs? Barry is also giving the recent backstory of his dad being framed for his mother’s killing because everyone has to be Batman and have a tragic backstory (Johns couldn’t accept that Barry would become a hero because he was inspired by the tales of Jay Garrick, the original Flash, to become a cop and later a superhero so he tossed that in after Barry’s unnecessary resurrection) but they do so little with it.
That ultimately was the problem with this movie. WB wanted their Avengers without paying attention to how Marvel Studios pulled it off right. They just assumed “hero team-up” and called it good, so Snyder and Terrio had to get all the origins in somehow but Victor’s issues with his father and Barry’s issues with his own father don’t really get the play they deserve. There’s even a scene where Victor and Barry (again, their superhero names are never used in the movie while even Arthur gets called “the Aquaman” at least once and Diana at least has her own movie to carry over Wonder Woman, even though it’s also never used) are digging up Clark Kent’s body and could have a chance to bond over their shared statuses and inability to connect with anyone due to their situation but they don’t do anything with it. Come to think of it, why is Barry a teenager now instead of already a seasoned crime lab specialist who happened to get superspeed like the two TV shows and Barry’s actual comic origin?
So what did I actually like? The actors play well off of each other. Bruce and Diana has some interesting moral discussions about their inability to move on, though it’s more Bruce blaming himself for what happened to Superman rather than anything involving his parents while Diana went into decades of seclusion following Steve’s death in her movie, but the story never properly follows up on that either. The special effects are really good. There’s a family trapped where Steppenwolf is setting up the three Mother Boxes to cause the end of the world (because this movie decided to screw up DC lore the way Michael Bay did with Transformers) that are really just there to be the face of the world as they try to figure out how to safely escape and give us someone to connect to that the heroes can save later, but they somehow work. And yes, despite the clashing tones I do like some of the lighter takes. Aquaman getting something closer to his classic outfit than planned by giving in at least an orange tint, and I swear they made Superman’s cape a brighter red. Also on TV that weird thing they did to erase the mustache Cavhill was sporting in the reshoots due to working on another movie at the time doesn’t look as bad as it does in YouTube videos pointing it out.
Was It Worth The Wait: Not really. In the end there’s a lot wrong with this movie and has someone who has seen virtually every incarnation of the Justice League as far back as the 1970s I wasn’t very impressed. I don’t see the Snyder cut impressing me either but I do understand why fans want this director’s cut and I hope it makes them happy, or the shill media is going to be celebrating. Actually, I’m worried fans will pretend it’s good just to avoid it, but Snyder’s vision of the DC Universe just isn’t right as the previous movies have shown. Wonder Woman is the only DCEU movie to have worked but Snyder didn’t work on that and even that has a few lore issues. I don’t see me watching this version again and if I somehow got to see the infamous Snyder cut it would only be out of the same morbid curiosity and to do a review of it. This is just not my Justice League.