Warning…this contains MAJOR SPOILERS…if you have not seen the film, you might want to watch it first before reading this review.
First of all, we are not going to pick apart Joss Whedon’s version of Justice League in this review. This is not to diminish Joss Whedon’s version of Justice League. That film stands alone and separate from what Zack Snyder has put together in his version of Justice League. That being said, let’s get on with judging this version on its own merits. What Snyder has put together is an opus, unlike anything we’ve seen on film in a very long time.
How Justice League Came To Be
To understand Snyder’s motivations for completing this movie, you need to know some things that aren’t widely known. Zack Snyder left the project due to the tragic death of his daughter Autumn during filming. As any father would do, he put his family first and left the film. The studio got Joss Whedon to complete the movie giving him the liberty to change what he saw fit to change. Whedon had recently finished the Avengers, so he seemed like the perfect replacement.
Whedon put together a shortened, more audience/family-friendly version of Zack Snyder’s vision. Unfortunately, the finished product has not been received by audiences, fans or the executives at Warner Bros. Whedon’s film was not the blockbuster success everyone hoped it would be. The film was part Synder, part Whedon, and less of a completed film. From the beginning, there were missing segments that were teased in trailers, but that isn’t unheard of. Then talk of altered scenes that would have made Whedon’s film make more sense surfaced online. Fans were disappointed and a bit outraged. There was an outcry to release Snyder’s version and even petitions signed by millions of fans. The studio listened, the forces came together and the fans got Snyder’s completed Justice League film.
Now, is Snyder’s Justice League perfect? No. Is it better than Whedon’s version? Definitely!
Those familiar with the Whedon version will remember several humorous scenes. A lot of those are missing entirely from this version. The infamous Flash falling into Wonder Woman’s bosom scene is thankfully a memory. A lot of the awkward Barry Allen scenes were products of Whedon’s attempt to make the film more light-hearted. Most of the slapstick is gone and with it a lot of what was wrong. Not to say that Snyder’s version lacks heart or even humor, it just isn’t forced and in your face.
It is worth noting that not all of Whedon’s contributions weren’t missed. A few scenes and minor plot points that made the film good are gone. But they are replaced with a more epic feel. What we get as a whole from this film is consistency. It matches up to Snyder’s previous installments in tone and texture. Everything fans would have wanted from this movie from the beginning. Unfortunately, it shouldn’t have taken four hours to make that happen. It’s a LONG movie…coming in at four hours and a little over 2 minutes.
Not everything Snyder filmed was included. Does that mean we might get a director’s cut of director’s cut somewhere down the road? Will Justice League become Apocalypse Now for nerds?
What Was Missing
A major scene missing that this reviewer personally liked from the original film, the Batman versus Parademon scene in the beginning. That was a gratifying Batman moment, dealing with the prowler, then using him as bait to capture the Parademon. This, fortunately, eliminated the need for the sickening siren signals the Parademons used to communicate.
Martha Kent visiting Lois Lane at The Daily Planet. This was a touching scene between Lois and Martha that is entirely missing now. Lois’s entire plotline has changed but gives more weight to her grief and more emotional weight to Superman’s return. The Martha and Lois scene has been replaced with another touching moment, but in the end, we find out Martha Kent is really Martian Manhunter.
Barry’s encounter with the bald man at Iron Heights. This scene is only memorable because it includes Marc McClure, who played Jimmy Olsen alongside Christopher Reeve in Superman 1 thru 4. This missing scene gives McClure a more expanded role in the film and more screen time. It also corrects a missing scene from the trailers where we see McClure being rescued by Cyborg.
The animosity and tension between Aquaman and Cyborg are gone. Authur mentions one time that Cyborg might be working for Steppenwolf and then it is let go. This brings a more unified feel to the team. Subsequently, Arthur’s heartfelt confession while sitting on Diana’s lasso is also gone.
The most disappointing missing scenes are between Bruce and Diana. There is no walk by the lake as Cyborg spies on them. And no Bruce pushing Diana to led the team. This was a fantastic addition by Whedon that gave Bruce and Diana some depth.
Steppenwolf is defeated; well rather beheaded. Steppenwolf’s demise is a little more violent than before. The Parademons do not turn on him and drag him back through the boom tube. Rather as Darkseid is about to emerge on Earth, Diana quite viciously slices off Steppenwolf’s head and sends it back through the boom tube to Apokolips. So much with heroes not killing.
Superman’s bright red and blue costume. We miss the blue and red; although, the black suit looks pretty cool.
We’re Happy It’s Gone
The Russian family living around the nuclear reactor. No civilians whatsoever. No need for Superman to have to leave the battle with Steppenwolf to help Barry. This was needless and quite simply pointless. Why would anyone be able to live near a nuclear reactor that melted down thirty years prior? That’s not how nuclear radiation works. A line states that Steppenwolf siphoned the radiation to use as energy to build his stronghold.
Flowers and other plantlife growing in the wake of Steppenwolf’s defeat. This was a ridiculous notion that needlessly tells the audience that everything is right again with the world. We quickly find out that it is not. Darkseid is coming.
The soundtrack. While it was awesome to hear Danny Elfman use his 1989 Batman theme along with John Williams’ Superman theme. This version keeps Hans Zimmer’s themes from Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, along with new music from Junkie XL. This leads to the consistency of this film when you compare it to the others. Elfman’s work just didn’t fit properly into Whedon’s version.
Barry running amuck through the Batcave. Although it did fit into Erza Miller’s portrayal of Barry Allen; this was mostly meaningless and not missed at all.
Cyborg’s toes hurting and Superman’s subsequent laughter. Pointless and non-sensical.
The Mother Boxes being the end-all, be-all of Steppenwolf’s power and motivation. Although they are key to Steppenwolf conquering the Earth, they are not all-powerful.
All the bad CGI of Henry Cavill’s mustache. Yes, it was that bad and hard to forgive.
What Was Added
Snyder’s version has nothing from Joss Whedon’s version. The movie is four hours long, so it isn’t hard to realize that there is A LOT of new stuff.
Cyborg has a much more expanded role in this version. His history and character are more dynamically explored and in this writer’s opinion, make him more likable. The circumstances behind his accident to his troubled relationship with his father. Cyborg’s journey is heavily explored without taking away too much from the rest of the characters.
Both Flash and Aquaman get more fleshed-out stories, but not a lot of additional screentime. If that disappoints you, factor in that Aquaman has his own solo film and Flash’s is coming soon.
Darkseid and Martian Manhunter…’nuff said.
Darkseid steals a lot of stories away from Steppenwolf. This was a huge benefit to the film because as powerful as Steppenwolf is, there is always a more powerful foe waiting. Darkseid replaces Steppenwolf in the battle with Earth’s own unity. The Amazons, Atlanteans, the old gods, and the Tribes of Man join forces to defeat Darkseid instead of Steppenwolf in the Whedon version. However, it does not diminish Steppenwolf’s danger to the Earth and its heroes. He is still a powerful enemy that, as it turns out, only Superman can defeat.
Steppenwolf is just bigger, meaner and badder. A welcome addition.
The Anti-Life Equation. Fans know that is Darkseid’s ultimate prize and motivation. The Earth is Darkseid’s goal. The movie explores this briefly.
The Knightmare Scene
The Knightmare scene was poorly timed. The scene is at the end of the film. It looks like it was added purely for fan-service and really doesn’t have any significance to the overall plot.
More F-bombs and blood. They are there, even if only a few times. And how you could cut off arms and legs without seeing any blood? Zack Snyder loves his scenes bloody.
There is so much more to take in that it would be fruitless to try and include everything.
Fans of the Whedon version and going to like this even more. Fans who hated Whedon’s version are likely going to have the same issues. There will inevitably be some converts but not too many. Snyder accomplished what he set out to do. In the beginning, there was no chance in Hell the studio would allow a four-hour cut. Snyder’s past work ensured a director’s cut of the film.
You either like Zack Snyder or you don’t, there is no in-between. Comic book fans are fickle and most of the time downright childish when it comes to screen adaptations. The success of the MCU makes sure every superhero film a difficult venture. What took Marvel over ten years and twenty-three films to achieve, DC is doing in a shorter period of time. Whether it is successful remains anyone’s guess.
For those who have been bashing the film on internet message boards non-stop since 2017 this writer would say, you got to see Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, and Martian Manhunter onscreen…together…in a feature film…stop your whining and be thankful we live in a time that movies like this can be and are made.
If you can sit for the entire four hours, then it is well worth watching. The differences in vision between Whedon and Snyder are surprising. Luckily the film is broken up into chapters to help those cursed with time constraints the ability to digest this epic in chunks.
Justice League is worth the four hours. The ending is more powerful than before and includes what the original film was missing…a sense of heroic accomplishment. This WILL be the movie that Zack Snyder is remembered for.
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