After years of campaigning, begging and pleading from the fans who were disappointed in the 2017 theatrical release of Justice League, Zack Snyder seemed to hear the cries of the many and went back to business to make his vision a reality. Zack Snyder’s Justice League was promised to be a darker, grander, more epic version of what could have been had Snyder not abandoned the project due to personal issues (Can you blame him for what happened?). While Joss Whedon stepped in and tried his best to deliver a quippier, lighter, and more colorful take akin to his work on The Avengers, it still felt like something was missing, and 2017’s Justice League eventually got buried in the pile of mediocre DC films. Now, in 2021, the groans of disgust have now become tears of joy, as Snyder’s cut finally got a release on HBO Max.
It is easy to write Zack Snyder’s Justice League off as the same movie, but with a bigger budget, and more scenes added, yet the changes on display actually add more depth than what was previously shown to us. Characters get more screen time and emotional weight, while villains are not just bland CG additions (Look at Steppenwolf’s previous design compared to what we are seeing here, and the differences are clear). There is more violence that will make you want to have your kids leave the room, assuming that kids are watching. While more locations that seem like setups for future installments give you the time to stay in its world and breathe in the atmosphere. No more do we have a brightly-colored palette, but a color tone that feels just right for a Snyder film. If you are concerned that the humor has left, have no fear, some of the jokes and one-liners have been left untouched; most of these lines come from Ezra Miller’s Flash as they should be, yet they do not feel as forced.
As prevalent as these changes are, the story is still the same as we see Ben Affleck’s Batman try to put together a crew of superhumans, from Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman to Miller’s Flash and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg (who gets more moments to shine in this version) after the ultimate sacrifice of Henry Cavill’s Superman as he tried to stop the world from Doomsday in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice; The intro, especially shows more of that sacrifice with Superman writhing in pain and the characters’ reactions to the death echo. From then on, we know things are truly different. The rise of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) is still a major plot in the formation of the Justice League, although he has more to do here than being just a villain for the heroes to stop; What, with the addition of Ray Porter’s Darkseid now becoming a major player in the fight for the Mother Box.
Superman’s return is still present, though it feels less like a plot device and more rewarding when we reach the eventual resurrection; keeping with the tone of the movie and feeling less awkward and forced. His character is still important when reaching the climax, which is ten times better than the climax Whedon showed us. Everything ultimately cultivates into an amazing experience. Whether you did not mind the 2017 theatrical cut, were skeptical about Snyder’s cut, or just a DC fan in general, Zack Snyder’s Justice League deserves to be seen. However, if one wants less color with their director’s cut, a black-and-white version titled Justice is Gray is also streaming on HBO Max!