Justice League: Snyder Cut Review
The long wait is over and one of the most hyped up things over the past few years has been released to the public. For those who don't know about it, Zack Snyder was the original director of the Justice League movie which was a very rushed attempt at building the DC Cinematic Universe to compete with the Marvel juggernaut. Snyder left the project midway through and it was taken over by Joss Whedon, of Avengers fame, who proceeded to make a lot of changes to it including reshoots and removals of entire scenes.
At the time this was going on, I paid no real attention to if the Snyder Cut would ever be released and wasn't excited when it was announced but I thought I would check it out. It may be irrelevant now if the movie won't be followed on from, at least in the direction Zack Snyder wanted to take it, but I really want there to be great DC movies alongside the Marvel movies. The first Wonder Woman movie was the only one that really sticks in my mind as being one I would want to watch again.
First off, I should say that there were some things in the Snyder Cut and I couldn't fully remember if they happened in the original cinematic release of the movie or not; shows how much of an impression the original Justice League on me. Also no matter the pros and cons, four hours is a slog for a film and I'm sure if Snyder saw it through all the way with editing, some of his scenes could easily have been cut out.
One of the main positives though about a four hour run time is that we get a depth of character-building, of world building and of building up to future films in what had been a fairly shallow series of films to this point. Marvel slowly built up their world even when they couldn't know if they would be successful enough to keep producing films and see it through to a fascinating climax to the Infinity Saga. Nothing was rushed, not many characters were shoehorned into the big picture straightaway and the individual superhero movies tied to The Avengers were spaced out pretty well.
DC released Man of Steel, I'm sure with the intention of creating a universe but it felt very standalone. Suddenly, we get Batman vs Superman to introduce Batman (and Wonder Woman) and put the building blocks in place for Justice League and individual movies for the members of the Justice League. These three films came out in the space of four years while Marvel had released at least one film for Captain America, Hulk (technically), Thor and Iron Man before they got to the first Avengers movie. I don't mean to make this a DC vs Marvel battle (I have no in-built tribalism on this front) but it's clear DC were in a rush which make the films feel shallow.
The problem with DC movies is that they aren't that much fun either, besides Wonder Woman (once again). If your film isn't fun then it needs to be engaging through characters, stories and actions but DC mostly falls flat on that front too. You end up with a shallow presentation of larger-than-life characters with limited action in your movies. Marvel usually gets both right in terms of balancing action and story but if they don't, you can usually enjoy a Marvel movie even if the story is shallow.
That's why I actually welcome the four hour run time because it gave a lot of context to the DC Universe and added a lot of character depth on the Justice League members and also the wider DC Universe, not just the Justice League and Steppenwolf. This shouldn't have been four hours because more of this character and world building should have happened in previous or additional films leading up to this one. There is a lot of talking and some unnecessary scenes which pad out the run time but I don't mind it for the very reason I just mentioned. It takes two hours (the run time of the original film) to assemble the Justice League because all this information needs to be provided about these characters who we are going to have to invest in for the run of the franchise.
The action seems better and there seems to be more added in, would you expect less from a four hour film, while the battles also feel epic, something I haven't usually felt watching DC movies, and the possible endgame of the villains feels like an epic threat to humanity. This makes the ending much more epic and tense than the previous version which is all you can ask of a final battle in a Superhero movie.
While I am on the subject of characters getting more exposure, there are two main differences between the Snyder Cut and Whedon Cut and that is the exposure of Cyborg and Steppenwolf. From watching the movie the first time around, I could barely remember anything about Cyborg and I didn't even remember his dad being in the film. The only reason I remember him was because he's the guy with the body that is 3/4 machine. I feel like I know everything about him now after watching the Snyder Cut. Doing a bit of research afterwards, reading online rather than watching the Whedon version through again, there is a consensus that Cyborg was massively sidelined in the Whedon version.
I remembered Steppenwolf from the last time out too ironically only because of how forgettable he was (name aside) beforehand. He was generic bad guy with minions who wants the thing to take over the world and the superheroes must stop him. Finally we find out why he is doing it; he is trying to win favour with Darkseid (admittedly a villain I hadn't previously heard of) to be allowed back to his home planet which gives him a clear motivation while also showing the audience that he is just some pawn in a bigger game. In the original version, it feels like he is the only threat and so when he isn't show to be that much of a threat, it's very underwhelming; in the Snyder Cut, it makes sense. He is the Ronin (Guardians of the Galaxy) to Darkseid's Thanos, a villain yes but far from the biggest threat. Setting out a head baddie (perhaps I should say intergalatic baddie) with Lex Luthor and Joker waiting in the wings would actually make me want to see what would've happened next.
Batman, Aquaman, The Flash and Wonder Woman feel the same from what I remember but all get additional scenes to add context. Even Supeman is the same besides the change of attire.
Snyder seems to love foreshadowing for the future films. Subtle references are okay but we get two sequences of a future that the DC Universe seemed set for under Snyder's vision and spells out in simple terms what will happen and who will be behind it. These aren't glimpses either, these are fairly thorough scenes of the future which leaves little to the imagination. I suppose it doesn't matter now if they are not going in that direction but it's a little too much given away if it were.
The Snyder Cut release is a blessing and a curse as I was mostly feeling indifferent towards the DC Universe but this film shows what it can be, that it can tell a long term story, and makes me want to watch more if they followed this path. It may help while watching future DC films where I know about these characters now, about why they might choose a certain path or react a certain way, but the direction will be different. The films might improve and they might pick up some of the ideas but I only find myself looking forward to a follow-on from the Snyder Cut, not the original film.