Think about all it’s taken to get here, to get to The Snyder Cut. Both from the perspective of fans and from that of the man whose name is on the film itself.
From the Man of Steel in 2013 to the tragic death of Zack Snyder’s daughter as he was finishing Justice League, to the ill-fated hiring of Joss Whedon. From the diabolical critical and commercial response to the film, to the launch of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement, through both a historic global pandemic and the dawn of the streaming age — after all of that, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is here.
And now that we’re at the end, the question becomes not about what came before, but what comes next? Wonder Woman 3 is happening. Aquaman 2 is happening. The Suicide Squad comes out later this year and The Flash begins filming next month. Will Warner Bros find themselves fending off a #RestoreTheSnyderVerse movement as fervent as its predecessor? With the avenues that are HBO Max and Disney+, will director’s cuts of comic book films become the norm? What about Ben Affleck’s Batman?
To sort through this all, we’re going to take a look at the biggest winners and losers of Zack Snyder’s Justice League in an effort to figure out what’s worth salvaging and what deserves to be buried in the past.
Given that Joss Whedon is turning out to be a slimeball for reasons far more serious than his Justice League hatchet job, for the purposes of this article, we’re just going to stick to his on-screen sins.
Some (if not all) of the decisions made by Whedon, some of the scenes he chose to cut and replace, are so inexplicable that they can only be the result of an ego trip or personal vendetta against Zack Snyder. Either way, they’re both unforgivable.
Heading into Zack Snyder’s Justice League, people wondered how different could the film *actually* be? After seeing The Snyder Cut, you’ll find yourself wondering what exactly Warner Bros. and Joss Whedon were trying to accomplish, as there’s no respectable movie fan — provider or consumer — who would deem Whedon’s version to be the superior of the two.
While hardcore comic book fans may respect Snyder’s flirtation with an evil Superman, it’s hard to see how that would ever translate to the masses. Man of Steel was docked enough for its “emo” vibe so you can only imagine the discourse if Snyder had turned the Last Son of Krypton into a tangible force of dispassionate destruction.
What makes Superman such an inherently inspiring figure is that he chooses to be a hero in spite of himself. His life would, without question, be far easier without the burden of Superman. He could leave the planet if he really wanted to and leave us to swallow ourselves whole. But he shoulders that burden of godliness for the sake of humanity. The issue with Superman here, though, is that he’s so entirely disconnected from both the rest of the Justice League and the very humanity he’s trying to save that his natural heroicness falls flat. They tell us he loves Lois and his mother, but when’s the last time they showed it.
At the end of the day, this is a Justice League movie that largely occurs without Superman. Is that what we really want?
Literally lost. Sucks to suck, dude.
If only the studio had shown some patience and taken their time to flesh out this cinematic universe deliberately, giving these American storytelling icons the room they need to develop as characters. First Man of Steel, then Man of Steel 2. They could’ve launched Ben Affleck’s Batman after that (whether it be in a solo Batman film or Batman v. Superman), followed by a Wonder Woman movie, and then finally, Justice League. Who knows what kind of conversation we’d be having today?
Bruce Wayne / Ben Affleck (But not necessarily Batman)
If you follow my writing or podcasting on this website, you know that I’m an unabashed Batman Guy™️. And not only am I a Batman Guy™️, but I happened to enjoy Ben Affleck’s portrayal of The Dark Knight quite a bit, particularly when it came to his sheer physicality. For my money, the warehouse scene at the end of Batman v. Superman is the best Batman action set-piece in movie history.
The problem for Batman, though, is that as the threats become more extraterrestrial, his physical capabilities become all the more ineffective, thus making it difficult for the Caped Crusader to achieve the same thrilling, kinetic heights that he did in Batman v. Superman.
But when it comes to Bruce Wayne and his quarterbacking of the Justice League, the character flourishes.
Wonder Woman (and the Amazons in general)
The rehabilitation of Wonder Woman can be summarized with just one image:
— Post Cred Pod (@PostCredPod) March 18, 2021
Diana Prince is a god, a warrior — not a tool to be used for cheap, sexualized slapstick comedy. The Snyder Cut understands that and unleashes Diana in all of her goddess glory, as everything she does in this film — whether it be in a battle against common criminals or cosmic titans, or simply standing around looking heavenly — is electric.
She’s got no fear of Steppenwolf and doesn’t bat an eyelash at the prospect of taking on a Zombie Superman — in fact, she seems to almost get twisted enjoyment out of the physical challenge. She’s the first one to step in front of the Boom Tube, and oh yeah, she also CHOPPED OF STEPPENWOLF’S DOME PIECE AND THEN LOOKED AT DARKSEID LIKE “Is that your boy?”. The characterization of Wonder Woman is perhaps my favorite part of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
— Post Cred Pod (@PostCredPod) March 18, 2021
Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman
Previously one of Justice League‘s most shoehorned, underserved elements have now become some of The Snyder Cut’s greatest strengths, as the reverence for Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman produce some of the film’s most beautiful moments.
Think of all the vignettes used to introduce not just these characters, but the state of both their physical capabilities and emotional depth.
When Flash saves the life of Iris West: the way the window liquifies as he pushes his way through, the way the power of his feet destroys the concrete beneath him, how he has to be incredibly delicate with Iris because of how fast he’s moving. Think of Aquaman walking out into crashing waves that would and should crush any mortal man. Think of the mental projection inside Cyborg’s mind when he’s listening to the tape of his father explaining his powers, as he comprehends the limitless potential of his gifts, learning he his the ability to flip the world on its head if he wanted to. These are gods walking among us and Snyder treats them as such to glorious effect.
This is what I’m talking about when I say reverence — while some of these moments may be superfluous, they’re also the pieces of the film that build up these characters to their mythic status.
The Snyder Cut was worth it. We won. I’ll leave you with my closing thoughts from my review:
For years, fans across the globe scratched and clawed, in sometimes uncomfortably aggressive ways, turn this project from dream to reality. No one person will be able to determine if the means justified the end, in the same way that no one hero could’ve protected Earth. But for the fandom? For the genre? For comic book and movie culture at large? Zack Snyder’s Justice League is an utter triumph, a watershed victory forged by the power of the people, the oft-commodified soul of the entertainment industry.
In 2017, Justice League was stolen from us. Regardless of its quality, the ending to a story that both fans and creators alike had invested years in was callously and unceremoniously stripped down and reassembled until it was an unrecognizable skeleton of the vision it was intended to be. The studio knew it, Joss Whedon knew it, Snyder knew it, and we knew it. And now, four years later — at the conclusion of what’s been the most fascinating saga of my entertainment writing career — that right has been miraculously wronged through a nearly impossible intersection of historic circumstances: the pandemic, the dawn of the streaming age, the unprecedented social media movement that was the genesis of The Snyder Cut. Time has been rewound, history rewritten. The masses came together to fight for what they believed in — a fight that was not for what the story was about, but the very story itself and the right to tell it. The battle has been fought and the tale has been told. It’s become a legend. It’s become a myth. That’s what the Justice League is.