Finally out around the world is Zack Snyder’s Justice League cut – and here’s a look, with spoilers, as to how it upgrades the 2017 cut.
Huge spoilers lie ahead. Last warning!
It’s been a long and troublesome road to this day, the day that the world finally sees Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
Whether this day should have ever come, due to the extreme toxicity from some of the people demanding to see what they thought was the accurate version of the 2017 superhero film Justice League, is a discussion that’s not going away. But for now, I’d suggest let’s just be grateful that Snyder’s original vision is indeed the superior version of the two films.
It seems unlikely that anyone remembers Justice League with particular fondness; it was barely coherent, tonally messy and a very bland superhero film. Although Snyder is still credited as the director of that, the director has reportedly never seen that version which was largely re-shot and re-edited by Joss Whedon. More and more of that particular tale continues to emerge. Here, though, Zack Snyder rights wrongs in his four-hour cut of the story, starting with the very beginning of the film.
The biggest issue plaguing the original cut of Justice League was the fact that it didn’t make any sense. There was no real explanation what caused the Mother Boxes to activate in the movie or why antagonist Steppenwolf would be so keen to collect them all to create the Unity. Zack Snyder’s Justice League thus begins with Superman’s noble, yet traumatic death in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, an event which shakes the universe to its core so much that it activates the Mother Boxes, including one in Victor Stone’s closet which seems like a silly place to hide an intergalactic box of deadly magic. It also brings Steppenwolf to Earth with plans to invade our planet in the name of Darkseid, a villainous figure to whom he is in serious debt.
The second biggest improvement with the new take on the film is the character of Victor Stone aka Cyborg. Cyborg was dealt a terrible card in the 2017 version, with his role reduced to that of a supporting character, mostly there to deliver exposition. But in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Cyborg – played by Ray Fisher – becomes the heart of the film. We witness Stone as a happy teenager playing football followed by the car crash that killed his mother and nearly killed Victor, before his father pulled the Mother Box out to save his son, with terrible consequences.
Victor’s relationship with his father Silas is that of textbook superhero stuff; it demonstrates the strain of being superhuman and the conflicting emotions that often brings to our wary heroes. Victor struggles with his new identity and his new body, and deeply resents his father. But ultimately, is heartbroken when Silas sacrifices himself for the greater good.
Another superhero getting a better treatment here is Barry Allen, also known as The Flash. In the 2017 version, The Flash was mostly used for jokes and he was insecure in his own powers and his new identity and responsibility as a hero. Here, Barry is still fun and is sure to get a few good chuckles out of the fans, but we’re also introduced to some pretty gigantic new powers of his.
As in the 2017 version, Flash must touch the Mother Box just as it in turn touches the watery goo the Justice League members have laid Superman’s body in, in order to bring him back from the dead. It’s all fun and games in the previous cut, but here, The Flash misses his window but is able to rewind time in order to hit the Mother Box at the right moment. That’s right, in addition to being very fast, The Flash can manipulate time. And that’s not all.
During the climactic battle in Russia, The Flash must generate “a catastrophic power surge” in order for Victor to destroy the boxes from within. When Barry pushes himself to run as fast as he possibly can, this is known as Speed Force.
Why is this significant? Because it allows Barry to not just manipulate time, but to travel through it. This will most certainly come into play in the character’s solo movie which will be directed by It’s Andy Muschietti. What’s more, if Warner Bros does decide to continue the storylines set up here, The Flash could be a key player in stopping the scenario present in that Knightmare timeline, which we get not one but two glimpses of.
Hotly anticipated by fans and a continuation of the bleak, trippy scene in Batman V Superman and a shorter vision experienced by Victor in Justice League, the bigger Knightmare sequence occurs at the very end of this cut. It shows another version of the timeline, one in which Steppenwolf and Darkseid won, created the Unity and destroyed Earth as we know it. This time around, Batman shows up with Mera, who is ready to avenge the death of Arthur Curry, The Flash, Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello) and Jared Leto’s Joker.
That’s right, Aquaman is dead and Batman has made a pact with Deathstroke, who just minutes earlier was established as a potential future villain while meeting with Lex Luthor to plot Batman’s demise and Joker of all people. Wild stuff, but the scene continues to tease us with Joker bringing up “wonder boy” and his death, presumably Robin.
While Zack Snyder’s Justice League is most likely going to become a little treat for the fans rather than actual canon, it’s hard not to wonder the possibilities there now are. Darkseid is very clearly set up as a Thanos-like big bad for the DC Extended Universe. The Knightmare vision Cyborg experiences also teases just how Superman would turn evil, after witnessing the death of Lois Lane whose decimated skeleton Superman cradles. Then there’s Darkseid arriving and gently placing his rather large hand on Superman’s shoulder. Joker later mentions how Batman is to blame for Lois’ death, directly leading to the end of the world. All much darker threads than we got first time around.
Just when you thought you were done, Harry Lennox shows up as the Martian Manhunter, offering his assistance to Bruce Wayne after he wakes up from his Knightmare. It’s a significant upgrade.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is jam-packed, maybe too much so, of fan service and genuinely exciting moments. I’d also argue it’s certainly a better, more well-rounded version of the same story with clearer character motivations and hugely improved emotional beats. Still, it’s also still an end point for where the DC Extended Universe was going, with threads unlikely to be tied to future DC movies. For that to have happened, this cut in some form is four years too late. The fact that it exists at all though is really quite something.
Thank you for visiting! If you’d like to support our attempts to make a non-clickbaity movie website:
Buy our Film Stories and Film Stories Junior print magazines here.
Become a Patron here.