• February 4, 2023

‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ : NPR

Zack Snyder directs Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot on the Justice League set. Clay Enos / HBO Max hide caption

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Sound Enos / HBO max

Zack Snyder directs Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot on the Justice League set.

Sound Enos / HBO max

Let’s get this out of the way first. Yes, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a little over four hours long.

Four. Hours long.

But somehow it feels like the right length for a film that has moved mountains – and According to reports, around $ 70 million has been spent over the original blockbuster budget – Reinvent one of the greatest superhero movie bombs of recent times.

And here’s the thing: it actually works. In more than I ever expected.

Meanwhile, the backstory has become something of a superhero movie legend. Director Zack Snyder struggled with a lot of second guesswork in the film studio while making Justice League, a major film about building the universe of superhero characters from DC Comics. Perhaps the disappointing public reaction to Snyder’s take on Superman in Man of Steel 2013 and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 had terrified corporate suits at Warner Bros. Pictures.

When Snyder’s daughter died in early 2017, the director left Justice League production and let Joss Whedon, director of Marvel’s first two Avengers films, take over. Judging from Snyder’s version, Whedon must have completely retooled the film and created a schizophrenic two hour cut with lots of extra scenes that sometimes felt like two different films playing at the same time.

I may sound like the biggest comic book / superhero story freak, but it has to be said, ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ is a much better movie.

With an avalanche of horrific reviews and a reported budget of $ 300 million, the film lost millions to Warner Bros. But passionate fans and a few stars from the film kept hope alive – yes, there were billboards, social media campaigns and signs pulled by airplanes. Convince Warner Media that the release of Snyder’s mega-version would mark a much-needed superhero event for its corporate relatives, streaming service HBO Max.

I may sound like the biggest comic book / superhero story freak, but it has to be said: Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a much better movie. Especially since there are some critics – and movie buffs – who would probably prefer a bullet in the head than enduring four hours of CGI-enhanced fist fights and flight sequences.

See, I’m usually pretty cynical about director cuts and expanded versions of theatrical releases. As much as I love James Cameron’s Aliens and the extra scenes he added in his Director’s Cut, the original theatrical release was a much leaner and more focused story. After seeing the new director’s edit of Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather III, I wondered why he even bothered – none of his narrative problems were cured by Coppola’s new take on it.

Most theatrical releases contain the best scenes in the film, regardless of what else is thrown in by a director’s cut. Not so with Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which features an entirely different narrative, beginning, ending, and scope to give a glimpse into the bigger story he was headed towards all along. All of this married to the kind of dazzling visual sequences that once made Snyder the perfect steward of the DC Extended Universe in the movie.

Gone is much of the hokey humor Whedon seemed to put in to offset criticism of Snyder’s relentlessly dark vision (Whedon’s name has also disappeared from the credits of this new movie, suggesting that they exorcized every bit of his material).

A super team gathers to get over

Superman and Cyborg don’t joke about being patted on the buttocks at the end of the movie. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Batfleck – I mean, Ben Affleck’s Batman – don’t exchange jokes about a son of Atlantis talking to Pisces. And luckily, one scene where Flash lands on Wonder Woman’s breasts after saving them from falling debris – an awkward piece of sexualization played by Gal Gadot Reportedly refused to film, Whedon forced to use a stunt double – was also cut.

Snyder’s setting is also an R-rated version. There’s more blood and gore than typical big budget superhero stories. Batman and other characters use the F-word and there is a scene where more than one hero actually murders a villain. Welcome to the Snyderverse.

It makes sense that a movie that existed because of the fans would work so hard to please them. So there are depictions of cool characters from the comics that we haven’t seen on the big screen before. Martian Manhunter and Deathstroke make an appearance, along with expanded footage from Darkseid and his lieutenants like Granny Goodness.

Steppenwolf, the main villain of the Justice League, looks more deadly and less human, and his mission to prepare the earth for Darkseid’s conquest – inspired by the stories of comic book legend Jack Kirby’s New Gods – becomes clearer.

There are also extended backstories to Ezra Miller’s Flash and Ray Fischer’s Cyborg. Fisher, in particular, can shine as we learn more about why Cyborg hates the father who, after a terrible car accident, used an alien machine to save his life and add unknown technology to his body.

And of course there is a newly filmed epilogue based on the story of the Injustice graphic novel series. There are a few surprises for the fans so I won’t go into much detail here. But it does help illustrate a scratchy moment from Batman versus Superman, and features a cameo of a character who is a little disappointed in the Snyder era of DC superhero films.

There are other problems here too. This new Justice League is still full of computer generated effects that make the action unreal. Aside from Gadot’s Wonder Woman and the Amazons at the beginning of the film, the female characters here are mostly grumpy and make little use of other than helping the men.

The main story – a group of underdog heroes must get out of their way to band together and defeat a world-threatening villain who is supported by another, worse villain – is also the story from Marvel’s first Avengers film in 2012.

Honestly, this should have been a streaming project all along, considering how much history Snyder wanted to put into a motion picture.

And it’s four. Hours long. Honestly, this should have been a streaming project all along, considering how much history Snyder wanted to put into a motion picture. It’s hard to imagine the audience sitting in a theater for a movie that long. So you have to wonder what Snyder was thinking when he was shooting so much footage in the first place.

Joss Whedon’s reputation has taken a hit since the original Justice League was released, with Fisher specifically claiming Whedon abused on the set and oversaw changes to the story that reduced or eliminated the roles of non-white characters in the film. (In fact, black characters like Cyborg’s parents and Flash’s love interest Iris West are reappearing or getting more time in Zack Snyder’s Justice League).

Warner Bros. has denied Fisher’s claims that executives there obstructed an investigation into the role of studio executives in enabling Whedon. WarnerMedia announced in December that his investigation was complete and unspecified “corrective action” had been taken.

It’s hard not to see Zack Snyder’s Justice League as a last-ditch effort to save the film and its characters from the vortex of failure, toxic rumors, and off-screen intrigue that seemed to have surrounded the project for many years.

Along the way, it gives fans a tantalizing glimpse of a world that could have been – the best iteration of Snyder’s vision for the DC Universe in the film, taking advantage of the second chance rarely seen in Hollywood.



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