I’m not a Zack Snyder fan, but I respect the heck out of the effort he has put forward in the correct version of the Justice League. What’s here is classic Snyder. Junkie XL’s score is over the top; everyone is brooding at times where I couldn’t help but roll my eyes, there are bizarre phallic references (this time involving hot dogs), destruction galore, slow-motion transitioning to regular then back to slow, which I swear is half the film’s length, lofty monologues and I was entertained by every bit of it. Did I love it as a movie? No. It wasn’t enjoyable many times, but damn it, the man got to make his film, a privilege that hardly any filmmakers get the rarity of obtaining in their lifetime. Sometimes you can appreciate something for its essence, even if it’s not your cup of tea. Who would have thought it’s possible?!
Even if I’m not a fan, there are things about Zack Snyder I like. One first and foremost is the man knows his material. There are various references in his movies that force the audience to turn to the comics. That’s very prevalent in the Snyder Cut. His interpretation of Batman is one I haven’t seen but always wanted to. An older gruff man who’s still doing his job as long as he can still move. When it comes to his killing, I understand it’s been misconstrued that Batman murders in The Dark Knight Returns comics even by Snyder himself. Any clarity on this would be helpful. Still, what an angle. For the first time since 1985, I felt intimidated by Batman. He finally crossed the line that turned him into a severe threat his enemies should be afraid of beyond theatricality.
Snyder was able to reimagine Aquaman in a way that didn’t initiate immediate laughter from the audience when he appeared on screen. Before Wonder Woman hit cinemas, Zack Snyder brought her back in Batman v Superman. As for Superman, finally, someone wasn’t trying to copy what Christopher Reeve has done. Even when cramming the screen with too many characters, there’s a charm in Snyder’s enthusiasm for these characters that Joss Whedon lacked in the DC Universe. Despite his alleged onset mockery of Zack Snyder’s version when reshooting parts of the man’s film, it’s Mr. Snyder who comes out the other end with a thematically consistent picture made with a degree of passion absent from the 2017 movie that Whedon made.
The backstories of the characters not covered in other films are engaging. The viewer understands why Cyborg (Ray Fisher) is in enormous emotional turmoil. It’s clear why The Flash (Ezra Miller) is awkward around other people. Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) is somewhat more of a layered threatening villain whose motivations aren’t entirely driven by himself, and plot threads that hung loose in other movies are finally answered; some even have a degree of payoff. When it’s all over, I can understand why Zack Snyder felt slighted.
One thing I absolutely can’t get behind is the aspect ratio. Did you notice how every ad for Zack Snyder’s Justice League is in a 4×3 ratio? That’s because the entire film is screened this way. Is it to emulate the feeling of catching a director’s cut on basic cable, or is it made for the audience to demand the 16×9 Snyder cut? Either way, it’s an intentional swipe at Joss Whedon that’s petty to the extent where it’s hurting the audience’s eyes. With that said, the film isn’t entirely spiteful. There’s a level of love here that only Mr. Snyder could bring to the table that doesn’t feel like a project bathed in narcissistic Hollywood ego. “For Autumn” flashes on the screen at the end of the film. Autumn is Zack Snyder’s daughter who took her life, resulting in Mr. Snyder leaving the project abruptly. Even if he makes fan material, all of this is very personal for Mr. Snyder.
Beyond what’s aired this week, I think the real story that people want to see is what happened to this picture? What has made it reach levels of behind-the-scenes drama, escalating everything to this extent? What insinuated this? Why bring up Autumn in the end? What was Joss Whedon doing to Ray Fisher and the rest of the crew that seems to be coming to light now? Make that movie next. I’m not sure what DC’s following plans are, as I’m sure DC doesn’t know either. An educated guess would be DC is planning their multiverse opposite Disney, so this may not be the end of the Snyderverse. Regarding Mr. Ray Fisher, Zack Snyder, and crew, you’ve been vindicated.