Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock for the last four years, you probably know that 2017’s Justice League was supposed to be the culmination of the DC Universe vision Zack Snyder started with Man of Steel in 2013. But when Snyder was forced to step away following a family tragedy, the producers brought in Avengers director Joss Whedon to finish the film, including multiple re-writes and extensive reshoots. The result of which was a film universally panned by critics, fans, and even some of the actors themselves.
The fandom has actively campaigned over the years to see Snyder’s version, rumored to live only on his own personal laptop and seen by few. Now, four years and an estimated $70 million later, Snyder has resurfaced his original footage, along with some new material and enhanced CGI, to create his very own 4 hour, 2 minute, 40 second opus. And it’s, well… still not that good.
It’s not just the insane runtime that makes the movie a beast to watch. Despite additional villain and hero cameos that will certainly have fans cheering, the original movie’s problems remain relevant. The story’s overarching Mother Box MacGuffins are even more confusing than before, and the same campy dad jokes abound. Additional scenes meant to personalize newer characters like Flash and Aquaman are awkward and unnecessary to the plot, and the overuse of musical swells and slow motion come off as cheesy rather than dramatic. Most importantly, the recut film spends a lot of time setting up future movies in a DC Cinematic Universe that is now very much up in the air. Future movie plans have been shifted or killed entirely, and Ben Affleck’s Batman has already been retired in favor of Robert Pattinson.
Diehard DC fans will watch this new director cut regardless, but whether anyone else should depends on how long you can hold your bladder. So think carefully about your liquid intake before diving into the spoilers below. [Seriously, there are SPOILERS below. You’ve been warned.]
As many had previously theorized, the ultimate DC bad guy was manipulating everything the whole time, at least until Whedon left him and his henchmen on the cutting room floor.
Fan-favorite J’onn J’onzz has apparently been hiding in plain sight this whole time. He impersonates Martha Kent for a quick pep talk with Lois Lane (complete with a deep southern accent sure to annoy native Kansans) before morphing back into the character of General Swanwick, a side character from both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Sadly, he doesn’t seem inclined to help in the final battle but does return just long enough to bring Bruce Wayne an ominous warning of the future. (And no, the warning is not, “You’re going to be replaced by Pattinson in this franchise.”)
It has to be said, Superman is looking pretty badass in black, and the special effects have been amped up overall. Not always for the better (slow motion battle scenes and CGI don’t usually mix well), but Steppenwolf has a totally new look making him appear much more formidable. Unfortunately…
…despite his new look, the big bad’s M.O. is now that of a disgraced bag man for Darkseid, rather than the World Killer he proclaimed to be in Whedon’s tale, making the final fight a little less important. The real fight is still to come. But probably not.
Barry Allen gets a little more backstory from a quirky meet-cute with his credited, but ultimately unnamed, future love interest, Iris West. But the entire scene just makes Ezra Miller’s Flash geekier and more antisocial than before. That, combined with his seriously awkward running style (no offense, but has Miller ever actually run before?), the new footage makes him hard to buy as a future standalone superhero. WB TV’s Grant Gustin and Candice Patton nailed these characters so well, it’s unfair to anyone else who tries.
The screen size
Fans of classic ’80s TV shows know the pain of turning on your brand new 55” plasma TV to have those annoying vertical black bars taking up a third of the screen. Industry gossip at the time of Snyder’s departure included talk of some weird film choices, like an argument with the studio about running the movie in black and white. It’s still in color, though mostly gray for the patented Snyder-gritty-appeal, but the 4:3 aspect ratio rumor was true. The bars are there for the whole damned movie.
The… what the f*ck?
Potentially trying to set up a future Flashpoint movie, Barry Allen is quick to warn that weird things can happen to time when he nears the speed of light. Which is presumably what causes two different scenes in an altogether alternate reality. A fever dream of Bruce Wayne’s introduces a dark apocalyptic Earthscape ravaged by aliens and war, where Justice League heroes are being picked off one at a time. It’s ultimately some of the coolest footage in the new version (hello, classic villains Joker and Deathstroke… as Batman’s allies?), but ultimately, it’s unlikely any of this will resurface in future movies and is all relatively pointless and time consuming.
Lois Lane’s Nightstand
Was Zack Snyder actually just trying to set up the WB’s new Superman and Lois show? A creepy musical overture and long (like, really long) camera pan across Lois’s bedroom reveals an unopened pregnancy test. Apparently, Earth’s champion of truth and justice missed the sex ed class where birth control was covered.
Jason Momoa gets a little extra screen time dramatically ripping off various shirts before diving back into the sea. So why does he always resurface wearing a new shirt? Where does he get them? Does Atlantis have a discount Old Navy he’s singlehandedly keeping in business?
The big takeaway
Ultimately, unless you’re one of the fans who signed an online petition to get Warner Bros. to release this version of Justice League, the movie isn’t a must watch. And there are certainly enough ways to kill the better part of a day.
Ten things to do that will take you approximately 4 hours:
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