REVIEW: ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ (2021) Takes Back Control

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Zack Snyder flexes all his creative muscles to create a cinematic experience that takes the best of his previous work with the heart of someone fighting for his passion.

Three years, countless petitions and endless online uproar. That is how much time and energy has been spent by the Zack Snyder fanbase to make #ReleaseTheSnyderCut a reality. Finally, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was announced that it would debut on HBOMax, allowing the next step in the SnyderVerse to come to fruition. Was it worth all that time and effort to finally see his vision come to life?

One of the main issues with the theatrical cut was the treatment of these iconic characters and how little development some were given. No such fault can be seen in Synder’s cut as the likes of Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) and Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) see not only their backstories given time to develop, but they also play more of an active role within the team. The respect shown to these characters is fantastic as we see a much deeper dive into the father/son relationships that The Flash and Cyborg are struggling to come to terms with. Even with their new abilities, the feeling of powerlessness remains strong. Snyder’s ability to let these character moments breathe is better than any action sequence that could be conjured up. 

However, it is not all positives from allowing Snyder’s vision room to breathe. The nearly four-hour runtime is staggering and will prove to be a turn off for most that aren’t prepared to tackle such a mammoth task. There are certain scenes that felt they were not needed in terms of setups for future movies that serve only to tease the fanbase more. While a lot of characters saw their character arcs improved, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) still remains vastly under-utilised and the stylistic approach in the James Wan directed solo outing outshines what was accomplished here. Action sequences have a tendency to run too long as we see every single possible action beat play out with little weight given to them. The extra time spent on character moments like Barry Allen with his father or Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Alfred (Jeremy Irons) feels much more imperative to the plot compared with seeing our heroes knock a few nameless enemies around again for the tenth time.

What becomes apparent is the love that Snyder has for these characters and the positive section of his fanbase. In recent years Snyder has been faced with tragic loss personally as well as professionally. His own art had been torn to shreds to such a state that his wife, Deborah Snyder and fellow DC director Christopher Nolan said “You can never see that movie” with regards to the theatrical cut. But now, here he stands with his vision released for better or for worse. With Army of the Dead coming to Netflix in the near future, his fortunes have turned around as he looks to showcase why he became such a powerful symbol in blockbuster cinema for over a decade. The dedication at the end of this movie to his daughter, Autumn, feels like a war cry of victory against everything in the world that has gone against him and his family.

Comparisons are always going to be made between the two versions of Justice League and that will stay with Snyder’s Cut forever. Though what will sting the most is the potential this movie had to expand into sequels. The epilogue of the movie serves as a giant teaser for what the SnyderVerse could have been with at least four different future movies teased. Instead, we are left in a situation where we might not see Affleck’s Batman return as Robert Pattinson’s iteration takes the spotlight for the foreseeable future. Zack Snyder’s Justice League will sit as both a shrine to the power of fan movements (for better or worse) as well as perhaps a painful reminder of the DCEU that could have been. We will still see the likes of Aquaman and The Flash return for their own solo adventures. Will we see a Justice League united with this particular set of heroes again? Only time will tell.

Dir: Zack Snyder

Prod: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder

Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller

Release Date: 18th March 2021

Available on: HBOMax (NOW/ SkyCinema in the UK)

Header image courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.