Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Abigail Larson

The original “Justice League” was released in March of 2018, but three years later on March 18, 2021, a new version was released titled “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.” Commonly referred to as the “Snyder Cut,” the film was released on HBO Max and showcases Zack Snyder’s directing.
In the filming of the original “Justice League” in 2017 Snyder had stepped down to deal with a family emergency, and Joss Whedon finished off the film. The “Snyder Cut” was Snyder’s opportunity to carry out his true vision of the Justice League story.
As I sat down to watch “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” I knew I had unfairly placed lofty goals on the film. Not only was I expecting it to be a good movie in itself, I was looking for the movie to atone for my feelings about the first Justice League” movie.
However, I knew that since I was entering into the experience with such extreme expectations, I needed to try my best to watch the film as its own separate work, so as not to waste the time comparing the two films.
The movie followed the same basic plot as the original “Justice League,” which documents the formation of the Justice League (comprised of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash) and their journey to protect the world from being overtaken by alien enemies.
Four hours later, I can truly say I tried my best. Comparisons happened, but to the benefit of the “Snyder Cut,” most comparisons were in the film’s favor.
Regardless of if you’re comparing the two films or not, I think the most shocking thing about the movie is its length. Four hours is a pretty sizeable commitment for any activity, and focus seems to be a scarce resource as of late.
Yet, I think the four-hour screen time is warranted. There are a few scenes I feel are completely unnecessary, but even without those, the movie would still play longer than three and a half hours.
Because of the number of characters, subplots and essential background information, a good amount of time is needed. Anything less would have come with a sacrifice to character development and plot.
This, however, leads me to another observation from the film that I think deserves some consideration: this movie does a lot. It’s no wonder it has such a long run time with the number of things it tries to accomplish.
As I mentioned before, there were a lot of primary characters, including the six heroes that make up the Justice League and multiple antagonists this time around. For someone who isn’t up to speed with all of the movies in the DC Extended Universe, it was challenging trying to keep up.
That being said, I really enjoyed the characters in the movie, especially when compared to the personalities that were portrayed in the first production of the film. I think the additional scenes allowed more time to get acquainted with the characters to the point where you have a personal emotional stake in their lives. The key to making the audience feel things is to make them care, and the extra footage does that for this movie.
Not all can be praised though, and for this movie in particular, it’s the ending that comes up short.
Let me preface this criticism by saying that there is a natural ending offered in the film. A wonderful, relatively happy, sigh-of-relief ending is given. It wraps the entire movie in a neat bow, or as neat as a bow can be in a film that is rated R for violence and language.
However, instead of leaving the film where it ends organically, they slap an ugly 15 minutes of new plot on afterward, which provides more questions than answers. I assume it’s all in an effort to emotionally prime us for another movie, but instead of walking away sufficiently happy and fulfilled, we leave unsettled and craving resolution. Although, maybe that was Snyder’s goal all along.
For all they were trying to accomplish, I think this was a great movie. It was a daunting task trying to tell so many stories in one film, and the “Snyder Cut” did it far better than the original “Justice League” in my opinion.
While four hours may seem like a big commitment, you might as well carve out the extra two hours to watch “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” for the satisfaction of a well fleshed out story.
It’s important to recognize that superhero movies aren’t for everyone. I have to be in the right mood to enjoy such intense action. But, overall, if you’re the type to reach for a film about the DC heroes, “Snyder’s Cut” does the story justice.