Review: Justice League: Bigger, longer and Snyder Cut

By Isaiah Colbert, Opinions Editor

Ryan Brumback

What started as multiple fan petitions calling for the release of director Zack Snyder’s cut of the DC superhero film “Justice League” will now have fans singing “hallelujah” at “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” coming to life.

Snyder, director of previous DC films “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” stepped down from directing “Justice League” following a family member’s death in March 2017. This led to director Joss Whedon directing and reshooting nearly all of Snyder’s work, creating the poorly-reviewed “Justice League.”

The film’s actors and fans posted the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut on Twitter, and in a May 2020 tweet Snyder announced his cut of the film was real and coming to HBO Max. Sure enough, on March 18, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” was released for streaming.

After the death of Superman, played by Henry Cavill, in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Batman and Wonder Woman, played by Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, assemble a team of superheroes to form the Justice League to defend Earth from villain Darkseid and his disciple Steppenwolf, voiced by Ray Porter and Ciarán Hinds respectively. 

On the surface, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is virtually identical to the 2017 film but with different takes. However, this cut has a four-hour runtime with a 4×3 aspect ratio and an entirely different ending from Whedon’s version of the film.

The film is an expositional slog to get through in its opening two hours, as 10% of the film, or about 24 minutes, takes place in slow motion, according to IGN. It is a crime to have a movie that runs over four hours and uses slow motion so heavy-handedly.

The pause button, the epilogue and the YouTube-esque timestamps for the film’s six chapters serve as the real heroes, allowing viewers to take bathroom breaks.

The film could have been called “Justice League: Mandela Effect” with how many times I questioned which scenes were new additions. Viewers will likely find themselves pointing at their screens like the Leonardo DiCaprio meme at every deep-cut comic book reference and Easter egg showcased within the film.

“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is far superior to “Justice League,” and a major part of this is due to Snyder fleshing out the villain Steppenwolf’s motivations and including Cyborg’s backstory.

The writing of Steppenwolf’s character is greatly improved, making him more dimensional than his 2017 counterpart.

Ray Fisher, the actor for Cyborg, accused Whedon of racist misconduct during the shooting of the original. Fisher alleged Whedon engaged in “gross, abusive, unprofessional and completely unacceptable” behavior, which led to his character being portrayed terribly, according to Deadline.

While Cyborg had the emotional fortitude of a Nature Valley Bar in Whedon’s cut, he goes beyond being a walking MacGuffin and shines as the emotional heart of Snyder’s film.

It is easy to give Snyder flack for his edgy and at times overzealous attention to detail in adapting comic book imagery without taking context into consideration. But the final act of the film is Snyder at his best when it comes to directing fight choreography and giving a nod to DC fans by cramming as many comic book references as possible into the film.

While the Snyder cut does not rank high on my Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it is hard not to be inspired by the journey Snyder took to have his vision realized and embraced by fans.