ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE (2021)
An epic. There really is no other way to describe Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a superhero film flush with rich character development, stunning action sequences, and more heart that any DC film that has come before it.
Years after well-documented events resulted in director Zack Snyder stepping aside and Joss Whedon concocting a Justice League cut that left many unsatisfied, we revisit the story of Batman recruiting heroes to thwart an incoming threat through a new lens. There is no denying that Snyder understands these characters inside and out, maximizing the screen time for each and deconstructing them for audiences. In doing so, he lays out the map for how the team ultimately unites to take on their foe(s). The scale of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is remarkably grandiose, filling every minute of its brisk 4-hour runtime with narrative and exposition that enriches the cinematic universe at large. Whereas 2017’s version glossed over the deeper context around Motherboxes and even the multiverse, Snyder dives right in.
Cinematically the film is a beauty and the CGI has never been better in DCEU films. Steppenwolf is brought to life and infused with grit, violence, and untamed desire that makes his previous appearance look childish in comparison. He very well may be the best villain we have seen in the DCEU, likely to be rivaled only by Darkseid, introduced here with great fanfare. Add in DeSaad’s presence and the stakes are incredibly high. A lot of blood (yes, blood) is spilled by their hands over the course of the film.
Most impressive is how the story continues to build upon the world established first in Man of Steel and then Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. What is abundantly clear is that Snyder had (and has) a vision that was thwarted and manipulated. When given the freedom, however, he delivers (I will still argue that Batman v. Superman is a much better movie when you watch the Ultimate Cut). From the resurrection of Superman to the exploration of Cyborg’s mythos, every detail is grounded in DC lore. The inclusion of Joker, Deathstroke, and Martian Manhunter only enhances the scale of the film.
And that score! Junkie XL elevates each and every scene with inspired tracks that soon to be as memorable as the iconic themes intricately woven throughout.
What will be most interesting as Zack Snyder’s Justice League debuts and becomes undoubtedly a hit will be Warner Bros’s response. As noted in the press, the film ends on a cliffhanger of sorts and leaves you wanting, even craving more. The puzzle is halfway done and Snyder has the remaining pieces. Warner Bros. clearly fumbled the ball in 2017 and is in quite the pickle. I will be shocked if the world is not continued on HBO Max.
I simply cannot remember enjoying a film as much in recent memory as I did this absolute triumph. I laughed, I teared up, and I screamed out in jubilance more times than I can count. Not only is Zack Snyder’s Justice League one of the best superhero films in history, it is most definitely the director’s finest work to date.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League hits HBO Max this Thursday.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.