‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ A DKN Round Table Discussion

by Kevin M. Gallagher, Jr
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Zack Snyder’s Justice League was released last Thursday on HBO Max, and there’s been a mostly positive reaction to it.

First and foremost, we have to acknowledge the victory here. Yes, for Zack Snyder for being able to finish his vision for Justice League. The movie, and these characters, clearly mean a lot to him, and also to the legion of Snyder fans. They never backed down from #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. It was a movement that, along with the director’s talent and passion, allowed for Warner Bros. to move forward with not just releasing the Snyder Cut, but completing it.

Take this moment… something like this rarely happens. Watch all four hours of Zack Snyder’s Justice League and then watch it again. Talk about how much you love it. Embrace what this means to you. (Just don’t give anyone a hard time that may not agree with you).

With that out of the way, let’s get into it.

Putting together any kind of roundtable discussion for Zack Snyder’s Justice League with the Dark Knight News team was going to be difficult – our time zones are all over the place, and I also wanted to reach out to others in the industry that I’ve worked with in the past, or whose work I’m a fan of. I’ll be presenting their thoughts below, along with mine, on some questions we all answered. For a full write-up, check out the full review by Adam Poncharoensub.

One final note – I’ve been a critic of Snyder’s work in the past, specifically when it comes to the DCEU. Even more specifically how he handled Batman and Superman. I do think Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill have portrayed them wonderfully, they’re some of my favorites in fact. However, for me, Snyder never delivered the versions of those characters I wanted. That said, I went into this film with an open mind.

Cyborg, Flash, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquatman - The Justice League

There’s no reason to bury the lead – what did you think of Zack Snyder’s Justice League?

I loved every second.

~ Steve J. Ray (Editor-In-Chief of Dark Knight News)

A vast improvement with character development which made the story actually have purpose.

~ James Stone (Reviewer at Dark Knight News)

Thoroughly enjoyable.  Characterization, storytelling all top-notch.  It looked great, even in the 4:3 aspect.  Wonderful watch.

~ John Hammond (News at Dark Knight News)

Overall, I thought the film was fine. It wasn’t the most amazing movie I’ve ever seen, but it’s absolutely an interesting piece of work that any fan should definitely see.

~ Erik Swann (Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend)

I absolutely loved it. Bittersweet that we finally got to see Snyder’s vision, but sadly will likely not see the follow-up we deserve.

~ Chris Foti (News at Dark Knight News)

What I think is amazing about Zack Snyder’s Justice League is that it truly is a completely different movie than what we got in 2017. As I mentioned above, as a person who has never really been a fan of Snyder’s work with the DCEU, I enjoyed it. It’s easily my favorite Snyder film in the DCEU – for the first time in one of his films, I saw the characters how I wanted to see them. I’ll put it this way – I’ll never watch the theatrical version of Justice League a second time, I probably will watch Snyder’s version again; it’ll be the one I consider canon.

Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg in Zack Snyder's Justice League

While we should always look at movies on their own merit, versus comparing them to others, I think we can make a special exception here. How does Snyder’s version compare to the theatrical cut we received in 2017 (aka Josstice League)?

There was a Justice League film in 2017?

~ Steve J. Ray

It’s 1 million times better in every way possible.

~ James Stone

Massive improvement.  The 2017 release should be consigned to the dustbin.

~ John Hammond

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is infinitely better than the 2017 theatrical cut. That version of the film is a choppy amalgamation of two different directions, this new film felt like a singular vision.

~ Erik Swann

Not even a competition, Snyder’s Cut blows Josstice League away.

~ Chris Foti

At the time, I thought 2017’s Justice League was fine (for me). It wasn’t great but lightened the mood from what I had been accustomed to with DCEU films. The film satisfied the need to just kill time in a theater for a few hours, and forget everything else. It served its most basic purpose as a movie. I had figured I may re-watch it if I was in a DC kind of mood, but thought it was largely forgettable.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League, even with its darker tone (which, again, has been something that I haven’t been a fan of with Snyder’s other DC work), takes a forgettable movie and makes it memorable. To borrow from Erik Swann’s quote, it’s a singular vision. The mistake that was made with 2017’s version of the film is that they took a 180 by switching to Joss Whedon as director.

The Flash and Cyborg in Zack Snyder's Justice League

Was there anything that stuck out to you with Zack Snyder’s Justice League? Either good or bad? Or both?

I was the most surprised at how much it was butchered for the 2017 version. Glad we lost that pointless Russian family, and spent more time with the league.

~ James Stone

Ray Fisher – brilliant.  Ezra Miller a very close second.  They got the stories their characters deserved.

~ John Hammond.

This version provides a lot of context and while some of it may be a little much, it definitely does a lot for the characters (particularly Flash and Cyborg). The length of the film definitely stands out and, despite what it adds, the film still could have been cut down by at least a half-hour.

~ Erik Swann

It’s very clear that the Flash and Cyborg really got shafted in the theatrical cut and thrived in Snyder’s Cut, now that we’ve seen both versions. It was also nice not seeing Batman be the butt of jokes and making constant one-liners. THIS feels like a continuation of the badass Batman from BvS, not Josstice League’s Batman.

~ Chris Foti

A common theme you see above, and one that I agree with, is that Ray Fisher’s Cyborg and Ezra Miller’s Flash had much more to the story than as presented in the theatrical cut. Under Whedon, they were nearly reduced to non-participants. Though, that’s not the only big change.

Batman’s story was largely different too. Our editor-in-chief, whose comments are below, puts it perfectly (in addition to some of his other highlights) – we got the REAL Batman. The detective.

Batman in Zack Snyder's Justice League

We got everything that we were originally promised, and more.

(I love) how epic it was.

 

I haven’t felt this way about a movie since the original Lord Of The Rings Trilogy. There was real teamwork between the characters, and each hero got their chance to shine. Batman was reduced to tech support in the Josstice League Frankenmovie, whereas here he was integral to both the team, and the plot.

 

I’m so happy that everything Whedon shot was excised from this version, as it jarred, and all stood out like a sore thumb against Snyder’s work, in the film we saw in 2017. Oh… Steppenwolf was also greatly improved, and Superman’s top lip actually belonged on his face.

 

As a Batfan, I should’ve been upset that the scene from the beginning of the theatrical cut, showing Batman capturing a Parademon, was cut… I wasn’t.

 

This is because Zack Snyder showed us that Bruce speaks Icelandic, and knew full week that he was talking to Aquaman from the start. He’d worked it out, he’s a DETECTIVE! He’s not a [email protected]$$ that has to see a picture on a wall to deduce who Aquaman is.

 

We got more REAL Batman, more Wonder Woman, more Aquaman, and tons more Flash and Cyborg. We met Vulko and Iris! There was J’Onn J’Onnz and Ryan Choi (the Atom, to be)!

 

We got everything we were originally promised, and more.

~ Steve J. Ray

Aspect Ratio Message displayed on HBO Max ahead of Zack Snyder's Justice League

Let’s talk about some of the things that made this different on a technical level—Do you think it was worth the runtime? How about the 4:3 aspect ratio? Did the R-rated language work for you, or did it feel forced?

Not a second was wasted, or unnecessary, in my opinion. It was all beautiful to look at; rich, deep, and atmospheric. The 4:3 doesn’t bother me in the slightest, as that’s the IMAX ratio. Now I just need to see it in an IMAX theatre in Dolby 5.1!

~ Steve J. Ray

Ratio was fine, the run time was fine with me but general fans won’t like it. If it had less slow-mo it could have been 3 hours. I liked the blood and swearing.

~ James Stone

The runtime was worth it, as stories needed telling. I enjoyed the 4:3 aspect; it didn’t create any sort of hindrance. The language was one of the little things I wasn’t keen on.  Don’t get me wrong, I can swear like anyone but I do feel it felt a little forced, and therefore not needed.

~ John Hammond

The 4:3 aspect ratio was different but understandable, given the film was intended to be seen in IMAX. The R-rated language was fine, and seeing as the film had a light R-rating, the language was appropriate.

~ Erik Swann

While 4 hours is an insane runtime, it never felt like a 4-hour movie. The pacing was great. Plus, having clearly labeled parts made it easy for short breaks if needed. Having said that, definitely some fat they could’ve trimmed, or slow-mo that didn’t need to be slow-mo, if they wanted to. The 4:3 really didn’t bother me at all and I quickly forgot about it. The R rating never felt very forced. I believe there were only two F-bombs and both felt like they fit their scenes. Especially Batman’s in the Knightmare scene.

~ Chris Foti

Four Hours?!? 4:3?!? A swearing Batman?!? What happened to my superheroes?

If I’m being honest, none of this really bothered me, either. Zack Snyder’s Justice League never would have worked as a theatrical movie with its 4-hour runtime. That said, there’s a reason this is the Snyder Cut and not a director’s cut. It’s a full-blown different movie. And I would guess that because this was produced with HBO Max in mind, Snyder very purposely divided the film into chapters so that you could easily take a break while watching it. The only thing that remotely bothered me was the language. Not because I’m against cursing or didn’t want to see it in a superhero film, but because (as John Hammond said) it felt forced. I can’t stand forced swearing for the sake of that R rating.

Joker in Zack Snyder's Justice League

It would be negligent to not talk about it – How’d you like that Batman/Joker scene?

I loved it. Then again, I always liked Leto’s Joker. I just think it’s really sad that we won’t be seeing their story continue.

~ Steve J. Ray

Awesome but pointless, had no relation to the movie.

~ James Stone

Great, it made me see Leto’s Joker in a new light.  His performance worked here, for me, way better than in SS. Great interaction between the characters, and it told an (albeit dream) story all of its own.

~ John Hammond

The Batman/Joker scene was interesting, and it honestly was nice to finally see the DCEU’s Dark Knight and Clown Prince of Crime finally have a conversation. It was an appropriately tense and slightly awkward (thanks to Joker) exchange, in what was a pretty over-the-top sequence.

~ Erik Swann

Fans have been curious how the first Batfleck and Leto Joker meeting on screen would be, and it didn’t disappoint. Leto feels like he’s not “trying hard” (in a good way) to be the Joker. I loved everything about his performance in JL, except his laugh; it still needs some work. The dialogue between him and Batman was a highlight in the film for sure. If this is truly the end of the Snyderverse, I’m glad he at least gave us a taste of their relationship in his world.

~ Chris Foti

While I couldn’t have thought of a better way to have these versions of Batman and Joker meet, it did feel out of place. Yes, it wraps into BVS, but in a forced way. If it was setting up a sequel (which, in a way, it does), I would be more into it. That said, I enjoyed it. It was great to see Batfleck interact with Leto’s Joker. And this version of Leto’s Joker was infinitely better than in Suicide Squad.

Superman in Zack Snyder's Justice League

So, #RestoreTheSnyderVerse? Do you want more from this world that Zack Snyder created?

Absoluckinfutely.

~ Steve J. Ray

Yes, give me JL2 and 3 as planned.

~ James Stone

Simple answer – Yes! Very much so, this has whetted my appetite for more.

~ John Hammond

As I was with the Snyder Cut movement, I’m pretty indifferent to reviving Zack Snyder’s universe. If we don’t get more, I won’t be upset, and if we do, I’ll check it out and go in hoping for the best.

~ Erik Swann

100% yes. If it wasn’t clear enough in Batman v Superman, ZSJL hammers it home that Snyder was building this grand story, and it would be a shame to not see it through. If the Snyderverse was relegated to only be HBO Max originals, while the “real” DCEU gets theatrical releases, that would be a good compromise. Unfortunately, I don’t think Snyder would see it that way, and I don’t blame him. On the other hand, it might make it easier for him to make more 4-hour movies!

~ Chris Foti

Before seeing Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I would have said no, and, while I’m not clamoring for more of Snyder’s take on these characters, I am more intrigued. In a world where the director likes to spend a lot of time with these characters, I think I’d be more interested in a follow-up Max Original series from him. I think he could probably deliver a killer two-season arc to follow up Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Perhaps Justice League: Knightmare and Justice League: For the Bat. Just spit-balling here, but I do think giving Snyder more time would be beneficial for the story he’s looking to tell here.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League – Conclusion

As I said at the top of this article, I’m not a huge fan of Snyder’s take on the DCEU. Does Zack Snyder’s Justice League feel like a good movie, just because we’re comparing it to the 2017 version? Is it better now that we’ve seen some solo films (Man of Steel, BvS, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, etc.) before this version, making us more invested in these characters?

Perhaps it is just a good movie, but whatever the reason, I’m happy that it exists. I’ll be sad to lose some of these characters going forward, but stranger things have happened. Perhaps the Snyderverse will be restored.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to contribute to this article with their own thoughts about Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

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