I have watched Zack Snyder’s Justice League. I have to say that I really enjoyed it. Now, I am not a DCEU fan at all. I am a Marvel girl all the way. I have had many issues with the DCEU movies. Wonder Woman was an exception – it stood out as an empowering female superhero led story, which resonated. WW84 failed to live up to its exacting standards, and reduced Diana to a girl who was not complete without her lost love. All so predictable, but unnecessary. A key problem with the DCEU movies boils down to this – the movies where they “assemble” their heroes are simply a mess. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was a mess. The original Justice League was not good, to say the least. A mess, jumbled together, and not in a hot mess way. As a movie fan (not a comic book reader) I found it very hard to follow, and the story just didn’t work.
So I pondered long and hard about whether I should even bother with the Snyder cut. Well, I am so glad I did. It was worth it. I do appreciate that it is long. I appreciate it is more like a mini series, strung together. I don’t care. I would have binged it anyway just to see what happened. I almost lost it at the end (won’t give any spoilers) in the Epilogue – I sat there and thought – is this the point where he has made a fool of me for sitting through it all? But, no, it was OK. He did not make a fool of me at all. I then watched it again (yes, for sure) as if it were a mini box set. And it was even better. I got to appreciate it even more the second time around. I am sitting here thinking – should I rewatch the Whedon version, for the sake of completion, but actually I don’t need to do that. I did not enjoy it so much the first couple of times so no point really. I am very happy with what I have been presented with here and now.
It is satisfying to see the story make sense. To see enough of the backstories of the new characters to understand where they are coming from, and why. I have seen a number of reviews of the film, where they have negatively reviewed the Whedon cut’s treatment of Diana, and I agree with them. Despite his mixed and patchy history with women in movies, Snyder’s Diana is soooo much better than Whedon’s. Whedon’s Diana is there as a sort of bolt-on, just to pay lip service to having a girl, and has quite a small part. She is much more central in Snyder’s version. She is strong, powerful, makes good contributions to the team, in her own right. As a person. As another superhero. Not because she is a girl. She is an equal to Bruce Wayne in leadership, and stands no nonsense.
That’s not to say this is a faultless movie by any means, but is does tick many key boxes. It is fun. It is interesting. It holds the attention. It is thoughtful. There are big set-piece fights which are great but not too long (I am looking at you Avengers: Endgame; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, for example). It tells a complex yet largely coherent story. It has heart and mind. And it entertains.
The use of loud, high action scenes interspersed with slow, thoughtful scenes, allows the audience to reset, think about what is happening, and follow the story in an intelligent way. Many superhero and action films are very wham, bam etc. This was not. I do not feel apologetic for having enjoyed it.
The Epilogue was annoying the first time around (as I alluded to above). The second time I enjoyed it far more. The cynic could say it was just setting up all sorts of possibilities for potential futures for the franchise. Sure. But, it also seems to situate the story in the real world. The heroes have just won a huge fight. They seem to have a happy outcome. But then, there are all kinds of other potentially bad things just waiting to come along. Evil never rests. There is no lasting happy ending. Real life goes on. More bad will come.
My parents lived through WWII. They thought that that evil had gone from the world. But it has not. Let’s look around us. It hasn’t gone anywhere. It had a setback then. That is what real heroism and living has to deal with. Yes, there are big victories and they are vitally important. But, vigilance has to be continual, and old evils can again rise, maybe with different names and faces. Such a lesson to be learned. And one beautifully learned from this rambling, eccentric, brilliant film. So, yes, thank you Zack Snyder, for your vision.
By the way, this does not mean I have shifted allegiance from the MCU. Certainly not. But it means that this is a thoughtful, entertaining, well made film. And it is well worth seeing it.