A casual fan’s guide to ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’
Not because Orson Welles’ The Other Side of the Wind, recently revived by Netflix, has lost a pop culture project that has sparked so much campaign and curiosity.
In fact, you may need to go back to some of the forever lost works, such as Dr. Dre’s Detro or Jerry Lewis’ The Day the Clown Cried, to find the feverish speculation and intense anticipation that accompanied the Justice League. by Zack Snyder, who finally made his HBO Max debut today.
Anyone with complete experience in the world of comics and comics now knows the whole miserable story. For those who may have seen Wonder Woman and Aquaman, but generally have not necessarily watched every release on the DC Extended Universe, however, all this talk on the Internet about the “release of Snyder Cut” is rather rather confusing.
Now that the four-hour beast is right outside your door, here are five things casual fans need to know before they leave.
The story behind the production
DC arrived late to the party of the extended universe. Zack Snyder (300) was in post-production on the Superman reboot, Man of Steel, when Marvel’s Avengers hit theaters in the summer of 2012, forever changing the course of the blockbuster franchise. Criticized as exaggerated and indifferent, Man of Steel earned more than $ 171 million at the domestic box office and Snyder won a bigger role: taking the Justice League, the Avengers DC, to the ASAP theaters.
By the summer of 2016, when Snyder finished shooting Justice League, which was originally a two-part film, things had changed dramatically.
The 2016 sequel to Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, had not made as much money as its predecessor, despite the presence of Batman, and was rated even worse by critics. Warner Bros. executives were worried about being hit by an ongoing phenomenon at the Avengers level and dropped several secretaries into the re-writing project, most notably Joss Whedon, writer-director of Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, which once launched a Wonder Woman movie. Between studio pressure and falling from a personal tragedy, Snyder eventually abandoned the film after production. At this point, Whedon was hired to complete the project, and even gave a budget for a restart.
The resulting film – in which Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) bring together The Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) to defeat a global threat – won marginally better critical reception than Batman v Superman, but earned significantly less money. He also failed to capitalize on the huge success of Wonder Woman about four months earlier. Although the DC Extended Universe has had some real success since then, including Aquaman and Shazam, the lack of connection between these films and the Justice League and its accompanying mythology has only been seen as a benefit to their success.
In the years that followed, the most vocal defenders of DC movies argued that if Zack Snyder had been allowed to see his vision until completion, the Justice League would have been much better. Fans quickly found 130,000 signatures for a report asking Warner Bros. to release a director cut. By January 2018, they had created the website, ForSnyderCut, full of ideas to continue the campaign. Snyder himself soon began teasing elements that had been cut from the release of his film, and later encouraged his stars to repeat the growing fanfare of the studio at #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. The advertising campaign around this mythical film was somewhere between a conspiracy theory and a joke played by Elon Musk. In a way, it worked. So much has happened between the initial release and Warner’s announcement in May 2020 that Zack Snyder’s Justice League would finally hit HBO Max could fill a book. (Actually, he did.)
(Left to right) Ben Affleck as Batman / Bruce Wayne and Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman with director Zack Snyder on Zack Snyder’s Justice League set [Photo: courtesy of HBO Max]
What you need to know about other DC movies
While it is a marathon task to accelerate a simple Marvel fan before a random screening of Avengers: Endgame, the Justice League is a comparatively light lift. It probably has to do with the fact that almost 20 films preceded the final (for now) Avengers movie, while only four came before the Justice League. Here are the most relevant plot points.
Man of Steel: All you need to know is that he ends up with Superman (Henry Cavill) destroying large parts of Metropolis and the neighboring town of Gotham, during the climate war with General Zod (Michael Shannon).
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: The two heroes disagree throughout the film, in part because the chaos at the end of Man of Steel hit a Wayne Enterprises building, killing several Bruce Wayne employees. In the middle of the road, Wonder Woman enters the battle and eventually invades Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) ‘s computer, learning about the existence of other heroes like herself. Eventually, Superman dies fighting Batman with the villain CGI Doomsday, created by Luthor, who ends the movie in the superjail. Batman is blamed for Superman’s death.
Wonder Woman: Although the Justice League is doing a decent job of proving that Wonder Woman comes from a tribe of Amazon female warriors, knowing that even before the start of the newest movie can save viewers a few moments to wonder who she is. Mrs. Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) when she and many of her friends show up.
Suicide Squad: Nothing about this is necessary prior to Zack Snyder’s Justice League, other than knowing who the team members are, to prepare a particular cameo.
(Left to right) Jason Momoa as Aquaman / Arthur Curry, Ray Fisher as Cyborg / Victor Stone and Ezra Miller as The Flash / Barry Allen in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. [Photo: courtesy of HBO Max]
What is different about the new Justice League?
Hell, where do you start? So many are different. The most obvious thing, of course, is the execution time, which doubles the two hours of the original to four. In addition to the new footage, which features several appearances from the “Big Bad, Darkseid” series, many scenes from the first film are now gone, including a whole strange thread about a Russian family in danger. Snyder rearranged the series of many scenes for this new cut, added rhythms to each action sequence and slightly but significantly enhanced the violence and dirty language. While too many directorial cuts are ultimately vanity works that teach viewers the value of brevity, the magnanimity shown here lends itself to an extremely superior film.
Some of the ways in which it expands, however, only highlight why DCEU as an interconnected series has faded compared to Marvel so far: The creators are clearly peeling more than they could have chewed, historically, for their first big film. While Kevin Feige, Jon Favreau, and other Marvel architects carefully created enough runway to gradually climb the Avengers, Snyder and company tried to fill a two-value exhibition in the Justice League. This problem was already apparent in the Whedon version, which felt weird and both were overloaded (too many characters to fix!) And too short (these characters need more characterization!). Snyder Cut fixes this problem by completing Cyborg’s roots, demonstrating more than Flash can do, making the “mother boxes” (the name worthy of DC’s equivalent in Thanos stones) more understandable and providing more backstage for CGI supervillains Steppenwolf and Darkseid. What was explained in a line or two that could have crossed the minds of viewers in Whedon Cut now has Snyder’s visual narrative action.
These changes count as improvements, but give the film more of a “limited series” feel, which is probably part of why executives were worried about Snyder’s direction. He was hired to make a film, not a limited series.
Is it worth watching?
Absolutely, and for almost everyone. #ReleaseTheSnyderCut will feel justified as he observes all the tedious Whedon dialogue that has been cut here. (I was sad to see a funny Pet Sematary joke from the Whedon version, but many of the other jokes that made sense were unacceptable.) Casual fans who are just curious will find a huge, full of action, overloaded lark for late quarantine.
Given the general aversion to Batman vs. Superman, it seems strange that many DC fans claimed that only the guy who saw this movie to the end could turn the Justice League into a masterpiece.
It is even more strange that they were obviously right.