‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’: Six heroes in search of a decent plot

At last, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is available on HBO Max, and now everyone can appreciate the acclaimed director’s vision for themselves.

First, a disclaimer:

This reviewer has never watched the Joss Whedon version of “Justice League.”

Oh, I’m a DC boy.

When I was a kid, about 300 years ago, I discovered the comic book “Justice League of America” at my corner drugstore and was immediately enthralled. All of DC’s top heroes in one comic book? Take my money.

While I’ve enjoyed most all of the DC animated films and TV shows, the DCEU has been a mixed bag. “Wonder Woman” soared and showed me the power of hope. The others? Not so much. (I’m overdue for a “Man of Steel” rewatch, but I’m not sure I can ever get past Kevin Costner sacrificing himself for no reason in a hurricane.)

“Justice League” was met with such disdain by critics and fans alike that I chose to avoid it. I didn’t want to see my childhood team in such a reviled debacle.

Not that I didn’t see some of it – two scenes, to be precise, on YouTube: when Superman takes on the League, and when Aquaman accidentally sits on Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth and starts babbling about how hot she is.

The latter scene convinced me I made the right decision.

It was embarrassing to watch and probably just as awful to film for the actors, and it reeked of Joss Whedon’s attempt at humor.

Can you guess which of those two scenes does not show up in any form in the Snyder Cut?

My gratitude is almost as deep as the sea.

But if you’re looking for reviewer to compare and contrast two directors’ styles on the same comic book source material, I’m not your guy.

I’ve only seen the Snyder Cut – and am more determined than ever to keep it that way.

Now for the deep dive:

Warning! Spoilers ahead!

The story is a slog.

I’m a comics nerd, and even I found the Mother Box scenario to be convoluted and dull. I don’t know how casual fans would possibly take to the concept. Steppenwolf just looked silly.

The evil Steppenwolf.
Not threatening at all.

Zack Snyder knows how to cast a film.

Say what you will about the story – and a lot of it is dreadful – but this cast – whoa!

Snyder chose just the right person for each role, it’s hard to imagine anyone else in their shoes. Henry Cavill’s Superman continues to impress, and here’s hoping we get another film soon. Ray Fisher is incredible as Cyborg. I’m ready for a Cyborg solo film. Alas, it doesn’t seem as if that will ever happen.

Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa were both long shots for their respective roles as Wonder Woman and Aquaman, and they have more than delivered on Snyder’s canny intuition. At least we’ll see those again in their solo franchise films. Warner Bros. should feel equally confident about Ezra Miller’s Flash outing, which at last seems to be moving forward.

Joe Manganiello has, what, three minutes of film as Deathstroke, and he immediately makes a mark. More, please.

You will never forget it’s a Zack Snyder film.

Snyder love his slo-mo.

Almost every action sequence is dominated by slo-slo-slo-mo effects. It’s cool in some instances – as when the Flash first uses his powers to save Iris West – but insanely overused. In the latter part of the film, it sucks the energy out of the action.

The color palette remains the same from “Man of Steel” and “Batman v. Superman” – every scene looks as if it was shot on the worst October day in Seattle.

What does Zack Snyder have against the sun? Or lights? Or colors?

Darkseid on a Zoom call with the Justice League.
Darkseid on a Zoom call with the Justice League.

It’s not all somber.

There is humor in this film, and unlike most Marvel films, it is not shoehorned in.

It flows from the characters, as it should, as when Batman introduces the team to Alfred, calling him the guy he works for, and especially from Ezra Miller’s exuberant Flash.

And if the world is truly on the brink of being destroyed, do you really expect anything to get done from a group of capes cracking jokes at each other?

So many gifts to fans.

Ryan Choi! Iris West! The Martian Manhunter! The Amazons! The Green Lantern BC! The Black Suit! Zeus! Can we get a Zeus film with Sergi Constance? That actor can sure fire his lightning bolts.

I can’t stop thinking about these heroes.

As much as the Big Bad was a snoozer, this “Justice League” got the heroes right in the best possible way. The performances were so nuanced, so spot-on, and they mixed just as they should, with Flash’s enthusiasm bouncing off of Batman’s cynicism and Aquaman’s arrogance.

It feels like a tragedy to acknowledge we’ll probably never see this group of actors/characters together, that we’ll never get to see them sitting around that table in the Hall of Justice plotting their next move to take down Darkseid or the Legion of Doom or Bob the Obnoxious Jaywalker.

Superman.
We need some more Superman.

Finally: It’s long.

Four hours. That’s a long time for a superhero epic, any superhero epic. It’s broken into chapters, but it’s a lot to sit through.

If tragedy hadn’t interrupted his work, Snyder would have had to cut down his film significantly for the big screen.

So what would Snyder’s theatrical cut have looked like?

Is it too soon to ask for one?

Yeah, probably.

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