Justice League: The Snyder Cut Review

It’s finally here. The long awaited, the long rumored, the speculated and the dreamed, the Snyder Cut. Video version on YouTube here.

Okay, eccentrics aside, we have every reason to be shocked this movie exists. What were the odds that we would ever get to see this cut? Next to none, and honestly, I believe it was worth the wait. 

To be up front with how I feel, the only big downside to it, is that I want more. But, I have no idea where we would get it.

But I’m happy with what we have, really happy. I only know one place to start when talking about it, the Justice League itself.

The Heroes of the Snyder Cut

The heroes of the Snyder Cut.

I’ve generally always said with these movies that actors are not a problem, save for the Suicide Squad and the original Justice League movie. I had a lot of problems with Ezra Miller as the Flash and Ben Affleck as Batman.

With this movie’s far more confident Barry Allen, Ezra Miller’s eccentricities actually shine. He drops a lot of the annoying jokes and cowardice for a kid whose as brave as he should be, but at the same time is afraid of his own strength. 

Is he the expert speedster of the comics? No, but he’s enjoyable, likeable, and of good heart. 

I prefer his subtle character arc of where he gets his act together as a powerhouse hero rather than learning how to be a hero to begin with. His arc revolves purely around him, rather than him and Batman. Batman is Barry Allen’s peer, not his mentor.

And speaking of Batman, Ben Affleck is actually playing the character he was casted to play. He completes the character arc he was always supposed to. He’s arrogant and overly determined but the cause is not driven by rage, but faith and guilt. Plus, he’s not telling jokes for jokes. A Batman learning how to be Batman again, learning to have faith in the world he’s supposed to protect. This film truly is Batfleck’s redemption, and I would have it no other way.

There’s less Superman in this cut. It makes sense considering, but it is the only thing the theatrical cut has over this one. Superman is little more than a tool, the team’s big gun muscle. He looks amazing in his few action sequences, and his few one-liners are good, but nothing as good as his truth and justice line.

Yes, I refuse to say that the line about being a fan of justice is bad. I loved it. 

The same goes for Aquaman and Wonder Woman. The both of them had solo movies before and/or after the original Justice League cut. It makes sense that they would be the ones to get the least development. 

They each get more action scenes, and a few scenes together that flesh out the relationship between the Atlanteans and Amazons a bit more, but as characters, nothing changes with them. That’s not a bad thing, they get improved action scenes against Steppenwolf, but don’t expect to pick either one as your favorite character.

The Best of the Best

The same cannot be said for Cyborg. Goddamn, Ray Fisher’s performance is amazing. He easily outdoes everyone else in the movie, though this is also because he gets the most emotional beats. He pulls off a man forcibly turned into a machine, clinging to his humanity and need for hope.

Cyborg of the Justice League.

Fisher goes back and forth as the plot goes out, and it always feels believable and natural. There have been a lot of Cyborgs introduced in the last few years. We’ve had him in the DCAMU universe, Young Justice, and Doom Patrol, but this version of Cyborg is one of the most dramatic, and my favorite performance of the bunch.

The Villains of the Snyder Cut

Now, Steppenwolf was one of, if not the worst aspect of the original Justice League cut. As the villain, he provides the tension and motivation for our heroes. He didn’t do that, but with subtle changes and improvements to his CGI, he does so now.

Is he the greatest comic book movie villain of all time? No.

Is he pretty good? Yeah, I would say so.

There’s one subtle change to his character that doesn’t make him relatable per say, but makes him understandable. With one conversation, with the impeccably voiced Desaad, Steppenwolf has the motivation he needed. He’s doing this to earn his way back home. 

That’s it, that’s his motivation, and its an easy to understand one. It explains why he’s working so hard to gather the mother boxes and take over Earth.

The improvement to his animation, both in his face and movement really helps too. Before, he was too much of an action figure, and a cheap one at that. In this version, they made sure he’s the best looking character in the movie. Steppenwolf is still ugly, but ugly in a good way, its on purpose. He’s impeccably detailed and emotive. He’s a character, a person, and he carries weight in his step.

The Villainous Cameos

The other villains of the movie, the nasty Desaad, and the almighty Darkseid, serve to motivate Steppenwolf. They’re not big players in the film. They have maybe five minutes of screen time between the two of them, but they fit their purpose.

Desaad is the rival, who makes Steppenwolf sympathetic with how he hounds and abuses him. His lines aren’t anything particularly special, but when voiced by Peter Guinness, Desaad seems appropriately vile. He has this energy like he’s the evil royal assistant to end all royal assistants. I would have liked to see him in a sequel.

But Darkseid, oh man. Darkseid’s my favorite villain, period. I loved him on the Justice League animated series, I love him in the comics, I just… 

He’s the embodiment of evil, and while we don’t totally get that here, I get enough. He has presence, and with Ray Porter he has the voice to still hearts. I don’t love his design. I think he’s too lean, and his eyes are strangely caved in, but I don’t hate it. Ray Porter’s voice makes up for it, and his presence is still there. 

So with Darkseid, I am most satisfied, for Darkseid Is.

The Action of the Snyder Cut

In my review of the theatrical version, I made a complaint about a lot of the action scenes. That was the first time a lot of the characters here were first appearing in this universe. That means this was the time to figure out and showcase the vast array of powers of these new characters. Being that the movie introduced several different characters, none stood out. 

As it turns out, Zack Snyder did figure out most of his heroes. It was Joss Whedon who dropped the ball, how surprising.

The Newcomers

Aquaman remains the one character whose action never quite lands. He’s a hard character to pin down and make unique from Wonder Woman with so little time. The Snyder Cut doesn’t have better underwater scenes. Steppenwolf’s ability to fight underwater is more entertaining with how brutal he is. Mera also gets a good shot in with a little blood bending, but the Aquaman portions don’t quite hit the mark. None of them are bad, but they pale in comparison to other sequences in the film.

Sequences, like those surrounding the Flash and Cyborg. Zack Snyder, in one movie, figured out how to perfectly capture both of their powers. 

The Flash of the Snyder Cut.

The Flash has several super speed scenes that are show stopping and visually defining for how he should look. Whether it be when he saves Iris West, or runs through the Speed Force, the Flash scenes are a sight to behold. The Flash solo movie, if that happens, needs to refer to the super speed scenes in this movie. 

And the way Cyborg moves through the electronic world, manifesting it in his mind, reminds me of the way Dr. Manhattan controlled matter. It makes sense considering Cyborg controls the internet as much as Dr. Manhattan did the universe. 

Whether Cyborg is moving through nuclear codes or hell, props to Snyder for how Cyborg’s powers are visualized. He made Cyborg manipulating money and our banks visually stunning. To top it off, every time Cyborg uses his power to the fullest, there’s always an emotional resonance supporting it.

The Old Guard

As for the Trinity, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were already mastered in previous movies. We know how they work. 

Superman is especially brutal against Steppenwolf in the climax. He pairs up with the team for several cool combos, but since he appears significantly less, there isn’t as many chances for the action to show him off. 

Superman is about to heat beam somebody's face off.

Batman does have the same problem in the original when he first fights the parademons. It’s much harder to show Batman fighting these nimble monsters like they would in animation, but by the last fight scene, he’s getting down with the best of them. 

And Wonder Woman has the best action of the three. With Steppenwolf’s better CGI, her fights with him have much more weigh and better choreography. Though, she basically has the same fights as before with a few extra seconds.

The Axe of Steppenwolf

Honestly, Steppenwolf’s action is probably the most improved. The CGI can get kind of rough for the hero characters, especially Aquaman and Wonder Woman in some scenes. They don’t have their faces covered, which makes it easy to tell when they’re CGI, especially in slow-mo shots. Sometimes its like the budget wasn’t there to finish them. 

Not the case with Steppenwolf. They made sure he looked ugly in the right way. He looked like he existed, he had weight behind his movements and his swings. I said it before, Steppenwolf is not pretty and he was never meant to be. Now he’s not an eyesore. In fact, its actually fun to watch him, especially with the R-rating holds nothing back with the violence. 

Prepare to see Steppenwolf cut a few people in half. 

So overall, the action is what you should expect from a Zack Snyder movie, so its good, really good.

The Story of the Snyder Cut

The pacing in the movie is particularly slow in the first half. This isn’t a bad thing mostly, but there are several scenes that go on longer than they should. 

Zack Snyder did not cut any scenes he filmed. It leads to some scenes feeling unnecessarily long, like the women singing after Aquaman and Batman’s meeting in Iceland, the Amazon’s shooting the arrow, and Wonder Woman learning the origins of Darkseid. 

For the most part, none of them are bad. But the fact that they drag shows, making them scenes that aren’t good. It’s far less so after the first hour of the film. By then the film hits its stride so while it may feel stalled in a couple scenes, this problem doesn’t last. 

I also think a lot of these scenes are worth having. Some scenes, like Lois Lane’s visits to Superman’s memorial, feel small and pointless at first, but pay off later on.

The plot itself isn’t much different from the theatrical version, but it is fleshed out. There are scenes that take the time to tell us what’s happening. Now, we actually get the chance to understand what’s happening. 

The Strongest Points of the Plot

Significant spoilers from here on out.

I just noticed something about the strongest points of the plot. In this film, more than the others, Zack Snyder utilized the rule of three. For those who don’t know, it’s a common writing trick for storytelling. It can be used in any medium, but its especially common in film. It’s where you set a rule or possibility in stone by either explaining it or showing it three times, with ascending emphasis.

The Writing Nerd in Me

The best example, and major spoilers, is how Flash’s and Cyborg’s powers are set up three times. 

When Flash first meets Batman, he explains the Speed Force as something he’s careful to tap into. Otherwise he could put himself or even time and space at risk. When they’re resurrecting Superman, Flash explains it again, how it can mess with time before he risks it. We get a hint of time changing when he turns it back a few seconds to reach the Mother Box before it falls into water.

Then finally, when the Justice League fails to stop the Unity because Flash gets shot before he can help Cyborg. This is when he uses the Speed Force. He stops holding back, and goes full speed and reversing time to get to Cyborg in time. This excellent use of the rule of three makes the climax’s big turning point a sight to behold, and resonant beyond most other movie climaxes.

It leads into another final part in Cyborg’s rule of three. Just to be quick, first Cyborg tests his powers by helping a woman out of poverty. The second time, he shows the Justice League his origin story as he goes into his memory and history. The last time is when he has to invade the Mother Boxes, who seek to overpower his mind through grief. 

Obviously, he prevails.

These two uses of the rule of three, lead to a climax that doesn’t hinge on beating up a villain or a blue beam in the sky. (Though a blue beam does almost happen.) Instead, it hinges on two heroes using their well set up abilities to the fullest, and completing their characters. 

This is ultimately my second favorite scene in the movie. I love the completion of the Flash’s arc. He finally realizes and lives up to his full potential. It is epitomized with what he says as he runs through the Speed Force. 

Your kid was one of them, dad, one of the best of the best.

Barry Allen, the Flash
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Flash-edited.jpg

The same happens to Cyborg, when the Mother Boxes offers everything he’s lost, as if to fix him. He doesn’t seem to consider it for a second, he gets angry at the offer in fact. Cyborg knows that he is not broken, and he is not alone.

There’s no real point to pointing out the rule of threes other than that I noticed it and appreciated it. It’s just a sign of a good writing tact, something any writer can and should use. I hope you enjoyed my writing nerd out just now.

The Bat and the Clown

The Bat and the Clown.

But my comic nerd out, that’s just begun. 

I can’t do this video without talking about my favorite scene in the whole movie, and one of my favorites in the DCEU. 

The epilogue, the final nightmare scene.

The Comic Nerd in Me

I both love and hate it at the same time. I love that we finally get to see Ben Affleck’s Batman and Jared Leto’s Joker interact. They reflect each other perfectly, two sides of the same coin, more than any other. 

I’m not saying that Leto’s Joker is better than any of the previous ones. I am saying he reflects his Batman the best. Heath Ledger’s Joker overshadowed his Batman, and despite being the one who murdered Batman’s parents, Jack Nicholson’s Joker feels distant from Michael Keaton’s Batman.

Leto’s Joker is the perfect counter to Batfleck. Batfleck is a Batman consumed by darkness, desperately trying to get back the hope and heroism that once defined him. This Joker knows Batman intimately. He understands his flaws and his strengths in a way the other Jokers never did their Batmen. 

This Batman, as brave as he may seem, doesn’t have the faith in himself that he pretends he has. He doesn’t have the strength of will he wishes he had, and he’s constantly picking up the pieces of the loved ones and friends who do.

This Joker understands why this Batman fails when he does, and this Joker understands why this Batman always survives. 

One line perfectly encapsulates why I love this scene, I’ll never be able to get it out of my head. I love it, because it encapsulates the flaws of Batfleck, and how the Joker forces him to confront those flaws.

“I’m ready to discuss… why you sent a Boy Wonder to do a man’s job.”

The Joker
The Joker in the Snyder Cut.

The DCEU Ranking

As with all DCEU videos, I must rank them. 

As the ranking stands…

Ranking of the DCEU before Snyder Cut.

I also want to do something I haven’t done before, which is change my ranking with Wonder Woman 1984. That was the first time I’ve ranked a movie when it came out. Even with Birds of Prey I had weeks to sit on it. With Wonder Woman 1984 I reviewed it within a week of it coming out.

I still love the film. There are just some things, particularly the plot holes, certain action scenes, and some character choices that dock some points from the movie on subsequent viewings. It also just doesn’t have the same re-watch value as other movies, specially Batman v Superman, and Man of Steel. I’m knocking Wonder Woman 1984 to #4 after Man of Steel.

Ranking of the DCEU pre-Snyder Cut, post change with Wonder Woman 1984.

It’s also about to go down, because Zack Snyder’s Justice League is #1.

They were Number One

With each and every one of the DCEU movies, I love them despite one big, glaring problem. Birds of Prey has it’s baffling Cassandra Cain; Batman v Superman and Man of Steel are too subtle and unclear with what they are trying to say; and Wonder Woman 1984 needs to learn the rules of consent.

I have no glaring issue with this movie. I have a lot of things I love about this film that I haven’t said yet. This film does a lot with more characters than I anticipated it would. It sets up so much with so many little cameos and fan service moments to make us happy. 

It’s a movie for the fans that completes a vision; it drops the weaknesses of the films that came before. 

The Snyder Cut is the best DCEU movie, as a movie about the Justice League should be.

The final ranking of the DCEU after the Snyder Cut.

What’s your favorite DCEU movie? Did you like the Snyder cut? I wanna know. You can find more articles from Something Central here.

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