Good Morning: A second look at Justice League

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Michael Hutchins

The funny thing about perspective is that two people can look at the exact same thing and come back with two different points of view and perspectives. Two artists can look at the same landscape and come back with two completely different pieces of art. The same goes for movie directors.

Over the weekend, I had sat down and watched Zach Snyder's Justice League, a recut of the 2017 Justice League film that was released on HBO Max last week. The film cover the formation of the Justice League, a group of many of DC's superheroes including Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

The burning question for many is if the movie was any good. That is a difficult and complicated question to answer. What is easy to answer is that Snyder has released a four-hour movie as his version of Justice League.

The film bills itself as Snyder's view of how the film should have been completed, after he left the movie late into production.

As a bit of backstory, Snyder, who previously directed Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, was originally pegged to direct the film, which culminated from several other films in the DC Comics mythos. However, Snyder stepped down from the directorial role late into production following the death of his daughter.

Warner Bros. brought in Joss Wheden, who previously directed The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, to complete post-production. The resulting movie was a mash up of the two directors' styles. Where Whedon often brought a lighter take to the comic mythos, Snyder was  instead known for his darker and more gritty takes.

After the film released, an internet campaign was launched for Warner Bros. to release the Snyder cut, the unfinished version that Snyder left with his departure. While some of the pushes were well meaning, others bordered into harassment and cyberbullying.

About a year ago, it was announced that Snyder's version would be completed with an estimated budget of $70 million.

In answering if Snyder's version is good, I have to say he released the better version of the movie. Snyder's cut gives scenes more time to develop and some of the characters are given significantly more screen time and character development.

Ray Fisher as the robotic hero Cyborg is given significantly more time on the screen and the additional scenes make him, for lack of a better term, more human as a character. An entire new hero is also introduced to the storyline in a pair of short, but well-done scenes.

Finally, the ending itself is drastically changed in a way that is a complete nod to a major storyline in recent years. 

Despite all of this, the movie did not need to be four hours long. I found myself noticing several moments where seconds, even minutes, could have been shaved off with nothing lost.

At the end of the day, Zach Snyder's Justice League is a good movie, but that comes with several asterisks. I do not feel that the arguments that this was what the original film was meant to be. Snyder had the advantage of hindsight, more time to develop his project and an increased budget on his hands. None of this can be ignored.

Secondly, I am afraid that the precedent that the movie turned out to be better than expected could encourage the type of behavior that led to the cut's release. I am afraid of certain elements of the fandom being emboldened.

Finally, the extreme length is something that cannot be ignored. Very few films need four hours to tell their story, and Zach Snyder's version is no exception to this rule. I almost feel as though the production could have been better served as two movies, not one.