‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ only marginally lives up to its bloated hype.

Ah, the DCEU. The DC Comics Extended Universe has had an interesting history. Created to provide an alternative to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the costumed gods of DC Comics were finally going to unite in connected stories. A rushed process resulted in a messy continuity of individual films that culminated in 2017’s Justice League. The superhero ensemble film became a box-office bomb, but rumor grew of a cut with the original director’s vision out there. Fan support swelled to bring Snyder’s vision to viewing life.

Zach Snyder’s Justice League follows Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) as they unite with a plan to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching catastrophic threat from beyond in the absence of Superman (Henry Cavill).

Picking up directly after the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Superman’s sacrifice, the world comes under attack as Steppenwolf comes to Earth in search of the mystical Mother Boxes. Warned by the Amazons, Wonder Woman locates Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) and Batman tracks down Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) and Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) to create their team.

Since I have already reviewed the theatrical edition of Justice League in 2017, I’m only going to discuss the changes between Zack Snyder’s original vision and what we got four years ago. First, the story moved a lot better with a good flow and set up after Dawn of Justice. Back story was finally provided for the past events with Darkseid’s first attempt at conquering Earth, using his Parademons and the Mother Boxes. An alliance between the Old Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, humanity, and a Green Lantern (which we could have gotten more about this important comic book character) drove back Darkseid’s challenge. Steppenwolf is given more of a backstory, revealing that he’s trying to get back into his master’s favor and conquering Earth is one of the ways to do that.

Speaking of backstories, an entire part is devoted to Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. After the controversy surrounding this actor and Warner Bros as far as his part in this ensemble film, Fisher and his hero character got the proper amount of time and respect to have fans really like the character. We established Victor’s relationship with his father along with his mother. This character was given justice and I was happy to see it achieved. Along with Cyborg, the other heroes we were introduced to have an extended presence: we see the Flash save an unnamed young woman aka Iris West (Kiersey Clemons), Aquaman’s world is given a bigger stay as William Dafoe’s Vulko, Curry’s mentor, makes an extended appearance. A surprise character was revealed as Harry Lennix’s Calvin Swanwick is revealed to be a shapeshifting character that should have been properly used. The additional lore of these three characters added depth to them that we didn’t get in the theatrical film. Superman is also changed, showing a “completed arc” for his character after being reborn, but I personally didn’t see that. I didn’t need the “boy scout” but he appeared to be more unhinged, even when he is grounded by Lois Lane (Amy Adams). The final battle in Russia had the most work redone to it with Batman playing a larger role in the battle, along with the Flash being a key player in a visually stunning scene that you need to see.

Overall, this film is an improvement over the theatrical cut thanks to Snyder’s direction and the improved characterization. Believe me, this is absolutely a new film. However, it still has its struggles: mainly the extended runtime of four hours and the lack of humor, levity, and feeling of the film. In the theatrical cut, I had a hard time connecting with the characters and the film overall. This go around, I had a hard time staying invested with the film. At the end before the epilogue/post-credits scene that set up a lot of storylines that will now go unfulfilled, I didn’t feel the soul or happiness I should have at seeing the heroes united. It’s hard to endure this a single-sitting experience. Even though I got that done, I was burned out as far as movies for a small time. I’m not saying that releasing the movie in parts or as a mini-series event would have done better but the balance of the parts would feel uneven, especially considering how TV series now feel more competent and flow a lot more smoothly.

Yes, the voices of fans were heard and brought this film to life, and I’m glad for it. I’m glad that Zack Snyder was given the opportunity to show his vision to his loyal fans. However, the improvements don’t help fix the flawed endeavor the DCEU started as far as tone, heart, and soul. Zack Snyder’s Justice League was to be that beacon of hope and light to start a new chapter for these heroes and the DC Extended Universe and it didn’t fully deliver; not once but twice.

What are your thoughts about Zack Snyder’s Justice League? When do you think we will see heroes team-up again in the DCEU?

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