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OPINION | PLATFORM DIVING: Snyder fixed it: 'Justice League' is good

by Courtney Lanning | March 19, 2021 at 6:06 a.m.
The Flash (Ezra Miller) was one of the best things about the disappointing 2017 film “Justice League.” There’s a lot more of him in the extended re-mix “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” which is twice as long as the original.

To say my expectations for "Zack Snyder's Justice League" were nonexistent would be an understatement. I thought the most interesting thing about the infamous "Snyder Cut" was that Warner Bros. finally gave in to the fanboys: "Enough! Here's millions of dollars, and your director/messiah. Now shut up!"

But after watching it (is it even a movie anymore? The dang thing is four hours long), I'm surprised it's good now. That's coming from a girl who thought the original a hot mess of rushed narrative and unearned character entrances.

Since "Justice League" was released in 2017, lets assume most of y'all have seen it. Certainly the bulk of the audience for "Zack Snyder's Justice League" will be folks who saw the original and thought, "This could have been better."

Joss Whedon's take on "Justice League" has a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and didn't even make $700 million. It was a case of too much movie and not enough time, much like the even worse "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."

Yet there are glimpses of good films within both. Batman's warehouse fight in "Batman v Superman" is the best live-action fight featuring the caped crusader to date. In "Justice League," Ezra Miller had a refreshing, charming take on The Flash. So I'm relieved Snyder got the opportunity to take all of that and grow it into something more.

Given that I complained about "Cherry's" 2 ½-hour runtime, the Snyder Cut benefits from its length. Snyder is able to better explore so much more. If you're going to skip all the world-building, solo hero movies Marvel did to set up the first "Avengers" film, you really need four hours for DC's superheroes.

Snyder paced the story well, clearly learning from the mistakes of "Batman v Superman."

The opening scene of the Snyder Cut is much more epic than the original, and Bruce Wayne meeting Aquaman in the remote fishing village certainly benefits from added runtime (though there's a strange scene of girls singing about Aquaman as he leaves that left me scratching my head).

More Jeremy Irons as sassy Alfred is welcome, although J.K. Simmons is wasted in the two shots we get of Commissioner Gordon. Even Wonder Woman's intro rescuing all the children at the museum is made better by her getting a few extra minutes to pick the kids up and dust them off. Generally, it's always better to let Gal Gadot smile and inspire like she does as Wonder Woman.

I can't express how much better the movie is for letting each member of the Justice League have more time to grow and develop. We get to see Cyborg playing college football and realize what losing his humanity cost him when his father turned him into a living machine. The desperation of Barry Allen working to clear his father's name, which the disarming goofball Ezra Miller plays so well, is wonderfully charming.

Everything in the Snyder Cut just seems to have more weight to it, even a small scene like Diana's mother shooting an arrow across the sea to warn her. It's more effective because it has breathing room. The movie isn't a race to the finish.

One thing the Snyder Cut can't save is the explanation of the Mother Boxes and the Unity. That, and the flashback scene to the Amazons, Greek gods, Atlanteans, and men fighting together is just as clunky in Snyder's version as Whedon's. I get that they're both trying to do this whole "age of heroes" thing, but even that should be its own movie.

There's also a really strange interaction between Alfred and Diana where he mansplains making tea to her that could have been left out.

Then there's Cyborg, who doesn't belong with the Justice League. He debuted as a member of the Teen Titans, and that's where he's at his best. Ever since the New 52 reboot (yuck), DC has tried to force a square peg into a round hole by putting him with the Justice League. I'm not a huge fan of his CGI body, especially the mask when he's flying. Part of me wonders if they could have made it look better with practical effects. We've come a long way since "RoboCop."

There's no issue with Ray Fisher's performance; he plays a good Cyborg.

Unlike Jon Snow, we were all certain Supes was going to come back to life moments after he died. In Whedon's version, Superman's resurrection, which should be the most well-organized part of the story, was rushed and didn't feel earned.

But Snyder has four hours to fill, so, as with everything else, Superman's resurrection makes more sense and benefits from breathing room to really show everyone how important the Man of Steel is. And the extra time spent witnessing human moments between Lois and Martha and their shared grief is worth it. It's unique. The world lost Superman, but they lost Clark Kent, son and fiancé. So when all three embrace one another in Smallville, I can't help but smile.

One thing that doesn't make much sense in the Snyder Cut is how much time is given to this big jet in the Bat Cave. They make such a fuss of fixing it so the craft can carry the Justice League to the final showdown with Steppenwolf, and it lasts all of 20 minutes before crashing. It didn't seem like that much focus on the jet was necessary.

Everything about the final showdown is better. Superman's black cape looks badass. The fight scenes with Batman and Aquaman are so much more intense. When Batman is driving around shooting parademons with the Batmobile, it's epic.

In the end, the Flash gets a really awesome moment. I won't spoil it, but it's one of the coolest scenes in the film. And it establishes the Flash as one of the most powerful members of the Justice League considering what all he can do.

The trailer for "Zack Snyder's Justice League" teased a new look for Jared Leto's Joker. Leto already butchered the character in "Suicide Squad," and the new look is ... fine. But his performance is nearly as problematic. I hate his Joker laugh, and the scene at the end where Batman's nemesis shows up drags on.

Then there's one last cameo that feels kind of tacked on and clunky. Most fans should be able to guess which traditional Justice League member shows up.

Snyder's final note and dedication to his late daughter definitely brought a tear to my eye. And I think it's worth noting the man succeeded.

It's ironic that the man responsible for "Batman v Superman" fixes "Justice League" and turns it into a good movie. Maybe Warner Bros. just should have backed off interfering in earlier movies and let Snyder do his thing.

What I know for certain? This isn't just some new edit. Director's cuts are nothing new. Sometimes they add scenes here and there, but rarely do they make much of a difference in a film's quality ("Alien 3" will always be hot garbage).

"Zack Snyder's Justice League" is a whole new movie that takes the necessary time to invest in proper character development and an epic story.

Well done, Snyder.

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