By Eammon Jacobs
After years of fan campaigning, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is finally here. By now, most fans will know the story about the theatrical cut and its subsequent failure; after Snyder stepped away from the project because of a family tragedy, Joss Whedon was brought on to see it over the finish line. But the Avengers Assemble director injected a tone into the movie which completely clashed with Snyder’s original vision, creating a Frankenstein-like depiction of the DC heroes.
But at four-hours long, Zack Snyder’s Justice League delivers the version of the film most fans of the DC Extended Universe have been waiting for (read our Snyder Cut review). Meanwhile the edgier, violent tone feels closer to his previous forays into the DCEU with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. With all-new characters and heaps of new footage, there’s some major differences in the Snyder Cut. Warning, spoilers ahead!
For starters, everything that was included in Joss Whedon’s reshoots is (thankfully) absent, and yes, that means Henry Cavill’s awkwardly edited top lip to get rid of the moustache he was sporting for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout. Gone is the awkward phone-interview between the Man of Steel and several children. Goodbye classic red and blue suit. Get ready to say hello to the black suit, which is directly taken from the Death of Superman comic storyline which caused a stir in the 1990s.
There’s a much larger focus on Lois Lane dealing with the grief of losing Superman (following Batman v Superman) with a number of scenes showing the Daily Planet reporter unable to find the strength to return to work because she’s stuck wallowing in their apartment. It’s only encouragement from Martha which helps her get back on track with her life… Just in time for a certain Kryptonian resurrection, how lucky.
Once Kal-El returns, he has a similar brief fight with the League in the post-death haze, but his choice to suit up in the iconic black design comes from an emotional walk through the halls of the Kryptonian ship in Metropolis. Obviously it would be criminal not to give audiences the monochromed look without seeing it in action, and it certainly looks impressive during the final battle against Steppenwolf in Russia.
One of the biggest elements hacked out of the film back in 2017 was the story behind Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. Luckily, it’s all restored in the Snyder Cut making the hero the undeniable heart of the story. Although there’s plenty of criticisms about the film being a little messy, Cyborg’s character development was a welcome addition to the story.
It easily captivates the audience by (literally) showing inside his head as he grapples with his new existence as well as what his future could look like. The film also shows what the digital landscape inside his head looks like as he interacts with various networks across the world in a welcomed inventive manner.
His relationship with his father, Dr. Silas Stone, is also greatly expanded as their relationship has become so strained because the S.T.A.R. Laboratories scientist used the Mother Box to keep his son alive after a tragic accident.
Cyborg’s journey parallels the team coming together, struggling at first but slowly coming into his own by the end of their climactic battle with the forces of darkness. There’s also plenty of fresh scenes showing the hero getting used to the near-limitless capabilities of his new body, including a truly touching moment of charity when Victor realises just how much he can help those who need it most.
Steppenwolf and Darkseid
Oh, 2017 Steppenwolf, what a generic, PS2-era-looking villain you were. This time around, the Apokoliptian bad guy has a huge new redesign, forgoing the horned helmet for actual horns attached to his head while wearing a porcupine suit of silver armor which reforges and reshapes itself constantly. That becomes quite useful when Amazonian warriors are hurling arrows and spears at him in an early battle. Steppenwolf’s campaign across the planet injects plenty of violence into the Snyder Cut, as Amazons and Atlanteans alike bear the brunt of his axe which decapitates a number of the villain’s opponents in a gory fashion throughout the film.
But the biggest change to Steppenwolf’s story is why he’s waging war across the stars in the first place. His motivations are greatly explored as he tries to get back in favour with Darkseid, the lord of a fiery hellscape across the galaxy called Apokolips. The villain behind the curtain and his servant DeSaad frequently appear to Steppenwolf in the film through cosmic Skype calls, checking in on his progress.
A brief flash-forward in time (courtesy of the Kryptonian ship) also reveals the villain decimating the entire Justice League in what would’ve been a sequel. The finale sees Darkseid come face-to-face with the team through a portal, teasing a future conflict in which the villain conquers Earth looking for the ‘Anti-Life Equation’ which would give him complete control over the Multiverse. No pressure, team.
The Knightmare Timeline
Another huge addition to the film is a second trip into the Knightmare timeline which Zack Snyder also teased back in Batman v Superman when Bruce Wayne fell asleep at his desk. Justice League’s ‘Epilogue’ chapter takes place in the Mad Max-ian future, in which Batman, Mera, Deathstroke, Cyborg, The Flash and Jared Leto’s Joker all band together to try to rewrite the timeline.
Snyder previously explained to Total Film that, with plans for Justice League 2 now scrapped, he saw this as the last chance to see Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader share the screen with the Joker, and the scene analyses their shaky alliance. Although Bruce drops a dramatic F-bomb, the pair decide to uphold their truce as they plan to rewrite history and stop Darkseid.
And it was all a dream. No seriously, Bruce fell asleep and dreamt about the post-apocalypse again. But it’s closely followed up by another hero who joins the cause as the Dark Knight is visited by Harry Lennix’s Martian Manhunter – who shows up in a CGI appearance after a brief cameo earlier in the film.
So, new characters, new timelines, new vision… Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a completely different film to what audiences witnessed in 2017.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League cut will be released on Sky Cinema and NOW TV in the UK on Thursday 18th March.