top of page
  • Young Critic

Zack Snyder's Justice League

Snyder's original vision is restored and greatly improves the patchy 2017 version

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) or as many on the internet refer to as “The SnyderCut,” is one of the most fascinating cases of a film production in recent cinema history. Certainly the only similar case can be with Superman II (1980). Both films had directors leave while much of the film had been shot, but not yet completed; in both cases the studio hired another director to complete and sometimes change the film anew. In both cases the completed official releases were a disappointment creatively and at the box office, and yet years later the studio allowed the original director to put out his complete vision to the public.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is Snyder’s original idea of the film Justice League (2017), which had been heavily edited and changed by second director Joss Whedon. Snyder had been forced to leave the set after the tragic suicide of his daughter (this film is dedicated to her). Snyder had shot four hours of footage, yet Whedon decided to reshoot many scenes, and trim down the runtime to two hours. The result was a messy, crammed, and rushed film.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League follows the relatively same plot as the 2017 version, with villain Steppenwolfe (Ciaran Hinds) coming to earth to unite three planet dominating magical boxes. The earth’s superheroes must come together as a team in order to stop him.

There is a big difference between Whedon’s film and Snyder’s. Whedon approached the material with a kind of indifference, of being a director-for-hire, and thus not treating the material with care. Whedon’s film stuck out like a sore thumb in contrast with the previous entries of the DC Universe, bringing about a jarring comedy, and generic approach to plot. In fact, the plot in Whedon’s Justice League was so generic and cartoonish, it made the film instantly forgettable. Curiously the plot is the same in Zack Snyder’s, but with the runtime of four hours, he is able to flesh out and bring context and background to each moment.

The long runtime is the greatest boon to this vision from Zack Snyder. The American director has always had ambitious epics in mind with his films, but seems to have always been constrained by a rational runtime, making his already long films feel rushed. By having room to breathe and take things at his own pace in his Justice League, Snyder delves into new characters that had been sidelined in Whedon’s film. These include Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa), but Snyder’s vision greatly benefits the character of Cyborn (Ray Fisher). Cyborg may well be considered the emotional protagonist of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, with him having one of the more interesting character arcs in the film. This certainly brings to mind the reported bullying and abuse Fisher accuses Whedon to have wrought on him on set, and one questions whether the skeletal Cyborg character in the 2017 version was a form of creative retaliation from the director.

One of the biggest flaws in the 2017 version was the generic and laughably bad-CGI villain. Zack Snyder’s interpretation doesn’t overhaul him drastically, but it does provide a series of motivations and context as to his actions. The cartoonishness is toned down to become more menacing, and thus fits better with the continuous tone of the DC Universe. The visual effects are also touched up, and you can tell that the added time to continue to work on them has benefitted much of the film’s action sequences. Nevertheless, relying on many CGI-heavy scenes still exposes some shoddy work that indicates that the studio ran out of funds.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League feels like a further chapter in Snyder’s vision for the arc of the DC Universe. It seems disappointing that this vision may not come to pass, as Warner Bros. seems to have moved on after 2017’s Justice League flop. Snyder’s new four hour epic greatly improves in nearly every aspect from Whedon’s version, from character work, to continuity, action thrills, visual effects, villain, and narrative arc. That still doesn’t salvage the rather by-the-numbers superhero structures lying underneath the film’s sheen, and Snyder might indulge in one too many fan-service scenes, whose removal could have trimmed down the film’s four hours, and provide better cohesion. Nevertheless, this restoration to Justice League’s original vision will be a great delight for fans of DC superheroes, and one only hopes that the unlikely event of Zack Snyder’s Justice League being released may continue in giving Snyder another chance to continue his DC Universe vision in the future.



About Young Critic

logo 4_edited.jpg

I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

Review Library


bottom of page