The Justified Indulgence of Zack Snyder’s Justice League

The Justified Indulgence of Zack Snyder’s Justice League

March 27, 2021 Off By Stoudman

Like many of you, I recently sat down with a friend to watch the four hour epic that was Zack Snyder’s Justice League. There were many bathroom breaks and discussions to be had, and at the end of it all I was left with the impression that it was ultimately worth it.

When I first heard fans asking for the “Snyder Cut,” I wrote it off as an impossibility — something that almost certainly would never happen, and for which there wasn’t much cinematic history to indicate that there should be reason for hope.

Then it was announced that the project was actually going to happen, and I was pretty shocked. I didn’t know much of the story behind it, or why so many people wanted it so badly, but I was open to the idea of a different take on Justice League.

That all said, I must admit that I actually didn’t have a problem with the film as it was. If anything, I thought it was a pretty good movie that was being unfairly judged by fans and film aficionados alike.

In recent years, there has been a truly disturbing trend of toxic fans hating on new, popular films. I’d love to suggest a reason for this, but I honestly couldn’t tell you with any authority why this zeitgeist of almost cult-like film hatred has taken hold. I have a few theories, but there’s no need to go into them now. 

The point I’m trying to make here is that I was fairly convinced this was yet another example of that cult of hate taking hold, demanding changes to fit their expectations, ignoring the wishes of the artists. As it turns out, this case was at least a little different, and it really shows in the final product.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League, as many probably know by now, was originally beset by unforeseen issues which ensured the movie would unintentionally become more of a collaborative effort than it otherwise would have been. All film is collaborative, so I didn’t really see a problem with that, and I still didn’t see a problem with it after seeing Justice League in theaters.

Zack Snyder's Justice League promo image

Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but I had seen far worse films in my life, and this one was actually far more impressive than some die hard fans apparently felt it was. I didn’t see how a new cut of the movie would make it any better or more cohesive, so I wasn’t sure why there was such a huge demand for the Snyder cut.

However, as I said before, I’m entirely open to almost anything cinematic, and I was not averse to the idea of this movie being re-envisioned. I definitely didn’t expect it to happen, but when it did, I was more than happy to see this unlikely event take place.

I guess what I’m saying is that I wasn’t invested in the Snyder cut, it wasn’t incredibly important to me, and I’m more of a movie buff than I am a DC fan with expectations. In other words, my take on Zack Snyder’s Justice League is more than likely going to be far different from those that fans of DC or comic book films might have.

With all of that out of the way, and having seen the final result of this cinematic event, I have to say that I’m far more impressed than I ever expected to be. As I previously stated, I actually enjoyed the film as it was originally released, so I wasn’t necessarily expecting anything better or worse out of the Snyder cut than what we had already seen.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League added depth to characters that was sorely lacking, and I didn’t realize just how important it actually was to the story until I sat down and watched this version of the film.

I knew they hadn’t given enough attention to Cyborg or the Flash, but I figured that might be coming later in the form of their own films. However, the problem with their lack of depth in the original Justice League is that we didn’t really understand much about their motivation.

Although these details are added into Snyder’s film quite haphazardly at times, they were perhaps the most important addition. Understanding more about what motivates Cyborg and the Flash really helps the viewer to understand why they would come together to stop the world from ending.

After all, at least in Cyborg’s case, it certainly doesn’t seem like he has much of a reason to help anyone for any reason, which is why learning about his relationship with his parents is actually very important. Without that factor, what would drive him to join the team?

Money shot from Zack Snyder's Justice League

Furthermore, seeing more of Cyborg’s story also gives us some insight into the emotional similarities between him and Aquaman. Sadly, they didn’t really do much with this in the movie, but there’s always a chance we’ll see these two team up again in another film later, especially if this one performs as well as expected.

There are other factors which add to the quality of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but I think the cinematography was perhaps most interesting. While there were a few great shots in the original film, Snyder’s unique view of the world through the lens of a comic panel is as beautiful as it was in both Watchmen and Sucker Punch.

As I watched the hero shots and the dramatic angles unfold, I was struck by the history of movies and comic books. It made me think of how the comics originally borrowed from film, only to then later have their own visual ideas borrowed by filmmakers.

Today we live in a world where Snyder is clearly inspired by comic panels which were inspired originally by cinematic shots. There’s just something beautiful about the natural relationship between these two art forms, and Zack seems uniquely capable of respectfully giving us a loving homage to that relationship.

All praise aside, it must be said that this movie is nowhere near perfect. No, this is not the Citizen Kane of comic book movies. Nothing is the Citizen Kane of anything, just to be clear.

That said, the issues with this film were overall fairly minor. As I watched Zack Snyder’s Justice League with a friend, she couldn’t help but to point out that most of it is widescreen safe, which begs the question of why Snyder was insistent on the aspect ratio being 4:3. 

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a different aspect ratio than the norm. However, it’s usually nice when there is some kind of motivation behind the decisions made by a filmmaker.

Sadly, this isn’t the only area where Snyder’s Justice League lacks a proper motivation behind the way it was crafted. If anything, it’s something of a running theme throughout the film, and the best way to describe it is simply “overindulgence.”

Team shot of Justice League.

Whether it be the choice of armor which moves (because basic armor, which serves the exact same purpose, simply isn’t enough for some reason) or lighting that can only be forgiven due to the comic origins of the story, there are several moments where a film buff might find themselves asking “but why.”

In the end, this flaw isn’t enough to ruin an otherwise excellent movie. After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with an indulgent film, especially when the entire idea behind it and the reason for its existence all boils down to indulgence. 

If Zack Snyder wants to make the movie in 4:3, let him; if he wants the armor to move just because it looks cool, let him; if he wants to make a black and white cut of the film, let him.

This version of Justice League may be overly indulgent, but it is also somewhat justified. The end result is a more well-rounded film with fully fleshed out characters who are themselves finally motivated to save the world for more reasons than just to be heroic. 

I didn’t think the Snyder cut was necessary, but having watched it, I can definitively state that the effort put into its creation (or re-creation) was absolutely worth it.