Does Zack Snyder’s Justice League Pass the Cut?

If you’ve been a regular of any geek site online for the past three or four years, you’ve probably come across it. Ever since 2017, there’s been a long standing chant from the most die-hard of DC Comics fans to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.

The call to release the Director’s Edition became so loud that fans even put the money up to rent billboards in San Diego during Comic Con. Whether it be because Warner Bros needed content for HBO Max, the pandemic changed business plans, or the demand became so obvious, in March of 2021, three and a half years after the original version, the Snyder Cut is now available.

If you’ve not been following along, be warned that there are a number of potential roadblocks in the way for you when it comes to this new version.

First, it’s laboriously long. Like, really, really long. While the original version was a manageable two hours long, this one clocks in at twice that length. Also, this new cut takes things back to the pan-and-scan days of the 90’s and goes with a 4:3 aspect ratio instead of the usual 16:9. The reasoning for this is that this version was intended to be viewed in IMAX, which is curious since that could never be achieved at home anyways.

One last bit that could be an issue for some is that the Snyder version of Justice League is a long middle episode. There’s really no beginning or end to speak of. The first five minutes is a dramatic recap of events of Batman v. Superman, and the ending teases a lot of things that likely will never come to pass now that the DC film universe has meandered into other areas and focuses.

If all of that is just fine with you, then you probably already know that you’re in for a treat. The epic running time allows for a lot more character development, particularly from the B-Team of The Flash and Cyborg. These two previously got sidelined quite a bit, and they get far more of a chance to shine here. Some of the new scenes with The Flash, while a little cheesy, are ridiculously cool excuses to play with super speed in slow motion.

The story itself is also altered a fair bit as well. While the 2017 version oddly made D-List baddie Steppanwolf the main antagonist, this time he’s very clearly just another pawn for Darkseid. If you’re not familiar with this guy, he’s basically the DC version of Marvel’s Thanos. But whereas Thanos (arguably doing nothing wrong) wanted to only take out half of all life, Darkseid is very much anti-life to the extreme. He makes for a more fascinating and deep seated threat that gives the movie a lot more weight.

Also be warned to be prepared for that weight. Marvel’s films have mostly all been different varieties of action comedies that don’t shy away from the goofy and colorful fun of their comic counterparts. This ain’t that. Most DC films try to take grittiness to the extreme, and this new Justice League doesn’t play games in that area. It also doesn’t try very hard to be a comic adaptation either, instead opting to be a more modern epic take similar to Lawrence of Arabia or Lord of the Rings. It’s unashamedly sprawling and dirty.

This new Justice League is pretty clearly an improvement over the Frankenstein’s creation that the original cut was. It’s still a long and often eye-rolling slog that wears its mood on its sleeves in the same way that a middle schooler with a Misfits shirt does.

But it’s still very good at what it does.

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