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Movie Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) *Spoiler Free*

Zack Snyder's Justice League Heroes Poster

I must admit I definitely didn’t dislike the original, theatrical cut of Joss Wheden’s 2017 Justice League. In fact I gave it a mostly positive review and I bought the DVD. However after seeing Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a four hour epic, I definitely prefer the latter.

Comparing the two versions, the overall story is mostly the same. Based on Lex Luthor’s warning at the end of Batman Versus Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman must assemble a team of superheroes to combat an imminent attack on the planet by an alien army.

Where the versions differ is in the character development and backstory of each hero as they are brought into the team. As well you get a much more fleshed out backstory and motivation for the movie’s villains. Most of this character development is either scaled back or completely changed in the original 2017 release, with the major, major villain erased from that film entirely.

I also got the sense that once the team comes together the mood between the characters was a lot more hopeful, co-operative, and on equal footing. For example, the Flash, Barry Allen, was portrayed as very naive, unskilled, and not particularly bright in the 2017 film, where as here, he is very aware of the potential of his abilities and proactively contributes to the team as they formulate their plans.

A some what minor short coming of Zack’s film is the inclusion of scenes that don’t really add anything but are really there just for the fans. I understand why they’re included (with most occurring during the epilogue) but they’re not really essential. It’s clear Zack Snyder doesn’t think he’ll be making any more movies in this DC continuity any time soon so he wanted to make sure fans at least got a sense of everything future films were promising in this movie. (One could argue he’s actually lighting a small flame for fans to rally behind the new hashtag #restorethesnyderverse.)

If you’re a fan of Zack’s work the four hour runtime is not an issue. I really appreciated that the film is split into chapters with clear title cards, so you can pause the action if need be.

That said I watched the film in one sitting but had no trouble pausing it at any point, as needed, due to a few life distractions happening around me.

I am glad I didn’t have to see this in a theatre. I’m not even sure I’d have gone just for the anxiety of whether I’d need the bathroom outside of the mid movie intermission (that was planned had there been a cinema release).

Overall I’m glad this version of Justice League got made. It’s superior to the 2017 release in every way but does have a few issues of its own (that I can’t get into without spoilers). I will definitely be buying the DVD/Blu-ray.

Zack’s film actually doesn’t change too much of what came after it since this version sets up Aquaman’s first solo film (albeit with some obvious references to deceased characters who are very much alive in Aquaman’s movie), has no affect on Wonder Woman’s second solo movie, and no affect on Shazam or Birds of Prey.

Regardless of which version you consider cannon, 2017, or 2021’s film, everything both films attempt to set up could be expanded upon or circled back to in future films with these characters (and actors).

Though, if I’m honest, there are aspects of Zack Snyder’s future JL plans I’m not that excited for, such as ‘evil Superman’ that we got a glimpse of in Bruce’s dream sequence in Batman Versus Superman. I’m not against it but I just want to see one or two Superman films where Clark gets to be the hero for the whole movie first.

While I do like Zack’s vision for the DC Universe, and would be happy to see him continue his Justice League story arc, I would not be disappointed to see other directors take his foundation and tell a few more smaller JL stories before we get to the epic war that is hinted at here.

As I said, I’m glad Zack got to make this version. It’s definitely more for the fans than it is the general audience. It’s definitely not for younger audiences. Even if you could get them to sit for four hours.

I recommend watching it all in one sitting, pausing as needed for breaks. It’s not a dissimilar experience to binge watching a series. I didn’t find it to be slow or drag at any point, and I really appreciated all the extra detail in each character’s story.

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