Justice League was released in 2017. Despite earning a lot of money, it was considered a flop since the movie was bashed by critics and audiences alike. Also, considering the budget of the film, studio executives did not consider it profitable. So why is it back?
Truthfully, the answer is not very defined. It could be either due to fans demanding to see a Snyder cut of the film (just like with BvS) or the studio trying to promote its new streaming service HBO max. But for whichever reason, Zach Snyder was given full support and full artistic freedom to realize his dream and put together his vision of the film and voila we have on our hands a 4 hour version directors cut which actually seems like a completely different movie.
The plot starts with Superman dying (from the end of Bvs). His death seems to signal something big on the planet. Alien objects on earth, that were long silent, are now awake. They call on to their masters to come and invade the planet. Batman and Wonder woman understand the threat that this poses to all living beings and start to form a team to stop the invaders. The team gets together and tries to stop them from obliterating the planet and enslaving all its beings.
Sounds all too familiar doesn’t it? So, the big question – is it any better that the last one? In one word – yes. This movie is far superior to the previous version in almost all aspects (sans run time). Despite having the same overarching plotline, it adds much more context to it, thus making it a more cohesive story.
Since most of our heroes begin their journey in this movie rather than having a standalone film released prior, the runtime helps setting up their stories. There is more time spent on them individually to show who they are, what were they upto when the events of the previous movies were going on or in general how did they come to be. This makes for great character development and also help develop camaraderie between the heroes. For example, in the previous iteration of this film, everyone seemed like strangers abruptly put together but now they seem familiarized with each other. They care about each other, there is a genuine friendship brewing.
Another aspect on where this movie wins is on its villain(s). While the villain is also the same as the past movie (Steppenwolf), this movie makes him a much bigger threat. His appearance is changed massively to make him look more menacing and devious. Audiences are also shown his motivations on occupying this planet which make for a great understanding of what is at stake. And the biggest addition is to not just tease Darkseid (Thanos of DC for the uninitiated) but to also make his presence felt in the movie. The audiences can instantly feel his terror whenever he is on screen. The fear of a larger threat looming makes for excellent storytelling and setting up the stage for future installments.
There are many small improvements done in the film which together combined help to make this a superior film than the older one. For example, the CGI used is visibly more realistic and beautiful to the previous version. They have also cut many scenes with massive CGI which gives this a more humane touch. Small things like superman’s obvious mustache removal doesn’t look that obvious here at all (reshoots?). Even removing scenes of forced humor does wonders for the film. But where this movie succeeds massively is adding mythos and lore to the DC universe. This is absolute fan service. DC fans look at their heroes in a much different light than marvel fans and this movie depicts that brilliantly. There are so many small plot points and (Character) appearances in the movie that will leave comic book fans swooning for quite some time.
This is exactly what the fans wanted and what any superhero movie of an ensemble should offer. Zach Snyder has done an absolute compelling job of bringing together the most cherished heroes and shown a very different light on them but one that they deserve which the earlier movie was not able to do.
There are also a couple of things that didn’t work out well. One of the biggest issues with this film is the aspect ratio in which it is released. Yes, it seems like nitpicking but truthfully a direct to TV movie release should have a better aspect ratio. If this were done well it would have really amplified the viewing experience especially because this movie has been shot brilliantly.
Also, the action sequences with the Justice League fighting together were just the same as before and they were not great in the first place. It was especially disheartening to see Batman not doing his signature kickass (or detective) stuff. Most of the time he was just shooting a gun, from his car or his tank.
Another issue with the film was its music/ background score. It just didn’t resonate well with the onscreen events and seemed overindulgent. Wonder woman’s theme music was just so overtly operatic that after a point it just seemed hilarious whenever it would come on. To put it simply it just lacked subtlety.
Overall, it was a splendidly done movie for this genre. It has got to be one of the best and possibly the most unique movie about an ensemble superhero team. It’s a very different take on the superhero genre, one that’s very different from the one that audiences are used to seeing and it makes for a great experience. Zach Snyder’s Justice League undo’s all the wrongs done before and finally brings forward a movie that the fans deserve.