Do You Even Punch Through Walls, Bro?: #TheSnyderCut of 'Justice League'
What will be made of it?
It’s been days since a certain movie dropped, so of course, I’ve chosen now to write about it. Better late than never? I think so. Time doesn’t have to be of the essence, right?
I’m currently working on a short-form video project for The Louisiana Film Channel, one that I’ve found myself stumbling over a bit. Thankfully, a morning pep talk from our editor has me excited and pumped. This office will become a makeshift studio, darn it!
Other planned posts for this week include ones on:
Donny’s Bar Mitzvah
I Blame Society and the Unnamed Footage Festival
Let’s get to it.
(apologies, but no watchlist or links for this edition)
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
I’ve read that one of the best scenes in Zack Snyder’s new cut of the Justice League film is the slo-mo car crash rescue sequence introduction of The Flash. Absolutely, this addition is a welcome change from what we saw in theaters. Barry Allen, changing time and space to save the life of a young love at first sight, admires a woman as she falls through the air… hot dogs from a nearby cart surrounding her. Barry grabs one of many, before taking her out of the path of destruction. It’s an odd moment to behold - which is the exact word to describe watching this - that’s just barely missing overly comedic subtext, but ultimately works in The Flash’s favor. We learn everything we need to know about him in mere minutes, as he dashes dashingly across the screen, from his sense of humor to his wanting to who he is deep down.
#TheSnyderCut has quite the sordid history, dating back to before its theatrical version. Books have and will be written about this story, but as of now, it’s clear who was assuredly wronged: director Zack Snyder. His vision for Justice League, as it streams now on HBO Max, is a grand example of decadent indulgence and mastery of craft, one that would’ve been a hoot to see splashed across IMAX.
It works as a cross-section between spectacle and experimental, displaying all that a single director has worked an entire career to achieve. This is Zack Snyder’s magnum opus - a testament to the new gods of pop culture in the best and worst ways. Perhaps they deserve this treatment, to be shown as holier than thou and atop a pedestal too high to view from the ground. Perhaps we see through them as false images, arrogant know-it-alls. Perhaps we see ourselves in their boots.
No matter what, it’s a scream. It’s a phenom.
Eight parts make up the movie (six chapters with a prologue and epilogue), which in this on-demand world, carries a startling context in episodic and feature-length presentation. Of course, with a four-hour runtime, and being made available in homes first and foremost, occasional breaks to pause and go for the bathroom are most welcome. Maybe it’s less an evolution of the medium and more a return to the epics of old. Maybe both?
Ray Fisher’s performance of Cyborg gets the brunt of the heart in the movie, with perhaps the most resonant arc of the heroes. “I’m not broken, and I’m not alone” will be a line that’ll stay with me forever. It’s so well earned and so impactful when it happens, having been built from the ground of despair and depression to revelation and personal triumph. Cyborg in Justice League is not unlike Hulk in Avengers as both have more empathetic roles in their groups, without really stepping on any toes. I don’t mean to compare Whedon to Snyder, of which there is no comparison - Snyder’s cut is “superior” in every way, even at its most pretentious and dragged down.
One might suspect ill will with the studio for getting raw with the original cut in the first place, but I see Snyder’s feelings as being more sentimental. Throughout the film, there’s a theme of undoing the wrongs of the past. There’s Batman’s guilt over Superman, Cyborg’s accident and subsequent transformation, The Flash being able to actually turn back the clock, etc. Every player involved, hero and villain, want to make right a mistake of some sort. If tomorrow is indeed another day, Zack Snyder likely sees things as brightly as that, after all he’s experienced personally and professionally, expressed here through the figures of cartoon legend.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League wants to be and is epic, but as part of a trilogy with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, it creates a near-perfect whole. Near, mind you. Each movie can’t help but go for that apocalyptic tone which Snyder seems to dig too much, buildings collapsing with ease and the overall mood being pure brood and deep sadness, but interestingly enough, Justice League, the finale to this piece, dives the least into the pool of darkness.
It gets graphic, it gets violent, but never true blue horror, even when it could and should go for it. This isn’t really a story of hope on the face of it, but of action. Action in both the visceral and literal sense, and action in the determined and assertive sense. Snyder works best when bold, and Justice League is bold to an absolute. Same with Batman v Superman. Same with Man of Steel. For all of their collateral damage, the films aren’t betrayals of character, just unfamiliar cinematic left turns of attitude for superhero storytelling. Gloom doesn’t sell too well unless you’re Lars Von Trier, but why can’t comic book movies go that route? Why can’t we explore the worst of a hero’s journey, especially when the best has been thoroughly shown elsewhere?
This new Justice League is a riot of brash properties and mighty strength, which goes back and forth from great to overwhelming to great again to self-gratifying to cathartic. I can finally say, for the main DCEU Snyderverse flicks, that there is one entry that earns its reach for the sky. And it’s the one we never were meant to see.