A New Type of Superhero Movie



It’s been about two years since I’ve watched a superhero movie. After Avengers: Endgame, I began feeling “Marvel Exhaustion”. I couldn’t force myself to watch another movie where a guy/girl learns how to empathize and use their powers for good, all the while cracking jokes. It just wasn’t my thing anymore. And so, as Marvel geared up for their “Phase Four” line-up of shows and movies, I called it quits and went back to watching some other mindless franchise for a while. However, something was bubbling in the background. 

It finally came to a rolling boil a year after I declared my superhero cold turkey. Zack Snyder, the director of Man of Steel and 300, announced that Warner Brothers, the studio that produced DC Comic movies, had given the greenlight for Snyder to release his cut of Justice League. The original cut of this movie was released in 2017 to negative critical response and low box-office numbers. I hadn’t even watched that version because my exhaustion was getting intense those last few years.  When this announcement came out, I thought, “another superhero movie? Well, now I know what not to watch.” However, it wasn’t until February of 2021 when the posters raving that the movie was coming out next month was when I gave it my full attention. 

I learned that this release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League was more than a movie; it was a cultural moment. It was one of the first instances that a director who had his project taken from him was able to get it back and create the movie he wanted to. Finally, the artist was able to have full control of his art. I wanted to support this change in the film industry by watching his cut. Zack Snyder’s Justice League came out on March 18, 2021. 

The Movie

I’ll start with the short version of the review: I liked the movie. It was grand, operatic, and fun. It made me like superhero movies again.

Yet, the movie is not perfect. To give a more numerical statement: it was a 7/10. However, the movie is more than just that, it is a cultural moment. People got together to beg Warner Brothers to release this cut and the people won. However, it’s still a movie that has flaws.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League follows the aftermath of the death of Superman. This event signals three objects in the world, specifically Themyscira, the city of the Amazonians, Atlantis, the city of the Altanteans, and a research lab in Metropolis. We learn that these objects are called “motherboxes” and that the origin of these objects came from an ancient alien invasion. The Earth inhabitants came together and defeated this menace. Here is where the central theme comes in: no one can save the world alone. 

This is exactly the mindset that Batman has throughout the movie. He understands that there is a threat that is coming to destroy the world and so he must assemble a team to defeat them. His development arc comes from shedding his brooding and lonely nature to help the world. In fact, most of the characters have this type of arc. Cyborg is devastated by his transformation and the loss of his mother that he secludes himself from society. However, he learns that he is not alone in his suffering. The Flash learns how to work with other people and finally feels useful in his life. Aquaman distrusts his own people and anyone else, but finally takes responsibility and joins the team. Wonder Woman has to integrate herself into the team after leaving her people. This is what the movie is all about. They really want you to keep this idea ingrained in your minds. A bit too much at times, however. 

The main antagonist, Steppenwolf has to unite the motherboxes in order to destroy the world. Everything is about unity. This is why the movie only waits until the very end to bring back Superman from the dead. Once he comes back, the team is complete and the world is saved. Everyone has a part in saving the world. No one can do it alone.

However, the movie needs a lot of time to convey all of these different stories and bring all the characters together. How much time? Four hours. The movie is extremely long. However, the time went by quickly and the moments when the movie did feel slow was rare. The pacing works well for the sheer expansive nature of the story. Zack Synder gives the audience plenty of action and drama to keep them entertained.

One critique that people will have is the long, drawn-out introductory scenes of some of the heroes. I learned in this movie that Zack Synder really likes slow-mo and very dramatic music. Other than the introductory scenes, there are a couple of other sequences that could’ve been cutdown. However, I enjoyed the slow-mo effect when it came to the action scenes. These moments were exciting and it was great to see it slow down in order to awe at the choreography and the VFX, though there were moments that the CGI could’ve been worked on more. Another thing that you will see is the sheer violence that Synder displays. The movie is rated R for this very reason. Zack Snyder does not hide any brutality. This is mainly because he wanted his superhero movie to have realism. This explains why the color grading is gray and dark. It looks more grounded compared to other superhero movies that try to mimic the colorfulness of comics.

However, this isn’t meant to say that the movie is a dull viewing. The costumes certainly look great such as The Flash’s and Wonder Woman’s. Even Cyborg has bright red lights that come from his suit. The darkness of the lighting as well does not make the movie seem boring. It makes it more dramatic. This was one of the stylistic choices that Synder wanted to make. He wanted the movie to feel dark and operatic. The score is daunting and vast. The acting is brooding. The tone is intense. This is what a movie made by Zack Synder is.

The End

I enjoyed this experience of seeing an artist with complete control over his art. I get to see how Zack Synder’s mind works, how he uses his eyes to see, how he uses his ears to hear, and how he uses his soul to tell a story. It’s just like any other unique art: it’s personal and self-indulgent. If you love Zack Snyder, you’ll probably give it a perfect score. I gave it a 7/10. However, as an experience, it was beyond a scale. Zack Synder was able to tell his story of unity to his fullest vision. Yet, without the unity of his fans, he couldn’t have gotten it done. That’s why superhero movies are great. Hopefully, we’ll get to see more of Zack Synder. For right now, Zack Synder’s Justice League is a great movie that we should all watch at least once, both because it’s fun and also because it’s four hours long.