On ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE

(With the stipulation that more might emerge as I process it over the next few days…)

First thing’s first: while my affection for MAN OF STEEL – glaring, often painful flaws and all – remains unchanged and my initial loathing of the theatrical iteration of BATMAN V SUPERMAN (with the exceptions of Affleck and Irons – I wish they had more time in the roles – and being the first appearance of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman) gave way to a surprising enjoyment in its ULTIMATE (and much less non-sensical though still deeply-flawed) recut, Zack Snyder was not and is not the right filmmaker to give life to the original “these are your heroes brought to life!” intent of the DC Extended Universe – but then again, it’s not like TPTB knew what they wanted from the DCEU at the time, other than, of course, to “copy Marvel.”

I’ve come to think of Snyder’s saga as a cinematic version of DC’s “Black Label” line (and I think this is DC’s approach going forward, though I can’t keep it straight): this is Snyder’s vision of the DC pantheon – not the iconic, stone tablet version of it (but I think everyone has their own view on what those stone tablets look like), but Snyder’s vision of it (had this been the stated intent from the get-go, back in 2013, Snyder’s iteration might – might – have been received differently). This is how he would play with these action figures, with these licensed gods of our modern mythologies. And, like it or not, he was unabashedly himself, with JUSTICE LEAGUE being the most primal distillation of that aesthetic. It is unapologetic – and I can’t help but respect that.

In the absence of more drawn-out thinking, a series of points that I might explore in more depth later:

  • Overlong? Overindulgent? Undeniably.
  • Am I glad I spent the last three days watching it? Yes.
  • Did I care about the 4:3 ratio? Not in the slightest. I’m a pan-and-scan baby; it didn’t phase me.
  • What worked: … CYBORG (finally)… Superman’s return, arrival at Chernobyl or wherever they were, and that theme… Steppenwolf and actual motivated antagonism… hearing Wonder Woman’s music again, even with that annoying battle cry thing they added… but, most importantly, the Whedonisms are gone and we can banish his bastardization to the scrap heap…
  • What didn’t: … attempts at humor fell more than flat… Batman was, most unfortunately, boring this time out (except the Knightmare sequence at the end; I did enjoy that and want to see that movie)… a weird penchant for shots of gods walking up stairs before swinging into action… I could’ve sworn that Alfred met all of the League before they showed up in the Batcave but, see next point:
  • Do I remember everything that happened in earlier parts of the film? No. (Except Nick Cave’s “Distant Sky” playing over Lois’s mourning; the “They told us our gods would outlive us / but they lied” line gets me every time – even when it’s so brutally on-the-nose.)
  • In spite of having yet to warm up to Ezra Miller’s Spider-Man/The Flash, am I looking forward to his solo flick? Yes.
  • Do I still want to see the other two films in his intended series? Yes.

Time is waning this morning. More as the week goes on, probably.

Tyler W. Weaver @twweaver