Thousands of years ago, Darkseid and his Parademons attempted to conquer Earth using the Mother Boxes. The attempt was foiled by a unified alliance of Old Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, humanity, and a Green Lantern. After the battle, the Boxes were hidden in different locations, guarded by the Amazons, Atlanteans, and Humanity respectively. In the present, Superman‘s death[b] triggers the Boxes’ reactivation, attracting Steppenwolf, one of Darkseid’s servants, to Earth. Steppenwolf, who has fallen out of favor with Darkseid, aims to regain it by gathering the boxes to form “the Unity,” which would terraform Earth in the likeness of their world Apokolips.
Steppenwolf retrieves a Mother Box from Themyscira, decimating the Amazon forces and prompting Queen Hippolyta to warn her daughter Diana Prince of the invasion. Prince receives the message and learns of the events related to Darkseid and Steppenwolf. She informs Bruce Wayne of these developments. Wayne and Prince seek to form a team of metahumans to protect Earth. Wayne locates Arthur Curry and Barry Allen, while Prince locates Victor Stone. Allen joins immediately, while Curry and Stone refuse. However, Stone joins after his father Silas and several other S.T.A.R. Labs employees are kidnapped by Parademons seeking the humans’ Mother Box. Steppenwolf attacks an Atlantean outpost to retrieve their Box, forcing Curry into action.
The team receives intel from Gotham City police Commissioner James Gordon, leading them to Steppenwolf’s army in an abandoned facility under Gotham Harbor. Although the group rescues the kidnapped employees, the facility is flooded during combat, trapping the team until Curry helps delay the flood so they can escape. Stone retrieves the last Mother Box, which he had hidden, for the group to analyze. Stone reveals that Silas used the Box to rebuild his body after a car accident. Also that the Boxes are “change machines” that unfalteringly enforce the will of their master, destroying or restoring to life without bias. The group decides to use the Box to resurrect Superman to help fight Steppenwolf. Allen and Stone exhume Superman’s body, and place it in the amniotic fluid of the genesis chamber in a Kryptonian ship[c] kept in S.T.A.R. Labs. After Allen activates the Mother Box, an amnesiac Superman is resurrected, immediately attacking the group after Stone’s cybernetics target him in self-defense. Lois Lane arrives just in time to calm Superman, preventing him from killing Wayne. Together, Lane and Superman leave for his family home in Smallville, where he regains his memories and reunites with his mother, Martha.
Steppenwolf attacks S.T.A.R. Labs and retrieves the last Mother Box, though Silas manages to supercharge the Box with laser heat at the cost of his own life, allowing Stone to track it by tracing the heat. Without Superman, the five heroes travel to where Steppenwolf aims to unite the Boxes. The team fights their way through the Parademons to reach the Boxes but cannot distract Steppenwolf enough for Stone to separate them. Superman arrives and overpowers Steppenwolf, but the Boxes merge to form the Unity, causing a massive explosion. Allen enters the Speed Force and reverses time, allowing Superman and Stone to separate the Boxes. The heroes kill Steppenwolf and toss his body into a portal to Apokolips. Darkseid assures his servant DeSaad he will return to Earth to complete his quest for the Anti-Life Equation.
After the battle, Wayne, Prince, and Alfred Pennyworth agree to set up a base of operations at the former Wayne Manor. As the team establishes, Prince receives another message from the Amazons, Allen acquires a job in Central City‘s police department which impresses his father Henry, Stone is inspired by a message from his father to use his abilities for good, Curry bids farewell to Mera and his mentor Nuidis Vulko as he goes to see his father,[d] and Superman resumes his life as reporter Clark Kent and as protector of Earth.
Lex Luthor, who escaped from Arkham Asylum, is visited by Slade Wilson, to whom Luthor reveals Batman’s secret identity. After having a dream involving Stone, Allen, Mera, Wilson, the Joker, and an evil Superman in a post-apocalyptic world,[e] Wayne receives a visit from the Martian Manhunter, who previously visited Lane disguised as Martha. He thanks Wayne for assembling the team before saying they will be in contact in preparation for Darkseid’s next plans.
- Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman: A wealthy socialite, and the owner of Wayne Enterprises. He dedicates himself to protecting Gotham City from its criminal underworld as a highly trained, masked vigilante equipped with various tools and weapons. Director Zack Snyder described Affleck’s Batman as on a path of redemption in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, feeling guilty due to his actions in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
- Henry Cavill as Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman: A member of, and inspiration for, the Justice League. He is a Kryptonian survivor and a journalist for the Daily Planet based in Metropolis. In 2018, Cavill described Superman as he appears in Snyder’s Justice League as coming closer to completing his character arc that began with Man of Steel (2013) and becoming the “true” Superman as depicted in the comics. Snyder said while he loves the traditional portrayals of the character, he wanted Superman to have a realistic arc and develop as a character, and not be a “one-dimensional Boy Scout“.
- Amy Adams as Lois Lane: A reporter with the Daily Planet and the love interest of Clark Kent.
- Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman: An Immortal demigoddess and Amazon warrior.
- Ray Fisher as Victor Stone / Cyborg: A former college athlete who, after being cybernetically reconstructed after a nearly fatal car accident, is turned into a techno-organic being enhanced by reactive, adaptive biomimetic alien technology. His enhancements include the abilities of flight, variable weaponry and technopathy. Much of Cyborg’s character development was removed in the theatrical release, and Snyder described Cyborg as he is depicted in Zack Snyder’s Justice League as “the heart of the movie”. Similarly, Fisher stated that Cyborg’s character arc is emotional and allegorical of “the journey that Black people have taken in [America]”. According to Fisher, the only scene of his directed by Snyder which remained in the theatrical cut was that of Cyborg meeting up with Batman and Commissioner Gordon at the Gotham City police rooftop.
- Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry / Aquaman: An Atlantean half-blood with aquatic powers.
- Ezra Miller as Barry Allen / The Flash: A Central City college student pursuing a degree in criminal justice in the hopes of exonerating his father of the murder of his wife, Barry’s mother.
- Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko: An Atlantean who acts as Arthur’s mentor.
- Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor: Superman’s arch-nemesis and former head of LexCorp. Lex’s original appearance at the end of the film was originally filmed differently from the theatrical version, teasing Affleck’s The Batman project rather than a potential Justice League sequel.
- Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth: Bruce Wayne’s butler who provides tactical support for Batman and the Justice League.
- Diane Lane as Martha Kent: Clark Kent’s adoptive mother.
- Connie Nielsen as Hippolyta: Diana’s mother and Queen of the Amazons.
- J. K. Simmons as James Gordon: the Police Commissioner of Gotham City and an ally of Batman.
- Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf: A New God military officer from the planet Apokolips who leads an army of Parademons in search of the three Mother Boxes held on Earth. Hinds had previously described Steppenwolf as “old, tired, still trying to get out of his own enslavement to Darkseid”. Steppenwolf was redesigned for the new release, bringing his appearance closer to Snyder’s original vision prior to studio interference. Previously, Hinds expressed frustration with the theatrical cut which trimmed down Steppenwolf’s backstory and character.
- Ryan Zheng as Ryan Choi: A scientist working at S.T.A.R. Labs, under the leadership of Silas Stone. By the end of the film, Choi is promoted to Director of Nanotechnology at the company. The character was intended to star in a spin-off, with Snyder having pitched a film to the studio. The filmmaker stated that movie would have featured Choi taking up the mantle of The Atom, and taken place in China with a Chinese cast.
- Amber Heard as Mera: An Atlantean who was raised by Arthur Curry’s mother, Queen Atlanna.
- Joe Morton as Silas Stone: The father of Victor Stone and the head scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs.
- Lisa Loven Kongsli as Menalippe: Hippolyta’s lieutenant and Diana’s aunt.
- David Thewlis as Ares: The Olympian God of War, and Diana’s half-brother. Stuntman Nick McKinless portrays Ares physically on set, while Thewlis’s face replaces McKinless’s in the finished film using special effects.
Jared Leto portrays the Joker, a psychotic criminal and Batman’s archenemy, reprising his role from Suicide Squad (2016). The Joker was not planned to appear in the original film, but Snyder decided to use him sometime after his new version was greenlit, as it was always Snyder’s intention to bring the Joker into his Justice League films. The character was redesigned for the new release. Karen Bryson portrays Elinore Stone, the late mother of Victor Stone, while Kiersey Clemons portrays Iris West, the love interest of Barry Allen. Ray Porter portrays Darkseid, a tyrannical New God from Apokolips and Steppenwolf’s nephew and master. Darkseid did not appear in the theatrical cut, meaning Zack Snyder’s Justice League marks the character’s first appearance in a live-action film. Porter played Darkseid through the use of motion capture and “went through a few different vocal gymnastics trying to figure out the voice”. Porter was unfamiliar with the Darkseid character upon being cast, but Snyder and screenwriter Chris Terrio helped guide him with their knowledge of the comic book lore. Peter Guinness portrays DeSaad, Darkseid’s master enforcer. Harry Lennix reprises his role from previous DC Extended Universe films as Calvin Swanwick, who is revealed to be Martian Manhunter. Other actors reprising their roles from previous DC Extended Universe films include: Robin Wright as Antiope, Samantha Jo as Euboea, Carla Gugino as the voice of the Kryptonian ship A.I. and Russell Crowe as the voice of Jor-El. Uncredited appearances include Billy Crudup as Henry Allen, Kevin Costner (via archival voice recording) as Jonathan Kent, and Joe Manganiello as Slade Wilson / Deathstroke.
The reviews are in for Zack Snyder’s anticipated Justice League cut.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League follows the 2017 Justice League, which is credited to Snyder but was largely helmed and written by Joss Whedon after Snyder had to remove himself from the project due to a family tragedy. Despite extensive reshoots and a new start, Whedon’s film left fans convinced that Snyder’s original take on the film before handing the reins over was being kept from them — a growing movement of fans rallied by the hashtag #ReleasetheSnyderCut, with even the film’s stars Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck adding their voices on Twitter. Now fans are having their say with Snyder set to release his cut of Justice League on HBO Max on March 18.
“It will be an entirely new thing, and, especially talking to those who have seen the released movie, a new experience apart from that movie,” Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter, also noting that he has not watched the version released in theaters.
The Hollywood Reporter’s John DeFore is quick to note that comparisons to the 2017 version are inevitable and Snyder’s cut “is an improvement in some concrete ways” thanks to a “more coherent” plot and tone, “substantially improved” FX and better photography. However, DeFore writes “the movie’s soul, such as it is, remains unimproved, and at 242 minutes, very few of them offering much pleasure, it’s nearly unendurable as a single-sitting experience.” Though “the expanded version may be exactly the product desired by the legion of Snyder fans who cried to the heavens for its release,” unfortunately “nonmembers of that cult will find it just as unenjoyable as the original.” DeFore adds that the new cut offers “testosterocious monotony from its first chapter” and admits that “some of the battles here might play well if repurposed in other comic book movies,” but “they’re just numbing in this film.” DeFore also noted how unimpressed he was with the director’s “exasperating epilogue.” “No thanks, guys. This was more than enough.”
Meanwhile Slate‘s Karen Han credits herself as a “Snyder apologist”; therefore, it’s not a surprise to find that the critic is quick to applaud the film for being “remarkable” and says Snyder’s distinctive directing style and aesthetics “sets the new Justice League apart.” Han credits Snyder for bringing “emotional depth” to characters, in particular with Cyborg (Ray Fisher).” Four hours might seem unnecessarily long, but in this case, it allows for time to see these characters when they aren’t superheroes, and makes them more human as a result,” Han writes. Han explains in detail how Snyder “has established himself as a director who’s impossible to imitate,” and his new cut proves “a movie with a clear director’s touch is more compelling than a movie that’s been made by committee.” Han concludes, “Snyder’s Justice League is more, more, more in a way that most films wouldn’t dare, and, after a year of no theaters at all, a movie that makes me long to return to a multiplex — to see more movies that commit so completely to a vision that it’s impossible not to be swept away.”
Amon Warmann of Empire magazine shares the same positive sentiments that Snyder’s “four-hour cut that lives up to its title” and “for the most part, it’s for the better.” Like Han, Warmann also acknowledges Snyder’s ability to take the time to “dig into his team of heroes,” with “fleshed-out through-lines” now allowing “the story as a whole to breathe.” Recognized for his “super slow motion” aesthetic, Warmann notes that while “the director overindulges” at times, “generally it’s used in the service of accentuating action beats.” To offer critiques of the film, Warmann adds that “unsurprisingly, not all of the added material in this four-hour, seven-chapter film is effective” citing “too much exposition concerning ‘Mother Boxes,’” the confusion bound to occur among non-DC fans about what is going on in multiple new scenes, and Amy Adams’ Lois Lane “still far too wedded to Superman (Henry Cavill) for it to matter much.” Of Cavill’s Superman, Warmann also critiques that “Snyder and Cavill still haven’t been able to tap into what makes him special beyond his brutish strength, and if you were hoping for an in-story explanation about a certain costume change beyond ‘it looks cool and it’s what fans want,’ you’re out of luck.
For her take on the film, Maya Phillips of The New York Times puts emphasis on its underlying message of hope. Phillips writes that it’s “sadly predictable” when Cavill’s Superman “arrives on the scene just in the nick of time” because “yet again a white male Übermensch is the default image of hope and salvation, so much so that he must literally be raised from the dead for the day to be saved. … Despite the other powerful, charismatic heroes on the roster … Justice League can’t conceive of hope in any other sense than the man with an S on his chest,” Phillips writes. Further, she argues that “the hope of the narrative clashes with the hope of the franchise” because “the story aims to give us a world where heroes come back to life, where they put aside their pride and reticence and self-interest to form an alliance,” but the franchise simply hopes for “more films, more crossovers [and] more money. … Hope isn’t manufactured. It can’t be limited to a shadow of a gesture or shouldered by one man whose extraordinary abilities are heralded in the ‘super’ of his name. And it’s definitely not in the cinematic equivalent of a four-hour-long cut scene,” Phillips writes, also concluding that amid COVID-19, hope looks different and “doesn’t look like the dead bodies of a villain and his henchmen at the end of a great saga” but rather “something lighter, brighter — so much more than the dark.”
The Los Angeles Times‘ Justin Chang credits Snyder for offering a cut that he respects more, but notes that it “doesn’t mean it’s the one I prefer. … The two-hour Justice League was, for all its baggage, a watchable exercise in damage control, with welcome moments of levity that cut through the murky torpor of Snyder’s storytelling,” Chang writes. “True, it butchered its convoluted mythology and left crucial material on the cutting-room floor — to which I can only say that by the end of the Snyder cut, I sort of wanted to kiss the cutting-room floor.” Chang explains that “there are fleeting pleasures and unlikely sources of fascination” throughout the new film and positively critiques the film for adding more depth and background to characters. “He wants you to love these characters, individually and in tandem, as intensely as he does (plus a host of briefly seen background players, among them Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, Willem Dafoe’s Vulko and J.K. Simmons’ Commissioner Gordon).” However, Chang adds that though this film may be “a fuller, more stylish film than its butchered predecessor,” he’s “reluctant to call it a richer or deeper one” given the lengthy film time: “What Snyder has contrived here feels less like a vital re-energization of the form than a ponderous guided tour through a museum’s worth of familiar superhero-movie tropes and conventions: Look at this, look at that, try not to look at your watch. Like the Flash himself, Snyder wants to slow time to a crawl, to deconstruct every gesture, to make his obsessions your own. He wants the movie to go on forever. Mission accomplished.”
Angie Han of Mashable is quick to note that in just the opening scene, Snyder’s film “wastes no time setting itself apart” from the 2017 original, as Snyder introduces a “darker, grittier vision, through and through.” But, Han notes, the film is “still recognizable as a different version of the same basic story. … Snyder’s belated tinkering results in a movie that represents, on just about every level, a vast improvement over the previous edit. It still won’t be for everyone,” Han writes, describing Snyder’s take as one that lacks the “sunnier, cutesier, ostensibly more relatable tone that the theatrical version had tried to infuse,” and now “recommits to the more downbeat mood” found in his previous DC works Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Commenting on Snyder’s directing style, Han acknowledges “the filmmaker’s knack for striking visuals shows in the action set pieces” which, she writes, “play crisper and cleaner this time around,” as well as “his moodier sensibility” that makes for “a heavier film, but also one whose grandiose emotions feel more earned.” Like other critics, she also positively critiques the film’s ability to flesh out the characters more. But with two extra hours than the original theatrical release, Han writes that there is now “so much more plot and exposition and Easter eggs that it still feels like we’re missing some pieces. … It’s enough of a challenge for to keep up with half a dozen lead characters … and it can be dizzying, from moment to moment, to remember what happened an hour or two or three ago. And not all of the new stuff feels wholly necessary.
Matt Zoller Seitz of Roger Ebert starts his critique emphasizing that even with a four hours and two minutes run time, if Snyder’s Justice League is eventually released in theaters, “I’ll go see it again, just as long as it’s in Imax and there’s an intermission.” Seitz praises the film for being a stronger alternative to the 2017 original, writing, “I don’t see how it’s possible to put this version of the project next to the 2017 version and not recognize that it’s superior in every way.” Further, Zoller Seitz writes that the new cut “is the kind of brazen auteurist vision that Martin Scorsese was calling for when he complained (rightly) that most modern superhero movies don’t resemble cinema as he’s always understood and valued it.” He describes the film as “a corporate product that feels as if it sprung from a fever dream,” such as Superman Returns, and other works. Of the characters, Zoller Seitz argues that Whedon’s cut “favored Bruce Wayne/Batman and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman,” but Snyder offers “an ensemble picture that does as good a job as MCU’s Avengers films of depicting a band of heroes as strong-willed, fully-rounded individuals who had lives and issues before the main action started and must learn to work to together.” With many fans pleading for Snyder’s cut to be released, Zoller Seitz writes that the film “will mainly please the people who clamored for it” and “even fans of the genre might consider it a bit much. … It owes as much to rock concerts, video games and multimedia installations as it does to commercial narrative filmmaking. It’s maddening. It’s monumental. It’s art.”
Matt Goldberg of Collider poses the question, “Isn’t it far better to see a director’s original vision than whatever the studio chose to release simply to meet a release date?” adding that Snyder’s cut “essentially restores the heart of the movie and fleshes out the character motivations into a compelling picture about faith, honor and sacrifice.” However, Goldberg describes the experience of watching the lengthy film “confounding” and that the differences between his take and Whedon’s cut “don’t feel monumental. … More often than not, the experience of watching ZSJL is like watching the extended version of JL17. It is, in other words, a rough cut but with the benefit of finished VFX,” Goldberg writes, referring to Whedon’s 2017 version as “JL17.” Goldberg argues that editing should’ve been considered and the film “seems built to keep in everything” which, he argues, is an approach that “not only kills the pacing, but it also makes it difficult to latch onto any kind of thematic or emotional arc. … Without having seen JL17, Snyder has basically elongated that movie in ways that feel senseless and far too merciful in what should be cut,” Goldberg writes, adding that even with new scenes enhancing the overall work, the film fails to deliver something that justifies “the vastly extended runtime. … I truly hope that Snyder found some sort of solace in making this new version. I don’t know the man personally, but he seems like a good enough guy, and if this cut of Justice League brings him a modicum of peace, then at least we can say that in the film’s defense. But for the audience, Zack Snyder’s Justice League fails to make the case for its existence,” Goldberg writes.
The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw calls Snyder’s cut “weirdly entertaining” and despite being four hours long, “its dramatic and theological craziness only really come across when you consume it all at once. … You can see from a mile away where it is all going — or rather from three hours and 55 minutes away — and for me, the Justice League still does not have the colour, flair, snap and zap of the Avengers in the MCU,” Bradshaw critiques. “It comes to life most in the regular cityscape settings that it seems keen to avoid.” He continues to note that while watching, “there is something absorbing about this operatically strange twilight-of-the-superhero-gods that might yet turn out to be daybreak” and “the film has something preposterous but surreal.” With “some nice supporting performances, most notably from Willem Dafoe” and a “disturbing” epilogue that features familiar faces such as Jared Leto’s Joker, Bradshaw argues that though “Snyder’s film may be exhausting” it is still “engaging.” “Justice is served,” he concludes.
|Directed by||Zack Snyder|
|Produced by||Charles RovenDeborah Snyder|
|Screenplay by||Chris Terrio|
|Story by||Chris Terrio, Zack Snyder, Will Beall|
by DC Comics
Distributed by: HBO Max.
Here is the official trailer of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
You can stream Zack Snyder’s Justice League by visiting https://www.hbomax.com