Justice League and Objective Analyses

What’s prompting me to talk about a movie that came out over a year ago (I’m gonna talk mainly about Zack Snyder’s version)? Well, it’s a thing that’s been bothering me for a while, since it came out in fact. People are being selectively blind.

A black and white poster for Zack Snyder’s Justice League

I remember when ZSJL came out, and I remember the huge campaigning that went into the existence of this movie, mostly because Joss Whedon’s JL had sucked major ass (for those who don’t know, Joss was brought in by WB to “finish” JL after Zack had to step aside for personal reasons). Now, I’m not opposed to fans clamoring to see a movie and bending studios to their will; that’s basically how we got Deadpool. But since ZSJL was released, I’ve noticed a trend among people and friends who’ve seen the movie.

Okay, full disclosure: I did not watch Joss Whedon’s Justice League. I had been burned by the DCEU too many times and decided to abstain. Then I heard from people who’d seen it that it was a complete dumpster fire, so you can imagine I was feeling a bit smug at that moment. But this was 2017. Time went on, I saw more superhero movies (still no DC, save for Birds of Prey), and besides using it as a punchline, didn’t think too much of Justice League. Another one of DC’s bad movies. Then the pandemic hit, and we all had no new movies to distract ourselves. Before long, #ReleaseTheSnyderCut began catching steam on social media, with the idea that Zack’s vision for JL was very different to Whedon’s, and what was eventually released. Amazingly, WB actually signed off on this and the Snyder Cut was going to be a thing.

I have my reservations on Snyder as a filmmaker, but that’s a story for another day. The Snyder Cut was here, and it was going to be Zack’s vision as he intended, unhindered by studio interference or any outside forces. His movie. As a comic nerd, I was interested. But my interest was different to most others. For most people, this was a chance to “correct” the mistakes of 2017’s JL, but since I’d never seen it, there was nothing to correct, at least in my mind. I wasn’t poisoned by seeing a weak Steppenwolf, or yet another Whedon boob-gag (really, dude. Get new material). I was gonna try, to the best of my ability to watch it and judge it on it’s own two feet. Not as spackle patching up the holes left by a former movie.

Watching a 4-hour movie in one night was a challenge, but I did it, and I actually enjoyed it. Was it the movie, or the fact that I watched it at night (I have a theory that watching movies at night enhances the experience)? Who knows. But I did it, and I thought it was a solid film. Was it still plagued by Zack’s peculiarities? Yes, absolutely. Still, if the runtime was shorter, I’d have no problems with re-watching it. And this is where the divergence happens. Because I’ve seen people praise the movie over and over. Someone even rated it similar to The Batman (2022), and that messed with my head. The Batman has a legitimate claim to being the best live-action Batman movie (up there with The Dark Knight), and yet there are people who would put ZSJL on that level, so you can imagine what that did to me.

The “answer” to this obvious problem came to me while watching CinemaWins’ video on ZSJL. I love CinemaWins, he’s great, and he talks about movies in a way I haven’t yet figured out. While watching it, I noticed that a sizeable amount of the wins were comparative. “Here’s something that this movie did better than Whedon’s”, “here’s something that wasn’t in Whedon’s but was in this and made the movie better”, things like that. And while those were all good points, all it did is show that ZSJL was better than Whedon’s JL; and that’s not too high a bar to clear if we’re being honest. It says nothing about whether this movie, separate from the outside stimuli that is 2017’s JL, is a good movie. And the comparative rating, whether implicit or explicit, is something I noticed outside CinemaWins as well. People who’d seen Whedon’s JL would rate ZSJL highly.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is an okay film. A solid 6/10 (5.5 because of that last dream sequence). It’s a well deserved opportunity to allow a filmmaker show us his vision. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the vision is still flawed, flaws which seriously affect the overall quality of the movie and should be acknowledged.

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