Zack Snyder's Justice League

Zack Snyder's Justice League ★★★★½

Through the support of the fandom, Snyder gets to finally complete his pure unadulterated vision of Justice League and this is a film that feels more like Lord of the Rings than a superhero film. Snyder crafts an epic here that shows so many different landscapes and commits fully to the journey and the process of how individuals come together. In many ways, this makes The Avengers just look like a toy commercial despite some shaky CGI and that is purely because this feels like the same kind of story directed by someone who cares deeply about his images and the portrayals of these characters. Even when Snyder goes for a corny feminist empowerment moment (the little girl asking Wonder Woman if she can grow up to be like her when quite frankly the sentiment of the scene could’ve been telling without that dialogue), its a moment that feels genuine and earned because of how Snyder films Diana in that sequence. Where Whedon cut out a number of moments that allowed for Diana to be badass and heroic, Snyder fully presents her the way she was meant to be seen which actually makes what could easily have been a bland woke feminist moment feel beautiful and earned.

This is absolutely a lighter film both thematically and tonally than Snyder’s last two films in this DC trilogy, which may mean that it isn’t as complex. But where BvS and MoS both felt half baked despite the number of great ideas present in both, Snyder displays the best filmmaking of his career here and fully realizes his vision for a whole film, which really makes me hopeful for studios to stop fucking with his work. Snyder to me has always been a very hit or miss filmmaker, partially because sometimes his ideas just don’t land for me (like the entire concept of 300 is cool to see for like a short film maybe, but as a whole it just gets repetitive) and sometimes the studio interference is clear as day (like with BvS where even the ultimate cut couldn’t get rid of the poorly placed Justice League set ups and actually hurt the pacing of the overall watch for its 2nd half), but here Snyder’s pacing is electric. This is honestly one of the fastest 4 hour watches I have seen and that can partially be due to how light on ideas and themes the film is, but Snyder infuses the film with so much creativity when it comes to mythologizing his heroes, both in presenting them with some of the most beautifully expressive imagery I have seen in a superhero film (which legit can make you forget there is even CGI in there) as well as not being afraid to show so many creative locations and balance it all out in a film. Even just little details which some may consider as unnecessary like when the women start singing a farewell song to Aquaman and one of them starts smelling the shirt he leaves do so much for the character and being able to make him feel like a real mythical hero in showing the impact he has on the world. I have seen some complaints about how this film is more, not better than the 2017 Justice League, but these people clearly have lost their way with understanding what makes a film great (likely because their brains have been polluted by the shallow and safe filmmaking that Feige enables through the MCU), that some of the most powerful tenets in genre filmmaking is to be patient, to not be afraid of details, and to show a real passion for the characters and their world. There is absolutely more in this Justice League, but that is what reinforces the material that was perceived as shoddy and lazy in 2017s Justice League and makes it feel earned and feel like another piece in an overall epic and rewarding puzzle.

The final battle sequence is just so indicative of how much Snyder respects and loves these characters. Where Whedon essentially lets the sequence play out as these characters just being useless filler who execute small tasks until Superman comes in and turns Steppenwolf into a joke by beating his ass like he ain’t shit (a similar thing Whedon did by turning Loki into a joke when Hulk just wagged him around like a rag doll after building Loki up the whole movie as a villain to fear), Snyder truly allows the Justice League to function as a team. Every character is extremely pivotal to the final mission and Superman is someone who actually is helping the team, not carrying them. It’s funny Snyder is accused of being fascist in his “glorifying” portrayals of these superheroes because he depicts better teamwork and the importance of unity than most superhero films out there (Shazam’s message of unity feels heavily undervalued when it removes the specialty of the titular hero as well as the other heroes and Endgame feels more like an attempt at identity politics most of the time with trying to turn its background heroes as lazy messages for liberal pandering while only truly giving importance to a few white men while killing off their few prominent female heroes)

Ultimately, this is about as perfect as these team up superhero movies can get and a beautiful conclusion to Snyder’s trilogy while also being a “what if” if DC let Snyder continue to cook (which I pray will happen). Man of Steel to me was a film about empathy and operated as an inverse to Dr. Manhattans arc in Watchmen. It was beautiful to see atleast that idea executed for Superman even if it was in a movie that eventually got very lazy and repetitive in its second half with non stop action that mostly functioned in very similar ways. BvS continued those themes but easily became Snyder’s most ideological by presenting how empathy can be beaten and tattered down by division which ultimately leads to one of the most beautiful conclusions to a character’s arc in Superman deciding to sacrifice himself for a broken, hateful humanity. Snyder’s Justice League had to be the lightest one. It had to be the film to remind us that unity destroys hate. What it lacks in complexity, it more than makes up in purity, emotion, and just an overall realization for its characters, story, Snyder’s vision and most importantly

For Autumn. Yes, it is impossible to not mention how personally infused this film is for Snyder. The topic of children and fathers is everywhere here. From Superman's two dead fathers speaking to him and encouraging him to be an ideal for good, from Wonder Woman and her mother's love and faith for her literally connected through a fired arrow which sets the entire film in motion, from Cyborg (with his much, much, much improved backstory) going from resenting to learning to love his absentee father, from even Aquaman's realization at the end to visit his father and Batman being told his parents would be proud of him. It is such a powerful form to the storytelling that feels Shyamalan esque in how such personal connections are infused in this genre storytelling and ultimately allows to make the unity of the Justice League much more emotional. Snyder's work can go through all the corporations, fan support, and/or scrutiny in the world but his film and he beautifully reminds us that his passion is fueled from a personal love and in this case, his daughter. Rest in peace Autumn.

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