With the big movie Justice League (2017), Warner and DC Comics were finally set to take up the fight with the much larger Marvel from the Disney group.
There were probably many among the Warner management who were surprised (even disappointed) at how dark director Zack Snyder did the duel between the DC icons Superman and Batman in his first film for the company.
Strong disagreement between the studio management and the director led to a long and motley recording of Justice League. When Snyder, on top of it all, experienced a personal family tragedy, he immediately withdrew from the project.
In connection with the new launch, the film’s producer and Snyder’s wife, Deborah, stated the following to Vanity Fair, after seeing the 2017 version for the first time:
It was just…it’s a weird experience. I don’t know how many people have that experience. You’ve worked on something for a long time, and then you leave, and then you see what happened to it.
Despite the fact that most of the original film was directed by Joss Whedon, who both radically rewrote and filmed many of the scenes again, Warner put Snyder’s name on the poster – as director!
The result was a strange, and totally, unresolved movie experience. Four years, and 100 million dollars later, Snyder actually gets his sweet revenge.
The most comprehensive remake ever
Snyder stubbornly claims that he has never seen the 2017 version of the film, the director was allegedly “warned” by his wife that he absolutely should not see it. Something we have a hard time believing, but now he has made an almost new film.
We have a somewhat ambivalent relationship with Snyder’s directorial qualities, of course he has an occasionally raw visual style (see for example Sucker Punch), an aesthetic pleasure in a mix of great filming, choreography, lighting, costumes and a hefty music track; but it very often becomes much more style than substance, where the story drowns in glorified, slow-mo action scenes and glistening muscles (as in 300).
In Justice League 2.0, he manages to balance between polished “commercial” scenes and an engaging story.
Now, admittedly, the problem with Justice League was not the visual style, but rather a messy storyline, lack of direction, characters that came and went, as well as an unprocessed story that failed to draw us into the action.
The story makes sense
In the remake, we get a completely different experience, where the story actually makes sense, the characters, and their motives, are built up and support the spectacular (though, still a bit too computer game inspired) action scenes.
The story appears far more epic, we care about the superheroes, and even Jared Leto (as Joker in mental imbalance) comes into his own in an almost potsapocalyptic epilogue.
Unlike the Avengers movies, the tone here is much darker, sombre and almost cleansed of the light-hearted comedy we experience between Thor and Iron-Man in the Marvel universe.
These are lonely, opportunistic and disillusioned superheroes, who have seen their best days and prefer solitude, but who can be persuaded to work together to save the Earth from Steppenwolf and his army of overgrown “flies”.
Mankind’s existence is threatened
At the end of the pompous, and far too long-running, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman (Henry Cavill) had to pay with his life. Neither Batman (Ben Affleck) nor the newly arrived Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) could save him.
When we now meet a tired, and slightly resigned, Batman again, it is a new giant enemy, Steppenwolf, who threatens the very existence of the Earth. The brave Batman takes his social responsibility seriously, and drums together an elite team of superheroes to fight cowardice. Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, and (hopefully) a deceased hero will save humanity from evil aliens.
Of the heroes, it is probably Gal Gadots throughout the kind-hearted Wonder Woman who will attract the most attention, but the remake not only gives Snyder a pat on the shoulder, but is also a solid reparation to Ben Affleck in critisiesed role as Batman. Here he performs, literally, with pondus, dignity and credible humanity. Who would have thought that?
The role of the film’s humorous character is assigned to the young, and inexperienced, computer nerd Flash (Ezra Miller). Something that occaionally works, but also feels somewhat constricted. Henry Cavill as Superman is a clean-cut posterboy, without acting skills and as charming as slab of stone.
Intense and claustrophobic
Snyder presents the remake in claustrophobic 4: 3 format, which suits the story well. The music track (Junkie XL) is essentially new, lots of scenes have been picked up from the floor in the editing room, while new scenes have been shot, which both deepens and improves the story; and, when it comes to directing and choreographing action scenes, there are few who master the art better than Zack Snyder.
With the remake, Snyder gives us an excessively long film, which can best be identified as the superheroes’ answer to Frodo’s long march towards Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings. A tightly packed script, absolutely, but despite the four hours, the plot rarely feels dragged out or superfluous. Testosterone action is occasionally subdued pleasantly by sensitive scenes with brilliant Diane Lane and Amy Adams.
That said, despite its qualities, if you’re not a fan of superhero movies, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is definitely not the movie to start with, nor will it convince you that the superhero universe is “your cup of tea.” Here you get an intense, sometimes a little too repetitive, abundance of fights on a journey to save the universe once again; where their nemesis is as hollow and uninteresting as the genre «requires».
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (Photo: HBO)
However, we can not understand why the film, which is released exclusively on the streaming service HBO, will not be launched as a miniseries of 6 episodes. After all, Snyder has even divided the film into six chapters.
If, on the other hand, this is your genre, you will enjoy yourself in the protagonists’ popcorn entertaining company. 5 weak stars to Snyder’s long-awaited epos.