Vincent Schilling

Indian Country Today

I received my screener of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” this week and almost began hyperventilating. Sure, it was only twelve hours before being released on HBO Max, but still, I felt genuine excitement. I sincerely enjoy being a journalist, and the opportunity to review something I am passionate about is a source of positivity for sure.

As many comic nerds, DC Universe fans and moviegoers have been aware, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” also referred to by many as “The Snyder’s Cut” has been in the works for a number of years.

To those unfamiliar, Zack Snyder had been part of the original production of DC Comics’ Justice League, and after the horrible tragic death of Snyder’s daughter, Autumn, Joss Whedon took over.

Native Nerd Review - Snyder's Cut

“Justice League” received mixed reviews and struggled at the box office, Warner Bros considered the film unsuccessful. Many folks criticized Whedon’s vision, which was a bit more humor with severe cuts in the amount of production time.

But after tremendous calls for Snyder to release his version of the Justice League, featuring Batman/Bruce Wayne portrayed by Ben Affleck, Wonder Woman/Diana Prince portrayed by Gal Gadot, Superman/Clark Kent portrayed by Henry Cavill, the Flash portrayed by Ezra Miller, Cyborg played by Ray Fisher and Aquaman/Arthur Curry portrayed by Indigenous Hawaiian actor Jason Momoa.

Zack Snyder's Justice League. Ray Fisher (Cyborg / Victor Stone), Ezra Miller (The Flash / Barry Allen), Ben Affleck (Batman / Bruce Wayne), Henry Cavill (Superman / Clark Kent), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince / Wonder Woman), Jason Momoa (Aquaman / Arthur Curry) (Courtesy HBO Max/Warner Media)

Other notable actors in “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” include Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth (Batman’s butler), Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Amber Heard as Mera, Jared Leto as the Joker and others.

Here is my review of the highly-anticipated “Snyder’s Cut.”

“Zack Snyder's Justice League/The Snyder’s Cut”

9.0 out of 10

My quick quote: “Zack Snyder pulls off everything that was missing from the original Justice League. The Snyder’s Cut is the best decision DC could have made in revitalizing their superhero universe.”

Zack Snyder's Justice League poster (Courtesy HBO Max/Warner Media)

Synopsis: Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists newfound ally Diana Prince to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes — Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash — it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

My review: I have been waiting for the “Snyder’s Cut” for several years now.

In the original “Justice League,” I was excited for a myriad of reasons. I was thrilled to see an Indigenous actor, Jason Momoa, portraying the gritty no-holds-barred character of Arthur Murray, the half-human, half-Atlantean superhero Aquaman. Aquaman has been lauded for decades as the joke of the DC Universe, due to his limited powers of controlling sea animals. But Momoa brought his amazing badassness to the table.

But “Justice League” in its original form lost some of its power due to the light-hearted nature. I was a bit underwhelmed by Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman, and I found Cyborg to be a bit one-dimensional as well as Ezra Miller’s portrayal of Flash as a bit too much of a jokester. Without knowing it at the time, I didn’t realize just how tough Diana Prince as an Amazonian woman could have been portrayed, but Snyder managed to develop each of these story narratives.

Snyder’s approach to this new world in his way brought a whole new world of the DC extended universe to me in such richness I am sincerely reveling in the sentiment of “How could I have not realized these aspects were missing from the original film?”

I am supremely impressed by the new version and portrayal of all of the Justice League members. Snyder’s decisions on what to showcase, on what to show in his final cuts have made a world of a difference to me.

For the first time, Affleck did not come across as a man with little to no depth of character. Batman to me is now much more of a commanding presence, and Affleck, in this version, was the central character to the film. Snyder chose the right moments to project to the viewers. In short, I believed this was Bruce Wayne, this was Batman. He did in fact have the ability to assemble a team of heroes that could work together to save the world. Batman could still have a bit of humor, but the amount displayed in this “Snyder’s Cut” did not serve to undermine his strength.

Snyder also removed a little bit of the humor from Arthur Murray/Aquaman. But it was in a great way. Aquaman does have the power to control fish, but this aspect was thankfully dismissed and instead, his majesty in controlling the massive strength and expansiveness of the ocean was embraced much more adequately. This choice served to strengthen not just Aquaman, but the entire thread of the Justice League in their entirety.

Jason Momoa (Aquaman / Arthur Curry) Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max

Another missing aspect of the initial film is the supreme strength of the Amazonian women, from which Diana Prince/Wonder Woman had come from. When placed side by side along with strong male warriors from the surface of the Earth, as well as the Atlanteans, I was appreciative that the Amazonian warriors stood strong and rightfully by their side.

In this sense, Wonder Woman was also portrayed as much more of a strong force in the film. Diana moved faster, with more confidence, less hesitancy and with less fear. It was pulled off extremely well. And in yet another place, the film was made stronger for it, just as the Amazons were portrayed as a stronger race of people.

The stories of the Flash and Cyborg were also explored in-depth, yet another thing I appreciated. After going through these narratives, I realize in retrospect just how much was not explained in the first place.

Jason Momoa (Aquaman / Arthur Curry), Ray Fisher (Cyborg / Victor Stone), Ezra Miller (The Flash / Barry Allen) (Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max)

Snyder’s 4:3 choice

Inasmuch as I had been waiting for the “Snyder’s Cut,” I wasn’t aware the film was going to be in the old-school 4:3 perspective, with two black bars on the left and right. I am not sure why Snyder wished to show it this way, but I have to admit it didn’t bother me.

Perhaps Snyder was choosing to show it this way to give a nod to the television shows of the 70s and 80s. I am 53, and as a kid, I used to watch the Justice League cartoons like clockwork on my Saturday mornings. In later years, Justice League played as reruns after school. I likely watched them all.

If this is the case, I can appreciate the idea of honoring a throwback time, when all televisions at our homes had the standard 4:3 perspective. As the reviews continue to roll out and no doubt Snyder will be asked this question, I am certain he is likely to reveal some of the reasons for his choices.

Overall goods and bads

The overall good in “Zack Snyder's Justice League” is the depth Snyder goes in exploring the story. He leaves rarely a stone unturned to tell the story in assembling the Justice League and their quest to save the Earth from the destructive intentions of the evil other-worldly characters Steppenwolf, DeSaad and ultimately Darkseid.

More of the good was Snyder’s decisions on what aspects of each of the superheroes’ characters’ strengths and weaknesses to portray in the final cuts. Batman was made stronger, yet a bit more human, Aquaman tougher, but a bit more at struggle with his half-human, half-Atlantean nature, Wonder Woman was much more of a warrior, but still more tapped into her femininity, the Flash was portrayed as a hero with much more formidable superpowers, but these same powers were held by a young man struggling to hold onto who he was. One of the biggest delving into the backstory was that of Cyborg, who before had been shown as more of a cybernetic entity that had human parts, was now a former teenage football player, who struggled to connect with his overworking father.

In short, Cyborg was much more of his human self, Victor Stone than anything else.

Ray Fisher (Cyborg / Victor Stone) (Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max)

In my view, there were very few “bads” in this film. And truth be told I would really say “bad” as there are a few areas I might have approached differently, or more simply, I didn’t really understand. But that said, it wasn’t my film, it was Zack Snyder’s choices shown and portrayed. And for that reason, I will describe my opinions, but my opinions are mine, and that I believe is the beauty when interacting with a piece of art, is that we all take away something different than the person standing next to us.

In terms of that, I found some of the musical choices a bit overpowering, but perhaps that was the point. I found myself a few times a bit distracted by the music and having to circle back to get back into the film. I also couldn’t get into Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. For some reason, I just see him as a much older character. I am also still confused a bit by the scene where he wants to get back at Batman. I didn’t really understand what was happening in the first film, and I still don’t really understand it now.

I also was tremendously confused by the scene with Jared Leto as the Joker. I am not sure what all of the characters were doing in this situation, or what was happening. I am sure there is some message I am missing in regards to the inner workings of the DC Universe, so I’ll do my own research, or of course, will watch the movie again.

Final thought

In my view, Snyder pulled off the new Justice League story beautifully. I was trying to think of a way to describe how I ultimately feel, so I came up with an analogy of sorts.

The first Justice League was a bit of a party at my own house, that went from 9 to 11 pm. All of my friends and family had a great time, and after it was over at 11, we all went our separate ways and I went to bed for the night.

But Snyder’s Cut was the same party, but I didn’t realize that at the beginning of the party, a fake coconut dropped out of a fake palm tree and had bonked me on the head. As a result, I had lapses of memory during the party which had actually gone until the early hours of the morning. During the party, I had beautiful and insightful discussions with my friends and family and my wife. Party crashers tried to come in and we all worked together to defeat them all.

The Snyder’s Cut was much like this evening, however, several years after the original event, my entire memories of the whole evening suddenly came flooding back to me. And in retrospect, I wonder how such detail could have escaped me. 

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