Impressions: Zack Snyder’s Justice League
First off, I want to make everyone aware, that this is NOT entirely SPOILER FREE — there will be some small spoilers. Part of it is because of the differences between the two movies and how I feel about parts that were added or changed. So beware, but it won’t be drastic spoilers though.
As an older comicbook fan and love the JLA cartoon series, as another article I wrote was about, that I do look for various parts of the movie with a comicbook and JLA cartoon series outlook. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect of Zack’s director’s cut of JLA. Knowing the darker themes and feel of the characters in some of the DCs movies, I wasn’t sure if I would like it because of it. Yet, I will just say this, I was impressed with a better cohesive story, a story that connects more with the comics and cartoon with better explanations of some of the DC lore than the original JLA. I was surprised with this since Geoff Johns, as he was a writer in DC comics, was a part of the original JLA movie and didn’t have good explanations for things like Mother Box and what Darkseid was really looking for.
The length of the film is quite a bit and I think many of the longer sequences were of a set for mood with music for the characters and the beginning was more about the death of Superman and the loss of Superman. I wasn’t sure if this was excessive in length for that feeling, but since it was the beginning, it might have made some people think this will be a boring romp. It wasn’t. The other part of it was the fact that 4:3 aspect was there instead of the usual letterbox 1.85:1 or 2.39:1. This surprised me and wasn’t sure what to expect from the look of the movie. According to one source, GamesRadar, it was because Zack wanted to use it for IMAX originally. He felt it shows what he wanted to show in the movie. In my experience, the part that might be missing in the letterbox format, would be more of the top or bottom, but the sides may have more visual aspects and how it is used to tell story in one shot rather than two shots. I’m not sure if this is different now but I’ve seen the differences in older movies and how they affect the viewing of the movie from time to time.
Many parts of the original movie are in this movie, but other parts that I noticed changed in story. Vic Stone’s story changed instead of Vic being afraid of what he’s become, he was more blaming is father for not being a father that he wanted, but he was more a scientist to Vic than a father. This part is more in line with the story of Cyborg in comics and even the cartoon movie “War.” His father was telling him many things of what he could do, rather than Vic finding out about it himself and the story is about how they find each other as father and son.
The movie did add a few characters that were not in the original movie. One was Darkseid himself. Yes, they mentioned him, but no real visual of him and the use of his omega beams. My only thought at first was that it didn’t seem like Darkseid looked that impressive, not like Thanos in the MCU. Yet, I thought this was due to the thousand years ago story in which we see him fight off the rest of Amazons, Atlantians, etc. Another was Desaad that Steppenwolf would be talking to for progress. Lastly, the one that surprised me was the Martian Manhunter, who does make a couple of appearances.
These particular addons, really did help the aspect of the movie and the growth of the future of the movies. There is talk that Zack Snyder wanted two other movies to follow-up with what happens especially in the Epilogue section of the movie. I do hope this does happen in order to clear up the story as he made for this JLA movie.
As I was watching the movie, I was hoping that the return of Superman would be different from the original JLA movie, but it was quite close to it. The use of the Mother Box and to the ship’s regenerating waters and Flash’s speed to create more power. Yet, there was a message that I thought went to Cyborg, but it seemed that Batman got it instead. It shows a lot of destruction if done and that it was like a vision of the future. The reason for thinking it was Batman and not Cyborg who was connected with the Kryptonian computer console, was because the epilogue had Batman still dream of the destruction of what could happen later. The movie does end without these things happening, but it does show something could happen in the future movie.
The story of the beginning fight of with Darkseid thousands of years ago, added more story of what it was about. You see the Shazam character, a better look at a Green Lantern, and a look at a Kryptonian that was also there defeating Darkseid**. This is instead of defeating Steppenwolf the first time. I felt this was a more cohesive and better explanation of what Darkseid is about and that Superman will be front and center in the end against Darkseid. Another part that was better in story, was the explanation of the Mother Box. It wasn’t meant for evil or good, but the AI can do what has been told to them and can help in life and changing into something that has been requested or wanted. Yet, they can think for themselves. It also explains better of that the combination of the Mother Boxes will create a new Apokolips. This is something Darkseid as always wanted to do with Earth but was always stopped by Superman and/or the Justice League. The biggest thing that was added with Darkseid was Steppenwolf realizing that Earth has what Darkseid has been wanting all along, the anti-life equation. This equation is to be able to control all life and to destroy free will of an individual on a grand scale. This adds to the idea that there might be more movies with Darkseid vs. the JLA and Darkseid’s motivation for making Earth another Apokolips.
What I thought was different in story, was how well they were going for getting Superman back. In the original, they were arguing a lot of what the consequences what would be about. For Zack’s JLA, there weren’t much of any arguing but like a silent agreement that we need Superman, period. JLA was never really a perfect group together, they had differences and yet when they get together, they work for the same purpose. Here, there was no real differences in thought of what was going on. Even when they were getting ready to bring Superman back and the dream sequence, there was no arguing or talk about what is being experienced. It was like, I’m dreaming but who cares! Let’s get Superman, I’m desperate to stop Steppenwolf and all, so we better not complain. Yes, I’m exaggerating about this, but it just felt like something was missing in that scene. There were no differences in opinion about what was going on or how Batman or whoever who had the vision would want to stop the action.
I will state that this was a better representation of the comics and the story of Darkseid and the Mother Box. One big change was the look of Steppenwolf. In the original, he didn’t look bad in my view, but after watching again before seeing Zack’s JLA, I noticed that the horns were his helmet. In Zack’s JLA, it was actual horns. The look was better, and his steel armor was impressive that some of the little pieces were moving a little here and there being very adaptive to Steppenwolf. I’m not sure if the changes were based on what Zack originally wanted or because fans were complaining that decided the need to change his looks.
There was change that made me feel different about a scene. The scene where Wonder Woman takes care of the terrorist with the bomb. In the original JLA, after saving the people with the bomb and the shootout, she uses her bracelets to create a familiar shockwave. That was the end and you really don’t know anything, was the guy dead or not? Personally, it made me not think much of it and didn’t think anything of it. In Zack’s JLA, you see the aftermath and just the hat coming out. I realized that this new added scene made me think that Wonder Woman just killed in cold blood, which to me is out of character for saving lives, even the bad ones usually. Yet, it was like her warrior-ness was there not just defeating the enemy but wiping them out. This I didn’t like and since it was in the beginning of the movie, this made me wonder if I was going to like it or not. Knowing this now, even the original JLA, I will know more of what the impact really was and that she actually killed someone that she could have stopped without doing so.
Another interesting difference was that we didn’t see the Russian family and they really didn’t mention if anyone was at the old Russian facility that Steppenwolf was in. It looked like in the movie that there were no families in the area of Russia with the big fight (and all the destruction afterward). Maybe this was to allow the idea that we don’t have to think of casualties when such huge attacks are being done. I’ve heard there were other complaints of what was the use of having the family, but to me, it was to allow the idea that the JLA has to also take care of people and do their best to make sure of no casualties if they can do so. So, is that also part of Zack’s vision or was that because of the complaints?
After investigating sometime about why the Black Superman suit was still used at the end, I realize that for Zack, it was about mood and about how he sees the character in a symbolic way. In the comics, the Black Superman suit was there to recharge Superman due to it being black and that black is good at absorbing sunlight. For Zack, it seems that it is going back to the origin of being from Kryton and that originally, they were wearing Black themselves. According to several websites, this is about the progress of Superman that he could be going through if DC will do more of Zack Snyder’s JLA vision.
After the four-hour romp of this movie, even though there was that one dark moment with Wonder Woman in the beginning, I felt that this movie was far better than I expected. The characters were mostly the same but the change in Vic was a better story for Cyborg than the original. The cohesiveness and the better explanations of things like the Mother Box and adding the three characters, made it feel special. Can I still watch the original? Sure, but knowing that this might not be considered the canon movie, will feel like it was a mistake rather than something that I had enjoyed when I’ve watched it before the Zack JLA came about. All in all, I think it is made to be better, but could it have been based on the complaints of the original and did he decide to change it based on it or was it mostly his thoughts and vision of what he wanted? I’m going to assume it is a mixture of the two. I am hoping that the two other movies will come since the end of this movie felt like there will be more with Darkseid and all of Apokolips!
**After reviewing more information, it has come to my attention that instead of Shazam with the lightning, but it was Zeus. Also, the man that beat Darkseid, wasn’t a Kryptonian, but Ares hiding as someone else. It was more about the Greek Gods than about adding a Kryptonian. The reason why I thought this was how Steppenwolf stated that there was no Lantern and no Kryptonian, as if both of those could be a threat to what Steppenwolf was planning on doing.