It was March of 1960 and DC Comics decided to unite some of their biggest superheroes into something called the Justice League. Over the years, the members have varied but their mission had remained the same. With the resurgence of superheroes returning to the big screen, it was only a matter of time before the Justice League got its own feature film.
In 2007 Warner Bros. announced a movie was in development, but due to numerous factors, including a writer's strike, production didn't begin until almost a decade later, on April 11, 2016. With Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) directing, the film was set for worldwide release in November of 2017. Of course, earlier that year, in post-production, is when the Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)/Zack Snyder controversy began. Four years later, after numerous campaigns and fan petitions, HBO Max will be streaming the 4-hour long Zack Snyder's Justice League.
After the death of Superman (Henry Cavill; Mission: Impossible - Fallout) at the end of Batman v Superman, Earth has become threatened by the awakening of three Mother Boxes and the return of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds; The Woman in Black) who tried to destroy the planet five hundred years earlier. Batman (Ben Affleck; Argo) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot; Red Notice) decide to travel the earth looking for other superheroes to help them defeat Steppenwolf before he succeeds in destroying Earth.
From the 2017 Joss Whedon version, we know the superheroes win, but Zack Snyder's Justice League, at double the running time, has a very different feel and plot. Broken into six segments or "chapters" plus an epilogue, the Snyder cut is darker and offers a different ending. The film also feels less "disjointed" as the plot tends to be more cohesive instead of being choppy. Gone are many of the funny moments from 2017 but they are definitely not missed.
Snyder's Justice League has its good and bad moments, but the former certainly outweighs the latter. For a four-hour movie, it definitely doesn't feel that long, which, believe me, is a good thing. It moves at a solid pace and the story is more organized and consistent. Audiences will recognize scenes from the 2017 version but there is plenty of added and extended footage (about two hours' worth) to make this film stand on its own. It also has an ending that isn't cheesy and makes sense.
In Snyder's Justice League the characters have additional backstories and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) is featured more prominently which makes so much more sense than what Whedon did. Of course, we have all heard the rumors of the controversy surrounding Fisher and Whedon, and while there are two sides to every story, the plot benefits from Cyborg being front and center. We also get formally introduced to a new character, Martian Manhunter who sets the story up for a sequel that will probably never see the light of day.
While this second release is better than the first, there are still some problems with it. The overall score is very good, but the commercial songs are horrible!! They are a slower tempo and such obscure choices that they become a distraction as opposed to enhancing the movie. Many of the graphics are still terrible but Steppenwolf and the Mother boxes got upgrades, so their details are sharper.
It is difficult to say how well Snyder's cut would have fared at the box office back in 2017 without Warner Bros. first releasing Whedon's version for comparison but alas, we will never know. However, at this point, with all the controversy surrounding the production and the ability to make the comparison, I can confidently state that Snyder's version, as epic and grandiose as it is, is head and shoulders above the Whedon cut.
Justice League Scorecard: Snyder 1; Whedon 0