CS Soapbox: Zack Snyder’s Justice League is Already Better Than 2017’s

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CS Soapbox: 10 reasons Snyder’s Justice League is already better than the theatrical cut

We are less than a month away from seeing Zack Snyder’s Justice League — a film I never thought was possible. Seriously, last year at this time this felt like a pipe dream. Or, at the very least, like something we would see in ten years as some half-assed assembly cut, ala Alien 3 or Richard Donner’s Superman II. Instead, we’re getting a fully realized, four-hour film with completed special FX, an all-new score, and more footage than was previously intended.

And here’s the crazy part: of the two trailers we’ve seen thus far, the film has already bested that atrocious 2017 version by an enormous margin. How, you ask? Here’s 10 examples demonstrating how Zack Snyder’s Justice League is leagues better than the theatrical cut (in no particular order, with Lebowski quotes and sans nudity.)

BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN PART II (or MAN OF STEEL III)

This one is obvious. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice left a lot of plot threads hanging in midair much to the detriment of general audiences possessing little to no knowledge of Darkseid, Parademons, or the Flash’s ability to time travel. On many occasions, I’ve watched the film alongside friends and family and enjoyed their confused reactions to the Knightmare sequence, during which a trench-coated Batman kicks the bejesus out of a legion of Superman-worshipping soldiers in a Mad Max-like setting before having his heart ripped out by a very angry Superman.

In BvS, this sequence has no payoff aside from increasing Bruce’s already out-of-control paranoia in regard to Superman’s power. Well, obviously that’s because we’re watching Part II of what was once planned as a five-part series. Snyder was dropping breadcrumbs that would have paid off in future films; a style not far removed from the narrative structure of a comic book — you know, where you have to read the entire 13-issues of, say, Batman: The Long Halloween in order to fully understand the story? We can debate whether this structure lends itself to motion pictures — particularly compared to Marvel’s TV episode-of-the-week configuration — but regardless, Justice League should answer a lot of questions left behind during that extended BvS epilogue. Or, at the very least, as my mother puts it, explain why there was a crazy man screaming something about keys during that one part when … F*ck it, Dude. Let’s go bowling.

JUNKIE XL’S SCORE

With all due respect to Danny Elfman, whose score for the 2017 theatrical release was good, everything I’ve heard from Tom Holkenborg’s score for Justice League sounds amazing. The main theme heard in the track below sounds more appropriate for a Justice League film than the one composed by Elfman — and, look, I love Danny Elfman. His score for Batman remains, at least for me, the greatest superhero score of all time. I desperately wanted to love his music for Justice League, especially since it featured his iconic Batman theme and snippets of John Williams’ classic Superman theme, but the final results felt rushed and underdeveloped.

Holkenborg’s work, replete with drums, blaring horns, and an astonishing hero theme, is yuuuuuge — close your eyes and listen to his work. Yup, I’m pretty sure that’s the music that’ll play when Jesus descends from the heavens with billions of angels decked out in camo and armed with machine guns and missile launchers ready to strike furious vengeance on the wicked — Nobody f*cks with the Jesus.

Moving on.

SNYDER’S AMBITION

Whether or not you like Snyder’s films, there’s no denying the man has ambition. His pictures are massive undertakings packed with hefty themes, powerful symbolism, and enough visual style to make Ridley Scott blush, which is probably why it takes a few viewings to really soak in and appreciate everything he throws at the screen.

Look, I get it. Snyder’s films aren’t for everyone. They are violent, edgy, and aggressive — light years removed from the upbeat nature of the MCU and those classic Richard Donner Superman films from the late 70s. Hell, Man of Steel makes Bryan Singer’s creepy Superman Returns look like Pollyanna by comparison — at least in terms of tone.

But that’s okay. Donner’s Superman films still exist. As do those awesome animated cartoons from the ’90s, which capture the spirit of the Justice League characters to perfection. Hell, you can go back and watch any of the Batman films directed by Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, and Christopher Nolan. Or, you can watch the campy Adam West Batman series to your heart’s content; or wait for Matt Reeves’ The Batman to hit theaters next year. Snyder’s style may not jive with your interpretation of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (to say nothing of Flash and Aquaman), but at least it’s his style. And in this day and age of assembly-line-productions, we should celebrate when an artist has the opportunity to present an unadulterated version of his or her work.

That said, Justice League looks absolutely massive in scope. The action, cinematography, special FX, and larger-than-life heroes and villains are breathtaking to behold, while the narrative appears to carry the same weight as Snyder’s previous films. In short, this is the Justice League we were promised from the beginning — an ambitious, action-packed, special FX tour de force unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.

The man has Batman riding The Dark Knight Returns‘ Batmobile for cripes sakes. If you’re pissed about that then seek help. This aggression will not stand, man.

BATFLECK

Of all the crazy stuff Snyder has thrown at us over the last six months, the No. 1 most important thing this new version of Justice League will restore is, say it with me (in Jared Leto Joker voice), “BATmaaan.” Ben Affleck’s take on the Caped Crusader was last seen smiling like a goofball alongside Henry Cavill’s CGI-faced Superman at the end of 2017’s Justice League. In that film, Batfleck, played now by a weary, tired and broken Ben Affleck, took a back seat to the spectacle. He drops cheesy one-liners, smiles a lot, and spends a majority of the final battle standing on another set firing what looks like a $5 squirt gun at really bad CGI.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League trailer’s brief snippets of Batfleck reveal a decidedly more mature take on the Caped Crusader that jives with the one we saw in BvS. Plus, thanks to a better focus on lighting and FX, he no longer looks like a fatigued actor stuffed inside a Halloween costume — he looks like the goddamned BATmaaan, the one who smashed through a glass window a kicked the holy shit out of 50 Lex Luther goons in order to save Martha.

Plus, as mentioned above, Snyder has the Dark Knight standing on a $%DJ#%%# tank, which is about as far away from the “Oh, yeah, something’s definitely bleeding” spectrum as one could possibly get.

BuT hE kIlLs pEoPle. Eight-year-olds, Dude.

THE VILLAINS

Steppenwolf looks menacing. DeSaad looks creepy. Granny Goodness looks like Granny Goodness. And Darkseid looks incredible. DC’s villains look like they could take down the universe entirely without a shred of remorse, which means they present a formidable challenge to our titular Justice League pals. I mean, there’s a brief clip of Steppenwolf chopping an Amazonian warrior in half! They’re nihilists. Nihilists! F*** me. 

Yeah, yeah, more violence doesn’t equate to more complexity, but Steppenwolf’s lack of empathy makes him dangerous; and results in a far more formidable foe than the poorly rendered, Mother-loving Steppen-something we saw in 2017. Give me more!

THE STAKES

Better villains lead to greater stakes. The biggest issue with the theatrical version of Justice League was that there was quite literally nothing to worry about. Steppenwolf and his minions were about as menacing as a pack of blind wiener dogs, and the League spent more time squabbling over petty issues than actually fighting. The big climax lacked punch thanks to an abundance of jokes and random Russian families, while Superman’s grand return was diluted by atrocious CGI and corny one-liners.

The most recent trailer to Zack Snyder’s Justice League adds plenty of weight to the proceedings and dials the drama up to about 552. Everything from the visuals to the acting and score suggests a more intense battle is about to take place — one that will decide the fate of our universe. Or, as Superman says: “You ready to be f***ed, Steppenwolf? I see you slugged your way into the final battle. Dios mio, man. Batman and me, we’re gonna f*** you up.” No, really. That line is in the trailer.

SNYDERVERSE

More important than Zack Snyder’s Justice League are the films that could potentially follow Zack Snyder’s Justice League. By now over 25 million of you have watched that powerful new trailer that teases Jared Leto’s Joker in the Knightmare future. And, if you’ve followed anything posted or said by Snyder over the last three years, you’ll know that he’s interested in seeing a Batman film that explores the duo’s complicated relationship — perhaps one that details Batman and Joker’s dealings in the Knightmare world mixed with flashbacks to their past during which we get to see the death of Robin and the destruction of Wayne Manor. Throw in a little Deathstroke for good measure and holy shit let’s just do this, okay? Imagine a final scene where Batman stands on a cliff overlooking the sea mourning the death of Joker. “Good night, sweet prince,” he will say before opening a coffee can filled with his archrival’s ashes. Except, a gust of wind immediately blows the ashes onto Alfred. “Goddammit, Batman. You f*****g asshole. Everything’s a travesty with you, man!”

Plus, there’s always the potential for Justice League 2 and 3. As Ray Fisher exclaimed on his Twitter account, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League isn’t a cul-de-sac … it’s an eight-lane superhighway!”

Truthfully, I’m much more interested in seeing where Snyder’s superhighway leads than I am seeing more Shazam! But that’s just me.

(Also, as an aside, if you want to get hyped about the endless possibilities for the future, listen to LightCast Podcast. Their recent interview with Deborah Snyder was great!)

WONDER WOMAN

With all due respect to Patty Jenkins, I prefer Wonder Woman as envisioned by Zack Snyder — a bad-ass, sword-wielding warrior who fights monsters from other planets and gives no shits about whether you like her style. At the risk of sounding hypocritical, considering Jenkins made her movie her way (tip of the hat), Snyder’s vision adheres more closely to the Wonder Woman comics I read as a kid while Jenkins’ superheroine plays more like a loving tribute to the 1970s Wonder Woman TV show. Again, there’s room for both, but I genuinely want to see more Diana Prince by way of Snyder; and would welcome elseworld adventures where Wonder Woman moves through history lopping off the heads of evil warlords she then brandishes like trophies about her person ala Predator. “Nobody calls me Diana. You got the wrong gal. I’m Wonder Woman, man.”

I genuinely love how, in all the trailers for Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Wonder Woman is the one going toe-to-toe with Steppenwolf. And I love that she isn’t constantly smirking at the camera or engaging in weird sexual pratfalls with the Flash. More intensity, less cheese, please.

RAY FISHER

Another wrong that has seemingly been righted by Snyder’s film is the return of Cyborg as Justice League’s heart and soul. In the 2017 film, Ray Fisher served a very small, uncomplicated role more in line with the Teen Titans iteration of the Cyborg character than anything Snyder teased before his dismissal. In Snyder’s film, we’ll get more backstory for Cyborg, a deeper connection with his father, Miles Dyson, and a character whose actions are more integral to the overarching plot — he’s even in the Knightmare sequence with Batman and Joker. Plus, Fisher has taken the time to call out Joss Whedon for his abusive on-set behavior during the chaotic reshoots, which has since led to other former Whedon associates doing the same. “You want Whedon fired? I can get Whedon fired, believe me. There are ways, Dude.”

Some of the best shots of the trailer are indeed Cyborg soaring amongst the clouds, slamming into tanks in order to save Jimmy Olsen, and playing slow-mo football in the snow. It’s a welcome return to form for a character many were really excited about back in 2017.

EVERYTHING ELSE

I’m not going to mince words: I’m rapturous for Snyder’s Justice League. And I don’t even know what rapturous means. I see this film as a return to the exciting days of DC’s Extended Universe when the possibilities felt endless and Warner Bros. was cool to take their superhero franchise into dramatic territory far removed from the MCU. I’m all for lighthearted superhero fare and even welcome it, but also appreciate variety.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League has the potential to lead DC down a wild path of untold possibilities and stories. More Batfleck. More Man of Steel. More Amy Adams. More Jared Leto’s Joker. More Willem Dafoe riding on sharks. Deathstroke. Supergirl. Green Lantern. Martian Manhunter. Snyder’s universe is vast and endless … and to those who hate his style and lie in wait chomping at the bit to blast Justice League with scathing reviews upon its release on March 18, remember: “Yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”