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Thoughts on Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) #SnyderCut

This course is irreversible. This action is irreversible. But Zack Snyder was able to.

Okay, by now numerous people have seen the much-awaited #SnyderCut. You’re lucky if you have HBO Max. If not, pretty sure you subscribed to HBO Go and experienced problems accessing the app on March 18, the day Justice League 2021 premiered. That was expected so I decided to wait a while.

And since the #SnyderCut runs for four hours and two minutes (three hours and 52 minutes on HBO Go) and I was working over the weekend, I took my time to finish the film. Like everyone else, I also have my thoughts on the long-awaited #SnyderCut. But before that let me share my brief thoughts on Justice League (2017).

I mentioned in my review that that instalment of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has a great story. You know resurrecting Superman and all. We all saw that coming and I am fine with it. Sadly, they failed at the execution probably because of extensive re-shoots. It was uneven making me wonder what the original plan was or how Zack Snyder would have done it?

Judging Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel which is not at all bad, it is clear that he has an artistic vision. You can sense that in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as well. Though the latter has flaws, BvS is far more enjoyable and well put together than Justice League (2017).

Fast forward to 2021 after the unprecedented #ReleasetheSnyderCut fan campaign, we finally get to see Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Although, I doubt this is how he planned to release the film if the 2017 version did not exist. Either way, I am happy about its existence.

4:3 Aspect Ratio

“This film is presented in a 4:3 format to preserve the integrity of Zack Snyder’s creative vision.”

Heads up! Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) is presented in 4:3 format. I read some comments on my social media that it took a while for them to adjust. This is understandable because we are used to the standard size which is 16:9. But once upon a time, 4:3 was the normal aspect ratio.

This is now used to present a unique style of film making or for artistic purposes. But in Snyder’s case, Justice League was technically shot that way. Here’s a statement from Producer Deborah Snyder in one of her interviews.

The film was originally shot that way. You know, don’t forget it was intended for the theatrical release, and it was intended to have an IMAX release. But now that it was on HBO Max, Zack didn’t want to change the aspect ratio, because everything was framed that way. And it’s also, I just think it’s just so unique. You’re getting so much of the picture, you’re seeing a lot more. If we then made the decision to just chop it off, we would be losing part of the frame. So it was really important to maintain the aspect ratio because that’s how it was originally intended to be. That’s how it was shot. That’s how the visual effects were done.” – Producer Deborah Snyder

This is, after all, the Snyder cut we once fantasised about. I honestly don’t see anything wrong with it. The film looked more genuine to me. I’ve mentioned before that I studied film in college. This type of ratio is not new to me. I enjoy this because you see every detail (or Easter egg, if you prefer) in the frame.

Six Heroes. Six Parts.

I don’t know if the six parts refer to our six main heroes, emphasis on the main. But yes, there are six parts to this (almost) 4-hour film. Let me share with you my thoughts on each part.

Warning: Spoilers!

Part 1: Don’t Count on it, Batman

Being a fan of Zack Snyder, you can already tell that THIS is his. Sure, from the beginning, it may look like a film made by any director. Maybe for people who haven’t seen some of Snyder’s work.

But for people who did, mark 15:16 is the proof. It is the scene when Lois Lane grabs two cups of coffee, leaves the shop, opens a black umbrella and walks into the rain. That 100% is a Snyder signature. If you’ve seen Sucker Punch, there is a similar scene. Also, did you happen to spot Zack Snyder?

Now let’s go back to the story. From the moment you hit play, and even if it’s been a while since you last saw Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), I think we can all agree that we can see and feel the gravity of the situation, especially if you compare it with Justice League (2017). The thing that bothered me in the 2017 film was the appearance of the Mother Box and Steppenwolf. I wasn’t concerned or into the whole storyline. But with the Snyder Cut, I became more and more invested.

The reason is the Steppenwolf of 2021 threatened humanity’s existence. The Daughters of Themyscira couldn’t handle him and had to seal everyone who was doing their best to stop him. But after that, things still didn’t go well. The scene where Steppenwolf of 2021 tries to grab the Mother Box that the Daughters of Themyscira desperately guard was intense. I was jumping in my seat because I was terrified of the Steppenwolf of 2021. *P. S I’m so amazed by how the Daughters of Themyscira can maintain their pose while firing arrows and riding a horse.

Part 2 Age of Heroes

Let me say, those Parademons version 2021 freaks me out! *I feel sorry for the custodial personnel.

*Parademons were the advanced forces – in the armies of Apokolips created from reformatted genetic material gleaned either from the living or dead remains of native species of parallel worlds razed throughout the multiverse.

This part explains several principal points to the entire DCEU plot. Don’t dare fall asleep. Not that you can anyway. But if you do, hit pause.

Going back. If you think the fighting scenes between the Steppenwolf of 2021 and the Daughters of Themyscira were intense, wait for Diana’s explanation of what happened when Darkseid first appeared.

It is beautiful how all the races came together – Olympian Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, and humans, with assistance from a Green Lantern. It reminded me of the theme song they used in 2017, “Come Together”, a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon. This scene is a dream come true for comic book fans and the like.

This part also explained – how the Mother Boxes work, including who and how each Mother Box was guarded and sealed.

The Defenders of Earth made a vow. Men, Amazons, and Atlanteans each would enshrine and guard one of the three sleeping Mother Boxes according to the rites and rituals of their culture.”

Part 3 Beloved Mother, Beloved Son

So here we get to know Barry or Flash. I have to say that at this point, I believe the audience has accepted a thing I call “more than trilogy”. 

Remember when people were obsessed with trilogies? What about the era where the last instalment of a film franchise was split into two parts?

Oh, and don’t get me started with other terms such as tetralogy, a four-part series; pentalogy, a five-part series and so on. I think it’s better to use cinematic universe or, in DC’s case, extended universe.

Let’s go back to my point. The audience doesn’t care if studios release various films and lengthen the running time. As long as you give the right story and epic results, the audience will love and support the whole franchise. 

Though the Snyder Cut is a special case, Part 3 made me even more convinced that Warner Bros. should not have pushed through with the 2017 film. But thanks to that, the Snyder Cut was born and able to explain the injustices 2017 made like Cyborg’s story.

Part 4 Change Machine

One of the many questions I kept asking in 2017 is how were the Mother Boxes awaken? In 2021, the same question was raised as well as why were they affected by Superman’s death? With his death in BvS and at the beginning of Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021), we see them awakening from their slumber.

Part 4 explains the Mother Box as told by Cyborg. Also, we find out that The Unity (the three Mother Boxes) was afraid of Superman’s existence that is why they never woke up and called out to Steppenwolf. 

Part 5 All The King’s Horses

“None are taken back from the darkness. Not without giving one up in return.”

This course is irreversible. This action is irreversible.”

This part is full of premonitions. Cyborg gets a vision, an apocalyptic one. Remember the scene in BvS where Batman was visited by The Flash in his dream? It’s related to this. The loopholes and confusion we felt during the 2017 film were thoroughly explained here. 

Part 6 Something Darker

Make your own future.

Make your own past.

It’s all right now.

After Cyborg’s justification, we now get The Flash in action rather than just comic relief. After all the problems the team encountered while fighting off Steppenwolf of 2021 and his Parademons of 2021, they were late by a few seconds. But thanks to our wonderful Barry a.k.a The Flash, he broke the rule and ran faster and far beyond the speed of light giving them an edge and defeating the enemy.

Also, it’s quite nice to see the whole team gather and face the real enemy, Darkseid. I was looking forward to seeing more of him in the 2017 film. I mean, they’re not the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) so I was expecting them to lay everything by that time. Don’t get me wrong.

MCU took their time to show us, Thanos. I’m not complaining though because they did build up their cinematic universe for years while fixing up loopholes. The DCEU is nowhere near the end so I was expecting them to use a different strategy since their extended universe is darker.

I appreciate Snyder did not hold back in his director’s cut especially in the scene where our heroes were standing united on top of the cooling tower (if that’s what it was) made me feel complete. It says this is the end and the beginning.

Epilogue A Father Twice Over

I mentioned that six parts may refer to the number of main superheroes. The epilogue which is technically the last part signifies the beginning and introduction of new superheroes like the Martian Manhunter.

If you are following Snyder on Vero – https://vero.co/zacksnyder – you may have seen him post his old storyboards for one of Martian Manhunter scenes. As the months and years pass, he keeps posting more including Jared Leto’s Joker.

Yes, you can see and appreciate Martian Manhunter and Joker in the epilogue. Both had a conversation with Batman, one nice and one cryptic. Take a guess which is which.

Final Thoughts

People have different opinions about Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021), but we can agree this has more agreeable reviews compared to the first. I can honestly say that I appreciate everything in this film. But I have to point out that the tone and colour seemed a little off for me at times. It is not a big deal because I know that the Snyder Cut is a special case. It follows a different rule, or maybe it does not follow any at all.

With that, Zack Snyder was able to reverse the reactions by presenting HIS vision and at the same time validating the hard work everyone involved put in.

If you want to catch the Snyder Cut, you can subscribe to HBO Go. I am a Cignal TV customer, so I subscribed via my cable operator for an additional Php99 a month.

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