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My Justice League Journal: A Trek Through the Snyder Cut

If you’re like me, you’re consumed with a pervasive self-hatred and the inescapable feeling that everyone is angry at you. This often results in you taking unnecessary steps to please those around you. So when my editor asked if anyone would be willing to review Zack Snyder’s Justice League, you know I was quick to respond.

In an attempt to cope with *gestures vaguely at the general state of things* while watching the Snyder Cut, I’ve decided to follow the advice of many mental health experts and journal my way through the experience. But first I’d like to point something out.

This movie is four hours and two minutes long. That’s too long for a Justice League movie. You know what other movie is four hours and two minutes? Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet. Yep. Hamlet.

When adapting one of humanity’s greatest artistic triumphs for the screen, Branagh chose to leave Shakespeare’s original work completely intact. So it only stands to reason that Snyder would take the same approach to his second attempt at a Super Friends movie.

Let’s get started.

Like all great epics, the movie begins with some text informing us that it is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio to “preserve the integrity of Zack Snyder’s creative vision.” Fantastic. We’ll call it the Snyderbox. It’s like when Gilgamesh began by describing what adhesive was used in its binding. ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?

Opening this movie with the slow-motion death rattle of a dying Superman is somehow less horrific than the theatrical version’s vertical cellphone footage of Henry Cavill and his uncanny valley of an upper lip.

The opening credits roll overtop an extended sequence showing sweeping shots of mountains as Bruce Wayne rides a horse along snow-covered peaks. All I can think is why didn’t he use one of his many jets?

At less than 12 minutes in, and it is incredible how much this seems like an actual movie compared to the original. Yes, it’s definitely overindulgent, but at least it doesn’t look like a dramatic recreation of itself on the History Channel.

The closed captions read “ancient lamentation music playing” when Wonder Woman appears, and it honestly cracked me up. I’m enjoying this so far. Let’s save those schoolchildren, Diana!

Holy shit! Wonder Woman just splattered a man against a wall in front of some British kids.

OK, we’ve reached the scene where the Amazonians attempt to protect the Mother Box (one of the film’s three mystical MacGuffins) from the villain Steppenwolf. Here’s my first major complaint with the film: there is too much shit on too little a screen.

With the narrower aspect ratio of this movie, Snyder is having to basically pan and scan to catch all of the action during this battle scene. That’s less of problem when it’s a fight between Wonder Woman and a handful of terrorists. But here we have flying Parademons shooting lasers at dozens of Amazons, and the human brain can’t process all of this information as the Snyderbox struggles to keep track of it all.

Steppenwolf is throwing a bunch of horses.

So one of the Mother Boxes was kept under guard in an Amazonian fortress. One is hidden in Atlantis. And the other is just… in Cyborg’s closet?

Seriously, it’s just hanging out behind his old football trophies. It’s not even on a shelf or anything. Just plopped down on the floor like a pair of Rollerblades he never uses anymore. I have denim cut-offs I take better care of.

My wife walked into the room just as Aquaman chugged a bottle of whiskey in slow motion — I mean straight sculled it — and said “He drinks like a fish” in her college frat boy voice. It was pretty funny.

We finally get our introduction to the Flash. He rushes to save a woman from a traffic accident, and the super speed obliterates his shoes. The problem with this sequence — other than the sappy ballad playing and all the CGI hotdogs floating in the air — is that Ezra Miller just kind of dumbly hops around without any sense of swiftness or finesse. This is made all the more obvious by the slow motion and barefootedness. This is supposed to be his big action scene, and the Flash looks like someone trying to navigate a carpet full of Legos in the dark.

The entirety of the Cyborg origin story really elevates this film. It’s a shame that tangled up inside just so much Justice League is a legitimately good Cyborg movie that we’ll never get to see.

Steppenwolf has invaded Atlantis to steal the second Mother Box. Don’t forget the Cinematic Spectrum of Underwater Combat: On one end you have that terrible scuba James Bond scene from Thunderball. And on the other end you have that scene from Zombi 2 where a zombie fights a shark. This one is more of the former than the latter.

We’ve reached the halfway point! I’ve started drinking. Like my hero — Aquaman!

Wait. Cyborg is explaining the history of the third Mother Box in an extended flashback, and he casually begins with “The Nazis found it first.” I always say be careful not to hide a more interesting movie inside your own. Justice League has two: a Cyborg origin story and the first Captain America movie.

Oh hell! Who we thought to be Martha Kent (MARRR-THAA!) just transformed into Martian Manhunter. Not sure why he decided to morph in the stairwell outside of Lois Lane’s apartment where anyone could see, but unlike Martian Manhunter, I’m no mind reader.

Like the original Justice League, we are again treated to a scene of the Flash and Cyborg digging up Superman’s corpse. (Sigh. Why are you like this Zack Snyder?)

This time the exhumation of a beloved superhero is intercut with a scene where Alfred warns Batman about trying to resurrect Superman. Here’s the thing. This is a massive missed opportunity, and I will tell you why.

Alfred loves and cares for Bruce. He also knows the unhealthy lengths to which Bruce will go. Now, Bruce might potentially be on the verge of resurrecting a dead man. What is the obvious concern here? Who in this story has famously dead parents?

We should have had a scene where Alfred indicates that this whole plot is tied back to Bruce’s parents, because EVERYTHING with Batman ties back to his parents. But instead Zack Snyder’s too obsessed with Jesus Christ Superman.

As the Justice League attempts to resurrect Superman, we see flashes of a potential future where our heroes are killed by the interplanetary invader Darkseid. Following Lois Lane’s death, we then see Superman corrupted, leading to hell on Earth.

Snyder’s plan for the DC Cinematic Universe was clearly going to go in this direction, with our surviving heroes using the Flash’s ability to travel through time to prevent the planet’s destruction. I hope that we don’t get that because we don’t need a fictional universe where our heroes are revealed to be hideous villains. We live in our own.

Once again, Miles Dyson sacrifices himself for the fate of the world in an advanced research facility. That’s a very specific bit of typecasting.

Steppenwolf has all three Mother Boxes. Superman is alive again. Our heroes have just laid out their plan to use the Mother Boxes to defeat the villains. And I have zero idea what they are talking about.

The Justice League — minus Superman — are all just staring at holograms and talking about catastrophic energy surges and none of it makes sense. Maybe it’s because I’ve been caught in the Snyderbox for three hours, but I’m gonna need you to tell me what is happening, movie.

My dumb, lizard brain: “Black-suit Superman! Black-suit Superman!”

A resurrected Superman just T-posed in outer space. To paraphrase 1984, “If you want a picture of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, imagine Christ imagery stamping on a human face — forever.”

Superman has arrived for the final battle with Snagglepuss to collect the three Marx Brothers. I was worried Snyder would recommit the sin of the original film and have Superman singlehandedly wipe the floor with our villain, but he managed to course correct and have Wonder Woman and Aquaman contribute to the fight.

With that in mind, there is still 40 minutes left on this. I know we aren’t screening Berlin Alexanderplatz, but this run time has me rooting for the swift defeat of our heroes. I have work in the morning and Zack Snyder’s out here trying to give us three post-credit scenes.

The Justice League failed to separate the Mother Boxes and stop Darkseid, so the Flash is running faster than the speed of light to reverse time. Yes. It’s been 43 years since Christopher Reeve reversed time by reversing the Earth’s rotation in the original Superman, and here we are again.

I wish we could get a superhero movie that follows the same time travels rules as Primer. Then we just get to see Batman sleep for three days inside of a Texas storage shed.

There’s an epilogue. With a title card and everything. Why does this movie hate me?

Oh my god. Apparently, Zack Snyder just decided to dump all of the shit he couldn’t fit elsewhere into the epilogue. If you’ve seen Sucker Punch, you know how he can be overburdened with ideas and nothing to do with them.

Here, out of nowhere, we revisit the post-apocalyptic wasteland briefly dreamt of in the original Justice League. Except here it just starts and ends, without any real reason or connection to the rest of the movie.

But here’s the moment I’ve been most curious for: the new Jared Leto Joker footage (which deserves its own separate article).

Leto appears out of nowhere as the Joker, doing his best Emo Philips impersonation. He is literally just hanging out in the desert wasteland where Batman and company happen to be.

Leto Joker and Batman have a “Why so serious?” conversation, and it is horrible.

Then, suddenly, Bruce Wayne wakes up, steps outside, and finds Martian Manhunter flying down to speak with him. Bruce casually asks the green, flying alien who he is, without — I don’t know — assuming that something may be amiss. Batman doesn’t even have on any shoes.

It’s a quarter past 1 a.m. as the credits begin to roll on Zack Snyder’s Justice League. While this is better than the theatrical version in every conceivable way, I feel like it’s a movie I endured rather than enjoyed. It’s an improvement, but to what end?

I hate that we’ve been presented with these teasers for a dreary, nonsensical DC universe. I feel like we’re reliving the same period of time over and over, only to moderately improve upon it each time. I want to get out and see something new. I want to not be made tired by the world presented to me. And I think a lot of other people feel the same way.

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Written By

Dustin Waters is a writer from Macon, Ga, currently living in D.C. After years as a beat reporter in the Lowcountry, he now focuses his time on historical oddities, trashy movies, and the merits of professional wrestling.

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