After years (literally, years) of waiting, Zack Snyder is finally ready to deliver his version of Justice League to the world. That’s right, the Snyder Cut, a.k.a. Zack Snyder’s Justice League, is finally debuting on HBO Max this Thursday, March 18.
You’ve probably heard the story already: in the wake of a personal loss, Zack Snyder stepped down from the helm of 2017’s Justice League and Joss Whedon was hired to finish the film. That version became recognized as a massive debacle, as Joss Whedon and the studio completely changed the direction of the film, and it flopped at the box office. Fans begged and pleaded for years for the Snyder Cut to be released, now the blockbuster is getting a second chance under its original director. Soon we'll get to see Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, and Ezra Miller in action as the director originally intended. People have already shared their thoughts on Twitter, but now critics have started releasing reviews.
Our very own Mike Reyes saw Zack Snyder’s Justice League for CinemaBlend and is singing the movie’s praises, rating it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. He notes that the film provides much more character development for all of the heroes in this mega-sized entity (it has a four-hour runtime) and that it corrects the past mistakes of the DC Extended Universe. He does acknowledge the long runtime, but says that fans shouldn’t give the length a second thought, arguing that it’s completely worth it. Reyes continued, saying:
The finished product is, to say the least, worth the wait, but at most is a stunning improvement that turns in one of the best comic book movies ever. Fans who have been waiting for this moment can rejoice, but there’s a good chance that some additional converts will be made along the way as well.
James Whitbrook of io9 points out that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is still very much the same as the 2017 version of the film, but there’s just more of it. He argues that there might even be too much more of it, saying that some of the same narrative weaknesses still exist in Snyder’s film, and that the tone of comic book “hyperviolence” doesn’t always match the film’s wider tone. But Whitbrook does commend a lot of the additions Snyder made to the film, such as character depth, pointing out that the greatest addition to the longer run time is the expanded story of Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. Whitbrook continues:
It feels impossible to reckon with Snyder’s Justice League without also reckoning with the path to its release. Its titanic length feels almost, in a way, like a parallel to that rocky road—a long, messy, but enduring persistence that, in the end, leaves a film paradoxically improved and humbled, both realized and yet still missing potential. Whatever it is, to whoever it ends up being for, Snyder’s Justice League now exists. And a hell of a thing it is, for good or ill.
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman praised many aspects of the film in his review. He positively regards the character development, aforementioned in other reviews, and calls the film “one of the most visually spellbinding comic-book movies ever made.” He also commends the expanded and improved plot points, like the League’s fight to raise Superman from the dead, noting that they’re more hard-won in Snyder’s film than in the 2017 version, where plot points were just… there. Gleiberman said:
The new movie — and make no mistake, it really is a new movie — is more than a vindication of Snyder’s original vision. It’s a grand, nimble, and immersive entertainment, a team-of-heroes origin story that, at heart, is classically conventional, yet it’s now told with such an intoxicating childlike sincerity and ominous fairy-tale wonder that it takes you back to what comic books, at their best, have always sought to do: make you feel like you’re seeing gods at play on Earth.
John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter heavily criticized the film. He argues that anyone not a member of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement will not enjoy the film, calling its four-hour run time almost impossible to endure. He also criticizes the writing and calls the performances un-engaging. DeFore continued:
The movie's soul, such as it is, remains unimproved, and at 242 minutes, very few of them offering much pleasure, it's nearly unendurable as a single-sitting experience… This expanded version may be exactly the product desired by the legion of Snyder fans who cried to the heavens for its release. But nonmembers of that cult will find it just as unenjoyable as the original.
IndieWire’s Eric Kohn had a somewhat middling opinion of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. He calls the running time “bloated,” the vision of Steppenwolf as “rather silly,” and argues that Snyder’s cut leaves too much untapped potential. But he also points out that one of the strongest additions is the expansion of Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, and says the film will delight the supporters of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement. Kohn writes,
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a product designed to celebrate its very existence. This particular refurbished house may not be everyone’s favorite place to dwell, but the whole concept of the Snyder Cut is built for an era defined by customization: Enter at your own risk, or don’t bother.
It certainly seems like the diehard #ReleaseTheSnyderCut members who fought for the film's existence will surely enjoy the film, and it might even pick up some new fans along the way. But we'll have to wait until March 18 to find out.
In the meantime, you can check out what other movies are coming up for characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and more in our Upcoming DC Movies guide.