Like the title of this post says, boy howdy, I am trying my absolute darndest to care about Zack Snyder’s Justice League but I just can’t.
For this, I partially blame myself; I’ve had a terrible time caring about anything. All my blogging resolutions for this past year – to post more, to engage more with the @PopCulturedWP twitter account – have completely fallen through. My motivations for personal projects and non-work-related objectives have been almost completely forgotten. Partially, I blame the pandemic. During this time, nothing seems to change from day to day, but things always seem to change in the cultural and political zeitgeist. Simultaneously, nothing seems to happen, and everything seems to happen.
You expect me to work through a year of COVID nonsense and find the emotional wherewithal to watch a slightly improved version of a mediocre movie from almost four years ago?
For the past few weeks, the online discourse in the nerd sphere has seemed to focus on little else. And there is little wonder why; after Zack Snyder was forced to leave 2017’s Justice League for personal reasons, and the final product being considerably lukewarm, online speculation began about a version of the film entirely in line with Snyder’s vision. And the speculation that such a film existed fueled interest, and that interest snowballed until fans finally willed it into existence – and it was confirmed that they’d finally get a tremendous, four-hour version of the film, just as Zack Snyder intended.
And the end product seems to be generally, pretty well-received. I haven’t dug too deep into reviews, for fear of spoilers, but a lot of critics I respect seem to view it favorably. And for once with this sort of movie, critics and fans on Rotten Tomatoes seem to be in some amount of agreement on this one. The critical consensus reads “Zack Snyder’s Justice League lives up to its title with a sprawling cut that expands to fit the director’s vision — and should satisfy the fans who willed it into existence.” A little more positively, the fan verdict says “With more action, more character development, and double the runtime, this is the epic Justice League that Zack Snyder fans have been asking for.” 73% of critics liked it, and 96% of fans.
Maybe in the Snyder Cut, there’s a deeper message about creative vision and the studio involvement; when Warner Bros. asked Joss Whedon to finish what Snyder started, they ended up with a movie that both audiences and critics enjoyed less, but in giving Zack Snyder complete control, they ended up with something that a lot of people regard as better than the studio-controlled move.
So far, I have truly enjoyed none of Zack Snyder’s previous DC films. Man of Steel was a mixed bag, occasionally providing elements and techniques worth appreciating, but more often being frustrating and difficult to enjoy. Batman V. Superman was a garbled mess, involving the three characters of DC’s trinity, but doing justice to exactly none of them. The original Justice League – though now, perhaps it should be called Joss Whedon’s Justice League – was a groan-worthy, half-baked attempt at a film. Now, with this current release, I’m forced to wonder how much of the blame for that third film ought to be laid at his feet – but then again, no matter what Zack Snyder’s Justice League does, it doesn’t automatically absolve the first two films.
If I can take this post and channel it into something constructive and positive, and not just make it approximately five hundred words of me complaining about the DCEU, I should say that I absolutely adored Shazam. There’s a lot to enjoy in that movie; lots of laughs, solid performances, decent action, and a lovely story about the importance of found family. It’s an incredibly human story, one that pulls at the heart strings and gets people involved in a way that none of the others, except to a certain extent, Wonder Woman. I hope we get that kind of human story in the Snyder Cut.
I know I’ll get to watching the Snyder Cut eventually, and hopefully I can make some kind of post out of it, but for right now, I just really don’t want to. I’m willing to accept that right now, that’s not on Zack Snyder – it’s on me and it’s on this pandemic. I just don’t feel like doing anything that would take 4 hours.