The power of extreme fandom in all its rampant, infectious, and toxic vainglory, has become almost unbearable for many. While we have the unstoppable juggernaut of superheroes, comic-books, and ever-expanding universes of heroes, villains, and everything in between, these fandoms will only get bigger and noisier. Such feverish opinions and discussions, some of which have become horrendous and angry if A dares to disagrees with B, have put people off forever on such subjects but for better or worse, it is here to stay. Nowhere has it been more frantic than the clamour surrounding Zack Snyder and his un-made version of Justice League.
Tragedy struck when he was busy making the film back in 2016 and, with studio execs and suits keen to get the film out and make up for the critical mauling that beset Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, they hired Joss Whedon to complete the project, reshape it to add some lighter moments and get it into cinemas for its booked date. Within moments of Whedon’s version beginning, however, it was plain that there was something wrong with the film: questions began, fingers were pointed and fans began to beg, in vain, of seeing Snyder’s original version. Enter HBO MAX, $70million, obsessive fan euphoria (both good and bad), and a FOUR HOUR version of Zack Snyder’s film – his definitive director’s cut.
If you’re old enough to know about Superman II and its “original” version, you may know where this sits in the rare lexicon of filmmakers being allowed to finish a film they started. And we aren’t talking a few deleted scenes. This version of JL is ostensibly different even if the plot remains largely unchanged and while it still has many problems, it’s certainly a more coherent, enjoyable piece of unique cinema history. But – there’s a but, well more of a question: was it all worth it?
If push came to shove, we’d have to say yes but for all the flash, the cracking images, the more measured narrative, did we really need it? Probably not. The rise of the team is much better executed, the why and reason behind resurrecting the Man of Steel (minus the worst CGI ever) has deeper meanings and the cast is given more to do. Particularly Ray Fisher as Cyborg whose story is the richest of the film, with Amy Adams and Diane Lane adding some much needed class in their moments. But at four hours, it comes across as self-indulgent and mostly unnecessary at times. This is much as the naysayers would expect, just as the die head Snyder fans are likely to explode in outrage at the suggestion.
Snyder is a visually arresting and unique filmmaker, a fact that has never been disputed. However, as with BVS and Man of Steel, all the iconic imagery in the world can’t make up for an uneven narrative and the cracks in this are even further exacerbated by its bloaty, almost hedonistic undercoat. That isn’t to say there isn’t much to enjoy here – the big battles are stimulating, the sight of a black-suited Superman in full flight will bring much fan nirvana, the relationships are on much more solid ground and the league feels more connected – and there’s no doubt Snyder’s passionate fanbase will find endless pleasure. It’s all just far much too much: like a beautifully catered buffet with all your favourite things, you’ll soon find yourself saying enough is enough and it’s time to leave it alone.