Zack Snyder's Justice League

Zack Snyder's Justice League ★★★★

I have seen so many defensive fans of superhero movies argue the content is our culture's modern mythology, whatever that insecure rationalization is supposed to mean. Myths are just stories passed down in a given culture not proven to be true. That's it. It's not even necessarily false. America has plenty of myths. We are Christianized after all. Comic fans are so insecure.

But yes, of course we can find parallels between the Olympian gods and figures like Superman, and then contrast the countless reinterpretations of Batman and the classic Greek heroes, but to call super hero canon as myth misses out on many key factors; one that stands out in particular is copyright.

Copyright is completely antithetical to myth making. Ancient Greeks didn't have two giant corporations retelling the same stories in gimmicky ways until deemed unprofitable, while suing anyone who uses their characters. In the case of Zack Snyder's Justice League, it was Warner Bros.' copyright to the intellectual property that buried it for several years, ironically enough turning its very existence into a myth.

Why were so many "BreadTubers" (i.e. RenegadeCut, Folding Ideas) insistent on bootlicking Warner Bros' corporate control, advocating against artistic license, dismissing a movement raising money for suicide prevention, and denying existence of a cut of a film for three years? Even if the worst film ever made, what is to be gained from denying existence of it? Once evidence was against their favor, they'd back pedal and go "well it was never finished," which was not their original argument nor anyone else's. Everyone else knew it was mostly shot, but not complete. They wanted to complete it.

Until Snyder himself said something about it, I sort of passively took their words as truth even though I thought something wasn't adding up. Once the detractors heard about reshoots and new footage, they went "aha! it's going to be all new" then went quiet when it turned out to be less than ten minutes of new content. "The general public harassed a mega corporation every time they'd advertise their products!" . . . wow what a nightmare.

Like it or not, the Snyder Cut, is ultimately a triumph of the auteur against corporate system, with ¡Que Viva Mexico! and On the Silver Globe coming to mind as a frame of reference. What was taken for myth becomes reality. Incidentally, the film itself leans into the mythological roots of super heroes, and is the most convincing cinematic case study for that argument (yes, much more than Thor and Wonder Woman.) Were my brain cells melting away with the epic battles of the old gods (Atlanteans, Greeks, Amazonians, Lanterns, parademons, whatever Darkseid and Steppenwolf are, etc.) because of how stupid or how brilliant it all was? Is there a midpoint of intersection? All I know is I enjoyed it all.

Structurally, Snyder really goes deep into reconstructing mythological figures and stories by adapting it into a semi-retrofuturist setting calling back to and consolidating countless iconography from "high" and "low" culture. Aquaman is something of local folklore, but his part in the story is something of larger legends.

Likewise, Diana (Wonder Woman) and her Amazonian people have their own historical/mythological culture that will soon be crumbled at the hands of the demons of the underworld (Apocalypse, I think is what it is called). Yet as we transition to the modern world, we see statues and architectural designs akin to those of ancient times and foreign places, indicating that we still have ties to this polytheistic culture, but perhaps gods are now among the modern man. Of course, Superman's Christ-like resurrection is the centerpiece of the film.

Neo-mythology manifests through Cyborg, who has access to a cyber world within our own world and powers promising for the future of transhumanism, and Flash, whose place in the story couldn't be more thematically resonant... he literally is a flash forward, an acceleration for the promise of human potentiality. Towards the beginning, Wonder Woman tells a student she can be anything she wants to be... the film embraces this idea sincerely, even if it doesn't have much practical ground to stand on, the catharsis derived from this mythological notion is present regardless.

And there lies a potential issue for me... I think? Snyder has either betrayed or transcended the deconstruction principles he built his superhero cinema off from with Watchmen in order to embrace new sincerity. Is this the logical leap from Alan Moore to make? What else could he have done? I'm not sure; it sort of bothers me but it also sort of impresses me. Just as one moment in the epilogue sets up the following films, the very next scene says no. We're not doing that.

Joker ostensibly serves as a looming existential threat and a metatextual device commenting on alternate timelines and broken dreams, fears that can never truly be set aside, for they too are human. But even that is followed by a moment of hopefulness and I don't detect a hint of irony there.

Here's the thing... barring Raimi's beloved Spider-Man trilogy, Zack Snyder's Justice League is without a doubt, the most sincere and uncynical superhero film I have had the pleasure of seeing.

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