Zack Snyder's Justice League

Zack Snyder's Justice League ★★★★★

There’s a glimmering shard of hope inside all of us, in every being. It’s never clear what might become of it, whether it’ll grow to become a large tree or a withered sapling robbed of its glory. The world is, unfortunately, a place not known to accommodate something as naïve as hope. People die, money dictates life or death for many, pen-pushers idle over serious matters as if they were boring playthings. The old guard has failed us, time and time again, and now we’re being forced into the frontline to bear all the consequences. This is the story of the old world, what has come before and what the groundwork of current civilization and rationale is based on. 

Then comes a streak of light, a (quite literal) outerworldly spirit that reignites the flames, the sparks inside each and every one of us no one remembers. There is no doubt, no wariness, only a burning sensation of … something better. Daring to think of a world beyond our own, daring to speak when told not to, daring to dream and love and reach out our hands to help. The old world is no more; this is the New Order, a paradigm shift, and the youth have come to stake their claim. No more back-turning, no more complacency. A league of heroes representing the best of humanity and beyond has come, and they are Prometheus. The gods will remember this outrage, but we shall not forget either; we will be ready for the fight. 

After an admittedly lengthy break from watching movies, I figured the best way to take me back was to revisit a film I’ve constantly thought about since first watch. Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the miracle baby of 2021 and a work of art so fraught with inner and outer turmoil that the story of its eventual birth is just as fascinating and heartbreaking as the narrative woven into the movie. I think this lends the film a certain melancholy streak, but the movie is just as good when judged on its own merits. This is Snyder’s magnum opus without a doubt, a grand demonstration of what attracts us to superhero stories (the brave and the bold, the simple but steadfast narrative, the emotional journey every hero takes) and grand-scale pictures harkening back to epics of the 1920s in general (the multi-act structure, the spectacle, the fantastical and the weird). This is the third and final installment of Superman’s trilogy, but by all means, it’s as perfect a team-up superhero movie as can be made. Everyone matters, everyone has their limits and everyone tries to strive for more. More than any other comic-book movie I’ve watched, Zack Snyder’s Justice League places the most emphasis on hope, how utterly foolish it is and how very important it is that we keep it in our hearts. The movie doesn’t shy away from our heroes being malleable to emotion; Aquaman’s insecurity, Wonder Woman’s detachment from her kin, Cyborg’s anger and sadness over the loss of his parents, the Flash’s visceral cries of pain (which really stuck out to me on second viewing; it’s too deliberate, the way his all-too-real reaction to wounds differs from practically any other hero in any other movie, to be a coincidence or a fluke). Batman is the broody vigilante who realizes all too late that he’s been steadily drowning himself in a puddle of despair and violence, but maybe it’s not too late for this one act of apology. Maybe it’s not too late for him, an already scarred man, to make sure no one else is inflicted that pain. 

Superman is an embodiment of hope, and he’s a driving force scarcely imaginable — one for unfiltered, unequivocal good. Wounds heal, smiles are made, and tomorrow feels just a bit less dire… but hey, that’s a beginning.

Snyder’s image-focused filmmaking reaches its peak here, as the exciting fights and the dazzling feats of superhuman abilities are realized perfectly through his meticulous, over-the-top artistic inclinations. I watched the Justice is Gray version for this viewing, and it’s all down to your taste whether you like this with color or with B&W; I found myself preferring the latter, which makes it feel more like a modern-day continuation of the old Hollywood epic spirit. I love that it doesn’t give a fig about the franchise continuity it’s strapped to, that it’s bloated and overambitious, that Snyder drives deeper into his indulgences and goes wild. Four hours of absolute perfection, is the result I reached upon. I hope, like everyone in the film, he’s found hope too.

The best capeshit movie.

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