“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” roundtable discussion

Craig Odenwald, Staff Writer

The Horizon’s Justice League (Alum. and former A&E Editor Wesley Stenzel, Staff Writer Craig Odenwald, and current A&E Editor Luke Spicer) (Ella Jennings)

Slo-mo. Grunge rock. Epic speeches. These are the hallmarks of any Zack Snyder film, now given free reign in his lengthy cut of “Justice League.” On March 18, HBO Max released “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” the four-hour epic DC fans have been clamoring for ever since the disappointing theatrical release of 2017’s “Justice League.”

This past Sunday, three members of the Horizon Arts and Entertainment section, current staff writer Craig Odenwald, current A&E Editor Luke Spicer, and previous A&E Editor Wesley Stenzel, gathered in the Hall of Justice to discuss whether Snyder’s film is more of the same or a stark improvement on the original.


A note to the reader: FULL SPOILERS AHEAD.

Wesley Stenzel: “This was shockingly good.”

Luke Spicer: “Shockingly.”

Craig Odenwald: “I think the word for me is … awe? It doesn’t feel like four hours.”

Luke: “Yeah, and a lot of the opening two hours — I can’t believe I get to say that — Snyder really digs into these long sequences with minimal dialogue. It almost feels like music videos, but they’re some of the best parts of the movie. Despite having less dialogue in these moments, you’re able to get really solid characterizations through this section of the movie. What do you guys think? Is the four hours warranted or did he go too far?”

Wesley: “I love the four-hours. The length is the greatest asset. Marvel has had a seven- or eight-year head start on building their universe, while Snyder was tasked with doing the same amount of world-building in two to three movies. Making a four-hour movie is the only way I could see DC feasibly catching up on its worldbuilding and, somehow, that opening two hours is still just crazy compositions of images, action and light dialogue, but it works.”

The four-hour long film restores many of the character arcs left out of the 2017 theatrical release, resulting in the ragtag group of heroes actually feeling like a cohesive team (from left to right: Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the Flash (Ezra Miller), Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), and Aquaman (Jason Mamoa)). (Warner Brothers)

Luke: “On that note, Zack Snyder definitely knows how to direct action. It’s an R[-rated movie], but doesn’t lose track of the story.”

Craig: “I feel like Zack Snyder directs DC action like that one guy in every friend group who asks why the superheroes don’t go all out when they fight someone.”

Wesley: “Agreed, and I think he can do that because they’re fighting faceless creatures from other worlds — pretty much just like the Marvel movies.”

Luke: “Something else of note is that everyone got better arcs — even Steppenwolf and Lois Lane — but I would say Wonder Woman’s was the weakest.”

Craig: “She didn’t have as much to do, but I’m just glad I didn’t hear the name ‘Steve Trevor’ again. Chris Pine rocks, but Wonder Woman is more than that relationship. Wonder Woman’s there to give those words of wisdom the other fellas can’t quite put a pin on. Going in, I thought that if she can give that superhero advice to the rookies — Aquaman, Cyborg, and the Flash — then that’s a fine substitution for a larger arc.”

Thanks to overwhelming fan support, Zack Synder was able to complete his original vision for “Justice League” including filming new scenes with Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). (Warner Brothers)

Luke: “I would say the same for Batman. I always wanted to see more of him. He’s had such an arc between the events of ‘Batman v Superman’ and now. I think Snyder nails the tone of that transition, and I just love his interactions with Alfred.”

Wesley: “I think the Batman-Alfred interaction is probably the best it’s been in movies.”

Luke: “Yeah, in terms of true-to-source material, yeah, they can actually stand being around each other. I can see them working side-by-side for twenty years.”

Wesley: “As for Flash … I’ll say I liked every time he wasn’t talking. I just wasn’t sold on his ‘funny’ dialogue. Wasn’t a strong part of this particular movie. Same with Steppenwolf.”

Luke: “That’s the unique thing about this movie: if there’s something you don’t like, there are ten or fifteen other things for you to focus on that you’ll probably enjoy. Cyborg, for instance, actually has a full role in this movie.”

Wesley: “Remember when he helped the waitress at the ATM? One of the kindest acts I think I’ve seen in a superhero movie. I think those little moments are what make the four hours worth it.”

Craig: “I think scope is such a big thing in DC. The reason the movie works is because, if Cyborg can help at a smaller scale, it makes you believe he could help save the world. Snyder gets to have his giant action scenes, but it’s those smaller, more intimate moments when heroes help that I think: yep, that’s the Justice League. That’s the kind of heroism they ultimately stand for.”

Luke: “I would say my one big negative with this movie is the tacked-on appearance of Martian Manhunter. There’s this really nice scene with Lois Lane and Martha Kent, and all of a sudden, Martha transforms into Martian Manhunter. Then, at the end, he just shows up at Batman’s house and just goes, ‘Hey, I’m here to help fight. Bye now!’ It feels like a post-credits scene.”

Craig: “That was one of my favorite unintentionally funny moments. The first one was when Snyder showed the Justice League taking the stairs. That was incredible — seeing the Flash just walking up a flight of stairs. Then there’s the Manhunter moment. I loved the awkward silence when they both knew that the conversation was over.”

Wesley: “Yeah, there was no natural end to that conversation.”

Luke: “And then we have the Knightmare scene. What did you make of the return of Jared Leto’s Joker?”

Jared Leto returns as the Joker during the brief “Knightmare” sequence at the end of the film. (Warner Brothers)

Wesley: “He has too many tics, too many weird mannerisms … I didn’t care for it. That dialogue felt pretty forced. The earlier sections of the movie have less dialogue. There’s more room for subtlety. That’s definitely not the case here.”

Craig: “I felt like the heroes didn’t get anything done in that scene. They just met the Joker. To see the scene was cool, but I’ll put most of that on Ben Affleck’s shoulders. He felt more world-weary when interacting with the Joker. It felt like a really serious rap battle.”

Luke: “I guess the big question is: do we want to see more of this story?”

Craig: “I’m excited to see where it goes. I think DC is gonna have to make a movie timeline for sure. Snyder would need to be in collaboration with the other directors so their visions don’t conflict.”

Wesley: “Honestly, I think that, after seeing Marvel’s approach play out over the past decade, I’d be okay with a universe that doesn’t adhere so closely to continuity. I think it’s more fun for the directors to be able to take bigger risks and be beholden to less people. Here, that approach definitely worked out.”

Where will the DC Cinematic universe go next? Only time will tell.

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