REVIEW: Zack Snyder’s Justice League – A Fitting End To This Chapter of the DCEU

This felt like the closing of a book. We may never get sequels to this Justice League (never say never though; we never thought we would see this cut), but if this is the end of Snyder’s tenure in the DCEU I think it is a great place to end it on. He closed out his chapter in the DCEU and now from it, a new part has begun thanks to the work he started. Superman’s presence in the world of the movies brought out the other heroes, and the Justice League marks a new age of them. Now those heroes include Shazam, the Birds of Prey, and the upcoming Blue Beetle, Static Shock, Hourman, and whatever other projects DC and Warner Bros. decide to make.

I want to take a moment here at the end to talk about what made really stuck with me and made the whole film click into place. Throughout the film, there are various parent/child relationships at the center. Similar to The Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy, this film is about a group of people from various backgrounds coming together to form a surrogate family. But Justice League, in keeping with Snyder’s mythic take on these characters, zeroes in on two concepts here: fixing the past and the concept of ‘being broken.’

Various characters in this film are haunted by their past mistakes. Bruce Wayne desires to correct the wrong he made to Superman. Similar to how he adopted the mantle of Batman to avenge his parents, the idea of the Justice League is founded on Bruce wanting to honor Clark. Diana’s choice to leave her people meant they suffered a great loss without her. This theme is solidified in Barry Allen aka The Flash. Barry’s father is put in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and Barry wants to prove his father’s innocence. In a dramatic moment in the film, Barry is given the ability to reverse time and change it altering a terrible mistake. It speaks to a meta nature of the film, one where we are able to get a glimpse of the film as it was intended to be. Zack is Barry being able to restore the proper version of the film as Barry is able to fix the world.

But not all things need to be fixed, because something may not be broken. Cyborg’s story really is the heart of the movie and serves as a mirror parallel to Superman’s journey in Man of Steel. Both are outsiders who watch their parental figure die while they are helpless to stop them. The final monologue of the film is given by Cyborg’s father Silas Stone (Joe Morton) in a heroic manner similar to Jor-El (Russell Crowe) to his son in Man of Steel. Cyborg flies off into the sky in a manner similar to how Superman famously goes up up and away. The film is a Justice League story, but Cyborg is the center of it. So it seems very cynical in the theatrical cut the reshoots focus more on Bruce Wayne because obviously, Batman is the most popular hero and in DC Comics tradition one must make everything about Batman.

Cyborg has two real moments that hit hard and I was left wondering why on Earth would anyone think to cut these. One is a simple moment where Cyborg, going through the digital web, discovers a single mother who is barely making a living as a waitress. She is about to be evicted from her house, but Cyborg is able to upload a large sum of money into her account essentially saving her life and her children. It is a very superhero moment but reframed in a modern context. Most of the time taking money is seen as a criminal act, but Cyborg understands that he can use his powers to help redistribute wealth to someone truly in need, harking back to the concept of one of fiction’s most popular heroes: Robin Hood. This is the scene where you humanize Cyborg and show a new layer of superheroics.

Yet the moment that stood out most was towards the end when the Mother Box’s are attempting to persuade him as they can ‘fix him’. Victor has seen himself as damaged throughout the film and wants to be human. But with the fate of the world at stake and with his new friends beside him he says ‘I’m not broken…and I’m not alone.’

The film ends with a simple message ‘For Autumn,’ a tribute to Snyder’s daughter Autumn as Alison Crowe covers ‘Hallelujah,’ Autumn’s favorite song. Zack Snyder and his family suffered a horrible family tragedy, and at the end of the day, he and his family’s well being is more important than any movie. Hopefully now with this movie out, it can serve as a way to help a lot of people. When Bruce goes to pick up Barry Allen, they drive past a billboard for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, that has a simple message that speaks to the theme of the film and the wider DCEU films, be they directed by Zack Snyder or not:

“You are not alone.”

If you or anyone you know has contemplated suicide, please know that you are not alone. The world is filled with people who care about you and want to talk to you. Call this number 1-800-273-8255 if you’ve ever had suicidal thoughts. Help is here for you.

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