The League is finally getting justice — at least according to a small but vocal fanbase.
Back in 2017, “Justice League” hit theaters and proceeded to lay a super-duper egg with audiences and critics alike.
The troubled production was originally helmed by Zack Snyder, the same director behind previous DC movies “Man of Steel” and “Superman v Batman: Dawn of Justice.”
After Snyder left in the middle of the “Justice League” production, the studio tapped Joss Whedon to take over. Whedon was the writer-director behind Marvel’s “The Avengers,” and Warner Bros. hoped that he might inject more humor and generally make the film play better with wide audiences.
The end result proved to be nothing to nobody, a messy hybrid of Snyder’s dark, ponderous sensibility mixed with moments of Whedon’s lightness.
Now “Justice League” is getting a do-over of sorts. Following a passionate online campaign by Snyder’s fans, Warner Bros. relented and handed the director a reported $70 million to realize his initial vision.
“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” begins streaming on HBO Max Thursday, and it jettisons nearly everything that Whedon added in favor of restoring Snyder’s discarded footage, as well as adding a new scene shot especially for this redo.
So what exactly is different?
The overall plot is basically the same. Batman (Ben Affleck) assembles a team of heroes — Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) — to stop baddie Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) from gathering three pieces of alien tech that will enslave earth to Steppenwolf’s master, Darkseid.
But — spoilers ahead! — the operative word seems to be “more.” Warner Bros. reportedly demanded that Whedon’s film clock in at no more than two hours, while this version is twice that.
Many scenes that appeared in the theatrical cut now last longer, such the one in which Aquaman initially refuses Bruce Wayne’s plea for help. Aquaman disappears into the sea, which is followed by village women standing nearby singing a dirge.
The expanded run time allows for exploration of the crowded cast’s backstory, much of which was cut in the theatrical version.
For example, there’s much more with Cyborg, his origin and his troubled relationship with his scientist father (Joe Morton).
The Flash’s personal life is fleshed out, as well, including a scene in which he saves future love interest Iris West (Kiersey Clemons) from a car crash.
New characters who were excised from the previous version return, most notably Darkseid (Ray Porter), whose failed attempt to conquer earth centuries ago is shown. We also glimpse him on his home planet Apokolips.
Ryan Choi (Zheng Kai), a scientific colleague of Cyborg’s father who will eventually become shrinking hero The Atom, is back. As is a cameo from shapeshifting hero Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix).
The most talked-about addition is likely Joker. Snyder shot a hallucinatory new scene in which the villain (Jared Leto) confronts Batman, telling him he’s his best friend.
One thing fans happily won’t find here is Superman’s much-derided CGI face. Whedon shot new footage with Henry Cavill, who had grown a mustache for his role in “Mission: Impossible — Fallout,” necessitating that the “Justice League” filmmakers digitally erase it. The results were less-than-convincing. That footage is gone.
Superman now dons a black costume, which was reportedly deemed too much of a downer previously.
This film wraps up much the same way as the other, with the heroes triumphant, Steppenwolf defeated. Only Snyder has tacked on a coda that clearly suggests the story is far, far from over.
Could we possibly see “Zack Snyder’s Justice League Part II” one day?
Start tweeting now.