Seeing Out 2022 and the Snyderverse With a Justice League Trilogy Rewatch

I like watching movies. It’s a pastime for me, it gives me a lot of pleasure. A good movie, one you can lose yourself in, well, there’s nothing better.

I also happen to like superhero movies, usually the ones that come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though it was released in 2019, just a few scant years ago, Avengers: Endgame holds a place in my personal top five, and I find it endlessly rewatchable. Before the MCU, when I was a kid going to the movies with my dad, I loved Superman. Again, the first two films, directed by Richard Donner and Richard Lester, are classics, and Christopher Reeve is, was, and in my humble opinion, always will be the greatest big screen Superman.

So, I love movies and I love superhero movies, but unlike that rabid, small yet loud segment of social media fans, I don’t think I’m owed anything by movie studios; that is, other than good movies. However, the relationship between studios and a fan like me is pretty simple – they make the movie, and I choose whether or not I’m going to watch it. What a writer or director or actor thinks is a good movie could either line up with my own likes, or not. Again, it’s simple.

Or maybe it isn’t.

Take Black Adam. As someone who likes Dwayne Johnson as a personality and as an actor, you’d think I would have been keen to see him play the DC anti-hero. However, all the trailers in the world did nothing for me, so I chose to stay home rather than sit in a theatre, watching a film I had no interest in and which, judging by the reviews, seemed to kinda sorta not be very good. But when a 4K review disc arrived from WB during the first week of my vacation, I stopped what I was doing and immediately put the film on. Maybe I’d like Black Adam after all.

To quote a far superior film, NOPE.

From the acting to the script to the CGI to that kid teaching this perceived god catchphrases, I didn’t enjoy Black Adam and its use of every superhero storytelling cliche at all. It did nothing for me, and I was surprised that with all of the flaws I felt it to have, that so many fans seemed to enjoy it. That’s a good thing, though. I’m glad that there was an audience that got what they wanted out of the movie; then again, with the box office returns fairly light and a sense of desperation from the filmmakers to prove that Black Adam did make money, it’s hard not to wonder what could have been done to make a better film that hit bigger (I’d suggest a good script, but what do I know). The would-be franchise ended with middling box office and the news straight from The Rock himself that there would be no sequel, a decision from the new DC regime.

We haven’t really talked about all the happenings in the world of DC movies at BIFF BAM POP!, with James Gunn and Peter Safran taking over as leaders of DC’s film, television, and animation properties. We haven’t consciously avoided it, we’re just not a news site, and I don’t think any of us had big enough opinions to share, even as the duo started making their voices heard in significant ways. However, a unity of occurences inspired me to think about these events: the news that Henry Cavill would no longer be playing Superman in DC films, my Black Adam viewing, and my iTunes purchase of Zack Snyder’s Justice League Trilogy in 4K.

You didn’t think we could write about DC without mentioning Snyder, did you? His three films (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League) are actually the main inspiration for me sitting down to write. With all the talk about the lack of cohesion in DC films over the last decade, and with the quality of all of them excessively divisive, I wanted to do something I’d never done before, and watch Snyder’s films back to back in relatively quick succession. Doing so, I found three films that cohere together brilliantly, and form something of a Lord of the Rings-style epic story of heroes discovering themselves.

For me, two out of the three Zack Snyder films are brilliant. The other is Man of Steel. Out of context, Man of Steel was a decent reboot of Superman, with its poignant moments (the opening on Krypton and Clark’s relationship with Jonathan Kent) sadly mashed up against wanton scenes of destruction that still feel like overkill. However, when placed as the opening chapter to the Justice League saga and the story of Superman’s becoming, Man of Steel took on a new resonance during my rewatch. And while he’s no Christopher Reeve, Henry Cavill is a great Superman.

The only version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that matters is the Ultimate Edition, which adds 30 minutes to the theatrical’s run time and makes what was at first an “OK” film in my eyes into something I consider a masterpiece of superhero storytelling. I’ve loved this version since I first saw it, and on this rewatch was just drawn in even further. Had the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice been the version that hit theatres back in 2016, I think the perception of the film and Snyder’s vision could have been drastically different.

Finally, there’s the 4 hour Justice League, which to my mind doesn’t have a wasted moment and manages to find a near-perfect cohesion of character development, mythmaking, and set pieces. It pays off everything that came before it while also thoughtfully introducing new heroes as well. Taken together, I truly believe Zack Snyder created an outstanding, Frank Miller-esque superhero trilogy that works and that will stand the test of time.

I also believe that those films have a beginning, middle, and end, and it’s time to move on to whatever James Gunn and Peter Safran have in mind for DC. Yes, there’s still The Flash: Flashpoint and movies with Shazam and Aquaman to come in 2023, but I don’t expect any of them to possess the unifying vision of the Justice League trilogy. In the case of the Aquaman and Flash films, they’ll also be carrying a lot of baggage with them; the ghost of the Snyderverse on screen and, in the case of The Flash: Flashpoint, the antics of Ezra Miller offscreen. My guess is these will serve as farewells rather than as paths forward.

Whatever comes next, I’m open to, and I hope fans and filmgoers will feel the same way. And should naysayers or haters of what came before or just movie lovers generally have 10 hours or so over a few days, take the time and indulge in Zack Snyder’s Justice League trilogy and experience a director’s vision fulfilled.

One Reply to “Seeing Out 2022 and the Snyderverse With a Justice League Trilogy Rewatch”

  1. I’d hardly call it a vision ‘fully fulfilled’ when execs removed 30 minutes from BvS in the first place and gave us the bastardized Justice League in 2017, not to mention cutting the story off at the feet with where ZSJL left things with characters like Darkseid. That’s a longer conversation, but you can easily tell there was much more story to tell had WB not gotten cold feet and been in such a rush to catch up to Marvel, instead of letting the story play out organically. Had that happened, the story would be done and some fans would be more receptive to a reboot than they are now when the story is coming to an abrupt end with no sense of closure.

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