ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE: A meta tale of redemption

First of two parts

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Austin Salameda
In pursuit of a career in medicine and the arts, Austin considers himself a non-conformist. he thinks everything returns to a baseline no matter how far things tilt from right to left. Writes sometimes, tells stories often, provokes always.

A loss, an inner turmoil, a chance at redemption.

The lyrics to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” has been oft-decrypted, but always, always, it evokes that feeling of eventually coming to a choice when losing something: be in perpetual war, or redeem one’s self. Small wonder then that this was the music playing in the first teaser for Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

But first, a brief context.

Director Zack Snyder had quit the post production of Justice League in 2016, although insiders hint that he had been fired, with his version of the filmed labeled as “unwatchable” (later developments reveal that Snyder had in fact dropped because of the death of his daughter, August).

Warner Brother’s consulted and eventually hired Avengers helmer Joss Whedon to finish the film. Whedon opted a reshoot, so that when the theatrical cut of Justice League came out, all of Snyder’s touches were gone. It was a mess, gathering mixed reviews from critics and eventually bombing at the box office, urging executives to “throw away” Zack Snyder’s future plans for the DCEU altogether (never mind the resulting film is not even his artistically).

The debacle that was the Whedon version of the Justice League somehow spurred the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut Movement, with fans turning the Snyder version into a meme.

Long story short, the resulting film, released in HBO Max, on 18 March, 2021 is arguably one of the greatest superhero films of all time.

Film was essentially riding on low expectations, given the much-maligned DCEU versions that they were too dark –literally – or a trying-hard clones of the more successful MCU flicks. Thus, many were pleasantly surprise that the Snyder Cut not is just a better film than its 2017 version but a different film altogether and an overall great film at that.

Judging the film based on the whole drama surrounding it is inevitable. Add that to the fact that the film was released three years after the successful Aquaman solo movie and only months after the royal mess that was Wonder Woman 1984, thus the characters had time enough to simmer into the viewer’s mind’s for a bit.

Aquaman’s stoic but actually compassionate personality blends seamlessly to his character in his solo film, while Wonder Woman’s warrior like violence was a big sigh of relief for Wonder Woman fans who were disappointed by the schmaltzy WW84 film.

And of course the contrast it has with the previous theatrical cut, where the characters Cyborg and Flash are actually given a reason to be in the film to the point that it can be said that this was their “solo films.”

The difference is massive, and a lot of material that made the previous cut objectionable was corrected (cue racism ish here).

Overall Zack Snyder’s Justice League while a great movie alone, stands out better with all its underlying context and consequently also represents the triumph of everybody behind it, most especially Zack and his wife, producer Deborah Snyder.

Thematically the DCEU’s characters always involve the importance of family, of fathers and mothers and their children. Almost coincidental and in a poetic context for Zack, the movie may be seen as a celebration and as a symbol of parents, perhaps a father, coming to terms with his daughter’s death.

What we also may take from here is that, well, life is tragic.

We do not know when death will come for us or our loved ones. It may be today, or tomorrow.

It may even be in the middle of directing a supposedly global event of a film, and no one can ever truly prepare for it despite knowing its inevitability.

Some of us may already be grieving a death, a loss, and honestly, most will never heal from it. But also, life sometimes gives us second chances, or at least the ability to come to terms with the absurdity and unfairness of that truth, and in its wake, something comes out of it – like this beautiful film.

Autumn Snyder’s favorite song is Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

It was played in her funeral. Allison Crowe’s cover of that song plays during the end credits as a tribute to her.

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