Property Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Snyder Cut rights a grave wrong

Sometimes, setting a precedent is a necessary evil.

The theatrical release of Justice League in 2017 was an unmitigated disaster. The plot was all over the place, the editing was unpolished, and it generally didn’t seem ready for release. But, the rumors began of another cut by the original director Zack Snyder. Snyder, who had stepped down for personal reasons, was generally regarded as someone who knew what they were doing when it comes to comic book film adaptations (see Man of Steel, 300 and Watchmen). This cut was much longer but supposedly closer to the original vision of what Justice League should have been.

The Snyder Cut was that and much more.

Putting together a coherent feature, the Snyder Cut is infinitely more watchable than the original cut of the film. Character motivations make more sense, important details are emphasized, and subplots and sometimes even characters are restored. Snyder’s delicate touch and worldbuilding are vital with an ensemble picture such as this, and it shows in the many changes made to correct.

One of those material effects is the origin story of Cyborg. With Snyder’s vision restored and more of the important details of his transition from human to cyborg, Cyborg is more present than he ever hoped to be in the original cut. Actor Ray Fisher is a force to be reckoned with in the film, and through this re-characterization you can immediately see why. Fisher must balance the nature of humanity versus machine after Victor Stone’s accident, and he does so with stunning aplomb.

Also of note, The Flash, as portrayed by Ezra Miller, is also superb with the restoration of his character in Snyder’s version. Miller takes the character from jokester to serious world-saving hero with several amazing scenes, including one that eventually won an Academy Award. Though this is not a review of Warner Bros.’ failures, take note that the scene that won the Oscar was among quite a few that the studio and theatrical director Joss Whedon cut from the original final product.

Snyder’s final cut blows away the original theatrical cut and makes good use of the extended run time. It’s almost as if an ensemble film should be this long and this good on purpose. While we’re not fans of the precedent set in having multiple releases of the same film, the original cut of Justice League was an abomination that necessitated the Snyder version’s release. Trust us when we say the film only has room for one abomination in the form of Darkseid.

Story: 8
Acting: 10
Like the comics?: 9

Total score: 27/30 or 9.0

 

HOW WE GRADE

We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Anime Lounge #22: Horimiya Episodes 1-12

Series: Horimiya

Episodes: 1-12

Premise: An outgoing girl (Kyouko Hori) notices a shy boy (Izumi Miyamura) in her class and wonders why he doesn’t have any friends. At the same time, they meet outside of class when Miyamura looks completely different. Their friendship blossoms and eventually they confess to having feelings for each other. Where their relationship and that of their friends and acquaintances takes them is the meat of the story.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. Outstanding visuals and a mature story about the feelings of young people becoming adults makes for a compelling anime. The intro theme is also fantastic.

Breakout character: Izumi Miyamura. He goes from super shy guy to outrageously cute pierced and tattooed guy every day and settles somewhere in between. His glow up is amazing once he develops confidence.

Where it’s going?: The relationship between Hori and Miyamura intensifies, and it’s obvious this will lead to marriage down the line. The fun will be in getting there. There is a second season announced, so we will see more of their relationship progress over time.

Marvel character highlight #30: Gamora

Name: Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan

Alias: Requiem, The Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy

Affiliation: Guardians of the Galaxy, Infinity Watch, Phalanx, Graces, United Front, Nova Corps

Special abilities: Superhuman strength, speed, durability and agility, master assassin, master martial artist, master of conventional weapons, master thief

Background: Gamora was born as part of the Zen-Whoberis race, which was wiped out by the Badoon/Universal Church of Truth (dependent on timeline). She was then found by Thanos and enhanced and trained in the assassin arts. Once she was ready, she was assigned to protect current timeline Adam Warlock and assassinate his future evil self, Magus. Though she failed to kill Magus, she continued her assignment with Adam until Thanos revealed himself as a massive threat to existence. She then joined Warlock and the Infinity Watch to take out Thanos. She dies and finds herself within the Soul Gem for a time. Once released, she fought to stop Thanos’ reign of terror with the Infinity Gauntlet but was erased from existence. She was restored with all of the other heroes, and later left Infinity Watch and joined the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Relationships: Thanos, adoptive father; Star-Lord (Peter Quill), lover; Nova (Richard Rider), former lover; Adam Warlock, former lover; Nebula, adoptive sister

First Versus appearance: Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite

Appearances in other media:

Television: Silver Surfer (animated series), Ultimate Spider-Man (animated series), Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy (animated series), Lego Marvel Super Heroes – Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Threat

Film: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Video games: Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Marvel Strike Force, Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes, Disney Infinity 3.0, Marvel: Contest of Champions, Marvel: Future Fight, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Marvel Powers United VR, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Top 5 on The Strip: Superman villain edition

Darkseid
Darkseid isn’t just a Superman villain, mostly because he tends to antagonize everyone in the Justice League. But it’s something about Kal-El and his goings on that apparently sets the Lord of Apokolips off. One of the most legendary battles that took place between the Man of Steel and the Omega King occurred in the superb animated film Superman/Batman Apocalypse. Watch the ending fight scene just to get a sense for how much Superman hates Darkseid.

Lex Luthor
Lex is to Superman what the Joker is to Batman. Lex uses Superman to gauge his arching skills and probably couldn’t exist if Superman were to ever vanish from the DC Universe. Somehow, some way Lex finds a way to remain a thorn in Clark’s side, whether he’s dead or alive or imprisoned. You can always count on Lex to stay ready in his pursuit of Superman’s defeat.

Doomsday
If adapt and react were a character, it would be Doomsday. Responsible for the death of Superman in 1992, Doomsday is known solely for being the slayer of Superman. He’s a beast that Superman has always had trouble fighting and successfully stopping, and any time he shows up, you know Superman will probably die.

General Zod
Always ready to clap it up with Superman, General Zod has a superiority complex and an ego the size of Krypton before it exploded. That’s Zod’s problem: He just knew he was right and knew what was best for Krypton. Generally, that involved fighting with the House of El and it generally involves fighting Superman at some point. This is a fight that supersedes an entire planet disintegrating.

Brainiac
The know-it-all supercomputer is one of Superman’s most obnoxious foes. He’s known for two things: His “twelfth-level intellect” and shrinking cities down and stuffing them into bottles. Sometimes, depending on the version, he’s also known for causing the destruction of Krypton. In any version of Superman’s battles, Brainiac is known as one of his most destructive and dangerous foes.

Top 5 on The Strip: DC stuff we’re anticipating edition

Flash’s new movie with return of Michael Keaton

You all know how much we here at GI love Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne and Batman. And we’re practically jumping up and down for joy that it’s been confirmed we will see him again in this upcoming Flash solo film. Yes, we do love Ezra Miller as the Flash, but it’s been 30 years since we’ve seen Keaton don the cowl. That’s worth any price of admission.

Future seasons of Titans

This past season of Titans was fantastic. Vincent Kartheiser, of Mad Men brilliance, as the Scarecrow was on point with the long game the entire season, and we finally got Jason Todd as the Red Hood. We all knew it was coming, but how and why was expertly done. We’re expecting great things in the upcoming seasons now that the focus is shifting back to Dick Grayson being the leader of the Titans in San Francisco.

Black Adam coming with the Rock

Black Adam’s long development has been simmering for a while, and now it’s boiling if you smell what the Rock has been cooking. We’re more than ready for Dwayne Johnson take on the character — who, in the intervening years, has been drawn in his likeness. The movie looks to be great, and we support Johnson in anything and everything he does. We’re looking forward to Shazam going one on one with the Great One finally.

Blue Beetle film with Xolo Maridueña

We have so grown to love Xolo Maridueña, best known for his role as Miguel in the brilliant Cobra Kai. His earnest and awesome portrayal of the cute karate powerhouse means we will follow his projects, and Blue Beetle is one that’s taking shape for DC. The character is cool, and we expect that Maridueña will bring the heat when he finally gets started.

Henry Cavill returning as Superman

Given that he’s been the best choice for the Man of Steel for nearly a decade, we welcome the return of Cavill if he’ll have us. His Superman is believable and decent, and we loved his version in Justice League. We also happen to be big fans of Cavill in general — he was fantastic in The Tudors — so if he’s willing to don the cape and House of El symbol once again, we’ll take it.

Marvel character highlight #29: Blackheart

Name: Blackheart

Alias: Black King, Legion, Lord Blackheart, Mayor Winston Agnew, Prince of Hell, Son of Mephisto

Affiliation: Hell Lords, Hellfire Club, Spirits of Vengeance, Corrupt, Legions of the Night

Special abilities: Superhuman strength, durability and speed. He also has some telepathy, can levitate, is capable of interdimensional teleportation, size alteration, physical alteration, regeneration, energy generation, soul capture and mind control. He is also omniscient, immortal and immune to Ghost Rider’s Penance Stare.

Background: Son of the demon-lord Mephisto, Blackheart was created from the mystical energies found in Christ’s Crown, N.Y. The location was known for many murders over several centuries and provided the necessary evil to create a being such as Blackheart. The demon began learning under his father and clashed several times with Daredevil, Spider-Man and members of the Inhumans. After failing to corrupt any of these beings, Blackheart was taken captive by his father in Hell, and he wanted freedom. To escape, Blackheart entangled himself with Misha of the Warheads. He was successful in his attempt and got out disguised as Doctor Strange. Once free, he lured Wolverine, The Punisher and Ghost Rider to Christ’s Crown to corrupt them but failed. They then took on Blackheart in Hell, and he successfully used them to defeat Mephisto and take over his father’s portion of Hell.

Relationships: Mephisto (father); Mephista (sister); Greylight (brother); Daimon Hellstrom, Satana Hellstrom, Mikal Drakonmegas (siblings)

First Versus appearance: Marvel Super Heroes

Appearances in other media:

Film: Ghost Rider (2007)

Video games: Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, Ghost Rider, Marvel: Avengers Alliance

Anime Lounge #21: Cowboy Bebop Episodes 1 – 12

Series: Cowboy Bebop

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: Space bounty hunter Spike Spiegel is always in search of his next target, and he finds unlikely helpers in retired cop Jet Black, the mysterious Faye Valentine and later legendary hacker Ed and the scientific genius pupper Ein. Spike must confront his past — running around in the mafia — in order to move forward with his future. How he does it to start leads to more questions than answers, ending with his first confrontation with former friend Vicious.

Is it worth watching?: YES. This is one of the god-tier anime that every new anime enthusiast should be required to watch. Production values, voice acting, cool characters and an awesome soundtrack … this anime has it all.

Breakout character: Faye Valentine. Yes, it could be all of the characters, but Faye definitely stands out. You want to know her deal, why she can’t remember anything and how she will ever get herself together. And then you find out later in the series, and it’s like, wow. The payoff for Faye is amazing, and you still want more.

Where it’s going?: Spike has to take on Vicious once again, reclaim his honor and handle unresolved business. He’s taking the crew along for the ride, and where they end up is the mystery.

Strip Talk #31: DC finally getting back on track

Listen to me good when I tell you all something: DC has to do something. They’re getting hurt out there in the ring, and they can’t take too many more hits before it’s lights out. They need that ring bell to save them and fortunately for them, it’s coming in a few projects.
How they got here is not a mystery. Incoherent, nonsensical decisions with stars for their movies, the movies themselves being atrocious, and a lack of obvious planning and forethought. It was a lot, and it seemed like every time the company took a step, they stumbled. And their rival, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was churning out hit after hit at the box office, adding insult to injury.
But there were beacons of hope: Television and animated properties.

DC has always had strong television and animation. Their Justice League characters are so well known that almost all have had multiple shows that have done well. Their animated movies and shows are so good that decades later, they’re still producing spinoffs that are just as good if not better than the originals.
So, this is their go-to in the bleak times.
When faced with hard times, Warner Bros. does what it knows how to do best: Milk something to death and ride that cash cow until the wheels fall off. And that’s why we’re getting great television in the form of Titans. That’s why more animated Batman is here to put the DC name on his back and carry everything across the finish line. That’s why we’re getting more Batman spinoff films and a Flash spinoff bringing back the Batman version that worked – Michael Keaton for those of you still playing along at home.
DC trades on what it knows works best for them: Nostalgia. And they are smart to do it. That bell has rung finally for DC, and they can get a breather from that beating the MCU and Kevin Feige has been delivering for the past 10 years. The body shots can maybe slow down, they can regain their footing and they’re finally doing something. Something worthwhile and exciting. It’s about time they come in with gloves ready for the fight game.

Lyndsey Beatty is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 12

The Death Note saga comes to an end in Volume 12

Here we are, at last. The last volume of Death Note is here, and I could not be any happier to close the chapter on manga’s most self-righteous and sadistic character, Light Yagami. From the very beginning, he weaved a great web of deceit by utilizing a weapon of mass destruction. From test killing various criminals to intentionally killing international police officials (including this millennium’s Sherlock Holmes) and having the audacity to play God while wielding absolute power over every well-known police and security agency on Earth, Light has done it all. Rest assured, I will soldier though Mr. Yagami’s foolishness while doing this review.
After a successful attack on NHN studios, Mello and his partner, Matt, were able to capture Takada, bringing a slight interruption to Light’s and Near’s decisive battle set to take place in days. Mello, being clever, forces Takada to undress herself to remove any tracking devices, preventing her bodyguards and the police to find them. Mello cleverly places Takada’s outer clothes in a shipping box and leaves it at a package delivery company. Unknown to him, however, that Takada had a piece of the Death Note, a pen and a secret cell phone to contact Light.

Once Takada contacts Light, she tells him that she killed Mello, and Light fiendishly acts concerned in front of the task force members by asking where she was. At the same time, the news reports Matt’s death as he was shot by Takada’s bodyguards while attempting to fire smoke bombs at them. On the way to rescue Takada, Light uses a hidden piece of the Death Note to kill her after she calls Mikami to tell him to text her two days’ worth of criminals to kill. Near also tries to help with the search but is too late when the task forces find Mello and Takada dead after a fire, thanks to Light.
While Light and Near made their final adjustments for their last battle, NHN and other television stations begin to plead Kira to host his messages. On the day of the final showdown, Linder of the SPK drives Misa and Mogi, dropping the former at a deluxe hotel suite while driving to the meeting site. After arriving at the Yellow Box Warehouse and checking for wire taps and hidden camera, Light, Near and their allies met face to face. Near then asks everyone to wait 30 minutes for Mikami to show up and instructs everyone to act normal should he try to peep in on the meeting. Unknown to Mikami, Near has tampered with the real pages of the notebook. Once Light figured out that he was exposed as Kira, he first claims Near is setting him up and finally confesses that he is Kira.
As Light continued to bask in his “victory,” Near interrupts that he not only tampered with the Death Note Mikami had on him, but also he messed with the other one he kept in a bank deposit box. Light, still delirious, tried to kill Near with a hidden piece of the Death Note, but Matsuda shoots him multiple times. Light asks Ryuk to kill Near and the others with his Death Note. Ryuk refuses, stating that Light is near death because of his wounds; he would take Light’s life and did so without a second thought.
A year later, Matsuda and Ide talk about the case, and Matsuda stated that he believed that Near controlled Mikami. At that moment, Ide gets a call from Aizawa, who is now deputy superintendent of the NPA. Aizawa states that Near needs help investigating a drug syndicate’s deal in Japan occurring at the Yellow Box Warehouse. Once arriving, they join Mogi and the task force’s newest member, Yamamoto, joins the meeting with L. Meanwhile, a gathering of Kira worshippers convenes in a secluded area where their priestess (looking like Misa) place places a candle and prays for Kira’s return.
From beginning to end, Volume 12 of Death Note did not disappoint. All the writing and artwork surpassed previous editions, giving a great series a well-earned sendoff with hopes of continuation in the future. Ohba-san’s writing was spectacular in building suspense. Obata-san’s artwork was brilliant, keeping the suspense and action alive and allowing readers to see the aftermath of Kira’s (possible) demise. I am giving well-deserved praise to Viz Media’s Tesuichiro Miyaki for translation and adaptation that perfectly told the story, making this final volume — like the other English releases of Death Note — re-readable from beginning to end.
Death Note Volume 12 did not disappoint. I would like to thank you, Otaku Corner readers, for joining me through this series. One piece of advice: Be wary of shinigami and always leave out juicy apples for them.

Brandon Beatty is associate editor of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb[at]gaminginsurrection.com

Top 5 on The Strip: Marvel stuff we’re anticipating edition

Loki series season 2

We’re huge fans of Loki around here, and the God of Mischief’s first season of his Disney Plus showcase was fantastic. Suspenseful and weird, Tom Hiddleston’s delightful Asgardian prince steals the Space Stone during the time heist as depicted in Avengers: Endgame and essentially learns there are variants of himself, and that the multiverse exists. The character development and growth are what did it for us, and we can’t wait to see where the flawed-but-redeemed god goes in the follow-up.

 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

The upcoming film focusing on Marvel superhero Shang-Chi has the potential to be huge. Featuring wuxia and a comic book correct version of the Mandarin, Shang-Chi looks to be a great mix of action and story, with our beloved Michelle Yeoh in yet another MCU role. We’re interested to see how the Ten Rings plays into the larger MCU and their power and scope as compared to other artifacts we’ve seen. Also, lead actor Simu Liu is hot, as is the esteemed legend Tony Leung.

 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

The sequel to our top-three Marvel movie contender is shaping up nicely. We were initially unsure how the film would move forward with the death of Chadwick Boseman, but it seems that it will be addressed in the opening scenes. Confirming that he will not be recast is a great start, because we wouldn’t watch it if Marvel did. There will be a new Black Panther mantle-holder, and we expect this follow-up will be glorious.

 

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

We like Dr. Strange around here, and he’s important enough to warrant another few movies. With the end of WandaVision, Dr. Strange’s sequel film will be important in the grand scheme of Marvel’s machine for Phase Four. The events of the first MCU show and Loki made it plain that Dr. Strange will be needed to traverse the madness unleashed by the introduction of the multiverse and Kang the Conqueror, so this is film has quickly become important to the future of the MCU.

 

New squads introduced

It did not escape notice that there were several characters introduced recently that could potentially form other groups outside of the Avengers. WandaVision introduced Wiccan and Speed, Wanda’s kids in Young Avengers; Monica Rambeau, who is a Captain Marvel titleholder; and, Agatha Harkness, who could join any number of villain groups. Captain America and the Winter Soldier introduced Eli Bradley, who is Patriot of the Young Avengers; Val, who is Madame Hydra at some point; and, U.S. Agent, a member of Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts. Loki gave us a hybrid Lady Loki/Enchantress in Sylvie and Kid Loki, who is part of Young Avengers. Black Widow provided Yelena Belova, who becomes Black Widow II, and Shang-Chi’s trailer confirmed Abomination is still around.