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.

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.

Top 5 on the Strip: Comic book TV edition

1. Spawn — HBO, 1994
If you didn’t read the comics, chances are this was your first exposure to the hell-spawned entity Spawn. We’re ignoring the ridiculous movie in favor of the animated masterpiece featuring vocal legend Keith David. Spawn was gory and brooding and just the right mix for teenagers to learn about the comics legend.

2. Luke Cage — Netflix, 2016
Perfect casting made this show what it is, and we’re sad to see it gone. Luke Cage was great in the execution as well and has a phenomenal soundtrack. GI hometown boy Mike Colter sizzles in the title role and Alfre Woodard, Theo Rossi and Mahershala Ali absolutely steal the show every time they’re onscreen.

3. Daredevil — Netflix, 2015
Tight writing, brutal fight scenes and good casting made this a hit on Netflix. The first two seasons were superb with emphasis on the casting of Vincent D’Onofrio as Kingpin. Daredevil, like all Marvel Netflix shows, has been canceled, but it’s worth getting a subscription just to see the magic of a competent Matt Murdock.

4. Arrow — CW, 2012
We must give it to Stephen Amell: He certainly turned Oliver Queen into a credible superhero. Arrow has seen its ups and downs (everything post season 4, anyone?), but it’s still a decent story and the early twists and turns are enough to entice you to stick around and invest in the Queen family and their exploits. Arrow was one of the first successful comic book TV shows and it’s paved the way for others like it. It has earned its props.

5. Smallville — CW, 2001
One of the first comicbook shows before the recent craze and takeover of Marvel television, Smallville had folks talking about Superman like they were comic book experts. Tom Wellington did an excellent job portraying the Man of Steel in his younger years, but the true shout out goes to Michael Rosenbaum as the scene-stealing Lex Luthor.

Top 5 on The Strip: Comic book roles with multiple actors

Batman

1. Batman
The Dark Knight has long been a friend of the big and small screen. Five actors have stepped into the dual role of Bruce Wayne and Batman: Adam West in the 1966 television show, Michael Keaton in 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns, Val Kilmer in 1995’s Batman Forever, George Clooney in 1997’s Batman and Robin, and Christian Bale in the Dark Knight trilogy of films from 2005 to 2012.

Superman animated

2. Superman
At least six men have played the iconic superhero in television and film roles. Starting with George Reeves in 1951, the role was then taken the big screen by Christopher Reeve in four films from 1978 to 1987, then television by Dean Cain in 1993 and Tom Wellington in 2001, and back to film by Brandon Routh in 2006 and Henry Cavill in 2013.

Spider-Man animated series

3. Spider-Man
There have only been two actors to suit up as the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler: Tobey Macguire for three outings in 2002, 2004 and 2007; and Andrew Garfield in two films in 2012 and 2014.

Joker-Animated Series

4. The Joker
Batman’s arch nemesis has only appeared three times but each time has been memorable, film or television. Caesar Romero originated the role of the maniacal clown prince of crime with the television version of Batman also starring Adam West. Jack Nicholson took over the role opposite Michael Keaton in 1989’s Batman, Mark Hamill has voiced the Joker for Batman: The Animated Series and Heath Ledger posthumously won an Oscar for his portrayal in The Dark Knight.

Hulk animated

5. The Hulk
Four actors have portrayed the unstable Dr. Bruce Banner and his counterpart, the Incredible Hulk. Bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno played the Hulk while Bill Bixby played the good doctor in the live action television version first. Hulk moved to the silver screen and was first portrayed by Eric Bana, then Ed Norton and finally, Mark Ruffalo.

Top 5 on The Strip: The Super family

 Superman

Superman — The Man of Steel himself is probably the best incarnation of the super family. He was the originator of the series and thus carries the name on when other incarnations drop in and out of the DC continuity, like Supergirl. The others in the lineup are literally just watching the throne.

Superboy Superboy — There have been several versions of Superboy but the most prominent is the little boy who would become Superman. DC has since stated that Superman didn’t have adventures until he became an adult but that hasn’t stopped the multitude of other versions, such as the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths being.

Supergirl - Kara Zor-El Supergirl — Supposedly, the story goes that the daughter of Zor-El — Superman’s uncle — survived the explosion of Krypton since she was living in Argo City, which was cast off into space when the planet exploded. Kara Zor-El was the last survivor, giving Superman one of his only living clansmen known to have survived the catastrophic event that created the lore. Her existence is removed during and restored after the 1985 arc Crisis on Infinite Earths.

KryptoKrypto the Superdog — Superman might have godlike powers on Earth, but on Krypton he had decidedly human emotions and that extended to having a pet. Krypto was used as a test subject to experiment with rocket flight. Jor-El — Superman’s father — realized Krypton was going to explode and wanted to test a way to get himself and his family off the doomed planet. Krypto was sent out into space, but the rocket was knocked off course. Drifting through space for years, the dog was found and rejoined Superman during his Superboy years.

BizarroBizarro  — The ultimate in “the evil clone/twin did it” storyline, Bizarro exists only because Lex Luthor, as usual, was messing around with things he didn’t understand. Luthor recreated the duplicating ray that was used previously on Krypton by Gen. Dru-Zod and on Earth to accidentally create a duplicate version of Superboy. Luthor also creates a version of Bizarro after the Crisis on Infinite Earths arc while trying to create a clone of Superman.

Strip Talk #12: Superman does have real enemies

Superman does have real enemies

Lyndsey Hicks Mosley, editor-in-chief

For many years in my life, I have been a comic book fan. I like to think of myself as objective and impartial when it comes to my likes and dislikes, with the love I have for the paper fantasies of ink, crime fighting and justice split evenly between DC and Marvel. But there comes a time when you have to choose your favorites. The Caped Crusader is easily on my list of favorite characters, and the X-Men are tops any day of the week and twice on Sunday. But, so help me, if I had kryptonite I’d wipe Superman and his ilk off the face of comicdom.

I know it’s not popular not to have even the smallest modicum of respect for the Man of Steel. Heck, I can even think of a few people who’d revoke my comic knowledge badge of authority for making such a statement. But the entire time that I’ve known of the son of Krypton, I never have been able to get behind him as a viable candidate in the race for my comic character love.

What bothers me the most about Superman is this notion that he is literally unstoppable. I think about it this way: If you have Superman around, why would you need anyone else? Superman obviously has all of the bases covered.

Outside of the basic question of neediness regarding him, I have always had too many questions about his day-to-day interactions with the rest of his universe. Where does he sleep and does he even really have a need for sleeping, eating or other human functions? Are people really so dumb in the DC universe that they can’t tell Clark Kent is Superman? For Lois Lane to have been such an intrepid, hard-nosed reporter, she sure isn’t too bright if she can’t tell that the man she kisses who saves her life on a routine basis is the same man that she works with everyday and all he’s done is change his hairstyle and throw on a pair of glasses. The same goes for the rest of the universe, barring Ma and Pa Kent.

And then we get to the sorry excuse for a villain that is Lex Luthor. The question that I’ve been begging to ask for the majority of my comic-loving life is this: Why doesn’t Superman just kill Luthor? He’s done enough to be impeached as president of the United States, he’s maimed and stolen more times than anyone can count in his existence. He’s outright tried to kill Superman numerous times. What else does Superman need to pull off the prime directive in regard to Luthor? Maybe malevolent Joker-level shenanigans (Editor’s note: This is opposed to prankster Joker shenanigans. There is a difference), because I can’t understand why he’s allowed to keep running amok in Metropolis and getting away with the things he does.

I believe Kal-El is a little too nice sometimes. With my tolerance at an all-time low for stupid superheroes that lack logic behind their actions, Superman’s about to get the short end of the kryptonite.

Lyndsey Hicks Mosley is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

Comic property review: ‘Superman Returns’

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. | Brandon Routh stars as Clark Kent/Superman in "Superman Returns."

Attempted reboot of Superman franchise an admirable effort

Superman Returns
Warner Bros., 2006

The reboot of the Superman movie franchise was long in coming. Let’s face facts: Superman IV was a disgrace to the franchise’s name, Christopher Reeve was rolling over in his grave at the lasting legacy, and the movie had spent at least a decade in development hell with various directors and actors attached to the project. Superman, himself, needed a hero.

Set after the events of Superman II, Returns brings a measure of credibility back to the DC stalwart. Firstly, Kevin Spacey was a prime choice for Lex Luthor. That’s not to say that Gene Hackman wasn’t a good choice, but Spacey is Lex. Second, Brandon Routh had the look of Reeve as Superman and he handled the role well despite the inevitable comparisons. Kate Bosworth was rather throwaway as Lois Lane but she didn’t necessarily detract from the film; she just doesn’t necessarily add anything.

Plot-wise, it’s the same old fare from the comics: Lex throws his acquired money around, tries to kill Superman, Lois needs rescuing, wash, rinse, repeat. It’s nothing you haven’t already seen but at least no one stands around chewing scenery. And the addition of Lois’ son is an interesting twist even if you can see it coming from a mile away.

Spacey is appropriately melodramatic as Luthor should be and Routh does an excellent job with emoting Superman’s dislike of the former multi-billionaire. One of the better aspects of the movie is the costume design. Characters really look like they would have existed in the 1950s and the décor matches well. Whoever designed the movie should have won some accolades for their work.

So what’s there not to love about the reboot? While director Bryan Singer does excellent work (as he does with most of his properties), it’s a little too long for some of us in the GI crew. While its fans point out that all Superman movies are around this length, it’s a little too dry in some areas. The beginning starts slowly and there are some odd plot points such Lois trying to quit smoking. Where did that come from, we ask.

Overall, the movie isn’t bad. It’s got great casting, the plot works and it’s Superman. You can’t go wrong there, well, unless you’re Superman III or IV. We believe that, contrary to popular criticism of the film, Routh was not acting as Reeve acting as Superman. We’ve read that bit of information in multiple places, and we really don’t get that. He worked with what he had and he channeled his predecessor pretty well, in our opinion. It’s a shame that there hasn’t been another movie since 2006 because the world really does need Superman.

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

Casting: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Like the comics?: 7/10
Overall rating: 8