Zack Snyder's Justice League

This One Major Change Makes Zack Snyder’s Justice League a Better Movie

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Major spoilers here. So click away and read our spoiler free review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League if you haven’t yet seen the movie.

The Snyder Cut is finally upon us and the big question is whether or not this is a better movie. (It is. For the most part.) While the plot of the movie remains the same – five superheroes (Superman only shows up in the last hour) go hunting for three magic boxes while fighting one hulking horned villain – almost everything else about it is different. From the look of Steppenwolf, to the individual story arcs of both Cyborg and Flash, to how they actually reanimate Superman, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a movie with a lot more context and, believe it or not, a lot more nuance. There was, however, one major change that really made all the difference.


While there were many, many baffling things about Joss Whedon’s take on Justice League, the most baffling of all was what he did to Batman.

Wait, What Did Joss Whedon Do to Batman?

In the 2017 version of the movie, Bruce Wayne was rewritten (and reshot) as a man who had all but given up. After the twofold blow of being wrong about Superman and then essentially getting him killed, Bruce seemed to have lost all faith in himself. We see it in how dazed and confused he appears when trying to recruit Aquaman. (A scene that plays completely differently in the Snyder Cut.) We see it in his conversations with Alfred. We see it in his eagerness to hand over the reins of leadership to Diana.

Batman, in Joss Whedon’s Justice League, had zero confidence. So broken by the realization that he was the villain of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he spends most of this movie just moping around. He is so dejected that all he does here is push Diana to take charge before running off on a suicide mission. And it isn’t because he’s the only one who can take out Steppenwolf’s tower and knock down his glowy red shield dome, it’s because he believes he’s done all he can. A fact Whedon doubles down on when he has Batman do absolutely NOTHING in the final climactic battle with Steppenwolf. (You just need to watch the animated series Justice League Unlimited for an idea of everything Batman is capable of.)

Zack Snyder's Justice League
Following the events of Final Crisis, Superman and the rest of the Justice League wonder what Batman’s contingency plans were in the event of his death.

Remember that Batman always has a plan. And he always has a contingency plan. And even his contingencies have contingencies. What’s more, despite all of his brooding, Batman was a character that was never without hope. Which is why it was so jarring to see him relegated to having so little agency.


How Is Batman Different in Zack Snyder’s Justice League?

Zack Snyder's Justice League

The Batman we get in Zack Snyder’s Justice League is different in almost every way. His entire demeanor has shifted. Just watch the opening sequence of the movie, when Bruce is in Iceland looking for the Aquaman. Look at the way he gives Arthur the side-eye at that town hall meeting, at how fearless he is when Arthur pins him up against he wall. When he finally lets on that he speaks their language, everyone in that room knows that he has always been in control of the situation. They may be subtle shifts in Affleck’s performance, but they are a truer reflection of just who Batman is.

And this happens throughout the movie. Batman has agency. (In fact, all of the characters have agency!) Yes, he still blames himself for what happened to Superman. Yes, he is still trying to right that wrong. But his journey in this movie is about him resolving to be a better man. It’s about Bruce Wayne finding a way to hope again. And he does. He leads the League. He inspires Cyborg and Flash. He convinces Diana to be a part of this world. (Yes, I know this makes no sense after her monologue at the end of Wonder Woman 1984, but ho hum!) And then, three hours and four minutes into the movie, we finally believe that Bruce too believes.

Bruce: He’ll be here Alfred, I know it.
Alfred: What makes you so sure?
Bruce: Faith, Alfred. Faith.

That’s character growth right there…

At Least Until the Epilogue

Zack Snyder's Justice League

And then Snyder goes and fucks it all up in that epilogue. Why? Because if that “Knightmare” scenario comes to pass, if Lois dies and Superman goes all homicidal, then all of Bruce’s concerns in BvS were absolutely right. He was right to not trust Superman. He was right to be afraid.

Sure, it would be great to see a Justice League 2 in which our heroes duke it out against Superman and the New Gods, but fanwank aside, that epilogue totally undoes all of the heavy lifting the rest of this movie did with regards to Bruce’s journey and in bringing back the Batman we all know and love.


So Why Did Whedon/Warner Bros. Change Batman In Such A Way?

Zack Snyder's Justice League

Well, Wonder Woman happened.

Patty Jenkins’ movie was all the rage. Fans loved it. Critics loved it. The box office loved it. And after just how divisive BvS and Man of Steel were, Warner Bros. must have been thrilled to finally have a movie that hit in all four quadrants. They knew they had struck gold with Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot and figured why not make some more hay while the sun shines.

The Whedon reshoots, which took place over the summer of 2017, were very extensive. There was no part of Justice League that was left untouched. Besides amping up the levity and cutting it down to a more theatre friendly two hours, he must have also been tasked to play up Wonder Woman. She was, and still is, the DCEU’s MVP (the travesty of WW84 notwithstanding), so why not shift the focus of this movie away from Cyborg and Flash, and onto her instead. This is, of course, wild speculation on our part, but knowing how panicked studios often operate, it doesn’t seem entirely outside the realm of possibility.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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