I bought the Best Buy Exclusive Justice League 4K Steelbook Blu-ray today. I have been planning to buy it for months, I ordered it ahead of time and I willingly picked it up because I wanted it in my collection.
To a lot of DC Extended Universe fans that action is nothing short of treachery. I'm not kidding, just admitting that I bought it will potentially anger someone who thinks I am rewarding WB for the "Frankenstein hatchet-job MCU knockoff" they sold us last November. The height of disrespect to Zack Snyder and the most loyal members of the DCEU fanbase that have championed the franchise since Man of Steel released in 2013.
Obviously I disagree with them. To a point.
When I first saw the movie at a fan screening days before its official release it was a weird experience. Like Man of Steel it was one of those cases where I enjoyed what I saw but I wasn't totally enthralled by it. In fact it felt like the audience enjoyed it more than I did, or at least it sounded like they did. It's without question the loudest audience I have ever dealt with in a movie theater that cheered so many moments and experienced so much joy that night. One guy even called it "the first good DCEU movie" and said he wasn't expecting to say that when he came to the theater.
I needed another watch before I could make a decision and I didn't think that was weird at all. I did it with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice after all. The DCEU has long established this idea with me that each of its movies get better with a second viewing, MoS being the greatest case of this because that movie STILL gets better after no less than 100 watches from me in the past five years.
Justice League wasn't any different either. It was better the second and the third time I saw it. That's when I realized what was going on: The reason DCEU movies get better after second and third viewings for me is because my expectations are changed, and I don't mean they were lowered or they were rendered useless. I mean that I was able to enjoy the movie for what it was the second time instead of kind of enjoying the first time because it wasn't exactly what I was looking for. The second watch allows me to cast aside the preconceived notions that affected my first viewing. In the case of MoS, that was years of Christopher Reeve's Superman crafted by Richard Donner in 1978 that I had to get past to see the brilliance of Henry Cavill's take on the classic character.
With Justice League it was the style, pacing and story of Zack Snyder's previous two films that I had to get past to see what this movie actually was. I was expecting something that was much closer to MoS and BvS and that's not what it is. In fact Justice League is a VERY sharp tonal change from all four of the previous DCEU movies including Wonder Woman. That's what happens when you hire a second director to change a lot of what the first director had already crafted beforehand. Your end result is not going to match all that well with what came before it.
And yet in spite of all the issues with the movie, the mustache problem, the polarizing humor in certain places, Danny Elfman's decent but equally polarizing score and the runtime edict, which I still consider to be the film's greatest error by far, I STILL like Justice League as a movie by itself. I don't rate it nearly as high as MoS, BvS or Wonder Woman in the grand scheme of things but I have it rated higher than A LOT of comic book movies and it's nowhere near the bottom of the barrel for me.
So you can guess that the last few months for me on social media have been rather hellish. After more than a year of standing side by side with DCEU fans defending BvS and the franchise from haters and bloggers with nasty agendas and intentions, about half of them quietly (some not so quietly) disowned me because I didn't share their hatred of what Justice League turned into and because I was tired of them being negative about it on a regular basis. That sucked, but it is what it is. I don't feel "betrayed" by WB with regard to that movie and I haven't lost a wink of sleep over it. I think WB thought what they were doing was actually going to work and it failed. Miserably. There's no denying that. It's the least successful movie financially in the DCEU domestically and worldwide and you don't need to do mental gymnastics with marketing budgets and break even points to see that. That wasn't WB's intention, to "burn" the movie and spite us as a fanbase or to spite Snyder. They spent millions of extra dollars on a gamble against Snyder's vision and it DID NOT WORK. They are paying for that now without question.
All that being said, there's still a lot for someone like to me enjoy about Justice League, starting with the fact that it even exists. That really can't be understated. We live in a time where a Justice League live action movie can be watched by all. I can push aside my issues with it and celebrate that fact at any time, though I realize many cannot do that or rather will not do that. All of my thoughts about the cast, the story structure, the villain and most of the CGI outside of the mustache removal still apply from my original review. I still think it is an awesome movie even if my overall opinion of it has lowered in the past few months and that's a big reason why I still bought it and will have it as part of my collection.
BUT......if and when a Director's Cut of the film materializes, generated from Zack Snyder himself as the version that he originally intended to release or at least pretty close to it, I will replace the current version I have with it post-haste because I do believe that it will be a superior film to the one that we have now if for no other reason than it will be the product of ONE director's singular vision instead of two directors, one hired late at the behest of the studio to change the first one's work. I acknowledge that is a bias and that there is a slight chance that a "Snyder Cut" of Justice League would not be as good as the version we currently have, but I seriously doubt that will be the case for me and for a lot of DCEU fans.
To say that I am not disappointed at all by Justice League would be incorrect. I am VERY disappointed in the fact that WB didn't stick behind Snyder's vision for that movie and the DCEU in general and didn't have the patience to allow his vision to be fully realized before they decided to go in a different direction with it as they clearly are now. I am VERY disappointed that they hired Joss Whedon to change so much of it and allowed him to replace principal photography of a clean shaven Superman with so many shots that needed bad CGI mustache removal. I am VERY disappointed that WB wasn't smarter about the whole process and that it essentially played right into the hands of its detractors who constantly call for the franchise to be rebooted, which is one of the most illogical positions you could have about the DCEU at this point, and I am MOST disappointed with the runtime edict, which not only eliminated numerous character and storyline development scenes from being included but also affected the movie's pacing and tone in a way that was jarring to a lot of the fanbase and even the general audience as well.
So now you're wondering, "If you're VERY disappointed with Justice League then WHY IN THE HELL DID YOU BUY IT TODAY?"
Honestly, it's because all of that disappointment wasn't enough to completely sour me on the movie itself and I still believe in the DCEU as a franchise so I will still support it tooth and nail. I know that we could have had something "special" with Snyder's original vision and if I ever get to see it, I will enjoy the hell out of it with the rest of you and probably play the same "What if" game for a bit about that version having been the one that was released in theaters instead of this current one. The thing is, I don't let that cloud what I did enjoy with this current cut of Justice League because like I said before, there's still a lot there for me to enjoy despite the changes and issues it had. I think for a lot of DCEU fans that can't get past the disappointment it's a case where that promise of what could have been will always outweigh the decisions that WB made to release the movie they way they did. If I didn't like anything about the movie I would likely be on that side of it, but I really was able to appreciate the DC Animated Universe and nostalgic tone that the movie in my opinion clearly went for instead of being upset that it didn't completely continue from where BvS left off. At the end of the day I just want a movie that I can enjoy and I will find ways to enjoy it if necessary, which is where the whole subjective part of all this comes into play. There are no clearly defined rules on how or why anyone enjoys or doesn't enjoy anything and some of us have wide strike zones because we want to be happy. That's not saying people with smaller strike zones don't want to be happy, it's just saying it's easier for people like me to be happy when things like this occur.
I don't agree with WB's decisions regarding Justice League but I understand why they made them and what they were attempting to do even though it failed miserably. At the end of the day they own the rights to the DC properties and they can do with them as they wish, so rather than be angry at how they treated the Justice League or Zack Snyder in this case, I appreciate that they made the movie in the first place and support their future endeavors, hoping that they use their mistakes made with this movie as a learning experience of what not to do with future movies in the DCEU like Aquaman, Shazam, Wonder Woman 2 and anything else that becomes an official part of the slate down the road. These movies with our beloved DC characters don't happen without WB and that's not going to change any time soon, even as other franchises may be on the verge of changing hands in the not too distant future. The DCEU is a young franchise and there's plenty of time for WB to "right the ship" that they admittedly and unwittingly did their best to sink with this movie.
So for now I will enjoy what we have with Justice League until the day comes that we get the director's cut that many of us want, and if that day never comes I will still have the movie in my collection in glorious steelbook form with the Jim Lee art. I understand if other DCEU fans can't bring themselves to do that and would prefer the "Snyder Cut" or nothing at all because of how much the movie disappointed them but that's just where I sit with it here on the day that the Blu-ray officially was released, for what it's worth.