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Last week, ahead of the release of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” on March 18, HBO Max dropped a new trailer. The film, which is a re-release of the 2017 film “Justice League,” promises to feature $70 million worth of new content and be true to Snyder’s original vision — unlike the previous version, which underwent massive changes after Snyder was forced to step down due to personal reasons. The trailer appears to adhere to this premise, featuring both new and old content, and already showing promise of Zack Snyder’s cut being markedly different to the film fans have already seen.
The two-and-a-half minute trailer opens with a swelling choir over Superman’s (Henry Cavill) supposed death scene from “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” before showing a series of shots of a destroyed city. The narration is suitably dramatic, proclaiming that “the God is dead,” as Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielson) watches something fall. The voice sounds like Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) in “Batman v Superman,” who was not present in the original film; with the new film’s runtime of over four hours, however there’s definitely time for a new Luthor subplot.
The narration continues with Batman (Ben Affleck) saying “I had a dream, almost like a premonition,” which unfortunately acts as a reminder of the unholy amount of hallucinations, visions, and dream sequences in “Batman v Superman,” that hopefully will not recur in “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.”
Next, the trailer showcases new footage of the lead characters: a futuristic looking Batman in a desert, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) looking shocked in a long coat, and an interesting shot of Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) — who by himself was the primary antagonist in the original incarnation of “Justice League” — appearing to swear fealty to someone as he promises to attack Earth.
There is a new shot of the Amazons being attacked, and while Queen Hippolyta’s armour looks good, it is unclear whether “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” will fix the glaring sexism in the downgrade of the Amazons’ costumes from functional armor in “Wonder Woman” to glorified bikinis in “Justice League.”
As a reminder that this is not a new movie, there is a sequence of familiar shots introducing each member of the titular Justice League, as well as fight sequences from their first clash with Steppenwolf. There is also a shot that’s trying too hard to be symbolic: a photo of Superman’s dad (Kevin Costner) slowly sinking into the regenerative soup that will presumably be used to resurrect Superman. The resurrection of Superman is sure to still feature heavily, as Alfred (Jeremy Irons) confusingly tells Batman, “If you can’t bring down the charging bull, then don’t wave the red cape at it,” as footage of Superman’s fluttering red cape plays in the background. Surely the concern is that they can’t win without Superman, so therefore they don’t have the red cape? What he means here is unclear.
Superman’s dad’s line from way back in “Man of Steel” also reappears as he narrates: “You were sent here for a reason.” Destiny politics is an interesting route to take in a world containing beings with godly powers, but appears to be a recurring theme in the trailer. After familiar shots of fighting, we get a first glimpse of dark Superman wearing his famous black suit and using his heat vision.
The music swells as we see a series of emotional moments without any context, before a group hug between Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Clark Kent, and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) that directly juxtaposes Superman’s stiff and awkward return home after his resurrection during “Justice League.”
After more shots of fighting, the famous line-up shot of the Justice League appears before more shots of fighting and the main characters using their powers. Despite the plethora of gif-worthy action shots, nothing yet shows how “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” earned its R-rating.
In a dramatic shift from Batman’s guilt and pessimism in the original “Justice League,” here he acts as the voice of hope. One of the biggest failures of “Justice League,” and one of the main reasons it failed to stand aside its Marvel equivalent, “The Avengers,” was that its titular team were not a team — they had no chemistry, no connection, and no reason to stand together other than because it said to in the script. Hopefully, this shift signals an attempt to correct that error.
Finally, the trailer ends with a short surprise sequence of Jared Leto’s Joker quoting the wildly popular edgelord meme, “We live in a society.” It’s curious how they intend to utilize this iteration of the Joker following Leto’s egregious behaviour under the guise of method acting, his character’s minor role as a red herring in the terrible movie that is “Suicide Squad,” and a name-drop plot device in the fantastic “Birds of Prey.” Even considering the lengthy runtime, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is already hinting at a crowded roster of antagonists. Considering Steppenwolf’s large role in the original “Justice League,” he was noticeably lacking in the trailer, suggesting either a reduced role or changes Snyder wants to be a surprise — either way, hopefully he will be less of a Mary Sue.
Moreover, since several solo movies have come out and revealed more about the characters since the release of “Justice League” in 2017, it is unknown whether this will be included in “Zack Syder’s Justice League.” Most notably, Batman’s digs at Wonder Woman about not being over Steve Trevor fall particularly flat when a lot of the plot of “Wonder Woman 1984” was about Diana dealing with the loss of Steve.
While it’s great that a creator is having his artistic vision honored, it’s almost unbelievable that Warner Bros. Studios greenlit this project, as it effectively admits culpability in the both on and off-screen mess that was “Justice League.” There is also a surprising amount of fan anticipation in the run up to the release of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” considering “Justice League” was by no means an outlier in an otherwise masterful line-up of DC superhero movies. And many of those movies, containing story arcs and plot points that were equal parts dumb, ridiculous, or annoying, were led by Snyder himself. Case in point: “MARTHAAA.” There are few creative decisions in a superhero movie stupider than having your hero angstily yell his mother’s given name — an inexplicable choice that accidentally saves his life because his enemy’s murdered mother also happened to have that name. The well-memed scene embodies the DC Extended Universe’s struggle with making concepts they think are cool into functioning, compelling stories.
Regardless, the existence of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” certainly is something special, and even if it isn’t completely new, it promises to revolutionize the 2017 movie. As the DCEU currently contains an array of terrible movies with a sprinkling of good ones, let’s hope “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” can manage to fall in the second category. At the very least, it can’t be worse than the original “Justice League.”
— Staff writer Millie Mae Healy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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