Zack Snyder's Justice League

Zack Snyder's Justice League ★★★

The merchandise icons of the DCCU no doubt have more to them than the merchandise icons of the MCU, but they're all still merchandise icons. Super-heroes have been the modern pagan mythology ever since “nerd culture” became “pop culture,” and Snyder has been a bold enough artist to take that phenomenon seriously for his super-hero cinema. Mythological, philosophical, and christological subtexts have been muddled in his previous two critically-panned “episodes,” but the panning seemed more due to an inability of critics to take anything from this genre seriously, having grown accustomed to their favorite super identities being entirely characterized by the costume and the quips rather than actual moral growth. Granted, and this may be a contrarian take among contrarians, Marvel has had moments of promise with legitimately interesting villain motivations, up to and including big purple Paul R. Ehrlich, but they're always crushed for the purposes of franchise consistency, for lowest common denominator check-listing. The Snyder Cut is certainly a victory over those forces.

Justice League is a culmination, so previously incoherent themes have cohered, or at-least made way for a bigger and better one: devotion to and humility before the ultimate Judge, against the conceit of tyranny. Only by the grace of a fairy, I do suppose, flying through the air in pantyhose can the League succeed against evil. The biggest challenge for the audience is to buy such an allegory from the familiar geek pantheon, from these idols otherwise found looking down upon their adherents from theme park signage, on snapback hats and backpacks, or as greasy bent-up statuettes in toy boxes across the globe. Another challenge is to swallow obtrusive marketing for further franchising (in spite of the unlikelihood), as learned from Marvel: “Next up, these obscure members of the pantheon that everyone will dutifully pretend to have cared about will be joining us!” And, of course, big super bang boom warfare with indistinct minions is a matter of taste. If the audience can accept or ignore these challenges, and is open to the truth which the Superman Christ and his disciples are embodying, they can bask in the glory of the true Snyder vision. I'll be partly basking, basking with qualifications.

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