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You might be forgiven for assuming—given that it’s four hours long, features tons of extremely expensive new footage shot just to make it a workable movie, and seems specifically designed to say goodbye to DC Films’ wider superhero franchise ambitions—that Zack Snyder’s Justice League might constitute the director’s final word on this particular set of deeply desaturated characters. But you would also be forgiven for assuming that the above thought was complete and total naïve idiocy, because, hey: Have you met this Zack Snyder guy? If you think he’s going to stop pushing his very specific, very violent, very gray version of blockbuster superherodom until he’s well and truly finished with it, you’ve lost your Motherboxing mind.
Hence a whole bunch of reveals out of IGN’s Fan Fest 2021 event today, including the news that Zack Snyder’s Justice League, despite being arguably as definitive a statement on the Justice League as any one man could possibly hope to make, will still end on what Snyder called a “massive cliffhanger.” This, despite the fact that Snyder knows that DC has moved away from its efforts to Avengers out its personal superhero movie franchise, and that a Snyder-verse Justice League 2 is almost certainly never going to happen. But, hey: Somebody paid for all this Darkseid CGI, so they might as well use it, right?
Speaking of CGI: Snyder also showed off a “Motherbox” animation clip that serves as a promo for the film, in what might best be dubbed the spiritual sense. Which is to say that it features slow, melodramatic pans over heavy metal images of the Justice League members, while a Tom Waits song croons its way into dust in the background. It is, like so much of the material surrounding Zack Snyder’s Justice League—Jesus Joker, the special “Justice Is Gray” version on its way for people too overwhelmed by the desaturated version of the new cut, the sheer Leonard Cohen-ness of it all—brilliant, in its total immunity to parody. How do you make fun of anguished religious iconography of Aquaman fighting tentacle monsters while mournful folk rock plays? What aspect could you possibly heighten for comic effect? It’s the critical equivalent of the rope-a-dope, exhausting all mockery with the blatantness of its invitation to mock.
In fact, “exhausting” (with a side order of “exhaustive”) is the overall vibe of this whole project, and this latest press blitz on its behalf, from the speculation about who that big “hero cameo” Snyder’s been promising in the film’s ending (Martian Manhunter is the easy money, although people with very short memories are hoping for the Green Lantern Corps instead), to the director’s repeated assertion today (doubling down on earlier sentiments) that Ray Fisher’s Cyborg is the heart of the film, and the team. The latter comes even as Fisher and Warner Media have engaged in yet another round of mutual attacks on each other today, with Fisher continuing to assert that DC Films’ Walter Hamada interfered with investigations into alleged misconduct on the set of Joss Whedon’s version of the movie, and Warner firing back by touting a statement from one of the investigators in question, defending Hamada’s character and conduct. Snyder’s defense of his star is admirable, but it also points to what a weird one-off this whole Snyder Cut project has been, with a director actively touting the work of an actor who is now essentially at open war with the studio producing the film, for unclear and uncertain benefit or gain.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League releases on March 18. Rest up.