Let me get this out the way right quick: I was not initially on board with Zack Snyder’s Justice League (ZSJL). After being burned by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and feeling sincere heartbreak at how mediocre the 2017 theatrical cut of Justice League was, I simply didn’t want to be disappointed again.
Luckily, I wasn’t.
While the four-hour movie is a goddamn endeavour, it’s ultimately a worthwhile one in my opinion. It’s a DC comic come to vivid life; a full-tilt, four-hour crisis event. Throughout the movie, I was consistently impressed with the amount of representation, and as the movie progressed, a gross realization hit me:
“They literally cut out all the people of color.”
Having watched the 2017 cut earlier this week so I could have a basis of comparison, I’m not being hyperbolic. They literally cut out all the people of color in the theatrical cut. Joe Morton? In JL ‘17 for five seconds. Kiersey Clemmons? She gone. Harry Lennix? Nope. Zheng Kai? Lol, that’s probably the first time you heard his name.
The person done the dirtiest, though, has to be Ray Fisher’s Vic Stone/Cyborg. Fisher has gone on record alleging the toxic work conditions that resulted from Joss Whedon being brought in to reshoot essentially the entire movie. So we already know that there was some alleged fuckery going on behind the scenes. In the 2017 cut, Cyborg is reduced to babbling exposition and being a weird facsimile of his Teen Titans incarnation.
To put it politely: It’s not his best portrayal.
Snyder repeatedly said that Cyborg was the heart of his movie and he wasn’t lying. In ZSJL, we see Cyborg have an actual arc, and he’s damn near the protagonist of the movie. We watch as he goes from a kid resentful of the world, his father, and the new body he finds himself in, to someone who accepts who he is and becomes a hero in the process.
Joe Morton gives an excellent performance as Vic’s father, Silas. He’s a man clearly racked with regret, and he helps drive home the movie’s core ideas about grief and the things it drives us to do. The relationship between Vic and Silas is complicated, well defined, and forms the emotional backbone of the movie.
After seeing this movie, I would be pretty fucking pissed too if I was Fisher. This was supposed to be his big break, and he eats the role up accordingly. Not only was his character reduced to the basest, least interesting interpretation, but he had to (allegedly) deal with an asshole on set while it happened.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League doesn’t just restore the director’s vision, it’s also an unexpected case study on how expendable Hollywood thinks Black characters are. The reshoots for Justice League were allegedly to give the movie more heart. Zack Snyder’s Justice League makes it clear the movie already had heart. The problem was that it lied within the characters of color.