Zack Snyder's Justice League is now available on HBO Max and plenty of streaming services worldwide, and to say it has been making waves is certainly an understatement. The general consensus seems to be that this recut - Snyder's original vision - is a far superior version of 2017's Justice League, particularly in its characterization of superheroes like Cyborg and The Flash, who are undoubtedly the scene-stealers of the film. However, there is one scene that many unanimously agree stands out - a moment towards the end of the film that, in my opinion, delivers one of the greatest scenes in comic book movie history. So let's take a closer inspection.
NOTE: If you have not seen Zack Snyder's Justice League yet, be warned of MASSIVE SPOILERS from this point onwards, where we'll be talking about a critical moment in the film's climax.
With that enormous spoiler warning out of the way, let's talk about The Flash. Ezra Miller's take on Barry Allen is sincere, endearing, and a bit of a newbie to the "saving the world" business, but in the film's climax, he is faced with a literal split-second decision that could potentially wipe out the entire universe. With the Justice League banded together, they confront Steppenwolf with a plan to eradicate the Mother Boxes and stop Darkseid's plan from taking over Earth. Things go well enough; Superman shows up at the last minute to deal some critical damage to Steppenwolf, while Cyborg works relentlessly to hack into the Mother Boxes and prevent a catastrophic disaster. Meanwhile, Barry Allen attempts to generate enough energy to destroy the boxes by circling the deserted nuclear town.
Of course, things go horribly wrong when Darkseid decides to make a personal appearance through a portal, causing a great morale drop in the Justice League, leading to the Mother Boxes exploding in a blinding flash of light that quickly races to consume the entire planet. The Flash, caught on the outskirt of the blast, taps into the Speed Force at the very last microsecond in order to run fast enough to reverse the explosion and time itself. Thus one of the best superhero movie scenes in cinematic history unfolds.
Snyder has always been a terrific visual filmmaker, but here, his keen eye for breathtaking visuals is on full display. The Speed Force, appearing to be in the vacuum of space, is jaw-dropping to behold. The Flash's unfathomable sense of speed is beautifully captured with pin-point use of slow-motion as he races to the origin point of the explosion, literally rewinding time and reshaping the Earth beneath his feet. Snyder's fantastic direction here quickly proves that he understands what fans really want to see from The Flash's ultimate extents of his power, but also how important The Flash actually is in the Justice League team.
However, what elevates this scene above and beyond your average superhero movie moment is down to two critical things that define it: stakes and music. The stakes have already been established here, as we have only a few seconds to realize that the Justice League, much to their own shock and horror, had failed. The detonation of the Mother Boxes essentially spelled doom for the planet, and potentially the entire universe. The stakes are gargantuan, which adds to Barry's determination and heart-pounding desperation to go beyond the speed of light and reverse time without a literal split-second of hesitation. Miller's performance perfectly captures that sheer desperation, which makes what follows an utterly magical slice of cinema.
Of course, the stakes and gorgeous visuals meld with a superb musical score by Tom Holkenborg called "At the Speed of Force". Echoing some Hans Zimmer influence here, the song sounds exactly like what I imagine saving the entire universe must feel like. Never have I heard a more perfect score to set the tone for the massive, fist-clenching stakes of a moment since, well, the docking scene in Christopher Nolan's Interstellar - and even then, I believe this does it better. Holkenborg, sir, you are a genius.
Writer. Enthusiast of all things geek. Legend has it he completed Final Fantasy VII without a memory card.
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