One of the biggest hits of the year for HBO Max and Warner Bros. came with the unlikely Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Much of the criticism of the theatrical version was the low importance given to many characters. Although there were many things fans struggled with, the inconsistent performances in the theatrical version were among the worst.
Many characters had their roles expanded in the Snyder Cut that aired on HBO Max. At two more hours, the enlargement of some characters naturally meant that some actors could shine. Some performances were weaker, although in most cases they were stronger than in the theatrical cut.
10 fell short: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman really suffered with the Justice League story. The theatrical cut suffered from rewrites that drastically hurt a character who had his own phenomenal performance earlier that year. Snyder’s cut did not suffer from rewrites, but rather from a script written by a drastically different writer than his solo film.
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While it’s not a horrible performance, Gal Gadot simply struggles to bring the same emotion and purpose that he brought in his solo film. With such incredible performances and a shared approach with the rest of the cast, the spotlight doesn’t shine too brightly on her. Therefore, he seems like a minor character in a story where he should be an important part of the team’s core.
9 nailed it: Diane Lane as a Martha Kent who’s not the same
Diane Lane’s performance as Martha Kent already shone in the theatrical court. The Snyder Cut unexpectedly gave her a second role after visiting Lois Lane. It was the Martian Manhunter disguised as Martha Kent.
Lane portrays Martha Kent with only one purpose during that scene, to bring Lois out of her mourning. As revealed, she was not really Martha Kent. After walking away from the door, he transforms into the Martian Manhunter who, as Zack Snyder revealed, has been directing Superman and Lois to where they need to be the entire time.
8 fell short: Amy Adams as Lois Lane
Amy Adams portrayed a character almost unrecognizable to comic book fans. Much of this is due to the script. Her character simply reacts to the things around her. Of course, at first, he does an admirable job of portraying someone trying to go through the stages of grief.
Unfortunately, after showing up to bring Superman out of his resurrection insanity, she just exists. It fades away for Martha to hug her son again, and from there, the performance just fades away. It’s a fitting job from an accomplished actress, but one that doesn’t stand out from the crowd.
7 nailed it: Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke
In the theatrical version, Joe Manganiello had no lines and was of little use in plot. It was more of a cameo for the sake of a cameo. His role could have been played by any character.
In Snyder’s version, his role is expanded and Joe Manganiello takes over. It represents Deathstroke as a man who is the best mercenary in the world and who wants to prove it. He took on the role and, for the brief period he was on screen, transformed into a complete comic book villain.
6 fell short: Harry Kennix as Martian Manhunter
While it was a cameo that sparked hope in fans who would continue to push Warner Bros. to “restore the Snyder-verse,” the Martian Manhunter played by Harry Kennix did not turn out to be a great performance. He is overshadowed by Diane Lane, who essentially plays the same role. Nothing Diane Lane showed was reflected in Kennix’s performance.
Much of the reasoning for the character’s appearance comes from Zack Snyder in hindsight. All of this is a weakness of the script, but not of the acting. The character was less impressive than the revamped Steppenwolf because Kennix didn’t make the role something memorable beyond a cameo.
5 nailed it: Jeremy Irons as Alfred
Jeremy Irons brings wry humor to Batman’s confidant. In his previous appearance, he contributed most of the humorous lines in an otherwise bleak story. In doing so, it was the collective conscience of the public.
In Snyder’s version, he plays the same role, but does a bit more. Help give the Bat Wing a story arc, which is hard to do in a movie that’s already packed with characters. As a consummate professional, he does everything flawlessly.
4 fell short: Kiersey Clemons as Iris West
This is not Kiersey Clemons’ fault. His character was not given room to breathe or develop, even in a movie over four hours long. In her brief screen time, she had to help establish the budding relationship between Iris and Barry.
Instead, most of that was brought in by Ezra Miller in the process of saving her. Perhaps the best moments were left on the proverbial cutting room floor. If so, it’s not your fault the performance fell short.
3 nailed it: Ezra Miller as Flash
In the theatrical version, Ezra Miller’s personality was naive. In Snyder’s version, he became exuberant and cautiously confident. This Flash knows how to use his powers and can do things with them that the theatrical cut didn’t show.
Much of this comes from Miller himself. It portrays the determination of a superhero who, while powerful, is among the most vulnerable in the League. When Flash is injured during the final battle with Steppenwolf, the tension becomes palpable, and that comes from how Ezra Miller sells it.
2 fell short: Willem Dafoe as Vulko
Poor Vulko exists in Snyder’s version to get Aquaman where he needs to be. Willem Dafoe spends his time haranguing Aquaman, yelling every line. Even when it transmits the necessary information about the Atlantis Mother Box, it does so in the same way.
Dafoe is a better actor than this. This representation has none of the manic rank it brought in Spider-Man and a fraction of what he has contributed in other roles. It is possible to make a more nuanced representation, as demonstrated in Aquaman, which premiered after the League of Justice.
1 nailed it: Joe Morton as Silas Stone
Without a doubt, the best performance in Snyder’s version is that of Joe Morton. Its role has been greatly expanded. He is an integral part of the plot and, in his most important scene, sacrifices himself so that the Justice League can find Steppenwolf. It is a moment that shows one of the true heroes of history.
In this scene, everything is relativized. Silas puts aside his own well-being to save the world. This sets an example for his son, and gives Cyborg a vested interest in defeating Steppenwolf. Unfortunately, this was not the performance that fans saw in theaters, but it should have been.