This Is the Right Way to Watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League

So far, I’ve watched Zack Snyder’s Justice League twice. I think. Never once all the way through. How could I? The human digestive system was not meant to remain dormant for that long. That’s why comedian Leslie Jones’ quest to watch the Snyder cut and provide live commentary on Instagram last night was so commendable. (It took her 85 #longassmovie posts to do so.) This movie is a commitment, and not one to be undertaken lightly.

But there is a way to do it right—or at least do it manageably.

First, it’s probably best to treat this endeavor less like a movie-watching experience and more like a miniseries viewing. At four hours and two minutes long, it can feel daunting, but if you pretend it’s Bridgerton, it’s no different than watching the entire season in one sitting. There’s been a bit of chatter lately on the general topic of “Is this a movie or is this long-form TV?”—particularly as it pertains to projects like Amazon’s film anthology Small Axe and Disney+’s new Marvel series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. For the most part, it’s felt like things have been put in their right place (Small Axe is definitely a series of films, and Falcon is certainly a TV show), but the Snyder cut is the first to feel like it could go either way. It has the long narrative arc of a film, but it spends its first half establishing characters and backstory and its second on denouement, unraveling the knot in a series of escalating climaxes like a TV miniseries.

Justice League

The episodic nature of Snyder’s Justice League is its saving grace. It comes in six parts, each with its own title, and has an intro and epilogue—a “Knightmare” for those in the know. (Spoiler alert: Because this is a guide for people who have, presumably, not seen the movie yet, we’ll keep the plot details to a bare minimum. But there will be some very minor explanations of scenes and characters from here on out.) On the surface, these are great places to pause to use the restroom, grab a snack, stretch, call your mom. But they do vary in length and content, and a break may not feel right during each transition.

So, without further ado, here’s when you should actually break and what to do during each one.

Sitting One: Intro and Part 1

First up, the intro. This is mostly a lot of Superman screaming while the world copes with his death, much of it in slow motion. (Pro tip: A fun thing to do, if you’re so inclined, is to take a drink during every slow-mo scene. Make sure the fridge/cabinet is stocked.) This is a good time to prep your snacks. If you live in a place where you can watch your screen while making food, do that now. If not, do your cooking and dig into those nachos after you press Play. Carbo load, if that feels right to you. The intro is short(ish), so watch it right along with Part 1, aka “Don’t Count on It, Batman,” which focuses on Bruce Wayne’s attempt to recruit Aquaman. These two sections total about 37 minutes. When they’re done, take a hint from Arthur Curry and stretch out and get some water. It’s important to stay hydrated.

Sittings Two and Three: Parts 2 and 3

The next two sections—”The Age of Heroes” and “Beloved Mother, Beloved Son”—are chock-full of backstory: exposition on how the Mother Boxes came to be and the people tasked with protecting them (the Amazons of Themyscira, the Atlanteans, humankind), and the histories of the Flash and Cyborg that were largely left out of the 2017 version of Justice League. Watching these two together takes about an hour. You can watch them in one sitting, but we recommend taking a break in between. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. After the second installment, hit the bathroom.

Sitting Four: Parts 4 and 5

By this point, you’re in the thick of the Snyder cut. You might also be a little drunk, and we’re sorry for that. But this is where the movie really hits its stride. The heroes have gathered (it was so hard not to type “assembled” just then), and they know the enemy they face: Steppenwolf and his quest for the Mother Boxes and destruction of Earth. The next two sections—“Change Machine” and “All the King’s Horses”—are a little bit longer than the previous two. Taken together, they’re about an hour. Watch them in one stretch.

Sitting Five: Part 6 and Epilogue

You’re almost done! The final chapter, “Something Darker,” is the final showdown. Pull together the last of your snacks, make some coffee if you need to, use the restroom one more time, and settle in. “Darker” goes pretty quickly, and it’s followed by the epilogue, which feels long for an epilogue, but by the time it starts up you’re so close to the finish, it feels silly to not just power through. Do that.

Congratulations! You’ve now completed the Snyder cut. That was fun, right? Glad we all went on this journey together. And, hey, maybe we can all do it again when Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice Is Gray drops? See you then.

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