Justice League Snyder Cut Discourse Is Served!

Welcome to my sixth blogiversary! I had three different blogs in progress (DuckTales series finale, The Flash’s “season Finale,” Justice League Snyder cut) for the stacked events of this anniversary week. I let the people vote, & they chose violence the Snyder cut by a huge margin. Nobody voted for the poor F-Lash, which may explain when last year’s anniversary blog performed poorly despite an adorable Grodd pic. (Aren’t they all?) Keep your eyes peeled for the two losing blogs sometime in the near future.

Black Widow is the opposite of the Snyder cut in the sense that it existed before the pandemic yet its studio doesn’t want you to watch it at home post-pandemic. (If a movie needed $70 million extra dollars for special effects & reshoots, it did not exist in a finished state before.) The Snyder cut of Justice League is being reviewed … elsewhere! Sorry! I still want clickbait visits, just not enough to subscribe to HBOMax. I can’t even afford to review the official tie-in meal kit that sounds like an expensive prank. I have no journalistic integrity! For actual critical analysis, refer to my blogs on Superman & Lois, The Flash, & WandaVision. Here are SPOILERS for a movie I’ve yet to see, so all my spoilers could be wrong? This could be a fun comparison game for you to play at home. So you’re not already sick of this discourse, this blog’s for you!

Steppenwolf

Check out the leaked pic of Stryfe from Deadpool 3!

Folks that call DC’s interconnected films The Snyderverse ought to call Marvel’s equivalent The Favreauverse. The final trailer almost made me think it could be alright, but then they had to include that last scene. I’M OUT! Vanity Fair’s piece will mostly be better than both cuts.

Remember when Zack Snyder wasn’t chromaphobic? He still has plans to release a black & white version called “Justice Is Gray.” Just what I wanted in my blockbuster superhero adaption: less color!

Unlike the theatrical cut I did review, this permutation has Darkseid, Granny Goodness, Desaad, Iris West, Vulko, the Atom, & Martian Manhunter. Keen! Unfortunately it also contains Suicide Squad‘s Joker. He definitely wasn’t in the original script.

Why are people excited about uncut Snyder making Justice League even more bloated? Supposedly this is the version he wanted to release in theaters, but there’s no way Warner Brothers would’ve put out a four hour flick. The theatrical cut of Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice underperformed critically & commercially at 152 minutes. Although the three hour director’s cut is purportedly more coherent, this should’ve been a lesson to Snyder in paring things down. WB wanted JL to be two hours maximum, so why shoot twice as much content to begin with? Why didn’t the studio & producers insist he trim the screenplay down first?

The lengthy runtime is less an issue at home where it can be paused at audience’s leisure, but it raises the issue of how authentic this version is to the one that would’ve been released had Snyder not left the project earlier. Either that version would’ve been savagely edited down by the studio, or he used this opportunity to shoot a bunch of new stuff that he didn’t originally plan. Either way, the 2021 edition won’t accurately reflect what viewers could’ve seen in 2017.

It would’ve used a different aspect ratio too. Formatting experts insist gutters on the side gives more image space than on top & bottom. As someone with a rectangular television, I want my movies filling up the entire screen with no bars anywhere!

If Snyder had shot Parts I & II back to back, releasing a four hour movie combined from both would be reasonable. It still ends on a cliffhanger, so that strongly suggests he didn’t. Since the leaked JL 2 synopsis sounds even more complicated, it could’ve easily been four hours too. If these movies can’t be condensed without eroding their narrative cohesion, it leads me to believe that movies weren’t the ideal format for Snyder to present his adaptation in. An event TV miniseries sounds like it would’ve give the story & its audience room to breathe. Although perhaps its pacing will be so good folks don’t even need to pause at chapter breaks like “All The King’s Horses” wherein Lois Lane becomes a centaur forever, no take-backs.

Snyder expressed concerned about not being able to introduce the team within two hours. It is entirely doable, as demonstrated by X-Men, The Incredibles, Mystery Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, Suicide Squad, Fantastic Four, Ghostbusters, Big Hero Six, Guardians, Power Rangers, & Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Just because the MCU gave most of the Avengers solo movies before the team up doesn’t mean it’s the only method that works. Snyder even had an advantage of at least showing all the team members in the previous entry. Cyborg & Aquaman were the only ones bereft of dialogue in BVS.

How young are the New Gods supposed to be compared to other varieties? New doesn’t mean superior, Jack Kirby’s ghost! Athletic warrior Darkseid doesn’t jibe with the more imposing traditional version who vaporizes enemies without leaving his throne. Since Wonder Woman swiftly slew Ares the actual God of War as a rookie, I don’t see why she can’t single-handedly destroy Darkseid after an extra century of experience. Darkseid is … overrated. He’d be a better character if he was a shark. Then we could call him Sharkseid!

It turns out Steppenwolf being made from magnetic desk art wasn’t supposed to be a Zoom filter when when he spoke to Luthor in a deleted BVS scene. This design is less bland than the theatrical one, but it’s even further away from comics Steppenwolf. If Snyder wanted the team to face an intimidating Apokaliptian creature with an inferiority complex, why not use Kalibak? Sometimes folks even care about Darkseid’s monstrous failson. Oh, that’s right; Kalibak wields a club instead of an axe.

One of my favorite bits of the theatrical cut is the flashback of the first Apokalips invasion. It’s just epic action without the brooding or mischaracterization. The Snyder cut contains an extended version of this. Thinking about it makes me realize this aspect is a double-edged sword. If there’s already a precedent of an impromptu terrestrial coalition defeating Steppenwolf, it severely undermines his threat. Although Earth had (underpowerd) Olympians & a Green Lantern on its side, it still felt like just throwing hordes at the Apokalips army was enough to drive him away. What the Justice League lacks in quantity, it makes up in superpowers. While humans may have conveniently forgotten this this incursion, Themyscrians & Atlanteans are more prepared now. This is the sequence that should’ve been cut in favor of fleshing out the relevant heroes.

Snyder insisted on putting Superman in a black suit without giving him the complementary mullet? Why didn’t that madman take the low hanging fruit? Is WB really to blame for this too? Luckily this customizer fixed that egregious oversight.

It’s been known that Snyder’s Justice League was going to end on a cliffhanger for years. One of the studio demands for the reshoots was to give the audience closure at the end. Presumably Snyder wanted the team to loose to Darkseid’s forces so Part II would be Flash averting the Post-Apokalips with more time travel. That’s what Batman’s “Knightmare” with evil Superman & Parademons in BVS: DOJ was foreshadowing. So I expected this cliffhanger, just not that it’d take four hours to get there.

A more specific outline of Justice League 2 shows the Injustice League would’ve paved the way for Darkseid’s invasion. This sounds like “Rock Of Ages” except terrible. (The JLA story, not the musical where Paul Giamatti was menaced by a baboon. If Tom Stone can stop The Anti-Life Equation, so can L. Marvin Metz!) Aside from Riddler solving the Anti-Life Equation & Dr. Poison genociding the Amazons, they seem superfluous. Captain Cold supposedly destroys Cyborg’s lower torso, but can’t he just reassemble himself instead of making Flash lug him around everywhere? There’s also a scene where The Lasso of Truth shows Wonder Woman she’ll become The Goddess of War & slay Superman, which doesn’t happen. An unidentified human Green Lantern, who probably isn’t Kyle Rayner, pops up to aid the survivors while they Days Of Future Past things. It’s still a giant fanwank to Batman. Even if DCAU’s “World’s Finest” managed to pull it off, a Superman/Lois/Batman love triangle sounds unappealing. (Apparently Snyder got the most studio pushback over that.) Maybe I should be relived none of them are romancing Wonder Woman? After all the unnecessary grimdarkness, it ends with a very conclusory happy ending that doesn’t lend itself easily to more sequels & spinoffs.

Several reports claim the final scene is Darkseid coming to Earth via Boom Tube, so Snyder probably decided Lex’s crew was a waste of time. Alternately he could’ve started with the Legion of Doom & saved Stepenwolf for the sequel where he’d pull less focus surrounded by more engaging members of Darkseid’s forces. (Kanto is a fan of German philosophy whereas DeSaad prefers French.) A supervillain team-up & a Post-Apokalips future still sounds like too much to cram into one movie. Why wasn’t this conceived as a trilogy with the Fourth World threat as bookends?

Even if the director’s cut doesn’t end with a successful invasion, those scenes are included an a second “Knightmare.” (Deathstroke’s sword now has a Halo symbol.) So scenes from a second installment that won’t happen are inserted in the midst of a movie that hasn’t worked up to them. Wouldn’t that upend the narrative flow? I get the appeal of Snyder filming his favorite sequel bits now when the opportunity presented itself, but this furthers the notion that the Snyder cut isn’t truly what he would’ve put into theaters had everything gone according to plan. If his original intent was to do another flashforward, however, it feels like the time would’ve been better saving that for later to get audiences more invested in the team first. Priorities were not in order.

Reviews of Zack Snyder’s Justice League released sooner than anticipated. I was surprised to learn how little had changed from the original cut. (So all that speculating on how he’d use double the runtime to set up the sequel was pointless? Serves me right for starting this draft so far in advance!) It’s not so much different as it is longer. I suspected collecting three Mother Boxes (which the important Fourth Worlders all have like smartphones in the comics) was a Whedon rewrite to streamline plot, but my hunch was wrong. The final trailer implies that the awful scene where a revived Superman immediately defeats his future teammates like chumps is still in it too.

I’m honestly surprised either director needed much reshoots. It still doesn’t seem like viewers should have to choose between grandiose action sequences & heroes not being maudlin sourpusses constantly. Why couldn’t WB have hired a director who could deliver both in the first place? (James Wan deserves more acclaim for making Aquaman such a crowd-pleasing blockbuster against the odds.) Or hire two that could’ve eschewed their egos & melded their strengths? (Cinephilles & the DGA still stubbornly view compromise & collaboration as anathema.) Alas, Chris Terrio remains screenwriter on both edits.

Zack Snyder seems like a likable guy in interviews. He’s a better person than his replacement, Joss Whedon. I’ve enjoyed many of Snyder’s films, but he hasn’t shown himself to be any ideal match for what I want from mainstream DC films. As an artist, I respect that he’s being allowed to finish his movie on his terms. As someone who hated BVS:DOJ, however, his version of DC characters is unappealing. The rabid cult of personality that sprung up around him is also exhausting. I don’t want to be against creative freedom & fan campaigns, but controversy over this project tests me.

Apparently it leaked ten days early when subscribers tried to watch Tom & Jerry instead. Paranoid Snyderians insist this was the latest act of sabotage. The leaker has been identified.

Now that it’s been made clearer how abusive Whedon was, there seems to be extra validation for the Snyder cut’s existence even from Snyder haters. Spite now justifies its existence. (I’ve made art for spite!) As someone who believes it’s possible to separate art from artists, I don’t think it’s automatically true that Snyder’s version must be better because he’s a better guy. This could be accurate, but we can’t jump to this conclusion on principle. Even if it rights an injustice to Snyder’s oeuvre, it’s a travesty Ray Fisher’s career remains collateral damage for whistleblowing.

With Whedon’s bits removed, however, is Snyder’s undiluted vision for the project palatable? It reminds me of how X-Men: The Last Stand was born of studio interference that rotated through directors until settling on a scummy choice. Years later its writer was granted a do-over with creative control to make Dark Phoenix. Neither is a worthy adaptation of The Dark Phoenix Saga, yet the first attempt was somewhat more entertaining despite its numerous faults. Likewise I’m in the minority for seeing the JL theatrical cut as a glass half full compromise in a scenario that was incredibly messy. Snyder’s two prior DC outings were so damn leaden! Could his third time really be the charm?

On the upside, this means the furor over the Snyder cut will eventually die down. The downside is now there are demands to “release the Ayer cut” & “restore the Snyderverse.” The fool’s errand these nerds should be invested in is saving Swamp Thing! The notion of getting more Snyderized DC movies wouldn’t be as frustrating if there were multiple interpretations running concurrently to choose from, but these adaptations still cost too much to make that viable. (Of course it’s rare to even see simultaneous competing visions of Austen, Shakespeare, & other popular public domain works. Last I recall was two lousy Hercules movies released by different studios a few months apart. The Rock’s version was based on a comic book so it might not technically count.) DC is starting to dip its toes into alternate takes like Joker & The Batman, but those just seem to be darker & more mundane spins on what’s already mainstream rather than truly diverse alternatives. More simultaneous iterations would do wonders for complaints that comic book movies are destroying cinema. What the “cultural genocide” (Thanks for the hot take, Birdman!) crowd don’t understand is how long fans have to wait for their favorites to get their turn at being adapted, & even then there’s no guarantee it’ll match their unique tastes.

Alarmists warn that giving obsessive fans what they want could lead lead filmmaking down a slippery slope. Meanwhile I’ve had a set of five different cuts of Blade Runner for years. Replacing directors resulted in two Excorcist prequels released a year apart. The most direct comparison to the Snyder cut may be the Richard Donner cut of Superman II,  which arguably supplanted Richard Lester’s theatrical cut in the public’s mind.

If the customer is always right, why are so many people losing their minds over releasing something this heavily in demand? Detractors complain of feeding fan entitlement, but who honestly isn’t entitled? Doesn’t everyone want the media they consume to be enjoyable? It’s more visible & organized now thanks to social media, but it’s fans’ nature to whine about entertainment not living up to our expectations & ask the creators do better. Another obsessive fandom that recently ran a high  profile campaign got The Expanse saved for a few more seasons. Why shouldn’t their be at least one version of the Justice League movie that pleases a large swath of the public too?

Remember when when fans were so outraged at how movie Sonic looked initially that the studio delayed the release until it could be redesigned more in line with his classic appearance? (I didn’t mind the toothy design, but I’m not that hardcore of a Sonic The Hedgehog fan.) The movie went on to be one of the biggest hits of 2020. (Whether it still would’ve been even if they’d stuck to their guns or if it had more 2020 competition is debatable.) If Hollywood is going to adapt properties with passionate fanbases, why shouldn’t it listen to them? Studios have often demonstrated that they don’t know what’s good for a movie more than the people these movies are supposedly made for. It’s not like collecting feedback to improve appeal to maximize profits is a new thing. I’m still hoping that fan demand will eventually save Nimona, which Disney slew when it was about 3/4 finished.

McFarlane’s Snyder Cut figures are photographed these in an awkward aspect ratio too. Cyborg looks like he’s rusting down the center not glowing from within. Todd didn’t paint Flash’s wires, yet Mattel did? Not only are Darkseid’s eyes not red for his patented Omega-Beam attack, the deluxe priced figure doesn’t include a shirt to cover his unsightly concave torso. You have to buy two, just like if you want alternate heads for Batman & Cyborg. (Making one of the Supermen a store exclusive is more understandable since each has completely different paint schemes.) Maybe Steppenwolf could be customized into The Destroyer from Thor? They didn’t make a new Wonder Woman without tube legs. Meanwhile I’m still waiting for Cheetah!

According to those who’ve already seen it, this is only a slight improvement over the theatrical cut, which I thought was merely alright. For double the content, it ought to be overwhelmingly superior. In the time it takes to evaluate it firsthand, I could see two brand new movies or rewatch two I enthusiastically enjoy. There is clearly a demand for this version of Justice League. I just don’t happen to be its target audience. Not everything has to be for me. Congratulations to everybody who willed the Snyder cut into existence! Hopefully it leaves you whelmed. Tell me what my pre-asessement got wrong about it.

2 thoughts on “Justice League Snyder Cut Discourse Is Served!

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