Four years ago, the superhero film world was rocked when the fury of Redditors exploded.
Digital chants of “#releasetheSnyderCut” echoed through the halls of Warner Bros. Studios as its executives cowered under their desks, wondering to themselves: “What have we done?!”
A brief history lesson: after finishing filming of the “Justice League” in early 2017, director Zack Snyder–who had previously directed “Watchmen,” “Man of Steel” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice”–was unable to finish post-production of his new superhero epic “Justice League” due to the tragic death of his daughter.
Warner Bros. called in Joss Whedon, director of “The Avengers,” to finish post-production on Snyder’s film. Snyder’s version didn’t sit well with Whedon, so Whedon persuaded the studio and actors to do extensive reshoots and essentially re-made Snyder’s original film in his own manner.
What fans got in 2017 was a version of the “Justice League” that was aggressively mediocre. Whedon’s version was little more than a long slog of cliched jargon interrupted occasionally by a decent action scene or some awkward quips. Snyder’s diehard fans felt like Whedon had destroyed their beloved director’s vision for the much-anticipated film.
For years, “#releasetheSnyderCut” trended on Twitter and Facebook. Numerous subreddits were dedicated to figuring out how to get Warner Bros. to let Snyder finish his original film. DC Extended Universe (DCEU) aficionados argued constantly on message boards about whether such a cut of the film even existed or could ever be released.
Then, years after the hashtag had trended, Warner Bros. announced that the Snyder Cut of the “Justice League,” this mystical cinematic unicorn, would be released in March 2021 on HBO Max.
Redditors rejoiced and held their breath in anticipation of finally experiencing the film that they had collectively willed into existence. I am glad to say that they will not be disappointed.
“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is an immense improvement over the 2017 version of the film in almost every way. The 2017 version possessed cliche dialogue and superficial new character introductions.
In contrast, Snyder’s version of the story delves into the history and significance of the film’s plot devices, possesses serious dialogue that is elevated by genuine moments of levity, explores the backstories of the film’s new characters in a more meaningful and effective manner and is far more visually brilliant.
Snyder takes his movies and characters seriously. The change in tone between Whedon’s whimsical version and Snyder’s thrilling version, is the most obvious distinction between them. Though Whedon’s style has served him well in other projects, it simply did not translate well to the DCEU.
The 2017 film introduced several new characters without ever giving the audience a good reason to care about them. The Snyder Cut, as it is over four hours long, is able to give plenty of time and space to introduce iconic DC characters like the Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and even the villainous Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds).
The Snyder Cut also possesses truly jaw-dropping visuals which are a vast improvement on the 2017 version. Snyder doesn’t just show us superheroes using their powers, but adapts the film’s cinematography to these superheroes’ powers to create a truly immersive superhero film.
Though Snyder’s vision of the film is sure to please DCEU and Snyder fans alike, it is nevertheless over four hours long. For most non-Snyder superfans, watching this film in one sitting would be a challenge.
One would be right to point out that Snyder shouldn’t need four hours to tell a good “Justice League” story. However, this is more the fault of Warner Bros. and the DC Studios executives than it is Snyder’s.
Warner Bros. and DC Studios have spent so much time trying to play catch-up to Marvel that they never took the time to build up their cinematic universe the hard way. Instead of taking a decade to make solo movies for their heroes, respecting their source material and building the foundation for a huge group movie like “Justice League,” Warner Bros. and DC Studios simply counted on Snyder to do in two films what Marvel did over the course of a decade.
It is clear to honest viewers that Snyder did the best he could with what he had been given. The fact that his version of the “Justice League” is emotionally compelling, visually stunning, and exciting is a testament to both his talent and his love for the material.
Snyder had a vision for his story and was dedicated to bringing it to audiences. That kind of integrity in Hollywood is rare. Even though the process was painful, Snyder and his producers were committed to doing the work and bringing his vision to fruition.
Even if you don’t particularly care about Snyder’s past works or even superhero films in general, there’s something in his dedication that is innately admirable.
“Zack Snyder’s Justice League” will certainly please Snyder’s fans, and just might be the experience that DC-haters need to start appreciating the DCEU. Though the future of the DCEU is murky, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” shows us that any future it has will only be thanks to the integrity and dedication of filmmakers like Snyder.