The Snyder Cut that all the big DC fans were waiting for finally came out. Never could I have imagined how big a difference it actually was. Meanwhile, I’ve also seen the movie twice because I love it so much. I didn’t have this feeling at all with the theatrical cut. There I rather thought, “I don’t want to see this movie again.” And that’s coming from a DC fan. Now my question is, “How and why did Joss Whedon and Warner Bros screw up Justice League.”
Watching Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I had mixed feelings. Somehow I was super excited because I really liked the movie. On the other hand frustrated since we should have gotten this version instead of what we had. This also has an impact on future films. The second Wonder Woman movie might have looked entirely different. Also, we were going to get a Cyborg movie. Unfortunately, that one totally got screwed in the 2017 version.
The Whedon Cut
Do you guys understand Joss Whedon’s logic after seeing Zack Snyder’s superior 4-hour Justice League (2021) and having 80% of Zack Snyder’s footage sent to waste? The version of Justice League that screened in cinemas – which I will call the Whedon Cut – was rewritten and largely reshot by Joss Whedon after Snyder left the project due to a family tragedy as well as amid creative tensions with the studio. Due to Zack Snyder’s tragedy, he had no energy left to dispute with Warner Bros. Honestly, everyone understands Zack Snyder in that regard and why he left the project.
Zack already had a four-hour-long edit in 2017, and the studio was like: “no one is going to watch this!”. Consequently, Whedon was appointed to turn the tide still and make it a more positive/funny/shorter version. Of course, Warner Bros compares DC to Marvel and tries to use the same approach. But the movie flopped not only critically but also at the box-office. My question is: why did they now try to transform a dark film into something lighter? And why? Because Snyder’s version was much more superior. To be honest, I can’t imagine any other explanation than this is about ego. I suspect this is about leaders who think they know better than film directors. How often do I get frustrated by leaders who make it difficult for filmmakers to present their vision. Also, it’s pretty clear that this movie intends to be darker.
It’s okay to be darker
When you put the two films side by side, you immediately notice a difference. There is a difference in duration, color balance but certainly also in terms of acting and dialogues.
Let’s start with the tone. This tone is darker than the Whedon Cut, and you can already tell by the color grading, which is already darker. You would think: even darker? Yes, but the picture is correct. Unlike the 2017 version, it fits the tone more. Even the music choice got much better and this also thanks to JunkieXL. What a frighteningly good score this was? Some characters were pulled into the ridiculous like Flash and Batman. Flash is a character where you can use a lighter tone, which is the case with Zack Snyder’s version. Still, he is much less cringy than in the Whedon Cut. Batman’s representation was just laughable in the old version. His silly jokes were very un-Batman Like.
Also, the scenes are much more violent, and that’s okay. This film now has an R-Rating, which I actually always like better, although I understand that Warner Bros prefer PG13. That in itself is a choice I can understand. However, it doesn’t take how awesome the Rated-R was in the Snyder version.
Doesn’t look good for Whedon
Another thing that struck me very hard was that there was little screentime for female parts and black actors. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but it certainly doesn’t look good on paper. Josh Wedhon’s career was already to the bag, but now that pit he dug is even deeper.
There are fewer Lois Lane scenes, for example. Worse still, characters like Iris West and Cyborg’s mother are simply left out. That’s already two black female characters that just weren’t used. In addition, Ray Fisher was going to be the heart of the movie, and there were just a lot of scenes not used of him. His origin was just flimsy in the Whedon Cut. It’s pretty clear who all wasn’t in the spotlight. Care to explain, Whedon?
Remember that embarrassing scene between Gal Gadot and Ezra Miller? Gal Gadot refused to shoot that scene, and Whedon threatened her career in a separate room if she didn’t want to shoot the scene. Now Gal Gadot is smarter than that, though and filed a complaint with men who stood taller. Then instead of her, a body double was used for the akward scene.
And then there are bizarre scenes like this one in the cornfield with Clark Kent and Martha where you wonder why on earth Henry Cavill, with a CGI-removed mustache, had to come back to reshoot this scene. The scene Snyder had filmed was an intimate moment between mother and son, and between Clark and Lois Lane, and worked just as well in Whedon’s version. This just doesn’t make sense. One would think that Snyder wanted to fully appropriate this print, when this was not Warner’s instruction. Whedon is also reported to have ridiculed Snyder’s vision on set. Several crew members who worked under both Snyder and Whedon are reporting this.
Release the Snyder Cut Movement
Zack wanted to see his cut realized and fans started an online campaign to release the Zack Snyder cut. I did want to see Zack’s vision, but personally was not part of that movement. It just seemed impossible to me that Warner Bros was going to greenlight this. To my surprise, I was wrong and Zack was allowed to do it anyway. Now, this is world-first that a movie is just being remade, and you can’t compare this to a director’s cut.
Now the Snyder Cut has become a reality with HBO Max. But that this cut was now also carried on hands is a mockery for Whedon but also for those responsible at Warner who made a mess of it, resulting in a million-dollar loss. The Snyder cut in 2017 lasted 214 minutes and was 90% finished, but it still needed a financial injection of between 30-40 million dollars for the visual effects.
Imagine that the studio saw a film of almost 4 hours with no sound mix and still many missing visual effects, and over-budget even then. It was not an ideal atmosphere. And apparently, they didn’t feel like meeting this demand either. In addition, Snyder was also dealing with the suicide of his 20-year-old daughter must have been hell to go and defend your film against a studio with huge creative differences. And so another director was brought in – and Jon Berg and Geoff Johns came up with the foolish idea of Whedon, whose style is 180° different from Snyder’s – who would still cost them 30 million for reshoots at the end. In the end, the Justice League saga cost about $370 million and had to raise a whopping $700 million for just a break-even.
One thing to note is that in the casting list for the Zack Snyder version, Geoff Johns’ name has been completely removed. Geoff Johns is the one who wanted to bring lightness and hopes to Zack’s dark world and basically messed everything up, just like his Green Lanter movie. Now, I’m a fan of Geoff Johns when it comes to writing comic books. He honestly knows the characters better. I also thought he was going to be a good addition to making these films. However, now I have some serious doubts if he shouldn’t stick to comics. Making a movie is different than writing comics.
The end of the new Justice League at least opens the door for a sequel. Not only was there Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), but two more villains in another dimension, Desaad (Peter Guinness) and Darkseid (Ray Porter), and they may have lost this battle but the war is yet to come.
And then there’s that post-credit “Knightmare sequence” in which Bruce Wayne has a dream about a possible apocalypse after Darkseid destroys the world, with Joker (Jared Leto), Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), and Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello), Batman’s new alliance as it turns out. Until the moment Superman appears on stage in his blue suit and Bruce awakens from his dream. And if that wasn’t enough, we see afterward his encounter with the Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix), who warns Bruce of a coming war by Darkseid.
However, the future is still unsure as Warner Bros stated that there are no plans for the Snyder verse. However, if we work together, maybe we can restore that by using the hashtag: #RestoretheSnyderVerse