Prepare Yourself for…Something
We are less than a month away from The Snyder Cut of Justice League’s release on HBO Max. As we speak, there is probably another story getting prepared for release with more teaser photos or spoilers, as that’s the way it’s been weekly for the last few months. There has been so much hype, time, and effort spent on this movie that it will either be the worst misstep since Batman V Superman, no wait, Harley Quinn, or maybe the plot of Wonder Woman 1984, or it will be the greatest superhero movie ever and seemingly one of the greatest films in recent times. While I’m not sure that it’s going to impress many on any level, it no doubt does have its significance.
What is it?
The Snyder Cut is director Zack Snyder’s second shot at making a Justice League movie. He was the director of the original film but had to step away for his family, and director Joss Whedon stepped in and made his version of the movie based on Snyder’s bare bones. After the movie’s release, no one was delighted by the final product. Those involved and many online called for Snyder’s version of the film to be released. This unrest intermixed with teases about what was in Snyder’s cut and how much better and more loyal to the die-hard fans it would have been. Eventually, the studio decided to give Snyder a budget and creative freedom, and now we have his version of Justice League debuting on March 18 on HBO Max.
I Want to Speak to Your Manager!
It’s not every day that a movie is remade or reworked into a different version and re-released. This series of events is somewhat uncharted territory, especially in this short of a time between releases. The new Justice League movie is being made mostly due to public outcry and fan requests. The consumer essentially said, “I don’t like the way my meal tastes,” and the studio responded with, “We’ll make it again for you.” This reaction could set a precedent for how movies are made and released or re-released in the future. There have been plenty of special edition and director’s cuts in the past, but they usually include the deleted scenes, are straight to home video, and don’t get a big budget.
Similarly, Sonic the Hedgehog released a trailer before the movie came out that drew ire from many fans. They spoke out so much against how Sonic looked that the final film includes a redesigned version of the title character. While that process had to take some time and money, it cannot be nearly as much as the $70 million budget and ten months it took to release the Snyder Cut. In Sonic’s case, listening to the fans and making changes worked, as the movie went on to become the highest-grossing video game movie ever and has a sequel in the works. Those changes were only to the character design, though, and took place before the film was released. In the case of Justice League, the movie was released and didn’t do well. A few years passed, and now they are going back to it to try again. It’s not a remake, but a different version of the same thing.
Cameos, New footage, Easter Eggs
The problem is that based on the 4 hours run time, right now, it seems that much of the original Justice League movie will be present in the Snyder Cut. So we will get the film we’ve seen and didn’t like, the deleted scenes and original content that Snyder would have left in, and new footage shot filled with easter eggs, cameos, and fan service all in one massive sitting. The choice to keep it all as one movie is somewhat perplexing, though. Initially, reports stated it would release as a series, but Snyder recently advised his real vision of it as one unusually long cut would be coming true. Due to the success and weekly buzz between The Mandalorian and Wandavision episodes, it seems strange to decide to go instead with a single four-hour movie.
Reports state that much of Snyder’s vision was reshot and reworked by Whedon, and therefore this rendition, Snyder’s version, should be much different. While that may be true, I don’t think Snyder’s original vision was four hours, and I don’t believe there are four hours of new material here in the “real” cut. My doubts stem from DC seemingly using this non-canon, fan-serving strange, uncharted one off of a movie as a way to right all of its issues and woes over the last five years.
It seems that The film will now include pieces of some of the most popular and internet-requested DC content and characters in this version. Therefore, it is likely a lot of new content that wasn’t actually in the original plans, but rather a combination of what DC and its fans wished were in the last five years’ mediocre movies. Since this is a strange one-off case, I don’t have a problem if that’s what DC is doing, but don’t try to sell me that all of this was in Snyder’s vision, and Whedon dumped it all. Instead, make a new redeeming movie that resets your universe and studio and starts up a promising cinematic future.
Another issue is that there seem to be spoilers, cameos, and fan service content released non-stop now before the movie comes out for free. Why? If this is an entirely different movie and this fantastic creative piece of art, why are you spoiling all of it before we even see it? With the amount of content that’s been leaked already, by the time we go into the movie, the easter eggs will have already been spoiled, leaving a hulking, reshot, darker version of a failed movie. There is something to be said for surprises surprising you in the moment. Is it really a treat if you already showed us?
You Only Live Twice?
While I think this is an interesting experiment and it could have a powerful impact, I’m starting to fear it won’t. I am a Batman fan and I even love the design of the Batfleck Batsuit and Batmobile. I also like Jeremy Iron’s take on Alfred, but I’m worried that we’re betting all of our Batman time and energy funds on a pretty sure loser. I don’t want DC’s reputation to get any worse and I don’t want there to be hesitation in making Batman movies going forward.
What could come out of this is a sort of second-chance, second-life movie category where blockbusters with enough fanbase could get a tweak and be re-released. This would be a new aspect of filmmaking and the industry. It could provide more jobs and ultimately better final second-chance products. I’m not opposed to it if it’s honest filmmaking for the sake of making things more entertaining.
I don’t think original cuts should be replaced with these second-life movies though as the original art needs to stand on its own. This could be the first step on a path that as an artist myself I’m not sure about. Should we be going back and creating an updated version of art based on the money it makes or the critics’ opinions? Should Picasso have gone back and made less original and unusual art after critics disapproved of it?
If the movie wasn’t four hours then I’d believe maybe it is something different, but it can’t be four hours of new material. If there weren’t spoilers hitting the internet every other day for this awesome new movie then maybe I’d believe it is. Lastly, a lot of what’s coming out of the director and his new masterpiece is really discouraging.
Snyder recently said that the true and most ideal version of the film is a four-hour black and white that he’s working on separate from the March 18th release. There has also been a recent spoiler involving a major DC villain that will be appearing in the film that wasn’t in the original version or plans. That villain’s inclusion feels like ultra fanservice as his look seems to mimic both Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger’s beloved versions and will undoubtedly grab the attention of fans of Joker and The Dark Knight (arguably two of DC’s greatest successes). If you were to tell me there is a four-hour black and white Justice League movie with what looks like the return of Ledger’s Joker played by arguably the most disliked Joker I wouldn’t believe you. I honestly don’t know if I’d be more excited or disturbed by the notion.
To Watch or Not
I don’t think this movie will be for everyone. I do not think it’s going to amaze or change anyone’s mind about DC films. I do believe there’s going to be some exciting cameos, costumes, and easter eggs for the hardcore fans. While I will enjoy these things, I’m not sure I will fully enjoy them after having to sit through four hours of Justice League to see them.
I think if you’re interested in seeing a trainwreck, don’t want to miss out on a cultural phenomenon, or love the movie industry and filmmaking then this movie is worth $14.99 to subscribe to HBO Max for a month. The good news is that you get HBO Max and all of its other great content for a month along with the Snyder Cut. This way even if you don’t make it through the whole of Justice League it’s not a total loss. At the same time, if you love the film or would rather watch it a piece at a time you have access to it for a whole month.
I am hoping that I’m pleasantly surprised by the Snyder Cut. I hope that much of the film’s content is new because I didn’t enjoy Justice League. I want the Snyder Cut to have a positive impact on future DC movies and possibly even the way we make movies in the future. Perhaps if there is enough demand for a movie to be improved in the future, A and B versions will become an option. I think the more good stories that can be told and honest visions that can come to life the better. I will be there on March 18th and 19th to watch the Snyder Cut because I think it will probably take me that long to get through it.