"I'll just get my gear."

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

PROLOGUE

Well, it really happened. When last we saw the movie JUSTICE LEAGUE, it was credited to director Zack Snyder – who had left the movie unfinished due to a family tragedy, and amid creative battles with the studio – but was known to have been heavily rewritten and reshot by SPEED script doctor Joss Whedon. Although I called it a “perfectly watchable, okay super hero romp” it was poorly reviewed and did not do the gangbusters business Warner Brothers had hoped for. The studio continued with related characters in AQUAMAN, BIRDS OF PREY and WONDER WOMAN 1984, but seemed to abandon hopes for their own AVENGERS.

Meanwhile, a group of Snyder Riders petitioned, hash-tagged, billboarded and sky-wrote for the company to “release the Snyder Cut,” the fabled vastly different pre-reshoots director’s cut of the film. As time went on, the movement seemed increasingly pestering and delusional, but it persisted until somebody at AT&T or somewhere got the notion that the corporation could promote their new streaming service HBOMax by releasing this Snyder Cut thing on it.

One small complication: it didn’t exist. Snyder had left before he was able to finish the movie, as had been reported all along. So they invested a reported $70 million (more than the entire budget of Marvel’s THE NEW MUTANTS) for Snyder to complete the FX and the edit, add a couple new things and a new score. And since who gives a fuck anymore they let him pretty much do what he wanted this time, and what he wanted was to make it 4 hours long (about 14 minutes longer than LAWRENCE OF ARABIA) and in a 4:3 aspect ratio as an homage to MID90S and MEEK’S CUTOFF.

You may have feelings about the particular way this version called ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE came to be, and I may share some of those feelings. But I always want a director to have their unvarnished vision on screen and not have to compromise with the marketing and money people. I also really like most of Snyder’s movies, and part of what has made his filmography interesting is how impossible it seems. DAWN OF THE DEAD and 300 were big hits, so then he pretty much got a license to kill. He got to do WATCHMEN, the 163-minute R-rated adaptation of a previously-considered-unfilmable comic. That only scraped by, but he still got to make the even more unlikely photorealistic owl fighting cartoon LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE. And I guess that was profitable so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that he also got to make his weirdest movie so far, the reality-bending anime sex slave battle musical (I don’t know – you try to describe it) SUCKER PUNCH.

That most of these movies didn’t exactly connect with the public didn’t seem to slow Snyder’s roll. Warner Brothers pretty much trusted him with anything, so they gave him the company’s most valuable asset that they hadn’t quite figured out how to make work in recent years: Superman.

MAN OF STEEL got mixed reviews and reportedly did not meet the hopes of the studio at the box office, so we tend to forget that it was Snyder’s biggest hit ever, and made more money than another franchise-starter called BATMAN BEGINS. His followup, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE was even bigger, but much more poorly received, and that was a problem. The plan was to milk a whole universe out of this thing, like Marvel was doing, and now that was in doubt. BATMAN & ROBIN made money too, but the fact that most people hated it almost killed comic book movies. I think in the eyes of the executives this comic book shit is a license to print money if you do it right, and Zack-Attack is their bro who knows how to do it right. So when he seemed to have fucked up Batman of all things they started thinking, “Oh shit. Did we give him all the keys? Do we need to change the locks?”

I admit my faith was shaken too. There’s plenty I find interesting in VERZUZ: BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN, but enough that I find frustrating for it to feel like a disappointment, and after JUSTICE LEAGUE I was happy for Snyder (and Batman) to move on to something else. A few years later, when they announced the new cut I didn’t think it would be anything more than interesting. I figured the original was already kind of cheesy at the time, and has become dated since, and the idea of turning an unfinished 2 hour movie into a 4 hour one with minimal new filming (and during a pandemic!) did not seem promising.

The movie is in color. This poster is just showing off.

PART 1:

“I’VE BEEN MOONBLINKED!”

I’m happy to be wrong! To me ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE works as the satisfyingly epic MAN OF STEEL followup I thought we’d never get. I didn’t remember many specifics about the theatrical cut, so it was interesting to re-read my review after watching this. The one sentence plot summary that I opened with still works:

“Sometimes, you know, Superman dies, so a bad guy decides to conquer the world, so you have to put together a team of other super heroes to fill in for Superman, but then you decide to bring him back to life, but he seems evil at first and fights you, but then he chills out while you fight the CGI guy, then he shows up.”

A few sentences later I got to my biggest complaint, that it had “very little of the gravity or operatic style” I wanted from Snyder. And that, I’m so happy to say, is not longer the case. Yes, it has more of the Snyder speed-ramping, slo-mo musical montages and freezes that look like comic book splash pages, but also story choices that shift the focus away from the small and human to the massive and mythical. While Whedon’s version opened with a cell phone video of Superman (Henry Cavill, HELLRAISER: HELLWORLD) talking to a kid, being charming, Snyder’s opens at the climax of the last film, at the moment of Superman’s death, his scream visibly rolling across the earth in waves, being heard by various characters and triggering three different “motherboxes,” two of them kept under heavy guard in mythical kingdoms (one underwater).

The vastly different openings are two deliberate storytelling choices, but Snyder’s is the better one for this movie because it takes advantage of his unique talents as a filmmaker and makes JUSTICE LEAGUE stand out from other super hero movies. Almost every Marvel movie is gonna do the funny relatable hero thing better than Snyder can, but I don’t think any of them match the humans-looking-up-at-gods awe he creates with the heroes and the super powers, or the epic fantasy feel he gets with all this mythology.

I don’t think the long run time would’ve gone over well in theaters, but it works very well for this format, with the ability to pause (it’s even divided into six chapters with KILL BILL style titles, if you want to treat it as a mini-series). It makes this story of godlike beings returning to the sight of their one defeat thousands of years later feel huge in a way that other single super hero movies do not. There are enormous battles that were either reduced or entirely absent in the original release, and the build between them makes it all feel more like natural developments of the story and less like a muddy mess of zapping and exploding. The final battle is similar to how I remember it, but it feels so different and works so much better because of all the steps and plans that lead up to it.

The biggest improvement is that epic new opening, the way Superman’s death scream reverberates throughout the world and even, narratively speaking, the movie. In the old version it just seemed like there was a McMuffin that the bad guys had to get and the good guys had to hide, like the Allspark in TRANSFORMERS. The more detailed history laid out here when Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, TRIPLE 9) gives Batman (Ben Affleck, THE ACCOUNTANT) a TED Talk about “The Age of Heroes” makes it feel like part of a rich mythology (even though Gadot’s voiceover is, if not quite Harrison-Ford-in-BLADE-RUNNER-theatrical-cut stiff, strangely below her abilities). In the old version we saw a bit of the thousands-of-years-ago battle between Steppenwolf (voice of Ciaran Hinds, GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE) and the united Amazons, Atlanteans and Greek gods – now it’s Darkseid (voice of Ray Porter, “First A.D.,” ARGO, which includes Darkseid creator Jack Kirby as a character), with a more involved fight. His forces retreat, abandoning the three motherboxes which, when united, would turn the planet into a hellscape and its inhabitants into his parademon drones. So the Amazons, Atlanteans and “men” (viking dudes) each take one to hide and guard in the ways of their people. (The way of men is to just bury it a couple feet underground in the woods. Amazing how long we got away with that.)

There are indications that maybe it was Green Lanterns that kept Darkseid from returning, but more recently the presence of “the Kryptonian” was box-blocking him. So the very sound of Superman’s death activates those motherboxes like they’re Siri. And they say Heads up guys – the Kryptonian’s gone. Come and get it!


PART 2

“THIS IS SPARTA!”

Snyder’s Amazons are as fierce and intense as his Spartans in 300. When their motherbox starts to glow it’s greeted by about a hundred swords pointing in its direction. When Darkseid’s stooge’s stooge Steppenwolf and his forces show up to reclaim the box, he speaks of fear, so Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen, 3 DAYS TO KILL) yells for her warriors to “Show them your fear!”

“WE HAVE NO FEAR!” they shout in unison. How much have they practiced this shit?

(Whedon kept that scene, cut that part. Who the fuck would cut that part?)

Hippolyta personally makes a run for it with the box and says “Ready the hammers!” because, let’s face it, this is a society that knows what it means when the Queen says “ready the hammers.” It means the buffest ladies in the tribe are standing by to smash through the columns and bring the entire structure down on top of themselves and many of their sisters to maybe save the world. This incredible sacrifice is the triple exclamation point on the sequence that was removed in the theatrical cut. In the theatrical cut they just lose.

Now there’s a more intense melee that includes Steppenwolf picking up and tossing horses. Not cool, Steppenwolf. I mean, yes, it’s very cool, but it’s not chill. When you compare the two sequences you can see that Snyder’s version is not just longer and more exciting, it has more rhythm and momentum to it. Whedon’s removal (or Snyder’s addition) of things as small as the waves of Amazons on horseback skidding to a stop after Steppenwolf escapes them make a big difference. The Amazons are still badass in that version, but not as mythically badass. And the latter is obviously better.

This version of the movie compares less to THE AVENGERS and more to the extended cuts of LORD OF THE RINGS. The long, drawn out approach to the storytelling gives the proceedings a weight I never thought it could. Economy is often key to storytelling, but there’s also something to be said for detail and how fascinating procedure can be. I appreciate that this is not only a movie where the Amazons light what humans see as an ancient ruin on fire knowing that only Wonder Woman will know its meaning – it’s also one that depicts a whole ceremony, bringing out a case with giant metal arrows, holding it up and saying the words, lighting it, launching it. Then Wonder Woman goes to it, finds the arrow, finds an arrow shaped-socket in the ruins and opens a secret chamber full of murals that explain the threat to her.

In my original review I wrote, “It would be nice if they had a villain to fight who had some sort of personality or point-of-view or interesting characteristics of some kind.” Giving us more information on Steppenwolf is a crucial improvement. There’s now a hierarchy – Steppenwolf reports via hologram to the cool looking hooded ghoul DeSaad (voice of Peter Guinness, THE KEEP, ALIEN 3, SLEEPY HOLLOW), who reports to Darkseid. And Steppenwolf is certainly an evil motherfucker, but he becomes so much more interesting when the assistant manager treats him like shit and he’s always very transparent about trying to get on the big boss’s good side. Apparently he once betrayed Darkseid and after all of the world-conquering he’s done is still in debt to him for fifty thousand more. The way he tells it this one is kind of a layup because there are no Green Lanterns protecting it, yet you see how much work he puts into it. Imagine looking down the barrel of 50,000 more of those. Worse than student loans, in my opinion. Cancel all Darkseid debt.

It also helps that the design of Steppenwolf’s face is much better, and I like the heavy metal album cover excess of his bladed armor. (Only speculating, but I think this is one that Snyder improved with the benefit of time and technology. I can’t imagine Whedon would’ve vetoed the knife armor considering all the quips he could’ve written about it.)


PART 3

“I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU, DAD!”

The middle section of the movie feels fresh in that it adds lots of new stuff for the movie’s new characters, Barry “The Flash” Allen (Ezra Miller, LET’S SET ASIDE SOME TIME TO SIT DOWN AND HAVE THE KEVIN TALK) and especially Victor “Cyborg” Stone (Ray Fisher, True Detective). Flash has a cool new introduction where he makes love-at-first-eye-contact out the window at a passing driver (Kiersey Clemons, SWEETHEART) during a job interview and then saves her from a car accident. Although I disagree with him touching her hair without consent while she’s being thrown from her convertible, I think this is a good scene to establish him as the one who shares the god-like powers of most of the team but only knows how to live the life of a normal, awkward dork.

Though some of the funniest jokes of the theatrical cut were added by Whedon, Barry was already a very effective comic relief character. He gets to make jokes at his own expense while everybody else is serious, with some humor about how badass they are (like when Aquaman [Jason Momoa, WOLVES] dumps a rescued sailor at a bar, takes a bottle of whisky and says it’s on him). I respect this alternative to Marvel’s (very effective) formula of deflating cool super hero moments with self-deprecating jokes.

Cyborg has the biggest increase in screen time, which unfortunately makes the movie flounder a bit in the middle. I assume it’s straight from the comics that he’s introduced making the winning play in the big football game and then when he looks into the stands his smile drops as he sees the empty seat where his father promised he’d be but he didn’t make it because he got caught up at work again, but I think you gotta update that shit. A sitcom cliche that hoary can’t bear the weight of the grandeloquent Snyder filmatism, so it becomes laughable and undercuts Cyborg’s legitimate reasons for standing in a dark room wearing a hoodie and pouting while staring out the window. But I do appreciate the sweatshirt for covering up his overly complicated TRANSFORMERy design, and once he joins the team his hate/love relationship with his dad (Joe T2 Morton, who gets a great Miles Dyson self-sacrifice in this version) becomes more compelling. I also like the creepy way he turns off all the lights on a city block before arriving to meet with Wonder Woman.

Aquaman retains the obviously Snydery slow motion swagger and the line “Mah man!,” but loses goofball jokes like sitting on Wonder Woman’s lasso. My favorite addition is that after rejecting Bruce Wayne in Iceland and swimming away, a woman sniffs his discarded sweater BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN style and then leads the locals in singing a song about him. My wife says anybody would do the same. I understand why if you’re making a two hour movie you have to cut that part of the scene, but having that part of the scene is what makes this an unusual movie. That shit never happened to Tony Stark, I’ll tell you that. I love the direction James Wan took Aquaman in his solo movie, but I also love Snyder’s idea to take this character who was a punchline, cast him with a fuckin barbarian, make him act like a rowdy biker, and have people literally worship him as a god.

Even more than before I really like Affleck as Bruce Wayne. Out of costume he has a Batman seriousness, a rich playboy swagger and a focus on this mission to change his loner ways in order to unite the most powerful people to save the world. I’m more nitpicky about his Batman, which is on Snyder’s choices and not Affleck’s performance. I accept that Snyder is into the Boris-Vallejo-is-too-subtle muscleman shit, and it doesn’t really matter how illogical it is to have an actor torture himself to build real muscles and then hide them under giant fake He-Man ones, because logic is overrated. But I just personally think giving Batman a fat ass tree trunk for a torso makes him look dumb and makes all the fighting stiffer and faker than it could be in something more relevant to actual anatomy. This guy is so detail-oriented he sculpted crow’s feet onto his mask, you’d think he’d want his torso to look human-shaped.

(Also I don’t like the robot voice or the part at the end where he tells the Joker “I swear to God I’ll fuckin kill you,” but overall the movie is light on dumb ass Punisher shit.)


PART 4

“LOOK, UP IN THE SKY, HE HAS A BLACK SUIT NOW!”

In this version the team plan together more like a team, with FAST FIVE style scenes where they stand around a table discussing a problem, taking turns adding thoughts, finishing each other’s sentences as they work it out. It flows much better than before because it better explains their choices. We see Cyborg convincing them that the motherbox, which threatens the world but also saved his life, is not an evil magic thing, but a tool that can change matter. We see Flash realizing this means they might be able to use it to bring Superman back to life, but not wanting to be the one to suggest it. And we hear Bruce Wayne making the strong argument that the motherboxes activating upon Superman’s death proves that the motherboxes themselves believe Superman can stop them.

Whedon reshot most of Superman’s dialogue, which more observant people than me noticed by the weird look of his mouth because they had to digitally remove his MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT mustache. But the overall resurrection story is not as different as had been reported. He still comes back, doesn’t remember who he is and lashes out at the others until Lois comes to him and he flies her back to the Kent farm in Smallville and begins to remember. There’s some new stuff where he goes to his old ship and then (for no narrative reason that I picked up on) has a black version of his costume.

It’s a pretty quick run through the “Superman comes back evil but then gets better” storyline, but plays better because there’s much more build up of digging up his grave, breaking into Star Labs, The Flash having to run dangerously fast to charge the motherbox, Cyborg having to jack into it and have scary visions, Aquaman having qualms about the decision.

I kind of wish Superman got more to do at the end, but the whole story is centered around him. His absence causes potential doom, so the people come together; his presence solves the problem, and hopefully the people will stay together. The epilogue is inevitably the messiest part because it’s the loose threads meant to set up sequels that will now never happen and/or stuff he wanted to throw on there because he never got to use them. I always thought the weird BvS stuff with Batman’s “Knightmare” of evil Superman and the Flash appearing to him to warn “Lois Lane is the key” were setting up JUSTICE LEAGUE, but now we know he planned to stretch that across two more movies. Jeez. (His description of what would happen, including Batman dying and being replaced by Superman’s son Bruce Kent, sounds fucking stupid to me. But I was wrong about this one, so who knows?)

The ending features the two most iconic villains in comic book history in their worst cinematic incarnations. I hate Jess Eisenberg’s decision to play Lex Luthor as Max Landis, so I didn’t need to see him here in a little better version of the theatrical cut’s post-credit scene where he recruits poor Joe Manganiello (MAGIC MIKE) with painted on grey hair and cosplay Deathstroke armor. That’s followed by a newly shot scene where Batman is having that post-apocalyptic desert dream again and this time he’s with Jared Leto’s Joker. I actually liked SUICIDE SQUAD’s idea of the Joker as tattooed, grill-wearing gangster asshole, give or take some parts where he copies Heath Ledger’s voice too much. But nobody else did, so they redesigned him as a long hair, and Leto veers between self-conscious weirdness and Jim Carrey voices.

What is cool about this scene is that Deathstroke, introduced one scene ago as a guy out to avenge Batman, is now part of his team – how the hell did we get here, and why does giving him a mohawk make him look so much better? Even the inclusion of the Joker is kind of cool because of the fact that Snyder will never have to explain what the fuck Batman thinks Joker can do against Superman, forcing them to team up like Hobbes & Shaw. A nice unsolvable mystery to ponder. It occurred to me that if Snyder was able to continue this story it should be some crazy ROAD WARRIOR meets SUCKER PUNCH meets Super Friends shit in this alternate future. But Evil Superman would be such a waste of Henry Cavill. Maybe CG him. They already have his upper lip rendered.


EPILOGUE

I’ve talked to friends who say they’re happy people like ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE, but they worry about its release emboldening entitled fans and online harassers. In this case they’re thankfully rallying around the vision of a particular director, but often that sort of fervor goes in the opposite direction – applying an idiotic “the customer is always right” idea to art and launching deranged, hateful crusades against directors, actors and executives they blame for not making the space adventures to their exact specifications. Letting those people think that being obnoxious enough for long enough will get them what they want is pretty much an invitation to finally make the internet uninhabitable, forcing us all to unplug and move to that seaside village where they sing about Aquaman.

To avoid that we’ll need them to understand that The Snyder Cut Precedent only applies to supporting the vision of artists, not “what the fans want.” The studio or whoever messed up the movie and now they’re sending the filmmakers a note of apology, some flowers and a budget to fix THE KEEP or whatever. ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE may be the most extreme case, but we’ve also had SUPERMAN II: THE DONNER CUT, PAYBACK: STRAIGHT UP, DOMINION: THE PREQUEL TO THE EXORCIST, ALIEN 3: THE ASSEMBLY CUT, HALLOWEEN 6: THE PRODUCER’S CUT. These are good. These are just. It doesn’t mean Zack Snyder has to change Batman to be the way I want him to be. Even though my way is better. He still gets to do it his way.

When I went through the theatrical version to get a better idea of the differences I realized what’s unique about this situation. Right now everybody’s throwing Whedon under the bus, because he has recently been exposed as a cruel asshole, and also we can all now see that Snyder’s version is better. (I really haven’t seen anyone say otherwise, whether they liked it or not.)

But take a look at what Whedon changed. He added funny lines for all the characters, which are not missed, but were enjoyable in that iteration. He added more bonding between the team, celebrating their victories and stuff, which also is not missed but was enjoyable the first time. His first Batman scene (the rooftop scene with the parademon) feels like a Batman movie, with him doing Batman stuff, more than anything Snyder shot. He gave Superman dialogue about hope and truth, justice and the American way. He added awkward dialogue about all the buildings in the area being abandoned, and a part where Superman interrupts a discussion of how to save the world because he senses what he straight up calls “civilians” being in trouble. And, the least missed aspect of the theatrical cut: he added a whole subplot about a poor Russian family who live near the site of the final battle just so there’s someone the Flash can rescue.

The truth is that almost everything he changed was aimed at delivering what very vocal parts of “the fandom” (as they call it now) were saying they wanted after MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V. SUPERMAN. Lighter tone. More humor. Brighter colors. Happier Superman. Constantly making sure people understand that Aquaman smashing a building doesn’t mean unseen innocents were inside being mangled. Now that we can see for ourselves what was rewritten and reshot it’s clear that both the Joss Whedon theatrical cut and ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE are the result of people in this company panicking and trying to give in to “what the fans want.”

This one turned out better because it was the correct approach to this type of commercial entertainment: hire a director who has a mix of crowd-pleasing skills and idiosyncrasies. The kind of guy who can make thrilling battle scenes but also wants to make it 4 hours and in the same aspect ratio as FIRST REFORMED. Okay, you did that? Now let that person do what they want. Maybe it will be good. We’ll see!

Long story short, ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE died in battle, and we were sure it was gone forever, but a scary new technology with the potential to change everything came along and brought it back to life in a different form, and it seemed like it might be evil but then it turned out okay and everything is fine right now but we need to be vigilant to make sure our visions of it turning against us in a nightmarish dystopian future don’t come true. The end.

 

P.S. It’s weird that the bastardized, shortened version is the one with a god damn Danny Elfman score! Snyder’s has Thomas Holkenborg (a.k.a. Junkie XL, BEOWULF, FURY ROAD). I wish the theatrical had a weird synth score so it still had some novelty value, like SHOGUN ASSASSIN.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2021 at 2:13 pm and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

69 Responses to “Zack Snyder’s Justice League”

  1. Resident Clinton

    March 24th, 2021 at 2:47 pm

    I’ve been waiting all week for this review and it did not disappoint!

  2. I thought he had to use the black suit because the red and blue one has a giant hole in the chest and back.

    I love this version of Batman, but appreciate your detailed review and opinion. Happy to see this posted and enjoyed reading it. :)

  3. Great write-up. I am firmly in the camp of “this was definitely better than the other version but I still kind of hated it.” I’m glad others are liking it and I’m glad Snyder finally gets to put out “his version” (although there is no way this was the original vision no matter what anybody says… several years of hindsight are going to have an effect whether one realizes it or not). I do kind of wish we could see those two “Knightmare” movies would look like, but I also think the world is OK without those.

  4. Resident Clinton – Thank you!

    Patrick – Good point! I guess my question is why he had a black suit on the ship at all. Maybe it existed in MAN OF STEEL and I forgot about it. (Also note that he has the red and blue one again in the vision of the future.)

  5. I kind of loved this despite its numerous flaws (eh, scratch that, the flaws just make it more interesting), and I can’t help but feel like the final product is best case scenario after the way this whole debacle played out. This movie’s staggering, comical amount of self-indulgence is what makes it extra special, and there’s no way it would have been like this if Snyder had stayed on as director back in the day. Back then, even if the studio had trusted him more and he didn’t have to do any reshoots or anything, he would have had to compromise to some degree, and we would have gotten something tamer and with a more palatable length.

    I think it’s also been better received now than it would have been then, because Snyder has come off in the media as a good guy who got royally dicked over. A lot of folks who would have hated or dismissed this in 2017 are, I think, more inclined to say “well, even if I didn’t like it, I appreciate that it exists.”

  6. Oh, also, when they first announced the 4:3 aspect ratio I assumed it was just Snyder giving the middle finger to WB and making them put out something that doesn’t jibe with home viewing, but I actually thought it looked fucking terrific.

  7. Great review Vern. I liked it as well but still found it to be just average, though in a more cohesive way than the theatrical at least. The behind the scenes stuff is a lot more interesting than the movie itself.

    Some questions that have been nagging me. Apologies if I missed something that easily explains them.

    1. Why were the motherboxes triggered by Superman’s death scream? There were thousands of years before he was ever on earth that they could’ve signaled for Darkseid if they wanted. Also even with Superman there Darkseid still managed to blow up the planet (before it was reversed by The Flash)

    2. How did Darkseid lose the motherboxes in the first place? According to Steppenwolf Earth is infamous for being the only planet ever to defy Darkseid. Add to that he lost the motherboxes there and you’d think he’d remember where the fuck it was. His spaceships didn’t have gps?

    3. Is Batman’s nightmare vision being different than the one in BVS supposed to imply that it’s like Judgement Day in the Terminator movies? Like even if some of the details change no matter what Batman does Superman will always turn evil?

    4. I mentioned this in the other thread but how does Superman return to being Clark Kent at the end if he died and already had a funeral?

  8. I’m in the camp of whatever. This thing exists now, it doesn’t offend me, but it’s also not for me and I would never pay money to watch it. I guess I’m happy for the people that this makes happy, however . . .

    Dear god what have we wrought? Just search twitter for the phrase “best 4 hours of my life” and enjoy wading through the swamp of dudes who apparently haven’t taken a good nap recently. Already the masses are assembling the pitchforks to arise the SUICIDE SQUAD re-cut (I’m assuming Slipknot’s head blows apart in slo-mo this time giving him 75% more screen time) and for more of the Snyder take on Elongated Man or Lobo’s parents dying or what not.

    These stupid holy wars of entertainment just got a tritium injection because someone on the internet dared question if right after Wonder Woman opened the skulls of some bad dudes against a wall and turned another one to ash was the exact right time to give a cloying Girl Power message to the trope of rescuing female children.

    I’m as tired of this stuff as one of those Amazonian warriors who have been in a room with 150 of her sisters pointing a spear at an inert box for 3,000 years (who gets that duty? The strong kneed?) only to be gassed in minutes the first time something happens.

  9. “story choices that shift the focus away from the small and human to the massive and mythical” This right here is the crux of it for me. At first I thought the Snyder cut didn’t really do much to improve upon the theatrical version. I know I’m the only person on the planet who actually kinda liked the theatrical version, even though it definitely has its faults. The first thing I said to my friend after seeing the Snyder cut was, “He took the humanity out of it.” I liked that Barry was unsure about being a hero, and that Bruce and Diana fought about bringing back Superman, and that Bruce was trying to push Diana to be a leader but she was doubtful, and that Bruce thought Clark was more human than him and the team needed him, and that Bruce felt guilty about Clark’s death, and that Bruce understood Lois was the key to Clark’s heart and had her standing by as plan B if Clark came back wrong, and that Arthur was scared of Clark coming back wrong. More than the color and the humor, I thought these were good additions made by Whedon. I thought there were definitely things Snyder did better, like the final showdown with Steppenwolf was a lot cooler, but thought it was mostly an unnecessary endeavor.

    Then after I had a day or two to think about it, I realized it’s just 2 different versions of super hero stories, like you said. One dealing with the humanity of the heroes and one dealing with them as larger than life. One doesn’t have to be better than the other. Then after even more reflection and going back and watching a few scenes here and there and watching the Whedon cut and talking to friends, I’ve come to actually like the Snyder cut. Except that knightmare in the epilogue. That shit dragged an otherwise awesome ending right down. I actually said outloud, “Oh my God, do we have another half hour of this shit. I thought it was ending!” I checked and it was only 15 minutes more of that shit, but it was not the high note it could’ve gone out on.

    Did anyone else notice that it seemed like there were lines or ideas repeated in dialogue that felt like a weird mixup in editing? Like they shot the scene a couple of ways and Snyder just threw everything in. Like on their first confrontation Steppenwolf seems to realize/call out Wonder Woman for being an Amazon twice. And when Clark and Lois go to the farm he says it’s home, but then inside the house seems surprised by the realization that he used to live there. Not that these are that big of deal. Just seemed kind of weird.

    The only “joke” I missed was when Cyborg flew away at the end of the first battle with Steppenwolf and Barry says, “Did he just bail?” It’s weird that no one says anything about the fact that he just flew off.

    Odo19 – I’m convinced that a shitload of people actually know or figured out Clark is Superman and they just pretend like they don’t. I re-watched MAN OF STEEL last night and even then she’s running up to him, yelling “Clark!” in front of people, like when she has the police bring her back to the Kent farm and he’s there checking in on his mother.

  10. MaggieMayPie I agree. It seems lime Snyder shot things multiple ways because he was still undecided on a few details but then in an effort to get the runtime up just included all the footage even if contradicts itself. Another example is when Batman tells Wonder Woman that he saw Aquaman breathing air and she says something like “must be a half-breed” but then later (or before, I can’t remember now) we see Atlanteans being dragged out of the water by Parademons so Steppenwolf can interrogate them and they’re breathing and talking fine. Are we supposed to assume they’re all half-breeds? If that’s so it makes Aquaman a lot less special.

    Also it looks like in Snyder’s conception of Atlanteans they can’t talk underwater without creating an air pocket. In the theatrical we see Mera do this but in this cut Vulko does it as well. Does that mean all Atlanteans have this ability? If not how do they communicate?

    Oh and even though Heard wasn’t really pulling it off I liked Mera having an accent. I wish Wan had kept it though I guess that would’ve meant all the members of the royal family would’ve had to have it as well

  11. MaggieMayPie you’re right that one can actually go the Human or Mythic route with superheroes. Thing is Marvel already cornered and conquered the market on Human. I hated the Whedon cut because he was trying to bring that shit to DC, essentially trying to create a MCU, but with DC characters.

    So I cringed big time seeing Bruce and Diana bicker and to see Aquaman hitting on WW like some horny high schooler and then get lassoed and humiliated.

    Reminded me of the Jet Li movie HERO. Here’s this assassin giving a version of his story to the Emperor who figures out he’s full of shit. The Emperor tells him, “I do not believe accomplished warriors would give in to their emotions like this”.

    Which is what I felt when I saw the Whedon-monster and seeing them bicker. Nah, these guys are above petty shit like this

  12. Odo19, good questions, but I only have a working theory for number 2:

    Imagine hitting 20 bars in one night and trying to remember which one you left your wallet in the morning after.

    I believe Darkseid and minions have hit about a 100,000 planets

  13. My friends and I also discussed how Darkseid didn’t know about Earth. We decided that Steppenwolf was on the outs with him because he spilled a soda on Darkseid’s keyboard and fried his laptop with the coordinates on it.

  14. This is such a great and funny review.

    I really liked this the afternoon I saw it and I think I’ll even watch it again sometime. Glad it exists.

  15. Wow Vern, pretty much 100% in agreement about why this version worked. Most notably Snyder’s action scenes have intention. They’re not just a hodgepodge of individual hero moments. Only disagreement is I had no issues with any of the Cyborg stuff. Even the broad strokes worked for me in this epic take. We differ more on what didn’t work about the theatrical. I have less patience for a lot of that.

    I also think they could have totally cut a 120-150 minute version of this footage and an extended 4 hour dvd.

  16. some flowers and a budget to fix THE KEEP

    woah

    imagine them giving Michael Mann enough money to expand on that movie

    mind blown

    there has to be a number of movies people are thinking about in that vein, but vern you picked an amazing example

    “now what if we fixed… {X}”

  17. Yes, there are definitely many questions I don’t know the answer to. I’m unclear if Darkseid and friends forgot Earth was the site of their defeat, but they definitely forgot it was where the anti-life equation was? I didn’t get that part.

    As for why Earth was safe before Superman, I had that question in my original review, but this version adds Steppenwolf telling DeSaad that it will be easy now because there’s no Green Lantern or Kryptonian. So I took it that the Green Lanterns were on the case before (but not anymore for some reason – maybe they’re dead).

    As for how Clark explained his death, I’m sure it’s a funny story. I personally like that, starting with Lois knowing Superman’s identity in MAN OF STEEL, this series did not make a big deal about secret identities. We haven’t really mentioned that they’re loose with calling Batman “Bruce” in public too, which is a much bigger breach of security. I think it’s funny that Aquaman openly calls Bruce Wayne “Batman” in front of a bunch of people when he’s just met him. He seems to be fucking with him.

    Marvel also made the choice of ditching secret identities starting with IRON MAN, and with the exception of Spider-man (who had it exposed on movie #2). It’s funny to think that such a major element of super hero stories for so many decades is mostly not a factor in this age of super hero movies.

  18. I very much appreciate when super hero movies don’t care about the secret identity. I’m also done with the hero pushing away their love interest in an effort to protect them.

  19. Oh man, yes – strong agree on that.

  20. Just curious, but do you plan to check out the new MORTAL KOMBAT, Vern?

  21. #ReleaseTheMannCut

    THE KEEP

  22. Felix – yes, I’m very excited for MORTAL KOMBAT.

  23. A lot of the hand wringing about the Snyder Army nagging Warner Brothers to release the Snyder cut was overblown. For all his faults, I don’t see Snyder as someone who’s trying to cater to a specific audience. I think his Hot Topic take on superheroes just sort of meshes with all his adolescent and adolescent at heart fans. Ultimately, it’s kind of funny that a multinational corporation got bullied into making a four hour director’s cut. I hope this can be replicated for better directors.

    I mean, Rise of Skywalker is a far worse example of a studio desperately trying to please their most obnoxious fans.

    I do think that this whole situation could have been avoided if audiences had shown up to Snyder’s owl movie, which is secretly his best film. We could have been on our third Ga’hoole instead of the third Snyder DC film.

    So, I’m glad the Snyder Throng got what they wanted. But there’s no way in hell I’m watching four hours of a Zack Snyder movie.

  24. I haven’t watched either version, but I am finding the irony super-strong with a large portion of the talk being ‘Ya see? We do want singular, auteurist visions of these funny-book properties!’

    Didn’t these funny-book properties sort of begin as singular, auteurist visions with Ang Lee’s Hulk, and the same people shit all over it for not catering to the popular consensus?

    Just sayin…

  25. You’re absolutely right about Ang Lee’s Hulk. That’s the first time I realized that the audiences for superhero flicks don’t want interesting films. They want movies that make them feel like they’re adults. I remember reading message boards where superhero fans bemoaned the fact that studios wouldn’t take these stories seriously. Superheroes are deep characters with resonant themes, they said. And then Ang Lee goes ahead and makes a film that explores memory and intergenerational trauma with a dose of camp (because these are still fucking comic book movies), and everyone bitched that the Hulk didn’t punch more people. (And the action scenes were generally well done).

  26. I liked this OK. I hated the Whedon version I saw in the theaters.

    I am very excited for Snyder’s new Netflix zombie movie Army of the Dead. It is basically about a group of mercenaries or whatever who plunder an abandoned/zombie infested Las Vegas.

    My question: Have you ever had an idea for a cool movie/book/TV show, whatever and then have someone else come up with the same fucking thing? This is it for me. Obviously, it wasn’t stolen, because I never told it to anyone. But I had an idea years ago that I would always think of about the entire country being on quarantine from a zombie apocalypse and becoming one big fenced in land mass, like Escape from New York. And how that breaks the global economy, basically a quarter of the world’s gold/diamonds/currency is stuck in this wasteland. And a group of criminals decides to sneak in and go from jewelry store to bank to mansion and steal as much as they can carry.

    Sorry for the tangent. But I am still pumped for that movie, even though someone stole the idea from me in my sleep.

  27. Great review, Vern! I agree with most of it.

    The Snyder cut is obviously an improvement over the theatrical version, but holy shit that dude needs to learn to get out of his own way. As others have commented elsewhere, this would be an awesome three hour movie. And you could easily get it down to that with some trimming here and there, while still maintaining almost all of the story as presented here. Of course the “Knightmare”-scene and all Martian Manhunter scenes and would have to go, since they added absolutely nothing to the story. Regarding the former, I had exactly the same reaction to it as I did to the similiar scene in Batman v Superman, and that was about halfway through the scene I frustratingly asked out loud “why is this scene still going!?” The scene was just long, boring and confusing.

    I think having now seen the Snyder cut, the Whedon rewrites and reshoots of the movie were a real travesty. All this needed was a disciplined editor.

    On an unrelated note, I really liked the design of Steppenwolf in the Snyder version. I found his cartoon mouth with the big teeth with giant spaces between them to be really endearing. :D
    And I felt sorry for him when the Justice League bullied, tortured and murdered him at the end of the movie.

  28. Re. MEEK’S CUTOFF, I seem to recall Kelly Reichardt saying that she chose the 4:3 aspect ratio better to reflect the narrow lines of vision of the bonneted female characters at the centre of the film, in contrast to the broad horizons of more classical and masculine westerns. So I’m hoping the Snyder cut has way more bonnets, although I recognise that Snyder probably just wanted it to look good in IMAX.

  29. I very much do not want to derail this into a big STAR WARS tangent, but Rbatty, don’t you think RISE OF SKYWALKER was exactly how Abrams wanted it to be? I think that’s a case of both the studio and director doing what they want, which was to give the fans what they wanted.

  30. I always thought BvS vs 2017 Justice League was a funnily instructive sort of dividing line in culture – like the sort of mess you prefer being indicative of a wildly diverging approach to culture – BvS is absurd, but so thoroughly committed to its bit – Batman doing cross-fit, messing up Lex’s basketball court, that I sort-of loved it from the off.

    Even though the MoS fan in me was a bit disappointed – I think MoS works really well as drama, with an astonishing final set-piece. BvS doesn’t match it on either front – and looked comparatively quite synthetic too – but there was nothing depressing or dispiriting about the way it failed, to me. Justice League (2017) was a failure in *such* a different way to me. I came out of it thinking it was the most broken film I’d ever seen – appalling ADR, insert shots that didn’t match across hair, lighting and Arthur’s temporary tattooes. And oh god the lip. Like it aimed low, to be as safe and likeable as possible, and completely failed at it. Just a much less noble failure, to me.

    ZSJL was something I was resigned to finding interesting rather than *good* per se – though I was rooting for it as it seemed obviously like a project close to Snyder’s heart and something that’d bring him closure – but I actually just love it – beats out 300 and MoS and Snyder’s new best to me.

    Couple points in the first 20 minutes were where I really felt like I was watching something special – one being the villagers singing (which I’ve seen jumped on a lot online already as shorthand for the film’s faults) – and the Nick Cave sequence when Lois is mourning Superman. I did not expect to cry during ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ but the Skeleton Tree song choice really got to me – skeleton tree being an album Cave wrote and then had to go back and record after the death of his child, finding he’d written all these songs about grief, never having realised when first writing that that was what these songs would be about. Realising the likely resonance Snyder found in those tunes, revisiting this film about loss after a loss of his own, really hit me.

    Anyway. I think the epilogue is funny. It’s oddly comforting in a way, I think the cut lets Snyder leave the DC universe with his head held high. The epilogue shows that if he was able to continue the series people’d continue to rag on him no end. I love that he made this comparatively mature, completely earnest and heartfelt epic, and came back and added a scene of Batman swearing and Joker offering to give him a reacharound. Like, time is a circle and Snyder’s just.. always gonna be as much the man who did BvS as the one who did MoS.

    The other thing that I’ve been thinking about since seeing this cut is the way Whedon’s name flashes up on the original cut with that homeless man holding up an ‘I Tried’ sign. Given how much good stuff he had to work with after all, just feels unbelievably a rude and callous thing to have done – even aside from the circumstances of Snyder’s departure. What a complete prick! Something poetic I think about Whedon’s final contribution from the pop culture main stage – somewhere he’s occupied basically my entire life, as a child of the 90s – just getting yeeted into the bin. Got what was coming to him.

    Looking forward to Snyder’s zombie movie. I think the internet is way too hard on Snyder (which feeds into how defensive his hardcore fans are, unhelpfully) so I think maybe if that gets well received too we could finally be at a turning point for his rep again. The Knightmare sequences point to a really, er, unique set of movies that’d probably drive the internet totally insane so maybe its better for everyone if they don’t get made and Snyder sticks to 80-mil horror movies for a bit, maybe adapt that Frank Miller 300 prequel.

  31. I was very excited for MAN OF STEEL and ended up disappointed. I loathed BATMAN V. SUPERMAN. Somewhere in there I saw SUCKER PUNCH, which may be my least-favorite movie ever made. And I thought the Whedon Cut of JUSTICE LEAGUE was okay. So I went into this expecting to hate it, but as an obsessive comics and superhero fan, it was my duty to watch it, because with great geekery comes great responsibility. To my relief and amazement, I actually liked it.

    I have my usual complaints– I do not like these DC or Marvel movies where the heroes murder their enemies. Batman using a gun to blow Parademons’ heads off? Not my Batman. Wonder Woman vaporizing a guy in front of a bunch of schoolchildren? Nope. Somehow– probably repercussions from the Dark Knight Returns– the DC Universe has gotten this reputation where it’s “darker” and more serious than Marvel, though that has never jibed with my experience of the actual comics, or their hugely influential Silver Age histories. Like all the DC TV and movies are constantly trying to gain respect from wider audiences by being edgier and more violent. I don’t get it. (The Marvel movies also feature Captain American and Iron Man hurling the bad guys out of airships to their death or blowing them up or whatever, and maybe that’s even worse, since those movies have more of a Roger Moore tone to them. But I digress.)

    At this point I’ve learned to accept the darker and more violent milieu of the Snyderverse. I still think he fundamentally doesn’t “get” Batman or Superman as concepts/characters, though this movie helps by keeping Superman mostly offscreen, and course-correcting Batman somewhat via the arc about him rediscovering his “faith” in others. It also helps to fill the runtime with other likable characters like Wonder Woman. Flash and Aquaman don’t much resemble the comic versions either, but writing Barry Allen like he’s Spider-Man seems to be an improvement, and Aquaman works in this context just fine. My favorite scenes in this cut are Flash’s introduction and slow-motion hot-dog pocketing, and the bit where he runs in mo so slo he reverses time to save the day. This cut also more-or-less turns Cyborg into the protagonist– he definitely sees the most improvement from the theatrical version. Another one of my favorite additions is the scene where Cyborg redistributes wealth to the woman who’s extremely down on her luck. The Whedon cut may have been more “human” in other respects, but that act of Cyborg’s demonstrates there is also a core of humanity to be found in Snyder’s cut, one that I don’t think was as prevalent in some of his other films.

    A lot of this movie revolves around mommy and daddy issues, and presumably all that material existed in the movie before Snyder lost a child. We have fathers who break the son they’re trying to protect, fathers pushing their sons away because they think they’ve failed, mothers and daughters physically apart but reaching out to one another in spirit (and with flaming arrows), sons rejecting their mother’s memory but taking up the responsibility of their legacy, mothers mourning their sons who belonged more to the world than to them, and, of course, sons turning into giant bats because they don’t know how to grieve their parents. It’s all about the gulf between parent and child, be it through time or space or circumstance, and what children do with what their parents left for them, good or bad. (Sorry, I’m babbling now.)

    Anyway, I hated the “Knightmare” sequence tacked on at the end, and I’m glad we won’t get a sequel in that world. Unless the “fans” win again.

    Also, Jeremy Irons is great as Alfred.

  32. Well, Abrams is a director who tries to give the audience exactly what they want every time, which is why he was brought in. I like some of his movies, but in the case of The Rise of Skywalker, that meant reducing the role of Rose almost completely, giving in to hordes of racists online. There are a million other things I hated about that movie, but I think that decision right there is why the film is morally ugly.

  33. Maggie,

    I don’t think Rise of Skywalker is what JJ wanted, not so much. Obviously we will never know (maybe), but I just think JJ is more of a ‘Yes’ guy. At least that is the impression I get. That he got brought in late, said “I had a bunch of ideas 6 years ago when I made Episode 7, but let me look through all that old concept art we had and see what looks good. Hey underwater Death Star!”. And then some executives said “you need to include A, B, C, and D”, and JJ said sure, hand me the shoehorn.

    JJ clearly had ideas for Episodes 8 and 9 when he made 7. He planted seeds. There are even interviews out there where he told Daisey Ridley about where her character was headed and what her lineage was, and he made a sharp left turn when he handed over the script for 9. I think it is pretty much confirmed that JJ planned for Rey to NOT be a nobody, and that he didnt plan for her to be a Palpatine when he made Episode 7.

    But then there are also interviews where JJ says there was a thought to have Palpatine come back all along. How much of that was a reaction to Episode 8? Who knows. What a clusterfuck.

  34. Having watched the Snyder cut for the second time (yeah I like Zack Snyder so slow-roast me over a bonfire, why don’t you) I have to say, as much as I tend to go out of the way to avoid bringing “racism” and “marginalization” into my filmic conversations, the way the Franken-Whedon monstrosity of 2017 completely fucks over Cyborg and by extension Ray Fisher is making me rethink my stance.

    Even taking into account WB’s decree that the film version be no longer than 2 hours, what kind of thinking went into shredding the most heartfelt not to mention most complete narrative arc of a character in favor of a nondescript Russian family?

    Tossing out Cyborg’s role in separating the Mother Boxes, going into the Unity, seeing false visions of his family and breaking free through the realization he isn’t a broken monster but an evolved being with a higher purpose and replacing it with….Dostoyevsky?

    Never been the biggest Whedon fan but this may have wiped out any residual goodwill I had towards him from THE AVENGERS.

  35. It’s definitely an improvement, but at the end of the day, it’s the same movie with the same garbage storyline and the same cast of non-personalities who never gel. The action looks extraordinary and I forgot every single second of it five minutes later. Affleck still looks like he’s hovering in the doorway waiting for everyone to stop talking so he can go to bed. The Flash is still “generic funny riffing guy” instead of a character. Cyborg is still dull as fuck. The villains are still barely characters. None of the added material has anything to do with the story or themes. It’s just more stuff. Weird stuff. Pretty stuff. But stuff all the same. You can see why anyone with the slightest sense of story structure would look at this unwieldy pile of indulgences and think it couldn’t possibly go out into the world this way. The only thing holding this vainglorious monstrosity together is Snyder’s style, which is why the Whedon cut was always a fool’s errand. You can’t chop this thing down and tweak it into a normal movie. You start chipping away at Snyder’s all-encompassing visual presentation and you find absolutely nothing underneath. Luckily, that style is enough to make what should be a four-hour headache into a painless, very watchable experience. But it never made me care. These icons look the part. They pose and strut and make speeches, but I don’t know them. They barely seem to know each other. There isn’t enough style in the world to overcome that.

  36. @ MaggieMayPie & VERN:

    Re: the Secret Identity thing, I think the removal/minimization of the secret identity has really hurt the superhero concept in the modern era. For me, secret identities– and therefore also the transformation from one identity to another– is a fundamental piece of the superhero mythology. I think about it this way: Superman was created by a couple Jewish kids at a time when Jewish artists could not obtain “respectable” work in fields like advertising due to discrimination. They created Superman, a character whose origins borrow heavily from Moses– a baby sent in a basket down a river, raised by a foster family, who becomes a champion of the people. Superman walks around “disguised” as the human Clark Kent, possibly the same way a Jewish kid would try to pass as “not Jewish” to get a better job or fit into an anti-Semitic society. But the transformation from Clark to Superman– the pulling open of the shirt– sheds that outer shell and reveals the true power inside. He doesn’t put on a mask, he takes off his glasses. You can read this as a Jewish kid outwardly accepting his identity, or a bullied nerd revealing his true strength and goodness, etc. It works in any number of contexts. I’d think closeted queer or trans kids would see themselves in the metaphor.

    Of course, if we see the secret identity as protective camouflage from a cruel world, and the superhero identity as the true self we should always be free and proud to present to the world, well, then my idea falls apart, and maybe we should get rid of secret identities. But I like them. And I love a good suiting-up sequence, or those Batman action figures where you could clip the Batsuit onto Michael Keaton and control that transformation.

  37. RBatty024- I do think a lot (not all) of the Snyderbrophobia is rooted in good old fashioned snobbery. I think a lot of people don’t like that there’s so much enthusiasm around a director they consider trivial at best, and terrible at worst. In these days when pop cultural affiliations often form a significant part of a person’s identity “to each their own” only goes so far.

  38. Pacman2.0–I think you’re right. I mean, there are things I genuinely don’t like about Snyder’s films. Like Majestyk said, even if you can appreciate his visuals, he has a hard time telling an interesting story with characters you care about (except for the owl movie). And I have a high tolerance for style over characters and story. But who cares if he gets to release the film the way he wants to for his fans who happen to be on his same wavelength.

    The only other thing with Snyder is 300 was pretty damn racist. I guess it’s a valuable artifact of the “war on terror” and America’s id during those years. I can understand someone holding a grudge for that truly ugly piece of propaganda.

  39. Long Time, First Time

    March 25th, 2021 at 10:30 am

    “The only other thing with Snyder….”

    It’s funny to me that Brad Bird is constantly hammered on these boards for his light version of Randian exceptionalism and Snyder is given a complete pass despite these films where normal people are just cannon fodder/groupies/vessels for babies, naming his production company Atlas, and actively trying to make The Fountainhead.

  40. I enjoyed it, but it is kind of funny that with all this talk about artistry and directorial vision, the one guy who people fought so hard for that the studio basically gave him carte blanche makes the most ridiculous, juvenile pulp imaginable. After all the hype I sort of expected this to be more crazy and ambitious than it ended up being. Often when a studio interferes, it’s because the director is getting too risky and challenging; this time, apparently, it was just that they thought it was too long. The longer version works better, and is aces at capturing the baroque self-seriousness of the comics I grew up with, but isn’t really much more interesting.

  41. Tired: Warner Bros patting themselves on the back for double-dipping a huge comic book property to promote their streaming service.

    Wired: Netflix actually fucking finishing and releasing THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, holy shit.

    Inspired: We hold some bake sales and car washes and then force Ridley Scott to make that GLADIATOR sequel Nick Cave wrote where he’s a time-traveling undead spirit of vengeance.

  42. I agree this was an improvement over the theatrical version, but I also think it’s a lot longer than it needs to be. I liked the expanded Amazonian material and Cyborg’s restored arc and other things but then you also have pointlessly drawn out scenes of Batman hiking to the Scandinavian village and Lois walking around in the rain, and (yes) the woman singing over Arthur’s shirt, which personally I thought was indulgent and kind of ridiculous.

    One thing this cut made me really sorry about, though, is that this is apparently the end of Henry Cavill’s Superman. I loved this cut’s handling of Supes and it made me want more of him in the role. Surprising, because I was one the guys who didn’t like Man of Steel, finding it numbing for long stretches.

  43. JeffG, yeah, great minds think alike. I was once in a screenwriting class where someone had an idea for a female assassin with amnesia. Then The Long Kiss Goodnight came out. Neither knew about the other obviously.

  44. Ben – I thought the same thing about scenes being expanded with unnecessary detail. I thought it was too much of stuff like driving up to the building, getting out of the car, congregating around for and chatting while they wait for the building to empty out, having difficulty getting everyone out, finally going into the building. Just show me them in the building, I don’t need their journey to get there. Then I thought maybe I was being nitpicky about that stuff because i heard people talking about how they liked having a slower pace because it helped the story build. I’m still on the fence.

  45. I’m someone who often thinks movies could be shortened, but I was never bored by this one. I enjoyed the maybe-unnecessary touches like the Aquaman song and Wonder Woman investigating the burning temple. I think things like Bruce’s extended hike to the village (which didn’t seem very long to me) made the movie feel more mythic and epic.

  46. “Often when a studio interferes, it’s because the director is getting too risky and challenging; this time, apparently, it was just that they thought it was too long”

    Mr.Subtlety, Gonna have to respectfully disagree with you there.

    Often when a studio interferes, it’s because you have idiots in decision-making roles who predictably make idiotic decisions.

    I swear, outside of politics, the only place where you can excel by knowing jack all about your product is a film studio.

    Zack Snyder was royally fucked over by a studio who realized 2 movies late his vision wasn’t in sync with their directions.

    I mean, c’mon, you hired him to kick start the DC Verse with MAN OF STEEL (which has only grown in my esteem with rewatches). What part of DAWN OF THE DEAD, 300 AND WATCHMEN suggested he was about sunshine, butterflies and jokes? Like any auteur he delivered a product that was uniquely his, love it or hate it. They could have kicked him out after that. But no, they gave him BATMAN V SUPERMAN:DAWN OF JUSTICE which is apparently the most hated movie on the planet ever to gross a billion dollars worldwide, like everyone saw it and told 10 of their best friends, “Know what? This is a turd. But I’m gonna see it again and you should too”. Did they fire Snyder after that? No. They saw his cut of JL, which in a case of supreme irony, is easily the most uplifting of Snyder’s DC trilogy (a calmer Batman taking on the reins of leadership while experiencing remorse and guilt over Superman, an almost Donner-like resurrected Superman, a JL working as a cohesive team, giving Cyborg a poignant arc), they took one look at that and said “Nah, fuck you Zack. You’re out. We’re bringing Whedon in to work his you know, Marvel Magic”.

    They could have just let Snyder’s trilogy play out and then say, “Know what Zack, your take ain’t working out for us. Thanks anyway, there’s the door” and then re-booted the franchise.

    Yeah the version you’re seeing NOW is 4 hours, but Snyder could have easily, with some judicious pruning, put out a 2.5-3hr movie in the cinemas, or let it play out in 2 parts with maybe a 6 month gap in between, KILL BILL-style.

    Instead they threw out 80% of his footage and got Whedon to reshoot with a visibly fatter Affleck and weird looking Cavill with a digitally erased moustache topped off with garish visuals and sub-standard effects.

    It’s this idea, especially among some Studio Heads that only the Marvel route works coupled with a healthy disrespect for an auteur’s vision that resulted in this travesty.

    These are the same guys who would have thrown out Shyamalan and re-shot GLASS because the UNBREAKABLE guy and the SPLIT guy didn’t have this climactic epic showdown on top of a skyscraper.

  47. I’m usually pretty impatient with modern superhero movies formulas, and am surprised at a lot of the lukewarm response here. While this one is long as hell, I don’t think it has pacing issues. It’s emotionally involving. It has a palpable comicbook atmosphere. The action is clearly staged and exciting. The score is awesome, and it breaks into sexy slo-mo music videos a couple times.

    It should have lost the epilogue, though.

  48. The Mann cut of The Keep can wait in line.

    I want the full versions of HARD TARGET and NIGHTHAWKS first. And for goodness sake, just release KILL BILL THE WHOLE BLOODY AFFAIR already!

  49. Oh, and QT said there’s a 5 hour cut of DJANGO. Let’s have it!

  50. When you really, really love a movie there’s nothing better than to discover a longer version. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, THE WILD BUNCH, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, APOCALYPSE NOW, to name a few, have become so much better that it’s impossible to go back to the cinema versions.

  51. THE LAWNMOWER MAN is still king of Director’s Cuts.

  52. Sadly I haven’t seen this as I’m in the UK and the services which have it, or will have it, I don’t get.

    Bu for what it’s worth (not much) I’ll say this: I own all the Marvel movies on DVD but I own Zack Snyder’s DC movies on Blu-Ray. They may not have been given the time with the stories but the visuals are outstanding.

  53. Watching the JUSTICE IS THE LIGHTHOUSE edition now. A lot of it looks better grayscaled. Everything just blends so much better. The 1st 2 parts looked great at moments. Though Lex Eisenberg still looks hilariously super imposed during the Superman wail.

  54. I have never felt as out of touch with humanity as I do now, when I read reviews from people who liked this movie. I watched it at work because there was nothing else going on and I certainly wasn’t going to spend the time to watch it at home. My two co-workers who watched it with me were as dumb-struck as I was with what was going on.

    After I watched it, I went to the sub-reddit to see what people thought, and so many people liked it. I was hoping Vern would review it, but I was not expecting this. I understand that movies are subjective and it’s fine to have different opinions and such, but this was interchangeable with a Transformers movie to me. I feel so alone.

  55. I had a similar (as similar as it could be in dial-up, pre-social media world of 2004) experience with SPIDER-MAN 2 when it came out, believe it or not.

  56. Scarhead: I hope you can take comfort in knowing that your experience would be far more common if anyone paid money to see it in a theater. It’s perfect for a streaming service: It takes up a shitload of time so nobody has to argue with anybody else about what to watch next and there are long, long periods where nothing happens so you can look at your phone, which seems to be what people who really enjoy television really want to do. You look up from Twitter every 20 minutes, see some pretty images, say, “Hey, I bet I like this!” Repeat eight or nine times and the movie’s over. Yay! We did it! Another night in the void down the drain! Thank you, Zack Snyder! Take those same people, charge them whatever the fuck a movie costs these days, and make them sit there and stare point blank at this thing for four hours and I’m betting most of them would have the same reaction you did. It would be, and I have no doubt about this whatsoever, the worst-reviewed movie of the year by a considerable margin.

    Also the internet needs something to talk about now that WANDAVISION is over. So take everything it says with a grain of salt.

    I mean, I get it. People are jonesing for something new and shiny. Anyone who is already rewatching the black and white version should probably be sterilized, though.

  57. Scarhead – I’ve had a similar minority opinion with THE AVENGERS and didn’t watch any MCU movie since until a girl I was dating dragged me to a free screening of SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING.

    It’s not gonna be for everybody. Personally I actually am enthused by an icelandic village serenading Aquaman’s departure like they were praising Poseidon himself. Or seeing Batman working from a place of faith as opposed to reason. Something you normally only see if the Bat family is around to inspire it. To use the beacon of hope himself Superman to get Batman to that space is not something I thought I’d ever see in a movie but I do appreciate it.

    The theatrical JUSTICE LEAGUE is something I barely remember whereas this version is my favorite of Snyder’s trilogy. Actually thinking about it the entire DCEU so far but I also understand how not everybody could get jiggy with this bullshit. Don’t feel bad about it. Some things are not for everybody.

    I still view MCU the same way I view TRANSFORMERS movie myself. But I have so much other stuff made for me in a world where Scott Adkins has a podcast that it’s ok for me to just ignore it and move on. The good thing of today’s pop culture landscape is that there truly is something for everyone now. It’s ok to not have to keep up with the rest of the mainstream convos just to have something to say by the water cooler anymore. I like it more this way.

    With that said if you do have HBO Max and need to watch something DC I highly recommend DOOM PATROL. It’s very earnest and idiosyncratic and I think would suit people not really into Snyder’s bombast.

  58. Mr. M I might end up getting sterilized cause getting closer to 40 I really don’t think I want any kids. With that said I’ve been watching these modern hollywood B&Ws since Dr. Miller did it with FURY ROAD. From a technical perspective its interesting to me to see how they regrade something not originally envisioned in B&W to fit that aesthetic. I think it worked better for LOGAN overall than it did JUSTICE LEAGUE but im still glad I go to rewatch it that way as pretentious as it may seem.

  59. Brodie: Do it! I got myself fixed last year after a scare made me realize that I am never, ever, evereverever going to change my mind about not wanting kids and, in fact, there is nothing that terrifies me more than the thought of having one against my will. Like, I got PTSD off that shit. The operation itself is more weird-feeling than painful and after the first day it barely hurts at all. While I have obviously not been dating this last year and could honestly go the rest of my life without experiencing another romantic entanglement, it is comforting to know that, when my dick inevitably gets me into trouble again, there’s only so much damage it can do. Also, I appreciate that it lays all my cards on the table. There’s none of that games-playing crap where you tell a potential love interest how you really feel and they just hear what they want to hear. No, I am not the future father of your child. You will not and, in biological fact, cannot change my mind about that. If having kids is important to you, then I am not the guy for you and I’m glad we’re ending this now before anybody gets hurt.

    In conclusion, go get your nuts cut. I’m sure you’ll have an easier time of it than I did here in New England, where most doctors seem to be affiliated with a catholic hospital and thus are forbidden from performing vasectomies unless they want a visit from the pope’s pointy-hatted death squad. Yes, that’s a thing in 2021. The government needs to stay out of a woman’s uterus and the Vatican needs to stay out of my testicles.

  60. Scarhead, it’s called an opinion, and while I’m diametrically on the opposite end of your argument, I can feel you. It’s what anyone with even a modicum of appreciation for Zack Snyder as a film-maker has felt these last few years.

    Trying to defend BATMAN VS SUPERMAN:DAWN OF JUSTICE to people, who after you’ve waded through all their bloviating BS about how dark and nihilistic it is, and how “Martha” is the worst piece of screenwriting in the annals of cinema, you pretty much arrive at “You know, it’s just not Marvel and the whole thing could have been improved with a Hasselhoff joke”.

    And then seeing all the praise vapid pieces of shit like CAPTAIN MARVEL garner from people unwilling to admit it just provided a temporary fix from the impatience of waiting for ENDGAME while riding the coattails of a by now, well established cinematic universe. Not to mention it fit snugly into a progressive agenda box.

    Yeah, I lost my faith in humanity a couple of times too, bub.

    And I’m willing to bet my left nut, that as many praises a ZACK SNYDER’S JL gets on the net, there’s an equal army of haters who among other things, bitch about it’s length while it’s being beamed onto their favorite device, in their favorite room where their soft asses are plonked on a favorite chair with a pause button within easy reach for those times they feel like taking a shit, helping their kids with homework, finishing an assignment, going out for a walk or having sex . Oh yeah, and 50% of them didn’t pay for this and happily binge-watch 10 hours of a sappy Korean Soap.

    So, I feel you when when people who quibble about how scenes drag in this version of JL are the same ones who urge patience at the first couple of bumb-numbingly tedious episodes of WANDAVISION because you know, sometimes you gotta invest in the build-up.

    And I totally feel you when nimrods who experience outrage because Wonder Woman killed Roose Bolton just before he mowed down innocent men, women and children are the same ones most likely giving Wanda a clean pass for mind-fucking an entire town.

    Am gonna watch JL: the MANK version now. Have no issues being sterilized.

    I fucking hate kids.

  61. “It’s perfect for a streaming service: It takes up a shitload of time so nobody has to argue with anybody else about what to watch next and there are long, long periods where nothing happens so you can look at your phone, which seems to be what people who really enjoy television really want to do. You look up from Twitter every 20 minutes, see some pretty images, say, “Hey, I bet I like this!””

    Yeah, I also get the inkling that TV’s eclipse of movies basically comes from the fact that you don’t have to pay that much attention to it. The plot is stretched out over a dozen or more hours and it’s moved along by the dialogue, so you don’t have to actually look at the screen. When it comes to a movie, though, more information is delivered visually, so it can be harder to follow while not paying attention.

    I don’t fully understand why anyone would want to experience media in this way, but talking to other people, scrolling while watching TV seems to be the preferred way to watch anything. If I have to multitask, like if I’m doing something boring like cleaning the house, then I’ll listen to music or maybe an audiobook.

  62. ‘Tis nothing new. Well I guess the mobile phone scrolling is fairly new, but not paying cinema-levels of attention has always been a part of the TV brand. It’s why the medium has been primarily dialogue-driven for most of its life; part of the reason POLICE SQUAD didn’t catch on back in 82 is people had to actually keep their eyes on it to catch a lot of the jokes.

  63. I tried to get sterilized a few years back, and surprisingly my otherwise cool doc temp advised against it. At first I didn’t get why, but then I looked over at the photo of his wife and 5 (FIVE) kids, and decided to take it up with my regular bone cutter. But I forgot about it, and now it’s no longer nescessary – you see, kids, when women get older they stop producing eggs, just like chickens and alligators.

  64. pegsman – I look 10 yrs younger than my age (37). So even though I do date women in their late 30s even some older than me in their 40s I also attract a lot of early to mid 20s. I just thank god for giving me impeccable pull out game all this time.

    I will say I watched that BILL & TED WITH KIDS joint last night and I guess maybe having a legacy can’t be too bad. Then again I already have my nieces in my life. Who even knows anymore. To quote Tim Burton’s Alfred Pennyworth “Come what may” I guess.

  65. Reposted to correct thread: I’m also in Brodie’s boat. I’m 43 but present much younger. My last ladyfriend was (and there’s no way to say this without sounding like I’m bragging but please believe me when I say that this is the greatest shame of my life) half my age. I’ll (fingers crossed) be dead before she hits menopause. I don’t see that situation repeating itself but I also didn’t see that situation coming in the first place so what the fuck do I know? Better to be safe than sorry.

    Plus, if I was smart enough to stick to age-appropriate women, I’d be smart enough to use a condom every time. Get the snip, Broddie. You’ll sleep easier.

  66. In my 20s I wanted kids. In my 30s I thought, if it happens it happens, if not, fine. In my 40s now I’m all, nope, I’m good. But a couple years ago when I saw SHAZAM I had the weirdest experience. I suddenly remembered that in my teens and early 20s I wanted a big Victorian house full of kids. I had totally and completely forgotten that I ever thought this. It made me wonder if I had just gaslighted myself into the belief I didn’t want kids because I never really had the opportunity. I’m still weirded out about forgetting the whole thing.

  67. I don’t know how to say this but… I think I kind of liked ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE? I hate the way this movie was bullied into existence and I still think this is a perversely misguided take on these characters, but I’m shocked at how much more I enjoyed this than the theatrical version. It’s largely coherent. The action scenes are more engaging. Cyborg has a character arc. The Flash has a nice introduction and a great hero moment. I never want to think about the Snyderverse ever again, but I’m glad this bizarre confluence of events led to one man’s artistic vision triumphing over good taste, financial considerations and common sense.

    I rapidly went from being convinced I never, ever wanted kids, to maybe being open to it one day, to having two kids. Ever since then it’s been a non-stop rollercoaster ride of being willing to die for them and wondering why I ever had them in the first place. But watching them grow up has been the most rewarding experience of my life, for sure.

  68. I’m not advocating getting kids. I have kids myself, but I’m actually hoping they don’t get any of themselves. The world is far too unstable for that. On the other hand I’ve always been accused of being a more of a pal than a father, so it’s nice to have three friends I can watch movies with and discuss politics. But by all means, get the snip every one of you.

  69. I’ve come to hate this movie in all its forms. Its very existence has made the world a stupider place.

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>