By Leon Collier
Special to InReview
Superhero blockbuster movies are something that we’ve been short on in the last year, until “Black Widow” and “The Suicide Squad” graced the big (and little) screen. But it’s safe to say that the Snyder Cut made up for that with its huge four-hour runtime.
Why the Snyder Cut exists
To answer this question you need to look closer at the behind-the-scenes of the filming of 2017’s “Justice League”. Zack Snyder — the director of previous DCEU movies — had ambitious plans for the story of Super Man and Batman uniting with other heroes. Regrettably, he had to abandon them due to a tragedy in his family — they’ve lost a daughter. Warner Brothers had to adapt quickly and invited a new director to finish the movie.
Joss Whedon, being an author of the first Avengers, looked like a perfect man to do the job. But the task before him proved to be too difficult. He had to wrap up the franchise in one movie. To confine the plot that was designed by Snyder for a whole cinematic universe in two hours. The result was the movie in 2018 that disappointed a lot of DC fans. But the interesting part is that Whedon had to reshoot 70% of Snyder’s work on the movie to adapt it to a one-off theatre release.
What happened to that 70% of the movie that didn’t make it to the screens, you may ask? The answer is, it remained on Zack Snyder’s hard drive all these years. The fans were so disappointed with the final version that they have started an online campaign under the hashtag #releasethesnydercut. Surprisingly, that campaign successfully paid off in the 2021 re-release of the Justice League dubbed The Snyder’s Cut.
Is it better?
To answer this question you need to delve deeper into the definition of a good movie. And in our case, this is complicated by the fact that this movie is an adaptation of a bigger story that was presented in the original comic books. What makes a good comic-based movie? Marvel has managed to produce a high-quality experience making a canvas of more than 20 movies tied together by the same plot. It offers a myriad of characters, epic battle scenes and stories with sci-fi and historical references. Everyone can find something in Marvel movies that appeals to their personal tastes.
But not all of their movies were great or memorable (we’re looking at you, Thor: The Dark World!). What made Marvel so successful is their pace and multiple trial-and-error attempts in the span of more than ten years of filmmaking. By doing these small paces with one movie at a time they have gained experience and learned what the audience truly likes. At the same time, DC movies had no such gradual and cohesive learning experience. And Justice League is a good example of how you bite more than you can chew.
The Snyder Cut is a good movie. It is loyal to the style of its predecessors and introduces a lot of DC universe characters and plots for the delight of the fans. The problem is that, unlike Marvel, it doesn’t have the scope to tie all this stuff together. The result of it is a four-hour long movie packed with dozens of unresolved plotlines and questions that will probably never receive their answers. Some essay writers criticized in their reviews that the movie is unbearably long. But I would say that it is too short. By the end of the movie, its story remains unresolved and leaves the audience with a hint to sequels that will probably never happen.
So, is it better than the previous iteration? Yes and no, depending on who you are. To the average consumer who only seeks to relax in front of the screen the Snyder’s Cut might prove a chore due to its length and multitude of unresolved plots. But for a DC fan who dreamed of seeing his favourite heroes on screen, this movie would probably be a real treasure trove because of the same reasons.
What does it mean for the DC cinematic universe?
Unfortunately, nothing. Zack Snyder is no longer in charge of the franchise and Warner Brothers are reluctant to bring him back despite his desire to do more DC stuff. The Snyder’s Cut is not considered canon in relation to the future DC movies we are going to see. Most of these movies would probably be solo stories of a given hero (or a villain). According to the current plans of the studio, the movies won’t have an overarching plotline like we see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will not continue the story of the Snyder’s Cut.
How exactly is it different from the theatrical version?
To list all the differences would mean to exceed the scope of this article. But let’s talk about the major ones.
The humor. Whedon’s version of the movie was packed with funny moments and phrases that put it very similar to Marvel. But, while humor is not a bad thing on its own, the continual dark mood of the DC franchise opposes such an approach. Consequently, you won’t find many jokes in Snyder’s Cut since the movie focuses on a darker side of the story.
The villain. The original Justice League had Steppenwolf — a powerful alien conqueror — as the main bad guy of the story. His role is dramatically altered in the Snyder’s Cut where he becomes a minion of a bigger villain — Darkseid who was cut from the 2017 version. Now, Steppenwolf is a much more interesting character. His motivations became more relatable and the audience can even sympathize with him while he struggles to return his old master’s graces.
Main characters. The Justice League still consists of the same cast of super-people: Super Man, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. But in an extended version, their stories have also been extended. You will see Flash saving a woman from a car incident. Wonder Woman longing for her family and homeland at Themyscira. And Super Man has become a much more complex character with the foreshadowing of his dark future in Batman’s vision. But the biggest change you will see in the story of Cyborg — it was definitely an improvement and makes us eager for his solo movie.
New characters. The Snyder’s Cut is packed with cameos of different DC characters you won’t see in the theatrical version. We already mentioned Iris West — a love interest of Barry Allen, and there are more for you to discover. Some of them could receive their own limelight in future films. But while the future is uncertain for the Justice League, the Snyder’s Cut remains the only version of the movie that features them.
More gore. While the 2018 version was pretty modest and kind, the Snyder’s Cut is definitely not the thing you should watch with your children. Cutting the humor wasn’t the only way it tried to embrace the dark side of storytelling. Battle scenes end with decapitations. The deaths and skeletal remains of some characters could touch you pretty hard. And even occasional use of the “F” word by the heroes shows that this is an entirely different movie now. All of these sets a higher threshold for the audience
Personally, I think it is great that they have released this version of the movie. A unique thing for the filmmaking industry, really. Of course, it has a lot of flaws — a bunch of awkward scenes, unfinished plots and so on. But if you love high fantasy, superheroes and epic clashes between good and evil, you might like this.
About the author
Leon Collier is a blogger and academic writer from the UK who works with a dissertation writing service and provides dissertation help. He likes trying new subjects and is always focused on proving his worth as a writer in new and challenging writing areas. His hobbies are reading books and playing tabletop games with his friends. You can reach him via Twitter @LeonCollier12.