I want to take you back, for a moment, to the dim yesteryear of 2017. This is when Justice League, a loud and garish movie in which a group of DC-brand comic book superheroes came together to defeat a villain named Steppenwolf — yeah, I don’t know — hit theaters. The response was decidedly tepid for such tentpole fare; at a budget of $300 million, it’s one of the most expensive films ever made, but Warner Bros. wound up losing about $60 million on it.
Ever since, though, a stubborn sector of geek world has persisted in calling for the studio to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. This refers to a version of the movie assembled by its original director, Zack Snyder, before he left the production in the wake of a family tragedy, with Joss Whedon finishing the project. To hear these lads tell it, Snyder’s Justice League is vastly superior.
Until now, the hashtag has been a repository for griping and wild speculation, the existence and form of a Snyder cut being the subject of continuous debate. But on Sunday, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Ben Affleck (Batman) both endorsed the movement on Twitter, with Snyder himself sharing their posts in approval. Meanwhile, Kevin Smith, a director known for his comic book bona fides, recommended using the Snyder cut as a “subscription driver” for WarnerMedia’s forthcoming HBO Max streaming service.
So, it’s official: Even the people in the business of making movies have fallen prey to the total-fan-service vision of what Hollywood should be — the same mindset that led to demands and petitions for Disney to remake The Last Jedi.
Smith’s tweet is especially odd given that just weeks ago he described the Snyder cut as “not a finished movie by any stretch of the imagination,” explaining that there “were things that went away from the story that they shot that didn’t wind up going into (visual) effects or anything like that.” Meaning the Snyder truthers are pushing for access to the kind of stuff that makes up DVD bonus features, or for Warner Bros. to spend another fortune, on top of the one they lost, to complete Justice League as Snyder intended.
The first alternative is bound to frustrate, while the second is laughably implausible, and there, I think, you have the point: Superhero franchises and the like aren’t to be consumed as much as debated, picked apart and bargained over. To move on is to show a lack of commitment.
What we see here is the inability of viewers to accept that some movies are bad. To imagine that excising Whedon’s levity from a comic book blockbuster and replacing it with Snyder’s grimness would utterly transform it — or that editing is a process that permits this simplistic, additive style of craft — is utterly unserious. There isn’t some cerebral masterpiece hidden in the incoherent murk of every CGI-punching-CGI epic. You don’t shoot a bunch of action in front of a green screen and whittle that footage into meaningful cinema.
Please consider getting a grip before you spam social media with another campaign to retcon the past. Maybe Snyder could have produced a better Justice League, but pining will never give you proof.