Comic book fans love alternate universes. A timeline that exists in a parallel dimension where the rules are different. Perhaps a hero in this universe is evil somewhere else, or someone has different superpowers. But alternate universes are only fun if they collide with our existing universe. We have to bring the elements that are different and unique into our element and watch as things go crazy and both sides try and cope.
For a while, comic book fans have believed in an alternative universe of their own. In this world, there is a second version of the painfully average film Justice League. A version which is entirely written and directed by Zack Snyder, who brought Man Of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice to film audiences. What does this new film look like? Comic book nerds have wondered for years. But it didn’t seem like it mattered. It didn’t even seem like it existed.
However, all of these fans got a shock to their system today, as HBO Max announced that, next year, they will be releasing the Snyder cut of Justice League.
Someone call Powerman 5000 for all of these fans, because we’re about to see what it’s like when worlds collide. The only question is: do people really want this?
Ok. A quick history.
Zack Snyder, who really fucking loves it when people call him a visionary, is not a visionary. He is, however, a filmmaker who shook the world when he made 300 in 2007. It’s a beautiful film, but more importantly for Warner Brothers, it made them money. It’s the third highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, and also set every record for IMAX movies.
With his next movie, 2009’s adaptation of The Watchmen, Snyder showed that he was a man who LOVED comic books, so Warner slated him to work on their Detective Comics films. 2013’s Man Of Steel is perfectly average. 2014’s Batman v Superman is, as I have said on this site before, is the worst fucking film I saw in the theaters in all of the 2010s.
During the production of Justice League, Snyder had to leave the film and deal with the tragic passing of his daughter. Warner Brothers brought in about the best person they possibly could: Joss Whedon. Whedon, who had given Marvel the first two Avengers’ movies, wrote and directed some new scenes and completed all of post-production.
As I said before, Justice League is a perfectly ok film. Is it good? No. In our mega-review of every film in the DCEU, David Vox Mullen called it a “swing and a miss” while I called it dramatically uneven. It was a critical flop (40% on Rotten Tomatoes) and commercially under-performed, which is a weird thing to say for a movie that made over $600 million.
From the moment it was apparent that the film was not going to be the juggernaut that Warner was hoping for, fans went fucking nuts and began tweeting the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. Surely, in their minds, there was a film out there that was pure Snyder, and that sole vision was going to be what they wanted.
Earlier this year, Snyder implied that such a version existed during a live commentary of Batman V Superman. Today, HBO Max dropped the hammer.
There’s just one problem with all of the hopes of these fans: this film is not going to be the savior they hoped. It’s not going to fly in and save the day. How do I know this? Because I’m the one writing this fucking essay.
If you’re looking for more specific reasons, let’s take a look at the fact that Snyder has released other director’s cuts of his films, most notably Watchmen and Batman V Superman, and, in both cases, the versions were way, way worse. Dawn Of Justice is a long, boring slog of a film, but I watched the director’s cut on Twitter’s promise that this was the version I needed to see. Who would have known that a lot more footage wouldn’t have made the film more exciting? Snyder is in need of a better editor and a film studio who will tell him to fucking stop caring about fun violence is and focus on making a good story.
This is going to be bad, but because Snyder’s loyal nerd army will want it to be good, they will find ways to justify it. And I don’t need to see that on my feed. Warner Brothers has to know that this version isn’t good. Deep down, Snyder has to know. And the best thing he can do is not release the film. Burn the only copy. Let fans believe that this version is perfect and would have made a kajillion dollars. Let the idea of this alternate universe exist in imaginations.
Because, once this new shitty version gets out there, not even Superman will be able to put this film back.