The Justice League Snyder Cut isn't just important to fans: even if you don't like Zack Snyder as a filmmaker, his version of Justice League remaining an incomplete hypothetical is a bad thing for studio cinema.
Since Justice League lumbered into cinemas last year as a Franksteined effort, earning derision from DCEU fans and detractors alike, the Snyder Cut movement has become as emboldened as it is mocked. There have been petitions, protests outside Warner Bros., and extensive fan projects attempting to "raise awareness" of the push for the original director's vision, which have typically been countered by cold, hard facts. Snyder left the film in May 2017, according to some reports forcibly, and the film he'd been working on was drastically retooled by Joss Whedon, who implemented obvious reshoots to streamline the narrative and lighten the tone (and destroying Superman's upper-lip in the process). There is, plainly, no completed Snyder version of the film - he left before it could be finished - and there's nothing to suggest Warner Bros. are making any moves to alter that: they changed the DCEU's direction for a reason.
However, that's not what the Justice League Snyder Cut is really about at all. The assembly cut Zack Snyder did, by all accounts, complete is the version of the movie in question, with rumors since suggesting that the filmmaker is using his ownership of the material to finish the project in some form. This Justice League would still be compromised in multiple manners - the film's principal photography was marred by rewrites to Chris Terrio's initial script meaning not everything was shot, while the exact state of the cut is unclear it will be far from finished, and the logistics of release are a whole topic to themselves - but is the closest to what Snyder envisioned.
Plainly, the Justice League Snyder Cut does and doesn't exist depending on your definition of what the Snyder Cut actually is. And that's a problem. So much of the past eight months has been spent on the "existence" of the Snyder Cut, the status of it beyond that, and whether it will ever be released. The question has been raised of if it will actually be better than the released Justice League, but while that is a worthy question to make, whether or not the Snyder Cut is a good or even marginally improved movie is beside the point. The Snyder Cut is necessary exactly because of how it exists.
- This Page: Zack Snyder Being Controversial Isn't A Bad Thing
- Page 2: What The Snyder Cut Really Represents
Snyder Is Controversial Because He Is An Artist
That Zack Snyder is now viewed as divisive, and in many ways stands as a mascot of the oft-purported fan-critic divide, is both shocking and only to be expected. When he emerged as a new force in the early 2000s, he was a stylistic darling. Dawn of the Dead was the rare horror remake of the decade to get positive attention and 300 was viewed as entertaining as it was revolutionary. And then there's Watchmen, which was genuinely divisive: it got a range of opinions from people of all creeds and reverence to the source graphic novel, with much personal; you couldn't draw a line based on whether one was a fan or a critic.
The first genuine knock against Snyder came with Sucker Punch, a garish, twisted B-movie action romp that used fascist imagery and heavy CGI to tell a story that was evidently very personal to the director. And it was not liked. After three line-toeing adaptations, his mind had cooked up something challenging on almost every level. It's also at this point the fandom, and the defense that hinges on a case of understanding rather than artistic reading - that you only don't like something because you don't understand it - began to form.
From this standpoint, Snyder is not the person to mastermind a mega-budget shared universe of varying, interlocking stories. He approaches his creations with a defined storytelling approach and visual style that's apart from the mainstream. That is going to court discussion, and not all of it positive.
Basically, he is an auteur.
And that's the problem with Snyder. Downright bad directors don't get the same hate as artistic ones with affronting sensibilities. Michael Bay will always court a stronger reaction than a low-budget Netflix movie because, for everything that's toxic and unsettling about his films, they're made with someone who knows how to use cinematic techniques (this may be why Transformers: The Last Knight landed so flatly for many - it lacked the verve and enthusiasm to truly go full Bay). The Cloverfield Paradox disappointed by franchise association and frustrated due to it slapdash script, but it couldn't offend due to that very incompetence. Bay, Snyder and other critcially-reviled auteurs create such strong divides because they use the form to do something.
That's not to say there's anything wrong in disliking these or any other directors. Skill used badly or artistic drive unmanaged can be just as disruptive as an overreaching lack of talent, and all of this is subjective to the individual viewer. But it means that when people say Bay or Snyder have made a "bad" film, the point is more nuanced. Snyder is an artist, and here's where the step to Justice League becomes so dangerous.
Page 2 of 2: What The Snyder Cut Really Represents
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