Is The Snyder Cut Even That Different?
The line delivered by Warner Bros. and the cast in the lead-up to the movie was that Justice League was still Snyder's movie and Whedon was merely completing that original vision. As a result, many have claimed that the Whedon cut basically is the Snyder Cut, since the changes were supposedly minimal and supposedly requested by Snyder himself.
The theatrical cut arrived and it felt nothing like a Zack Snyder movie. The tone and story were inconsistent with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the CGI was obviously incomplete in multiple places, and a significant amount of trailer footage was missing. As if the evidence itself wasn't enough, Justice League storyboard artist Jay Oliva recently confirmed that the theatrical cut was not the story Snyder intended the movie to tell.
It's not clear exactly what all the changes were, but large chunks of backstory for The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg (whose story was apparently significantly altered) were cut, Superman was almost entirely reshot, and a subplot building up Darkseid was completely removed. Even some of the original scenes appear to have been recontextualized with new ADR lines and reshoot inserts. The central storyline about the Mother Boxes is also introduced through a Joss Whedon scene that introduces the idea that parademons smell fear and are drawn to a particular siren sound, all elements that serve as a sort of MacGuffin throughout the rest of the movie, meaning even the core motivation was altered in some way.
If the Snyder Cut Was So Far Along, Why Wasn't It The One Released?
When it was first announced that Snyder was stepping down, the messaging from Warner Bros. was that Joss Whedon wasn't making any significant changes. In fact, they said Snyder had brought him aboard and asked him to write some additional scenes already, so he'd merely be completing scenes Snyder asked him to make in the first place and executing the rest of post-production according to Snyder's original vision.
We now know that wasn't the case at all. Chris Terrio's script was under fire by Geoff Johns very early on, so a writers summit was held, including Whedon, to try and steer the movie in a different direction. When Snyder was finally forced off the project, the resistance to change was presumably all but gone, meaning more drastic alterations could be made.
After Man of Steel and Batman v Superman had come under fire for their tone, it can only be assumed that Warner Bros. wanted to use the opportunity of Snyder's exit to steer the movie closer to the more popular tone of the Marvel movies. Geoff Johns reiterated multiple times during production that DC properties should be full of "hope and optimism."
Even though Wonder Woman saw success with a tone that wasn't that far off from Man of Steel, the reshoots continued, giving Batman more one-liners, making Aquaman less gruff, lightening a dark Cyborg origin, and completely replacing Superman with an ever-smiling mustacheless Henry Cavill who regularly spouts lines like "I believe in truth, but I'm also a big fan of justice" to the tune of John Williams' original Superman theme incorporated into Danny Elfman's score.
The resulting movie has been referred to as a "Frankenstein monster," and, instead of being the DCEU's biggest hit so far, it's actually the lowest earner in the franchise. Warner Bros. was clearly pushing for a significant franchise course correction and saw Snyder's departure as the perfect opportunity. At the end of the day, they were half-right. Snyder's departure did allow them to make a much lighter, more humor-filled film than Snyder planned on releasing. Where they had it wrong was that critics, and especially the box office, didn't reward them for doing so.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman (2017) release date: Jun 02, 2017