The Snyder Cut is here. It is four hours long. If you would like to watch Ben Affleck’s Tired Batman give recruiting pitches to moody superheroes for half a business day, you can do that right now, on HBO Max. I am excited about this film, and even I am struggling with the idea of a four-hour story that does not fully resolve itself. I think I am still excited. I don’t know.
If you’ve led a richer life than me and are unaware of the multiple concurrent sagas surrounding this movie, here’s the tightest of summaries: Director Zack Snyder made two DC films, and left and/or was removed from the production of his third, Justice League, in 2017. The League that hit theaters was a garish mash of some of his original footage and substantial reshoots by director Joss Whedon. The tone and plot of the two separate films are wildly dissimilar, and the film was a bomb. Now Snyder’s original vision is being released, in all its barely-edited (FOUR HOURS?) glory.
It will make more sense than ‘Josstice’ League, I promise
Regardless of taste or opinion, it appears Snyder’s Justice League will at least feature a linear story born of one filmmaker’s plans. You might not like that filmmaker, but at least it’s a singular attempt. And yes, I’m aware I just assured you Snyder’s sole vision will make more sense despite the fact Sucker Punch exists.
If nothing else, Warner Brothers has proven to be a woeful manager of the DC Comics universe because they met with the guy responsible for every cringe-worthy moment in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and decided he was the perfect tonal salve for a Zack Snyder flick. It’s two questionable tastes, together!
There’s an incredibly small chance you’ll like it if you don’t already like the DC Snyderverse
I have seen the Snyder Cut and feel confident promising you that if Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice wasn’t your bag, this will be another interminable slog. Warning: The Snyder Cut moments that made me smile aren’t understandable without a deep knowledge of DC canon. And even as a dedicated DC fan I made total use of the home viewing experience, stopping once to make coffee and once to take a walk. Snyder’s DC films are purposefully and unapologetically dour. There’s so much brooding in these movies that Batman, comic book culture’s imploding star of optimism, is often the comedic foil despite being portrayed as an aging alcoholic who routinely stares at his murdered sidekick’s uniform on display.
This movie looks amazing, unfolds slowly and incompletely — again, it’s four hours — and mopes with abandon. If I was a younger person in need of a bad term paper, I’d argue that the Marvel Cinematic Universe succeeded by grounding its fantastic world to a secular idea that people’s duty to one another is a good thing, while the Snyderverse is a polarizing dirge about what God owes man and vice versa. It’s a superhero franchise for the pre-Vatican II crowd. But it’s got a cameo by the Wisconsin Badgers football team!
No one is going to leave satisfied
HBO and Snyder have made an effort to let everyone know ahead of time that this movie is a cliffhanger, AND that there are no plans to mount a highly expensive production to shoot its intended sequel. The DCEU, ostensibly because of the Snyder-Whedon failure, is moving on with individual film projects but no shared universe. This movie is it.
If you’re a DC goon like me, this is terrible news, and not because Snyder’s done. It means all the exciting DC appearances and additions teased here — Darkseid’s Apokolips, Knightmare, maybe the Green Lantern Corps — will be fleeting fan service at best. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hardcore, completely unfamiliar with this property, or if you’ve just seen the first theatrical cut and have followed news online. No one will leave Justice League with resolution.
To repeat: Zack Snyder’s Justice League is only a four-hour chapter of a larger story that will likely never, ever be finished. Because of this it is possible people will never stop arguing about this goddamn movie.
I am so tired
I will preface the following by stating that yes, in our current digital media landscape, it’s very common for algorithms to tailor what a person consumes based on their interests and actions. This is to say that I’m not sure if everyone is experiencing this, but I feel as if I cannot escape the conversation about this fucking movie. I enjoyed the other Snyder DC films, in as much as I knew these were my best shot at seeing a big movie version of a thing I like, overly serious comic book stuff appeals to me, and I am also good at lying to myself. Now I just want this to be over so, so badly.
Aside from the incessant trickle of social media marketing and nerdom fervor about the actual IP, there’s a full bloom of media coverage: There’s investigative journalism about Snyder’s exit and return. There’s debate over Snyder’s decision to use a wonky IMAX aspect ratio even though the film is streaming and not in theaters. There’s a very alarming, ongoing story about Whedon’s treatment of Justice League cast and crew during reshoots. There are thinkpieces about whether or not we should ethically consume the Snyder Cut at all, because its existence is credited to the “Release The Snyder Cut” campaign, an effort both hailed for their fundraising efforts and derided by entertainment media for toxic harassment. This follows years of debate in the mainstream press as to whether or not a Snyder Cut even existed. Hell, there’s already a book out about the controversy surrounding a movie that hasn’t been released yet.
There is also the question of measuring this film’s success and the potential ramifications of such if it is deemed a worthwhile move. If AT&T, the parent company of both DC Comics, HBO Max, and Warner Brothers, decides Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a success (and again, we don’t know how that can be achieved because there’s no box office to track), will they let Snyder make the sequel after all? Will he even want to?
Far more importantly, will the Internet be able to discern a designation of success or failure enough to let all of this go, or is another #Release campaign inevitable? What is the long-term impact of letting a Twitter hashtag direct a major film studio’s production plans? Will the media who loathe Snyder’s work ever stop talking about any of this?
I just wanted to watch Green Lantern make fun of Batman in a movie theater.
None of this matters anyway. Go watch Doom Patrol.
It’s also on HBO Max, and it might be the single best film or TV adaptation of a comic book I’ve ever seen. Brendan Fraser plays the brain of an 80s NASCAR driver implanted into a robot, Timothy Dalton makes out with a neanderthal in an ice cave who turns into a Wendigo, and in one episode a sentient, genderqueer street — like an actual city block — repeatedly teleports through the American wilderness to hide from the government. Doom Patrol juggles tremendous amounts of pathos and still manages to entertain throughout. No one is talking about it. Maybe that’s why it’s great.