Jillian Hong

The Snyder Cut feels like a film born a few years too late, which is exactly what it is. Eight months before the release of Justice League in 2017, DC Extended Universe (DCEU) architect Zack Snyder had stepped down as director to be replaced by Joss Whedon, who then reshot Justice League into the theatrical cut we know today — a shallow mess of tonally garbled scenes, forced humour, and bad CGI. Whedon had previously helmed the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) The Avengers, and Warner Bros. wanted him to replicate that success, only to fall flat. Four years later, scorned fans were given the opportunity to witness Snyder’s original vision for the movie, also known as the Snyder Cut.

This makes the Snyder Cut uniquely fascinating — it is a time capsule harking to when a DCEU as big as rival MCU felt possible, a dream that hasn’t really recovered since 2017. It is also a portal to better days for the superhero genre as a whole. Since 2017, superhero TV shows have been cancelled, movies panned by critics, studios and IPs bought over, leaving the MCU standing as industry king. It has become clear that there isn’t enough space for everyone.

Henry Cavill gained international recognition for his role as Superman in the DCEUTWITTER/AMAGICWRITER

The Snyder Cut is emblematic of all these things. Just as Superman is a symbol of hope, the Snyder Cut is a symbol of the dreams of fans and the aspirations of the studio funding it. It is optimistic and triumphant because of how much was once riding on it. At the same time, it feels honest, in that this is sincerely what Snyder wanted to present to audiences, box office aside. The artistic liberty brought by its non-canon nature gives it a self-confidence and ambitiousness rare for a film of this scale.

Armed with this context in mind, the Snyder Cut experience becomes something special, the product of these different pieces. It is more than a movie, and more than a pop culture event. This film simply cannot be separated from the conditions surrounding its birth. To try to do so would miss out on what makes it remarkable.

As a film, it is far from perfect. Snyder’s controversial artistic flair is expectedly on full display, for viewers’ personal appreciation or abhorrence. This includes his signature muted colouring and to me it struggles to work because there is nothing that makes it pop. The fiery orange of the CGI-fest climax looks like overcompensation for the preceding lack of colour, only to look assaulting and gaudy — no thanks to excessive chrome metal in the sets and designs.

“This film simply cannot be separated from the conditions surrounding its birth. To try to do so would miss out on what makes it remarkable.”

However, past that is a film that shapes out to feel completely different from the theatrical cut. It is surreal that some of 2017’s worst parts are the Snyder Cut’s best. The Flash and Cyborg are no longer relegated to ‘quip-machine’ roles. No longer background afterthoughts, they are fleshed out and essential to the plot, with standout moments that justify their roles. They exemplify what makes the Snyder Cut so much better: coherence. Its story feels fuller and the villain more substantial. Equally impressive is the consistency in tone. Snyder respects and honours his vision, refreshingly in contrast to Whedon’s cut, with its drastically out-of-place reshots.

Ray Fisher as CyborgTWITTER/NIGHTWAYNES

That is the Snyder Cut’s greatest pity; it fixes many of the most unforgivable mistakes of the original release, and a trip to the cutting room to shed its indulgently slow portions could easily make this four hour giant release in cinemas.

Sadly, we do not live in a timeline where that is so. We do live in one where the definitive director’s cut does. Directors’ cuts cannot be generalised to be the superior version. Some add characterisation scenes but not much else. Snyder’s, on the other hand, is so starkly different from (and better than) the original that this must be seen.

“If you are someone who thinks the DCEU’s Justice League was squandered potential, these four hours may just do the trick.”

The Snyder Cut saga is still continuing, with more actors and actresses, including those from Justice League, coming out with allegations of mistreatment by Whedon. It is also yet to be seen how the Snyder Cut’s reception might impact Warner Bros’ decisions on the DCEU. This is a film that will remain relevant. If you are someone who thinks the DCEU’s Justice League was squandered potential, these four hours may just do the trick.

Alex Clark

The Snyder Cut has been criticised for its colossal 4 hour run time.TWITTER/SCREENRANT

I’ve never really been a Zack Snyder fan - but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t fascinate me. Somewhere between Michael Bay and David Fincher lies this comic enthusiast, action-heavy auteur with a nasty penchant for making “college dorm movies” and one of the most aggressive, toxic fanbases to match. Either out of lockdown boredom, or perhaps insanity, I decided to give Zack Snyder’s Justice League as fair a chance as I could — and 11 features, four shorts and seven music videos later, I prepared by watching almost everything Zack Snyder has ever made. So, the question remains: was it worth it? How does this four-hour monster of a film fit in with Snyder’s work? And, is it good?

Amy Adams' Lois Lane.TWITTER/BESTOFSNYDER

Firstly, I don’t think it can be avoided that the film is too long. Many sequences have extensive B-roll, followed by an establishing sequence — then shot — all before the actual scene starts: it’s certainly drawn out. However, while whittling these moments would help, the problem is also intrinsic: Snyder’s sense of separation between action and character. Many of Snyder’s “cool shots” or action sequences seem entirely separate from character development — take Watchmen, where ‘comic panel moments’ are disconnected from scenes of dialogue or development, one grinding to a halt for the other to take place. As such, the runtime is unfortunately a feature, not a bug, in Snyder Cinema — if the film is to have any depth or coherency, that is. Entire character arcs have been added back — well-needed, and giving Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller something worthwhile to do — but the idea these were surplus is pretty mind-boggling. Not that it’s a massive surprise — Batman vs Superman’s Ultimate Cut contained much-needed exposition the theatrical cut lacked — but with four hours to watch the issues felt tenfold. Yet, while some characters are better in this cut, Lois feels sadly reduced from her role in the Ultimate Cut — sure, a step up from Sucker Punch, but I still wouldn’t declare the film to have ‘good characterisation’.

“Somewhere between Michael Bay and David Fincher lies this comic enthusiast, action-heavy auteur with a nasty penchant for making “college dorm movies” and one of the most aggressive, toxic fanbases to match.”

The typical Snyder slow-motion, and crushed black palette, are all back in full force, but in other ways the film is Snyder’s best and most restrained. The jokes that remain work surprisingly well, the characters feel far more human than anyone in, say, 300, and whilst the Jesus-Superman allegory is going nowhere, even this is toned down. What does remain is Snyder’s belief everyone either dies a hero or compromises their beliefs — a tediously negative outlook at the best of times, carrying oddly fascist undertones of cults of heroism, death-seeking and action in a film about fighting fascism and costumed superheroes — which is as incongruous as it is tiring to watch.

Wayne T. Carr's portrayal of Green Lantern didn't make the Snyder Cut.TWITTER/COMICBOOK

Of course, the film isn’t really a “Snyder Cut″ of Justice League. He didn’t have full artistic control, with some ideas vetoed by the studio, and the hindsight of fan reaction is unavoidable. Many scenes also felt plucked out of the now-cancelled sequel scripts and dropped in so Zack could film it, others were openly moved around from credits, stingers and the like — these distract from the film the way the reshoots did in the 2017 version, but their inclusion is a little more forgivable. Warner Brothers clearly have no plans to ‘#restorethesnyderverse’, having pushed The Suicide Squad trailer out after release, reshaped the 2017 version and generally leant into a brighter, more Wonder Woman-esque universe — The Snyder Cut is between a plea to continue and an epilogue to what could have been.


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But as a film? It’s all well and good to examine the film in relation to the 2017 original, or use Snyder’s work to understand it, but ultimately if the film isn’t good, it doesn’t matter. And, I don’t think it is. Yes, it fixes the characterisation, motivation and even visuals of the previous effort. And yes, out of Snyder’s work, this is probably his most mature, watchable effort. But at the end of the day, the film is padded, contradictory and suffers from the problems inherent to Snyder’s work. It’s not an untouched, unadulterated vision, but it’s closer to one. It’s an improvement on the 2017 version, but still essentially the same. It’s not a great film, but it’s better. And that’s something.