zack snyder justice league

History has a habit of repeating itself.

The year was 1979. Director Richard Donner, who had been contracted to make two Superman films back-to-back, had achieved critical and commercial success with the first of them. Superman had been hailed as a groundbreaking achievement and was the first “true” superhero film, despite a troubled production and a hastily-restructured ending. Regardless of Superman’s success, Donner fell victim to backstage politics and was fired from the sequel… despite having filmed a large portion of it already. The reins were taken up by fellow director Richard Lester – who later received the full director’s credit upon Superman II’s release.

Superman II Richard Donner Cut

However, for many, the movie was always considered Richard Donner’s film. Given his stunning work on the original Superman movie – still one of the best superhero movies ever made – it’s easy to understand why. Mentions made by Donner over the years of his vision for the sequel reinforced the belief in fans of how much better it would have been under his full supervision, while Richard Lester earned the ire of fans. When new footage was discovered decades later, a project was undertaken to bring to life a version of Superman II that would become known as The Richard Donner Cut… largely thanks to pressure from fans, who campaigned heavily for it.

Now, nearly forty years later, rumours abound that this may happen again – this time with Zack Snyder’s Justice League film.

Zack Snyder Justice League

As many fans are aware, Snyder – the man who had been responsible for the DCEU from the start – left the Justice League film at a late stage. Reports at the time stated that Snyder left for personal reasons, although since then there have been stories that he was actually fired. The finished Justice League film, completed by The Avengers’ Joss Whedon, had the dishonour of disappointing both critically and commercially. Whedon became the scapegoat and many blamed him for the changes made – although he apparently inherited a troubled production to begin with, one which was allegedly being micromanaged into failure by studio executives.

Fans, rightly feeling that they’re owed a good Justice League film, subsequently set their sights on a Zack Snyder cut of the movie. It’s known that a great deal of footage was cut which would have made the film the three-hour spectacle it was supposedly meant to be. The Zack Snyder Cut would see the film put together as was (presumably) originally planned, righting all the wrongs of the theatrical version.

However, as the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for… you just might get it. Fans should be cautious of putting too much faith in the near-mythical Zack Snyder cut of Justice League for many reasons, and history can teach us a lot.

Zack Snyder Justice League

When Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was released in 2006, it was indeed a very different version of the classic sequel. It was described as a remarkable accomplishment, which in many ways it is. Some scenes in it have been re-edited, others use alternate takes, some scenes have utilised test footage and screen tests to complete them to remain more accurate to the original script, and other scenes from the theatrical release were removed entirely because they weren’t originally planned.

Some altered aspects of it are an improvement, but others are worse. Extended jokes which have been included are almost painful to watch, while others which originally made fans laugh have been removed; Several action scenes look better, while others which worked are gone entirely; There’s more Jor-El and less Superman; The ending is the same as the first Superman film only it carries less impact, while Lois Lane’s heartbreaking realisation that she can’t be with the man she loves from the theatrical cut is replaced with one strangely less personal.

What it isn’t, however, is a better film. It’s different, but not better.

Superman II Richard Donner Cut

Unlike the theatrical edition, which serves as a proper film and can be viewed by everyone, at best The Richard Donner Cut is for fans and film students. Time has ingrained the theatrical release in the minds of fans, while the Donner Cut is a Frankenstein’s Monster patchwork creation. It’s a fascinating experiment but could never be a complete, satisfying movie experience. It simply isn’t as polished as it would have been had it been completed at the time. It’s impossible to know if it would have been a better film than the theatrical release. That doesn’t make it bad and it is a remarkable accomplishment… but that’s only because it gives viewers a glimpse into what could have been.

It’s true that the supposed Justice League: The Zack Snyder Cut doesn’t have the passage of time against it like Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut did. The footage is apparently out there right now and, with today’s technology, it might not take much effort to edit it together although, presumably, some elements of Snyder’s version were incomplete. In order to make that happen though, some parts from the theatrical release which actually worked might have to be changed or removed entirely to make the cut footage fit… and the end result may not necessarily be better.

Zack Snyder Justice League CUT

Snyder’s original rough cut of the film was described as being so bad it was “unwatchable”, which is something nobody wants. It’s easy to blame Joss Whedon for the inconsistent jokiness of the release version of Justice League, the re-shoots and the woeful moustache-hiding CGI… although the film had bigger problems. Some fans of the darker tone of Snyder’s Man Of Steel and BvS have complained about the lighter nature of Justice League by comparison. However, the more optimistic and hopeful tone was announced by producer Geoff Johns back in May of 2016, long before Snyder wrapped initial filming in October of that year, so it was meant to be lighter regardless.

There are many elements of a Zack Snyder Cut that Justice League’s theatrical version could have benefitted from. The hollow story should have been expanded on, the characters should have had more depth, and Snyder’s visual style on screen is always impressive to watch. It’s true that fans deserve a good Justice League film, and it’s possible that he may have delivered one… or possibly not.

Zack Snyder Justice League CUT

Even if the mythical Zack Snyder Cut does appear one day, like Superman II: Richard Donner Cut, it may not be all that fans were hoping for and would exist solely as another patchwork project for those curious to see what might have been. The Justice League film already exists in its current form now. That’s the one which appeared at cinemas, on home release, and is, unfortunately, the one which the DCEU will continue to build on. Even a better version which gains a cult following won’t alter the fact that this is the one history and audiences will remember.

The theatrical release of Justice League is, for better or worse, the one we’re all stuck with even if another arrives.


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25 Comments

    • Rob

      To the Author! Speak for yourself! I want the Snyder cut. It will be much better. Knuckleheads at WB don’t understand comics or Synders vision judging by what they did.

  1. Arthur Bacchus

    This franchise needs a complete overhaul, without Snyder and Whedon. One-off stories focussing on one character at a time, maybe cameos from the others, and WB should let the director/writer just run the entire show ( like they did with Patty Jenkins and WW, and Nolan with his Batman trilogy, and certainly with Burton and his Batman which at least has a coherent tone and vision).
    I love Superman 78 and the theatrical sequel and have watched the Donner cut which actually adds nothing either way to my enjoyment of the second film. It’s just an interesting featurette for aficionados

  2. Harvey

    Your going against sources , snyders JL was also reportedly fantastic and what the fans wanted . Your just twisting everything . They only said it was unwatchable because after BvS it’s easy to believe and that it was so people had hope for Joss to finish . But considering BvS has gain popularity and more and more fans and people understand the film, we want Snyders conclusion well half of it

  3. Rick Mason

    In drawing a parallel with Snyder Cut of JL and the Donner Cut of Superman II is accurate, but the ultimate comparison only holds true if, like the author, people universally disliked the Donner Cut. I, for one, prefer it, and would like to make my OWN determination about whether or not I enjoy a Snyder cut, after seeing it.

  4. I’m still super curious to see what Snyder’s vision was. I watched Justice League again just last night, and I think it gets way more hate than it deserves. Considering the behind the scenes shit show that went down, it’s a miracle it even got finished. I still really enjoy, however imperfect it is

  5. Agreed, it’s not needed. While I am a Snyder fan, I don’t think it’s necessary. I semi-enjoyed JL anyway. There is TONS wrong with it, but it had its moments, and it actually made me a fan of Cavill as Superman.
    The DCEU should just look forward and learn from its mistakes, although if the “studio interference” continues, this franchise will be run into the ground and not even Zack Snyder will be able to save it.

  6. The theatrical cut of Justice League we got wasn’t terrible. It was fun. Like the Avengers in the way it was just about action and very little story. But, as someone who loved the depth Zack Snyder put in MoS and BvS, I would absolutely love to see his vision of Justice League. The man had a full vision. Everyone says the DCEU has no direction and they keep announcing movies with no release dates etc. But Zack had the vision. And though BvS was slammed by critics, it was still a financial success and a huge success with the fans. It’s in the top 50 selling Blu-Rays of all time. Snyder takes his time to tell a story. And he puts so much into his films that, even today, we’re still finding amazing hidden symbolism.
    If they released a Snyder Cut, it would probably still be slammed by critics because unless a movie is Disney or some abstract concept movie, they don’t like anything. But let the fans be the judge. I feel as though we’re owed the movie we were excited for. And most importantly, WB owe it to Zack. They don’t seem to care this is, not just his career, but his passion they’re walking all over. And even if the cut is released, it won’t be Canon to what Warner Bros have set in stone for the DCEU what with the Anti Life Equation etc. But it is something we the fans want.

    • He has no Vision That’s a Marvel quality! Seriously though he wanted a Depressing ass Justice League where most of them are murdered by Steppenwolf and Darkseid! It would be Cool except for Kal El death is wasted on Dawn of Justice retard mess.

    • Then that punk who’s not the Barry Allen I know of resets everything and warns them about the incoming threat that would’ve tied to Save Lois! And not that Marthhhhhhhhhhha!!!! Bullshit!

    • Thanks for proving my point of his movies being too big for little minds. Marvel has a plan and the money to back it up. They pump out the same superhero movie over and over again. Cheesy one liners and simple plots. But hey! The kids love it which is what Disney is about 😄 Nolan and Snyder brought a new take on Superheroes that Marvel will never pull off.

  7. Jack

    I’m not even much of a DCEU fan and I would like to see the Snyder cut. I thought BvS was alright but nothing special (though I hated Lex Luthor’s casting). Suicide Squad was truly awful. WW was a good film but overrated in my opinion. The point is, I haven’t been enamored with this round of DC films. It doesn’t measure up to the Nolan trilogy by any stretch.
    And yet, watching JL, I kept having the feeling that I was seeing intermixed scenes from a much more comprehensiive film. One with a much greater degree of character development. Instead I got the “fast friends” version that has little cohesion. It’s not a bad film but it deserved its RT rating.
    Like him or not, I think ZS is capable of making good films. Haven’t seen a great one yet and he’s had some failures but like most of the commenters here, I’d like to see the no-studio-meddling versiion of the film and judge for myself. I can’t imagine that film would be worse for having more character development, more scenes showing them coming together as a team, Cavill without the uncanny valley face and of course, a cameo from Darkseid.

  8. Face it man Warner Brothers and Centennial never cared for DC! Look at Arrow and Flash being milked it used to be Awesome! DCEU just kill just, it’s an embarrassment just as Fox and Sony crap movies. Let Disney just buy it off which they will do after Acquiring Universal Studios, Paramount and Sony.

  9. Calvin Scholtz

    This line rings true with me: “micromanaged into failure by studio executives.”

    I am really starting to hate Warner Bros. At first, I thought what they did to “Justice League” was an isolated incident. But then I say YouTuber Lindsay Ellis’s recent videos on why “The Hobbit” films were terrible, and I realised that Warner has done this all before. They interfered with “The Hobbit” movies just like “Justice League”, and also got rid of the director (Guillermo del Toro) because they did not agree with his vision.

    Warner did not want to risk a 2-part “Hobbit” movie that might look and feel too different from the LOTR trilogy, because then they thought it wouldn’t make enough money. So they bloated the movies into a trilogy and put Peter Jackson in charge. The studio got what they wanted – almost US$3 billion off ticket sales, but the films were by no means filmic masterpieces, and ended up upsetting a lot of the true Tolkien fans.

    I agree that the fabled “Zack Snyder Cut” may not be all that good in the end, but I do wish studios like Warner Bros. would just trust a director (especially passionate fanboy directors) to do their job.

  10. Pilot Abilene

    All you idiots still around talking about movies you apparently get so Angery about that… you haven’t produced any new arguments or even compelling criticisms in two years.

    “Watched BvS for the tenth time. It’s still shit. Waited in line for five hours to meet Zack Snyder. He’s still shit.”

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