Fans are currently protesting online and plan to protest in public for the release of THE Zack Snyder cut of JUSTICE LEAGUE. Here in the United States. Where we are running low on IV bags because we have largely ignored the destruction wrought on Puerto Rico and we still haven’t funded a health insurance for economically disadvantaged children. But, you know, art calls out to be seen.
There are several things that make this not really a thing that can happen, but let me start by being fully transparent with you about my relationship to visionary director Zack Snyder’s work.
-I don’t particularly like zombie fiction but I thought Snyder did a fine job with the DAWN OF THE DEAD considering that and that it was a remake of one of the few true classics of zombie cinema.
-300 looks great but is empty upon any further viewing. WATCHMEN is fitfully good, but largely an inert adaptation hamstrung by its focus on realizing the images of the series over nailing the emotion.
-I never saw the Owl movie.
-SUCKER PUNCH is an ambitious mess that may have been “ruined” by studio interference but I’m inclined to think it never would’ve worked.
-MAN OF STEEL is Snyder’s best directorial effort and demonstrated a real style maturation, in my opinion. Sadly it is only about a 1/3 good as a complete package.
-BvS: DAWN OF JUSTICE makes two of the most iconic characters in pop culture—who are known for the intelligence, drive, and compassion—into idiotic man-children who seem barely interested in justice of any kind but sure do want to cave in one another’s heads. Wonder Woman is good though and the guitar lick is cool.
So, yes, you would not be wrong to say I’m not a big Snyder fan. Overall, he’s like his adaptation of WATCHMEN. There’s a lot I like about his work and abilities, but he consistently derails himself when it comes to themes and characterization. So if you need me to be a fan to deliver what I’m about to say, I’m sorry. But I promise I’m not lying to you or trying to dunk on him.
Ok, here’s the thing: there is no Snyder cut of JUSTICE LEAGUE. It does not exist. Warner Bros is not hiding it from you, not locking it in a vault. This is not like, say, BLADE RUNNER, where Ridley Scott delivered a completed cut to the studio, had it screened, and then cut up after bad initial reactions. And before you point to, say, SUICIDE SQUAD or BvS, again, those were both completed cuts that then were scaled back, rearranged, etc for clarity, content, length, viewer reaction, and so on. JUSTICE LEAGUE had not reached that point. It’s like me demanding a “true” cut of the MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS. No such thing exists, no matter how disappointing that is.
There exists a rough cut somewhere, but it has little to no effects completed and likely would still need reshoots, ADR, etc. This represents a massive and expensive proposition for a movie that underperformed. It also demands the involvement of several human beings who are busy on other projects and may not be available. Again to use the AMBERSONS, time and resources makes this more or less an impossibility.
Third, the studio had already hired Whedon to do rewrites post seeing that rough cut. Love his additions or hate them, even if Snyder had stayed on the project, he would’ve incorporated them into a theatrical release of his own. Warner Bros had, in essence, already derailed the possibility of a Snyder cut before he stepped away.
But let’s assume all of the above isn’t true or is possible to be overcome. Does Snyder have any interest in returning to this specific film considering the time that has elapsed AND the very real possibility that he associates it with what must be the hardest, most painful period of his entire life. His daughter died. A person he raised, whom he loved deeply, died young and suddenly. He may not be in any particular hurry to touch the film he was working on at the time given that. Consider: he has absolutely gotten the question if he’d like to do a Director’s Cut from a variety of people and yet not one publication has a quote from him indicating he’d like to do that.
Entertain the possibility that big bad WB isn’t trying to hurt you by denying you the visionary director’s true cut but rather it is a. impossible and b. the reason he walked away remains raw enough he does not want to pour the effort in bringing you that special cut. Sometimes art disappoints. Sometimes even our heroes cannot deliver us the good because life can be cruel.
For those fans, I wish there was a Director’s Cut WB could release. Hell, I’m sure they do too. They’d love to double dip on it and maybe get a DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital hit out of a disappointing theatrical release. But it’s not a thing. And it won’t be a thing. The quicker that’s accepted, the easier it will be to move beyond this one disappointing pop culture experience.