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The Biggest Problem With the Original Cut of Justice League
Will it be fixed in the new Snyder Cut?
There is a lot wrong with the original 2017 cut of Justice League. Poor planning, obnoxious casting, CGI hell — all come in no short supply.
And don’t even get me started on the fact that director Zack Snyder had to walk away from the project during post-production to tend to family obligations, and they replaced him with the sterile Joss Whedon (say what you will about Snyder, the word “sterile” is often used in tandem.)
The biggest issue with the film is the studio mandated runtime to keep it under two hours, laid down by Warner Bros. at the distress of Snyder and his vision — his new retooling, dubbed the “Snyder Cut” and premiering on HBO Max tomorrow under the title Zack Snyder’s Justice League, runs over four hours.
They felt like Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was bloated, despite the fact that we needed to meet three new versions of our favorite classic characters — Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor.
I should note here that I consider myself a Batman v. Superman apologist. It brings Batman back to his detective roots, pulls off the seemingly impossible task of giving Superman depth, and on a more basic level, it’s much more competent than its given credit for — musical score, supporting performances, and editing are all strong.
As a result of Batman v. Superman’s two-and-a-half-hour runtime, the big wigs at Warner decided that Justice League, a film with even more heroes and villains, needed to be…shorter?
They spend the first half of this flick introducing us to the new and improved Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg after teasing them all in the previous film. Comic book and cartoon fans knew these characters, so it must be safe — right? Warner Bros. clearly underestimated the fact that many, if not most, were simply unfamiliar with these heroes. The only other Aquaman many people had seen swam around in the late 60’s, somehow never messing up his perfectly quaffed blonde hair. Many teenagers knew The Flash from the CW show of the same name — but this iteration is quite different. And I can’t imagine many knew who Cyborg was before this film (and I’m sure many still don’t know.) Without setting up these characters before in other films (sorry, obligatory Marvel Cinematic Universe comparison), they had to crunch big and brash personalities, backstories, and motivations into roughly an hour, while still trying to get valid screen time for Batman and Wonder Woman as they at least knew an hour without them, stuck with the whiniest of whiners supporting supers, would be unbearable.
By the time Superman comes back from the dead (great idea — leave the most popular superhero of all time “dead” for half the movie), they barely have enough time to concoct a plan for knocking off the milquetoast opponent, a half-baked incarnation of integral comics character Steppenwolf.
Don’t get me wrong — I don’t think stretching this film out will make it any better. It’s overwhelmingly uninspired in many respects — the overuse of green screen and CGI are insulting to a modern audience (the infamous mustache!), only about three actors seem to care even a little bit while another half of the cast is stilted by the vanilla script, and Snyder’s aesthetic got old in 2011, (but it was never sterile!)
Embarrassing decisions of many varieties abound in the movie and adding another two hours, effectively doubling the original run time, probably won’t do the trick, but it will at least slap a bandaid on them — taking this movie from a general consensus of “bad” to a simple “good.” The early screening reviews seem to agree. We can all find out for ourselves tomorrow — I’m very much looking forward to it.