In 2017 when Justice League came out, there were a lot of negative things surrounding the various movies which came before it, such as a divisive Man of Steel and a forced Batman v Superman with terrible trailers. While over time Man of Steel had got better for me on each watch, my own idea of a BvS movie was sooo much better than what we got. I couldn't understand at the time (and even now to be honest), why two of the most recognisable characters in comic book history, who have had source material detailing their "beef" at times, was NOT as great as it could have been making the studio billions. A film with soo much potential, wasted. And while I've said some of these things in my Justice League theatrical cut review, I am very much aware that I am not a director or CEO of a movie studio, but having watched 'The Snyder Cut' which ONLY really came about because the fans kept banging on about it, not only do you get a lengthy 4 hour film, the movie gives every character a moment to shine, the story - a more organic plot, the villain - some layers and the jokes land better and you can only ponder, why didn't they go with this in the first place!? This led me into thinking about Zack as a director. Not only can he NOT tell a short story about something he is passionate about (well at least it seems that way to me) and has never met an action scene he didn't want to slow down, he is a very very talented director with a vision that really shouldn't be tampered with. And I feel, after Man of Steel, Zack has been hampered, he has had his hands tied or doors closed on him from trying to execute his vision, and his vision of Justice League is GREAT!!!
So as I've stated before in my Justice League review, Superman is dead. With the visions Batman received from The Flash, he teams up with Wonder Woman in order to recruit a few extraordinary people to help him in his cause to stop an unknown threat. This threat is Steppenwolf, a being of great power who has come to Earth to collect these ancient boxes, called 'Motherbox' and use them to take over all life on the planet. While Steppenwolf and his Parademons, scour the planet for these three boxes, will loner Batman be able to gel with his potential new recruits and will they have what it takes to thwart Steppenwolf and save all life on Earth? But the difference with this film is, although Steppenwolf is the antagonist, the main big bad is Darkseid. Whilst Superman IS dead, HIS death awakened the Motherboxes whom call out to their master and Steppenwolf comes looking for them in a hope to find them and not only destroy the earth but to gain the trust and respect of Darkseid again. Although Batman reaches out to Aquaman and the Flash, Wonder Woman is the one who finds out about the coming threat and tries to get Cyborg onboard. Together united, they band together to take out Steppenwolf and stop Darkseid from getting a hold of the Anti-Life Equation.
Whilst the two films are essentially the same in plot, a lot of Zack's vision was removed altogether and some story beats changed. Cyborg's story is axed from the theatrical cut, more or less the human element that grounds the film. His mother, the relationship he has with his father. Cyborg plays an integral role because he is the only person who can connect to the mother boxes, knows what it is capable of and relays the information that sparks the thought "we can use this to awaken Superman".
The Flash's story is cut from him meeting Iris West for the first time and the relationship he has with his father is streamlined. The Flash is simply played as the comic relief.
Some story beats with Aquaman is trimmed down and he doesn't save Mera when she is under attack in the theatrical cut.
Superman doesn't just wake up out of his death for Batman to use Lois as a tool for his contingency plan in case Superman goes wild, Superman wakes up and while most of that scene plays just like the theatrical cut, we get Cyborg saving the police officer.
With four hours, this move breathes but it also sails. There are a few quiet moments but there is always something going on. My real main concern with this movie is, why wasn't this movie released in 2017? This movie is being praised left and right and people want a sequel or more from Zack Snyder because they loved what they got. At the time, Warner Bros. said, they didn't like the direction the movie was going so they decided to bring in Josh Whedon and pull Zack off of the project. Granted Zack had a family tragedy too, but it did at the time feel like a firing. So if they didn't like the direction of the movie, why was the movie cut short but still heading in the same direction? The same story beats and/or outcome? At the time we thought that Josh came in and reshot a lot of the movie and a lot of it was his, but that was a lie. A lot of the things that were great with the theatrical cut was ALL apart of Zack's vision but all the characters play differently and with more jokes thrown in. Having watched 'The Snyder Cut', the theatrical cut blatantly felt like plagiarism.
There is an argument to be made that this is more Cyborg's story than anybody else as he is the heart of it, so why remove all of his story? I understand cutting the runtime down but would it not have been better at 2 hours 30mins tops, ask Zack to trim it OR (and an even better option) get Zack to re-work the story to release the movie as a two-parter. I can't say if it is/was a racial thing, but I felt like, if you were black and NOT Cyborg, you were cut from the movie. The black police officer at the beginning, cut. The black Amazonian with the war cry, cut. Story beats to do with Victor's personality, cut. And as I said before, his mother cut and the relationship he has with his father cut and reworked. Victor is played out as if he is someone who was given a second chance at life and is brooding the entire movie, no story arc whatsoever. Even Ryan Choi is cut. And yes, I get it, streamlining, but really? I fully understand but I just feel there may have been better ways to cut the movie without changing the dynamics of the characters.
I am also hyper aware that due to the comments recently from actor Ray Fisher about the treatment he had on set in the reshoots might have made me conscious of the differences in the two movies involving race, but these cuts do and have made a major difference to how people of colour now receive the theatrical cut. It might not have even been a race thing as you will notice most of the action scenes are sped up a little, but to cut and change the one black character in the team (and in the theatrical cut, as it goes), the character who is the heart of the movie, is definitely foul play. But then to cut all the other black characters out and the rumoured John Stewart (the black Green Lantern) out of it just seems dodgy and a conversation needs to be had. Small lines like "looks expensive" was the change from "took me a minute to get past it" diminishing Wonder Woman's skillset. Lines like "I belong to no one" was changed for " You over estimate yourself" and "You spoke" was changed to " You smell nice", just little weird changes. Added nonsensical moments like "Aliens stole my man" and Flash saving Wonder Woman and laying on top of her played for laughs. At first, when I first watched it, it was funny, you know awkward comedy humour, but watching 'The Snyder Cut', the humour balanced out well. As serious as the film may have seemed and likely to Warner Bros, this films didn't need forced humour.
The music was great, the action was even better and it really does boggle me as to why Warner Bros. did what they did. But for those who do not know, it was because they were too busy chasing Marvel and their success rather than just trying to be their own thing. Granted now, they are doing their own thing but the fans are NOT impressed (like Superman - you know the scene). What I really feel Warner Bros. should do, is carry on with the Snyder Universe (#releasethesnyderverse). Let him do whatever movies he likes and at the same time, work on other movies and other characters. Everyone wants a Man of Steel sequel, so why can't that exist? It's not like Henry doesn't want to play the character any more, he has been banging on about it for years. WB can effectively have two separate universes running side by side and I believe the audience is smart enough to know the difference. Using The Flash and his skillset, you can weave characters between the universe or just use that as the explainer as to having the two, the possibilities are endless.
The theatrical cut is simply a 'sigh' when you go back to watch it after watching this version. I feel like the theatrical cut exists as a mere Josh Whedon extended director's cut trailer for The Zack Snyder's Justice League. WB, let the man do what he enjoys doing...telling great stories because if this is anything to go by, he CAN do it, you were just too busy chasing the competition rather than being your own thing.
Imagine, Wonder Woman, Shazam, Aquaman, 'The Snyder Cut', Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey Black Adam, all being in one universe. Then introducing other characaters like Blue Beetle etc, then the Matt Reeves Batman being another Universe and may even have other characters like Swamp Thing, then films like Joker, being in another universe. As much as we fans love connectivity, we just really want great stories more.