Often referred to as the “Snyder Cut,” the director’s cut of the original 2017 release “Justice League” carries the hope of all DCEU fans (referring to the current films that comprise the DC extended universe). Zack Snyder, a mainstream director best known for directing the 2013 Superman reboot “Man of Steel,” also directed what became the original theatrical release of “Justice League” in 2017. During the creation process, Snyder found himself disagreeing with DC executives regarding the film’s runtime, while simultaneously dealing with the death of his daughter Autumn. He was not interested in fighting to see his vision fulfilled while dealing with his grief, and stepped away from the production. Joss Whedon, a mixed reputation figure in the comic scene, finished all of the post-production work with extensive reshoots. The 2017 film received a lot of criticism, including some accusations have been made against Whedon. Among these accusers included actress Sarah Michelle Geller, who worked with Whedon on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” stood with the victims who spoke out against Whedon’s inappropriate behavior and took the opportunity to further distance herself from Whedon once and for all.
The most relevant accusation against Whedon was made by Ray Fisher, who stars in both versions of Justice League as Cyborg. Fisher accused Whedon and DC executives of racism and all-around disgusting behavior in the workplace. These accusations were substantiated by the lovingly-dubbed Snyder Cut, which featured the entire origin story of Cyborg that Whedon cut from the original theatrical release. The origin story of the only black member of the Justice League conveniently cut from Whedon’s production causing Fisher to lose a majority of his screen time? Poor move on Whedon’s part.
The main difference between the two films can be found in their respective runtimes. Whedon’s theatrical cut was two hours in duration, whereas the 2021 “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” clocks in at a little over four hours. Four hours is a long time for audiences to sit in a theatre and it makes sense that a franchise as underdeveloped as the DCEU would be unwilling to ask that much time of their audiences. Unfortunately, the theatrical cut ended up being even more underdeveloped than the team it focused on. The crux of this issue rests upon the fact that only Superman and Wonder Woman had stand-alone films before Batman brought the team together. This left audiences with a relatively unknown Cyborg, Flash, and Batman, who had each been relegated to side characters up until this point. It was too much to get through in a single film, especially while establishing the villain they were fighting against (which ironically is from the DC comics that would inspire Thanos, making him look like a Marvel rip-off despite originally being a DC rip-off).
The Snyder Cut was released directly on HBO Max. This bypassed sitting in the theaters for four hours and allows the audience plenty of bathroom breaks. It is also new content safely released during the pandemic, as all the material was shot before 2017. If this re-release happened at any other point in time, it may have gone unnoticed, but with the lack of content being produced a four-hour Superman movie is a bit of a godsend for a lot of people. Even a bad movie is still something to do while staying in place. It also helped that Snyder added “chapters” to cut the film up so it felt more like a mini-series. Overall, it is easier to digest than would be expected.
For a quick non-spoiler review: This movie is a time commitment but it was enjoyable! Cyborg finally gets the awesome storyline he deserves. Four fleshed-out BIPOC characters are added to the film (I won’t spoil who they are but DC fans should be excited). The Amazons are better represented and put up a way bigger fight! The plot makes a lot more sense and more casual DC fans will better understand how awesome these characters can be. It is still a popcorn movie with some obvious plot points and a lot of unnecessarily slow-mo fight scenes, but with Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher these scenes are still jaw-dropping and fun to watch. Even Ben Affleck has an epic dream sequence scene near the very end that made audiences want a solo Batman movie, which no one would have been able to predict!