Editorial: What Should You Know About the Snyder Cut?

It appears it would help to clear up some of the basics surrounding the mythic "Snyder Cut." There's a lot of misinformation and spin out there. Listed below are some simple facts to put in perspective what the Snyder cut actually is without spoiling any of the story originally planned. If you want a complete list of sources (these details go back a couple years), I hope this single image of Zack Snyder correcting Mr. Scott Mendelsen of Forbes should satisfy some curiosity as to the scope of the cut.

Fun fact before the good stuff: Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. originally planned a five-movie story arc, the greater details of which can be found online, but will likely spoil the upcoming HBO Max release for those who haven’t followed the “Snyder Cut” story. Man of Steel was always the first of the five-movie arc while Batman v Superman and Justice League were both reduced from two-part stories to singular films. We can debate where at in the spectrum of bad or great that series of ideas lies, but this is just for your information.

Here are the basics prior to the HBO Max announcement:

Zack Snyder finished principal photography for Justice League.

Snyder's original director's cut clocks in at three hours, thirty-four minutes (214mins.)

This is not a rough nor an assembly cut which was nearly five hours long. See above image. This is an actual reel in the literal can.

Color and VFX begin. A first trailer is made still featuring much of this lost footage.

Zack Snyder's daughter dies.
Snyder exits. Joss Whedon is brought on.

The studio 180s, mandates rewrites, and now a brisk two-hour running time with a totally new tone. Cutting one hour and thirty minutes from Snyder's cut.

Whedon then rewrites eighty pages, directs all reshoots, and yes, several brand new scenes. Excising another chunk of Snyder's work.

Whedon finishes WB's new Justice League at exactly two-hours, with maybe forty minutes left of Snyder's footage gently sprinkled throughout a brand new two-hour Joss Whedon movie complete with Wonder Woman boob gags.

We ended up with a fraction of Zack Snyder's original footage remixed, retoned, rescored, recut, and remapped across another eighty minutes never imagined prior to Snyder's exit. Yes, even Junkie XL's completed score was entirely replaced and rewritten by Danny Elfman in less than a month. In fact, I was certain that turn-around was even shorter, but now I can't find the source.

What we're getting, whether it's good or not, isn't what’s so exciting about this. Whether Zack Snyder is a great, bad, or mediocre film maker I don't think matters all that much. The dude went through some seriously dark stuff and had a passion project of his thrown through the wood chipper and spread across a sandwich of an entirely new idea rushed to market in what was peak chaos for WB. No one benefited from the release of Justice League (2017). Not WB, not Whedon, not the general or hardcore audience, not the cast or crew, and especially not Snyder or his family.

I must preface this by saying I don’t believe Snyder is on the same level as a Lynch or Villeneuve, but at the end of the day, I feel the choice to release sets an important precedent that we ensure something like Dune doesn't get ripped from another director again. I just hope that we continue to speak with our wallets closed to the corporate collective and open to the artists by supporting this move as a matter of principle. This should be a reason to celebrate for any film fan or fan of art in general. This is a moment when fans and the artists won!

Besides all that, can we give the guy a fair shot to complete what he started before a tragedy destroyed that chance? And if we get a longer, even marginally cooler Justice League experience out of it, won't that be good for all of us? Let's just be realistic here, the chances of it being worse than what Whedon and the WB frankensteined together are pretty slim, wouldn't you agree?

--J.G. Barnes