There's no getting away from it – DC fans are disappointed with Justice League, enough to start a petition demanding to see Zack Snyder's original cut.
That's because, following negative internal reactions to Snyder's earliest version of Justice League (according to Batman On Film's sources, the first cut was "unwatchable"), a major overhaul was put into action.
Heartbreakingly, Snyder had to leave the project because of a family tragedy, but Warner Bros had already put the wheels in motion by that point. According to the official statistics, reshoot director Joss Whedon only added 15-20 per cent to the film.
But now we've seen it, it just has to be more than that – much more. That's because the finished version is so radically different to what we were sold in the trailers, it feels like Whedon's changes run throughout the entire movie.
However it's divided up, though, the reworking is a total tonal shift and feels like a strange choice. Batman v Superman may have been critically divisive, but it did make a lot of money – it's the most financially successful DCEU film at the box office, making an astonishing $166 million during its opening weekend.
Justice League, however, has officially flopped, not even hitting $100 million on its opening weekend. It feels a tiny bit like Warner Bros have accidentally annoyed BvS's built-in fanbase (yes, the money shows there was one) in an attempt to attract a new audience and/or win over the critics.
I suspect Justice League was never going to win over people who disliked Batman vs. Superman.- Darren Mooney (@Darren_Mooney) November 19, 2017
All the tinkering/backtracking/reworking only alienated the audiences that did respond to the earlier films.
The edit sold out an established audience for one that would never show up. pic.twitter.com/PSGrZSjxMq
If that was the plan, it's backfired. Even former critics of Batman v Superman are reappraising the film in the light of Justice League's failures.
We re-watched BATMAN V SUPERMAN last night and you know what? It's superior to JUSTICE LEAGUE. It just is, and in almost every way https://t.co/LMMLpKSdnq- Josh L. Dickey (@JLDlite) November 19, 2017
Snyder's vision may have been divisive, but it was singular – with an audience of fans that might not write reviews, but do buy cinema tickets. And one thing's for sure, they're disappointed – so if Warner was hoping word of mouth would bulk up the numbers, we suspect they should brace for more bad news in the coming weeks.
After watching BvS in March 2016 i never would have thought that i would be ranking JL as my second least favorite movie in the DCEU.- Chandler Balli (@CinematicEX) November 19, 2017
For the fans, though, here's what they could have had if Warner Bros had allowed Snyder to complete his trilogy.
In Snyder's version, we wouldn't have had that weird camera-phone interview with Superman (that's left open-ended, but never actually pays off in the film!), or that awful rooftop Batman sequence (in which Batman says Alfred's name in front of a criminal because apparently no one cares about secret identities any more).
Instead, we would have opened with a longer version of the 'world without hope' sequence that follows those scenes – which, presumably, would have included the above shot of a rained-on Daily Planet we saw in the trailers.
Search for Aquaman
From the 'world without hope' credit sequence, we would have gone straight into Bruce's search for Aquaman, which would have been longer, and would have contained the below atmospheric images – which basically look like Bela Tarr directing Empire Strikes Back.
Lois and Martha
This trailer image hints at a conversation between Lois and Martha that we hope wouldn't be as silly as what we got later on in the film (that 'thirsty' joke, that 'funny' news footage). This moment could easily fit into the narrative at any point, so we're putting it here.
Wonder Woman in London
This set-piece was reportedly cut for time, and would have had more slo-mo fighting and a different ending, involving a ground explosion. Apparently this sequence was finished, too, so it may turn up on an extended edition.
The Russian family
They wouldn't exist in Snyder's version – the family are a Whedon addition and they don't make a lot of sense. (Why that family? Where's everyone else? Why don't the Parademons break in and eat them? Are Parademons so weak they can't get through a minor barricade?) But at least it leads to that funny gag involving The Flash pushing the car and Superman carrying a building, so it was worth it we guess?
Oh, poor, poor Cyborg. He was one of the elements we were most worried about in the trailers, but after seeing the film, Ray Fisher absolutely nailed it – and in Snyder's version we would have got a lot more from him, including an intro sequence to properly set up the character.
Fisher's discussed a sequence involving Cyborg's mother as being his favourite deleted scene – we hope we get more of him in an extended cut.
Bruce and Diana
The pair would have had a longer conversation inside the Bat Cave in Snyder's cut (including Diana's awesome "more more, or less less / he said no" dialogue, presumably referring to Aquaman) and they wouldn't have gone for a romantic stroll by the lake (with Cyborg creepily watching from behind a tree) as that's all from Whedon's reshoots.
This is relatively intact, but rumours suggest Snyder wanted more Green Lantern footage. Snyder's influence shows here as this is an awesome 300 meets Lord of the Rings battle sequence.
Speaking of Lanterns, somewhere along the way we lost Steppenwolf's epic trailer speech: "No protectors here, no Lanterns, no Kryptonian, this world will fall, like all the others." Urgh.
The Flash's intro
Believe it or not, that bit where Barry Allen signs in and draws a fake moustache on the rude dude behind him was all Snyder (he can do funny!).
The trailers show more back-story for Allen, so we imagine it would have come in around here – the cool slo-mo glass-shattering sequence was presumably from a scene in which he's learning about his powers.
This is all Snyder, but appears to have been cut for time – there are several shots from this sequence that may end up in an extended edition. They mostly feature Aquaman looking moody and cool while being splashed with water.
First big fight
The sequence in which the team fight Steppenwolf under the tunnel appears to have been completely retooled, in some very strange ways. Some of the coolest moments from the trailer (including Wonder Woman operating as leader: "Don't engage alone, we do this together") have been cut or changed.
So, we lose Cyborg shooting debris while Flash looks on, no "I'm real when it's useful", no Cyborg mask, no Flash pushing a Parademon through a wall, no "My turn" (which was changed to "I didn't bring a sword", urgh).
Instead, we got that horrific bit where Flash falls on to Wonder Woman's boobs because Whedon didn't learn his lesson from that bit where Bruce Banner falls on to Black Widow's boobs in Age of Ultron that basically everyone hated. Yay?
The League has a meeting
The first proper meeting of the League appears to have been completely retooled by Whedon, and it's the first sign that he completely changed the Superman narrative (pretty much every shot of Superman in this film has a wobbly lip, which means his dialogue was totally redone).
Gal Gadot was clearly only available on a different day for close-ups, as you can see Gadot has been replaced by a stand-in for the wides.
This is roughly the same as Snyder's intended cut structurally, with significant reshoot changes. For instance, we assume we would have had Superman come back from the dead in the comic-referencing black suit we were promised on Henry Cavill's Instagram in this scene.
Also, sources say a Cyborg premonition sequence – which would have played just before the team enacted the whole 'bring Superman back from the dead' plan – would have happened here.
It would have tied the plot more closely to the Knightmare sequence from BvS, suggesting that this is the evil Superman from that vision.
The subsequent fight between Superman and the League was all Snyder, but would have run longer, taken place at dusk, and would have involved more collateral damage. (Cyborg's cut "You should probably move" line is from this scene.)
However, everything Superman says (including the "Do you bleed?" line, which makes no sense – of course Batman bleeds, he's human, the original line was commenting on Superman's alien otherness, but WHATEVER) is Whedon's.
There are rumours that Superman's return / joining the team would have involved callbacks to both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, but were cut to distance Justice League from those divisive films.
That beautiful farm scene
We lost that lovely sequence from the trailer, and instead got some awful dialogue about Superman smelling good and death being itchy. Yay?
In Snyder's version, we would have had more shots of the world reacting to the threat, as red skies cover everything. We would also have had far fewer lame quips from Batman.
There also would have been a resolution of a thread involving Aquaman's trident, which Batman gives back to him in one of the trailers (the released film doesn't tell us why he has it, or show us him handing it over).
Again, all the Superman stuff is Whedon's, except for a couple of interactions between Superman and Cyborg – which presumably happen after this cut shot of Cyborg trying to deal with the Mother Box on his own (man, Cyborg was hard-done-by in the studio cut).
Also, Snyder wanted Wonder Woman to decapitate Steppenwolf, presumably because he killed so many of her people. Whedon changed it to that whole thing about the smell of fear (what is it with Joss and smells?) leading to his downfall at the hands of the Parademons, who won't kill a terrified Russian family, but they will kill their boss (anti-climax much?).
The first post-credits sequence, in which Flash races Superman, is Whedon. The second post-credits sequence (aka the one that doesn't look like it was shot on a VHS camcorder) is Snyder's. Guess which one we prefer?
Finally, we wouldn't have had Danny Elfman's disjointed score in Snyder's version, as Junkie XL was halfway through composing his when he was booted off the project.
Elfman's score doesn't fit several sequences and leaves out Han Zimmer's AMAZING Superman theme, which, unsurprisingly, disappointed fans. Sacrilege.
One thing I can definitively say about Justice League is that Hans Zimmer's work is sorely missed.- Brian A. Ursus (@FlyofFantasy) November 18, 2017
Let's hope we get the Snyder cut fans are petitioning for – we can certainly see why they'd want it.
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