by Maggie Peknic
Marvel has dominated the cinematic universe, winning battle after battle against DC. Sure, DC’s Batman trilogy with Christian Bale is phenomenal. The Dark Knight alone received a well-deserved 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. But that movie came out in 2008; that’s 13 years ago! Over the course of those years, DC has become film’s fallen hero. There was hope in 2017 with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, which received a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes; hence, its sequel looked extremely promising. But it flopped. Fans stated Wonder Woman 1984 was simply too silly and over-the-top, a complete shift in tone from the original. These are just two problems that undermine DC’s recent films. But rising out of the ashes is Zach Snyder, DC’s hero director, who would help in the cinematic fight against Marvel.
After the flop of 2020’s Wonder Woman 1984, Zach Snyder’s cut of Justice League couldn’t come at a better time for DC. Released March 18, the film received immediate acclaim. It comes as no surprise though. Devoted DC fans have been pushing for Snyder’s version of Justice League since November 19, 2017, only two days after the original release of Justice League. A website devoted to tracking evidence about the existence of Snyder’s cut was launched; a petition was made by fans who loved the prequel Batman v. Superman but hated Justice League, and some fans even campaigned outside Warner Bros. offices. It’s a social media campaign that many have dubbed as toxic. Yet, it wasn’t only “toxic” fans who were pushing for Snyder’s cut. The star-studded cast of Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, and Ray Fisher all called for the release of Snyder’s cut back in 2019. It wasn’t until a year later, though, on May 20, 2020, that Warner Bros. would finally announce the upcoming release of Snyder’s version.
Almost a year after the announcement, Zach Snyder’s Justice League was released to HBO Max. I must confess, I was skeptical at first. I enjoyed the prequel Batman v. Superman, but it was an “okay” movie. Its cliffhanger of Superman’s death wasn’t even enough to get me to watch Justice League. I didn’t even plan on watching this new version, but despite my efforts to avoid watching it, it was all I was watching! Numerous friends of mine kept posting videos of it on their private Snapchat stories. For the first few days following its release, I couldn’t escape Zach Snyder’s Justice League. So, like everyone else, I caved and watched it. After watching, I’ll admit my friends were right. The movie is super(man)!
Although, since I never saw the original version, I didn’t know what drastic changes were made. So being curious, I watched the first couple of minutes of the 2017 Justice League. If you haven’t watched the two back-to-back, let me tell you, the change in tone is drastic. The opening scene alone showcases this change towards a darker tone. In the original, the film opens with a low-quality video taken by two kids interviewing Superman. It’s supposed to have a reminiscence effect, calling the audience to remember Superman’s influence on society juxtaposed by the loss of hope following his death. The scene falls incredibly short on this, coming off as cheesy. It’s so cheesy, you can probably make a charcuterie board with it. Snyder takes this tone and does a 180 by opening with Superman’s screams, which are drawn-out and shown piercing through the airwaves. Immediately, the pain surrounding Superman’s death is felt by audiences and around the world, as the airwaves of his screams are shown projecting into the realms of Cyborg, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman. This allows for a foreshadowing of the three uniting with Batman, Superman, and The Flash in order to form The Justice League.
Additional elements, such as darker color tones and new CGI, help create a tragic tone for Zach Snyder’s Justice League. It’s exactly what Snyder was aiming for – what the original was supposed to be like. But after leaving the original in the hands of the studio, they stated that his vision was too dark for audiences and changed his film in post-production with numerous reshoots. Snyder removed these reshoots in his version, allowing for the dark undertones of DC’s comics to fully shine. These darker tones are what makes DC different from Marvel’s light comedic style. When DC tries to emulate Marvel’s style, they fail. Snyder took the risk of making a darker movie (hence the change of rating from PG-13 to Rated R) and succeeded. The studios should start to do the same if they plan on winning the cinematic battle against Marvel. If audiences continue to see these darker elements, though, who knows? After Snyder’s release of his Justice League, Suicide Squad director David Ayer is now hoping to possibly release his cut of Suicide Squad, which would potentially have more scenes of Jared Leto’s Joker. Audiences now wait to see if this will happen and if DC can continue to be the hero or instead fall back into making awful movies, becoming a villain once again.