What we have is a unique situation. Usually, a Director’s Cut is just an extended version of a movie. It will be a few minutes long, extended scenes or adding in previously deleted scenes. Sometimes it can be enough to change how certain parts of a movie are viewed, if not an entire film. The most popular example of this is of course “Blade Runner”. But we aren’t talking about seeing an extended version of the massively reshoot Joss Whedon film. This is a four hour movie from Zack Snyder, a man who could be considered Whedon’s opposite in terms of directing style. I felt it was important to look at what exactly Snyder’s style is, what his original DC movie plan was, and give people a clearer idea of what to expect from the Snyder Cut.
While Zack might not have a super long filmography, his movies contain a lot of recognizable and unique traits. His films contain slow motion shots, including various action sequences while also zooming in as it unfolds. This is often used to show off either the fighting choreography. But it is also used to create striking visuals of his movies. It is often why regardless of which Snyder film you watch, it always leaves you thinking of various scenes. Another thing regarding Zack’s films that often leaves an impression is the dialogue. It’s a little hard to describe exactly what it’s like. While it is never completely devoid of humor, the dialogue of a Snyder film usually carries some sort of weight to it. This can be seen as being serious to a certain extent. But while humor isn’t completely absent, that’s not where the focus is. Dialogue in Zack’s films is supposed to put emphasis on the bigger picture and meaning that is trying to be conveyed, and it is often put with various memorable images. That’s why people tends to remember his films, he wants them to feel impacted and to ponder on them. It should be noted that Zack often has intriguing ideas, but sometimes needs something to ground him. Most of his movies are adaptations of pre-existing material. This helps him focus some of the more bold and out there ideas he wants to try out. Because even though Snyder is someone who wants to try new things and be bold, that doesn’t necessarily mean he knows the best way to portray it. Which is why it has helped with certain movies that he is using pre-existing source material to jump off from. It helps him stay focused. And even though his films often deal with big action, superheroes, or fantasy elements, Zack often approaches them from a more grounded or realistic angle. Meaning they can be dark and even brutal. But that doesn’t necessarily mean his movies are violent for the sake of it. It can be used to bring attention to a certain aspect of the story or character. And finally, let’s discuss how certain characters can be portrayed in his movies. A lot of gay jokes have been made about “300” and how the movie seems to exploit the bodies of the Spartan warriors. And jokes have been made regarding the sex scene from “Watchmen”. Let’s also not forget some of the criticisms of “Sucker Punch”, the one film he seemed to have the most creative freedom with. While an argument could be made about the sexualization of some of his characters, it should be noted that he doesn’t do it with one gender. For Zack, it doesn’t really matter if the attractive character is male or female. In fact, some of Snyder’s more interesting and complex characters are female. At the end of the day, Zack Snyder’s films will more often than not be divisive. But they will always leave an impact on those who watch them. And when compared to some other directors currently working, that kind of makes Snyder a more successful director. Because at least people will always pay attention to his work and have a strong reaction.
Now this brings us to what his original plan was for the DCEU. I’m sure most of us have already become familiar, so I will try and just hit the main points. Zack Snyder had a very specific story that was supposed to span over a total of 5 movies, the majority of it unfolding over 3 Justice League movies. The focus was on Superman, a version that was struggling to find his place on Earth. The Batman of this world was older and darker, one who had almost lost all of his humanity. And other heroes that would end up joining him were more or less brand new heroes, with the exception of Wonder Woman. The ultimate threat was Darkseid, who would launch an invasion of Earth that would lead to the Anti-Life Equation being unleashed on Earth, and a resurrected and emotionally destroyed Superman falling victim to it. Batman would lead a small resistance that will try to go back in time and alter events, which will result in Batman sacrificing himself in order to help Superman and the rest of the league prevail. The story would end with Superman becoming the bright and hope inspiring hero many fans know him for.
When the first couple of movies came out, a lot of comparisons were being made to the MCU and how DC was rushing things. But here is the thing…when “Man of Steel” came out, it was 2013, only 1 year after “The Avengers”. Meaning there really wasn’t enough time for the studio to realize there might be something to a cinematic universe before releasing their Superman reboot. But I will admit, that topic must have come up in between MoS and “Dawn of Justice”. Shortly before the release of the latter in 2016, it was revealed that Snyder’s 5 film plan was shortened to 4 and that he would help leave room for other DC movies to fit in, which is where the real copying of the MCU took place. Snyder had no intention of creating a cinematic universe in the same style as Marvel’s. From a certain perspective, you can argue that Zack has a better understanding of franchises than Marvel. If you have a franchise that just continues putting out movie after movie where they all deeply connect to each other, it becomes very difficult to attract new audiences. And the people behind the scenes are less willing to take risks and try something new. Zack’s plan had a clear beginning, middle, and end. A story that - while most likely being divisive and cause arguments among some comic books fans in terms of character portrayal - had something to say that would leave people coming back to it. So no, Zack Snyder wasn’t the one trying to copy the MCU with his core story. But the studio arguably was when they started green lighting other movies that did have vague connections to Snyder’s films, but mainly only to establish they take place in the same cinematic universe. The studio and Zack often found themselves against each other. The theatrical version of “Dawn of Justice” ended up cutting out half an hour of admittedly important and essential footage, and the negative reception from critics forced the studio to try and over-correct… First with “Suicide Squad”, and later on with “Justice League”. Once again, the length of Snyder’s story was cut down. Instead of a two part Justice League story, it was going to be only the one film. And they tried to force other restrictions like having it be under 2 hours. Considering Snyder’s films take their time to tell their story, often resulting in running times well over 2 hours, it became clear that Snyder and the studio had two completely different goals in mind. Unfortunately, following a tragic event in Snyder’s family, Zack stepped down following filming for Justice League. Often viewed by some as an unofficial firing of Snyder, the studio brought in a vastly different director - one that just so happened to create hit movies for Marvel - in order to rush through post-production and reshoots that ended up being far more extensive than initially marketed.
In the end, it is the classic yet still sad story of an artist’s vision going up against the vision and goal of a corporate business. If Zack was allowed to follow through on his original 5 film plan, or even 4 film plan, would it have been good? Well, fan reception to “Man of Steel” and “Dawn of Justice” was divisive, showing that a lot of people were definitely expecting those films to come out a certain way. A drastically different way than what was in the films. So it is hard to tell what the initial response would be like to each film as well as the overall reception following the series’s conclusion. But as mentioned before, it would have been a story that nonetheless left an impression on everyone. A story that the director could claim is truly his. But…reception to his other films show that Zack’s dark, gritty style isn’t for everyone.
Which finally brings us back to the ultimate question. Will the Snyder Cut be a genuinely good film? Well…as you can gather, it is really dependent on how you feel about some of his other movies. If you like Snyder’s films, and always enjoyed MoS and BvS, then there is no doubt you will love it. But if you never really liked those 2 films, you might not be into it that much. If you are someone who ended up coming around on those 2 films to a certain extent, you can at the very least appreciate the fact that some version of Snyder’s true vision will finally be released. I know that might not seem to be a definitive answer, but it is at least an honest one.