The Myth Behind Justice League’s Director’s Cut

Justice League Warner Bros.

Sometimes director’s cuts offer a different breed of nerd comfort. Sometimes the promise of a director's cut is a glimmer of hope that there exists somewhere a redeemed version of the botched film we’ve been waiting years, in some cases our whole lives, to see. I wasn’t alone in thinking this regarding Batman V. Superman. Nope. Turns out the director’s cut of BvS was just a longer version of a movie I hated. Even now, there is a wrangle erupting amongst DC fans—one side petitions for a Whedon cut of Justice League, the other a Zack Snyder cut.

Either stipulation suggests a misunderstanding of the modern filmmaking process. There is some ambiguity that surrounds the rumored Snyder cut of the film, and I’m of the opinion that the film we ended up seeing isn’t representative of Snyder’s OR Whedon’s “vision.” Too much was riding on Justice League. If a completed cut of Snyder or Whedon's cut does exist, I can guarantee it to be unworthy of your time. The kind of problems that keep an OK film from being a great one can’t be repudiated with a longer run time or a few extra quips.

The term “director’s cut” used to mean something very different. Until relatively recently, it was most frequently associated with Francis Ford Coppola’s classic Apocalypse Now and later Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy. In both instances, the additional footage offered an intimate look inside the mind of the creator and brought it closer to the film's initial vision. It wasn’t the kind of thing that happened terribly often so that when it did, it felt like a welcomed geeky privilege.

Not unlike every other aspect of fandom, the director's cut has since been appropriated by the franchise machine. They know we’ll see Batman at least once no matter how damning the controversy or how bad the word of mouth. If the film resonates with us, we’ll see it twice or maybe even three times. In either case, we can’t resist the call: “But here’s the rogue cut. Here’s what Zack Snyder would have made if he didn’t have to deal with the MAN, maaaaaan.”

It’s a filthy lie. Blockbusters are no longer afforded that kind of leeway. Standalone films don’t really exist in genre films anymore andindividual projects are more akin to tiny parts in a Rube Goldberg machine, each component working to set off a chain reaction to ensure everyone keeps coming back for more. Director’s cut nowadays refers to the cursory 10 minutes the studio allowed its director-for-hire to film that offered more insight into an upcoming entry in the series. They’re manufactured Easter eggs masquerading as “inside looks.”

Director’s cuts are cheap and illusory. Don’t buy into them. More than being an obvious ploy to squeeze a little more green out of helpless fanboys, it perpetuates this idea that the movie isn’t over when it’s over. Nothing comes to an end, there is always more to consume.

Post-credit scenes, breakdown videos, director’s cuts, etc. I for one don’t have the generosity to lend studios second chances. Movies tickets are $17. You got one shot. Get it right the first time.

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