A few weeks ago, filmmaker Zack Snyder was interviewed by Vanity Fair, telling what his idea for making a Justice League movie was like, and after reading some of the given details, I just don’t know what kind of audience is backing this guy’s vision, or why they think it’s such a big deal. First, here’s one idea he had in mind:
Yes: in Snyder’s unmade future movies, Ben Affleck’s Batman would die. Before we get there, let’s break down two deliberately perplexing sequences that turn up in the middle and at the end of the #SnyderCut.
I may think Batman’s been way overemphasized in the past decade, but that doesn’t mean I find this appealing. And I don’t. Here’s more:
At the very, very end of the movie, Harry Lennix appears as the alien observer known as Martian Manhunter, who descends from the heavens to meet with the freshly awakened Bruce Wayne. He congratulates Batman for uniting the heroes of Earth. Originally, Snyder says, Martian Manhunter was supposed to be a different character.
“We shot a version of this scene with Green Lantern, but the studio really fought me and said, ‘We really don’t want you to do Green Lantern,’” Snyder said. “So I made a deal with them, and they let me do this [instead].”
Okay, but which Green Lantern did Snyder want to use? “It would be John Stewart,” Snyder said. John Stewart (with an H) is the character who took over the mantle of Green Lantern in the 1970s, becoming DC’s historic first Black superhero. Reynolds’s Green Lantern was another character, known as Hal Jordan.
Snyder expressed regret that the studio prevented him from bringing Stewart to the screen for the first time. “They were like, ‘We have plans for John Stewart and we want to do our own announcement.’ So I said all right, I’ll give you that. So [Martian Manhunter] was the compromise,” he said.
As anybody clearly familiar with the Bronze Age GL material knows, Stewart may have debuted in 1971, but he didn’t fully take over the role at the time. It was over a dozen years later he did, when Hal Jordan briefly shed his role because he wanted to spend more time with Carol Ferris, and then the Star Sapphire gem got in the way and ruined everything, though nowhere nearly as much as editorial when GL shifted to an Action Comics Weekly feature in mid-1988, before Carol was finally freed of the effects (along with the influence of the Predator) a few years later. I’d also think it a good idea to remember that Mal Duncan was one of the earliest notable Black characters when he debuted in the Teen Titans in the early 70s.
In any event, no matter how much I’m impressed with Stewart as a Bronze Age creation, I’m honestly not pleased to learn Snyder may have wanted to go a PC route and sideline Hal Jordan, as the above hints, and is certainly the case today yet again, in an era where characters of different skin color/sexual preference are seen as far bigger a deal than a white character, just so they can make a political statement. When VF’s writer says, “another character”, he’s giving a strong hint he’s not well-versed in the material, if at all.
This movie also appears to include a certain actress not everyone’s fond of:
Aquaman heroine Mera (Amber Heard), Cyborg, the Flash (in the same costume he wore in his time-traveling Batman v Superman appearance) and Deathstroke (now with a white mohawk) traverse the futuristic fallen world with another unexpected ally: Jared Leto’s Joker. Affleck’s Batman is still alive at this point. Cyborg warns that if their presence is detected, an undefined “he” will come for them.
If Heard’s role is small, some might be able to overlook the actress who’s alienated a certain crowd due to her framing actor Johnny Depp for supposed abuse. But if it’s more prominent, some might be discouraged. In any event, it’s certainly a shame an actress with no moral compass had to be chosen to play the role of Arthur Curry’s darling bride who debuted in the Silver Age. And what’s the point of putting Slade Wilson in this film, and giving him a mohawk, of all things? I don’t like the sound of Joker portrayed as an ally either. Now, here’s the part that’s really galling, reminiscent as it is of the plot from the Injustice: Gods Among US game:
The “key,” as Flash said to Bruce Wayne in Batman v Superman, is Amy Adams’s Lois Lane. Or as the Joker puts it in a mocking sing-song in the #SnyderCut: “Poor Lois! How she suffered so!”
Lois was the charred corpse that Superman tearfully held in Cyborg’s vision from the middle of the movie.
Snyder explains how this foreshadows the next two Justice League movies he had in the works: “Darkseid comes to Earth. Superman says to Batman, ‘Guard Lois. This is a war between me and Darkseid. If you can help me as a friend, keep Lois safe.’”
In the midst of these alien attacks, Luthor aligns himself with the invader. “Lex tells Darkseid that the key to Superman’s weaknesses is killing Lois Lane,” Snyder said. “For whatever reason, Batman fails. Darkseid comes back and kills Lois. Batman fails, he hesitates. They were in an argument.”
In other words, Batman is distracted, and Lois dies as a result.
Even if Lois is resurrected by the end of the movie, this is still such a pathetic plot. Why, consider the following: why not put Lois more front and center as a major player on the battlefield? Just because she’s a mortal woman, does that make her ineffective? Of course not. Using a little creativity, and you could have her fulfill a role not unlike, say, Steve Trevor, or even Rick Jones in the Marvel universe. However Snyder spins this stuff, it sure sounds awfully cheap. And it doesn’t stop there:
So what were Lois and Bruce fighting about? Snyder didn’t say specifically, but his original plan—nixed by Warner Bros.—was for Bruce Wayne and Lois Lane to have had a romantic relationship during the time Superman appeared to be deceased.
“The intention was that Bruce fell in love with Lois and then realized that the only way to save the world was to bring Superman back to life,” said Snyder. “So he had this insane conflict, because Lois, of course, was still in love with Superman. We had this beautiful speech where [Bruce] said to Alfred: ‘I never had a life outside the cave. I never imagined a world for me beyond this. But this woman makes me think that if I can get this group of gods together, then my job is done. I can quit. I can stop.’ And of course, that doesn’t work out for him.”
Even without this romantic subplot, Snyder said, Batman would have been plagued by guilt for not stepping in front of the blast that killed Lois. With her gone, Superman is heartbroken and loses the will to fight. Darkseid uses this moment of vulnerability to seize control of him, and Superman’s fall leads to the deaths of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and countless others.
“The world falls because Superman succumbs to the Anti-Life Equation, and that’s it,” Snyder said. “That’s what the post-apocalyptic world is: Superman just searching for Batman to kill him to get his revenge for the death of Lois.”
Ultimately, what’s aggravating here is how once again, we’re presented with a scenario where Superman is sidelined almost entirely in favor of Batman. And they make things worse with a plot where the former seeks revenge on the latter. And to top it all off, a lot of what’s described reeks of economy writing and choices. Not to mention the line described for Batman by Snyder is laughable, since it makes it look like he never had a social life, even as in better years in comicdom, Bruce had plenty of lady loves, even if his nighttime career got in the way. Did I mention how annoying it is to read that the Masked Manhunter would be depicted as that much of a failure? And for a scene where evil-influenced Superman menaces the League, they note:
That’s a downer, even for a series of movies that is sometimes described as “grim-dark.” Of course, it’s not really the end. Like the Thanos snap in Marvel’s Infinity War that dusted half of all living things, this was intended to be a downbeat cliffhanger that leads to the final redemption.
But doesn’t change the fact this is yet another example of a film built on heavily emphasized darkness. At least VF has the audacity to acknowledge this major problem with a modern approach to storytelling, which by this point has led to a drastic reduction in senses of humor for movies, or worse, risks a situation where it doesn’t even seem appropriate.
And there’s another little matter about the film’s conclusion to ponder:
Darkseid’s invasion, the fall of Earth, and the tragedy’s reversal all happen fairly quickly after the events of *Justice League—*say, within a few months. Long enough for a child to be born shortly thereafter.
This is another major spoiler from the #SnyderCut: “Lois is pregnant at the end of the movie,” Snyder said. The pregnancy test can be seen in her nightstand—with a label from the fictional brand Force Majeure, a French phrase that basically translates to “unforeseeable circumstances.” […]
Presumably, this baby was conceived before Superman’s death in Batman v Superman. (They did have that romantic bathtub scene, which may have been more important than viewers realized.)
Remember at the beginning of all this, when Snyder said a new Batman would replace Affleck’s Bruce Wayne? “It was going to be Lois and Superman’s son,” the filmmaker said. “He doesn’t have any powers, and then he was going to end up being the new Batman.”
The Snyderverse would have flash-forwarded to a scene in which Clark Kent and Lois Lane take their now grown son to visit a familiar location. There, they ask him to pick up the crusade of their fallen friend. “Twenty years later, on the anniversary of [Batman’s] death, they take young Bruce Kent down to the Batcave and they say, ‘Your Uncle Bruce would’ve been proud if you did this,’” Snyder said.
This is almost unintentionally funny. Certainly cheapskate. Superman and Lois have a son (though at least one other report I’d read may have suggested Bruce would be the father), he’s powerless, and becomes a new Masked Manhunter. Not somebody who could take up the role of a hero created to represent optimism like Superman, but one representing the dark. Just too easy, and besides, if they had to put the son in a precise role, why not have him grow up to be Green Arrow? Or maybe Green Lantern, since, though usually lacking physical superpowers, most GLs get their powers from the sci-fi rings they wield.
I think the problem with filmmakers like Snyder is that their visions represent what some used to call “bombastic”. And above all, it’s frustratingly economy in its choices, since it doesn’t look like there’s that many significant side characters who might be new, and didn’t appear in any comic material from the past. Let’s be clear: it’s possible to do a movie with serious viewpoints that can still convey a sense of optimism and humor. Most past Superman writers proved it possible. Yet they stick depressingly to a pathetic viewpoint relying heavily and obviously on darkness.
I’m not sure why anybody who called for Snyder’s edition sees this as such a big deal, and honestly, it’s not. I was discouraged from wasting my time on this item, as I’ve felt about a lot of comic movies of the recent years. It’s also said this League movie was supposed to lead to two sequels, but they’ll likely never be greenlighted. And I don’t see that as a loss. Snyder, unfortunately, is of a crowd who’re too PC in their visions, and that’s why I won’t care if there’s never any sequels to this movie.
Originally published here.