Friday, March 19, 2021

I Was Wrong and I Apologize

I was wrong and I apologize.

Those are not easy words for me (or any man) to say; they are, perhaps, the HARDEST ones. But say them I must and as publicly as possible.

Now, I have been wrong before.  I was wrong when I thought that Americans would never voted bad actor Ronald Reagan into office as president.  I was wrong during Freshman Week when I thought that mug was made of heavy glass, rather than light plastic, and got a face full of milk as a result.   I was wrong 

But this time, I was wrong about a comic book something: specifically, "Zack Snyder's Justice League".

I was wrong for criticizing fans for misplaced enthusiasm, for holding on to an obvious fantasy that there was A Perfect Justice League Movie that they never got to see.  I was wrong for telling them, in my head, to shut their yaps, get over themselves, be glad they got anything, and move one.

I was wrong for thinking, "eh, that wasn't great, but it was okay," and that was all I should expect from a Justice League movie.

I was wrong to dismiss Ray Fisher's whining about his story and part being cut out of the movie.  I was wrong to think that no version of the film could possibly give each character their full due.

I was wrong to assume that Steppenwolf was inevitably underwhelming, wrong to be grateful that none of the rest of Kirby's Fourth World was involved.  

I was wrong to blame Ezra Miller for the overly-goofy interpretation of Barry Allen. I was wrong to blame Jason Momoa for an underdeveloped and inconsistent Aquaman.  I was wrong to think that Superman's resurrection was unavoidably incomprehensible.  

I was wrong not to understand that part of Wonder Woman's contribution was that, yeah, she will TOTALLY kill someone if need be.  

I was wrong to think there was no coherent underlying myth or message to the film. I was wrong to think a four-hour version of the firm would be tedious, undisciplined, and overindulgent.  I was wrong when I literally said to a friend last week, "If I hear one more word about the Snyder Cut, I am going to shoot someone in the face."

I was GLORIOUSLY wrong. And I learned this last night watching "Zack Snyder's Justice League", which I strongly encourage you to do as well. This WAS the film we and, more importantly, the Justice League deserved.  

[However, I was RIGHT to think that Joss Whedon sucks and his immature, too-clever-by-half highschooler writing is painfully embarrassing to watch.]

Sure, there were a few things I could have done without in ZSJL, such as some of the sappy musical choices and the pointless and awkward inclusion of Jared Leto's pathetic performance as the Joker in Snyder's ham-handed dream sequences designed to tee up films that will never be made.  But there was so much delight from the good additional material that that was easy to overlook. 

Such as:

  • the inclusion of the myth of Darkseid's original invasion of Earth, the gathering of forces that repelled him, the Anti-Life Equation, and how this history becomes a metaphor for the need to form the Justice League;
  • the much beefier and useful parts for the "sidekicks" (Alfred, Lois Lane, and Silas Stone; PARTICULARLY Silas Stone);
  • a host of on-camera explanations for things that simply had no context or logic in the Whedon version (such as Batman's energy-absorbing gauntlets);
  • much better consistency of tone, both for the characters and the story as a whole;
  • the joint character arc of the Leaguers as they must learn to trust and rely on one another;
  • how that arc is echoed in each of their individual arcs (Flash learning to trust himself, Aquaman learning that no man is an island, Batman the rational loner needing to build a team and to have faith, Cyborg coming to believe through interaction with others that he is not broken);
  • reminders that, unlike the others, Wonder Woman is a warrior and ("stop a war with love" notwithstanding) will totally and unhesitatingly KILL your ass if the situation calls for it;
  • a sensible explanation of WHY the Mother Boxes are where they are;
  • the Martian Manhunter, Ryan Choi, and Yalan Gur (of all people) being in and actually BELONGING in the movie (or, at least, in the world of the movie);
  • how the film balances making the League seem both achingly human and mind-bogglingly god-like (this is particularly true for Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg);
  • Mera being bad-ass;
  • Clark's butterfly and Barry's puppies;
  • MARTHA!;
  • Barry rescuing Iris (because of course it's Iris), which was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes;
  • the fact that the climax of the film allowed EVERY SINGLE ONE of the Leaguers to 'save the day' (because I was keeping score);
  • that one freeze frame, which was JUST enough not to raise the hairs on this comic book reader's arms without making me roll my eyes;
  • a non-cringeworthy version of Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor (who still manages, charmingly, to evoke Gene Hackman's version ... and fashion sense!).

There is more to tell, of course, but it would take too much time to context or be to spoilery, and I want you to experience it all for yourself, as soon as possible.

I was wrong and I apologize.

But I'm glad.


Steve Mitchell said...

"I was wrong to blame Ezra Pound for the overly-goofy interpretation of Barry Allen."

Perhaps, but I still blame him for being a Fascist collaborator.

passerby said...

Um, most of those things you welcome being added were in the theatrical cut, especially the myth of the original invasion, the alliance, and how the mother boxes got in their various places. The Snyder cut adds a few punches, but no new story points or information there.

Respectively disagree on the New Gods. This was the worst Darkseid I've ever seen. Has Snyder never read a New Gods comic or even watched the JL cartoon? Darkseid is not a snarling beast... he's, well, Darkseid.

Desaad was a cipher, even more so than Steppenwolf. If the character were not addressed by that name, would there be any way to know who it was? No. He's anonymous alien general #4.

As for Granny Goodness? Other than the fact that she's been dieting, there was no there there.

passerby said...

I misspoke on the original invasion. No, there was no mention of anti-life in the theatrical -- because it played no role in the movie. But the first Steppenwold invasion did explain the alliance and how the mother boxes were divided.

On other matters, given that Ryan Choi served absolutely no function in the movie, he had way too many lines.

The addition of Mrs. Stone only subtracts. One loving involved parent means Victor should have had less alienation. And he should have been experiencing more grief and less self-pity, which was not what Snyder showed.

Silas Stone dad-splaining science he doesn't understand in the Snyder cut makes much less sense than Vic explaining to Silas what is happening, as in the theatrical cut. More Silas again only subtracts.

John C said...

It's a shame that this release is so tied up in dumb situations---DC Entertainment dealing poorly with racism accusations, the desperation for HBO Max to succeed to pay off AT&T's debt that's corroding a lot, and some seriously crappy fans pushing for this in the worst way possible--but regardless of how I feel about the DCEU views of DC characters, Snyder puts together a good movie. Man of Steel features one of my least-favorite versions of Superman, but it's an excellent movie about him.

I'll probably wait a few weeks before seriously considering subscribing to HBO Max to avoid the learning algorithms assuming that I've been waiting for The Snyder Cut(TM), but I'm hearing good enough things about the service that I should probably at least try it out and watch this...

Scipio said...

Ezra Pound
LMAO; indeed. I appreciate your wrapping the pill of correction in the cheese of wit!

Bryan L said...

I was planning on watching it (not all in one sitting) so I'm glad you weighed in, Scipio. I'm not hearing BAD things about it, just mostly "meh" things. But I already subscribe to HBO Max, so I'll be taking a look. Might be a few days, though.

Anonymous said...

Just about EVERY film could be made better if you were allowed do-overs to fix the things that people didn't like the first time. I guess that doesn't speak to the quality of the Snyder cut in any absolute sense, but it feels like we're applying a very relaxed standard.

And, it's remarkable how "Supergirl" or "Superman and Lois" can effortlessly "get" superheroes while Zack Snyder has so much trouble with it. Tyler Hoechlin sold me on his Clark AND his Superman in less than a minute of screen time.

Bryan L said...

I finished it last night, and I do agree it's a significant improvement over the original. As Anonymous notes, that is the point of a "do-over." I'm glad it exists now and that I got to see it.

My problems involve intention rather than execution. Did Snyder really believe he could bring a four-hour movie to the screen? While it still could have been trimmed, it would have needed to be a good three-and-a-half hours to cover all that ground. Yes, we got critical background on Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash, but was that the plan all along? The Marvel movies worked because the characters got individual films first to handle backstory. I can see why no one would gamble on a solo movie for Aquaman (though commercially the eventual movie did well) or even Flash. And Cyborg is still best known from the Teen Titans animated shows.

But with that in mind, how could anyone think you could pull this movie off while introducing new major characters and villains, resurrecting one, and get it all into a reasonable theatrical running time? I guess I'm struggling to understand how it ever got greenlit at all, much less actually produced.

Oh, the musical choices were absolutely jarring.

Anonymous said...

"The Marvel movies worked because the characters got individual films first to handle backstory."

I think we shouldn't underestimate what a good job Whedon did with "Avengers", giving us an early scene with each of them that told us exactly who they were. Like, Black Widow: she looks like a beautiful damsel in distress, but in reality she's a savvy spy and a devastatingly good fighter who uses it against you when you underestimate her. Or Cap taking on Loki in Berlin: that man is clearly all the bravery and heroism of the Allies in WWII in the body of a single man.

What I'm getting at is, it's possible to give sufficient introduction to your characters without full back story. Figure out your one-sentence encapsulation of the character ("Superman: all-powerful guy without a mean or selfish bone in his body who tries to bring out the best in people") and then arrange a scene that demonstrates that (maybe cornering some armed robbers in an alley, talking most of them into just putting their guns down, but when the last one opens fire we see a demonstration of how powerful he is). That's 90 seconds, tops, and it's everything you need to know to understand who this obscure "Super-Man" character is.

Bryan L said...

Well, yes, you're right, but again, that's apparently NOT the movie Snyder set out to make. He apparently planned on this large, sprawling storyline and I'm still not sure how he got permission to even start down that road. Movie theaters don't want 4+ hour epics. It cuts deeply into their slim profit margins. It just seems like a strange direction to head in, and movies are reviewed by dozens of people before they ever get started on production. It's like Snyder tried to sneak a miniseries past Warner Bros. disguised as as movie, and I'm not sure how that was ever going to work. It's water under the bridge now, but I'm still curious as to exactly what he was thinking going into this.