Can There Be A JUSTICE LEAGUE Director’s Cut?
This writer enjoyed Justice League, for all its bizarre quirks (Superman's Uncanny Upper Lip) and BTS tinkering that was readily apparent on screen in the film's final form. It's a flawed but fun little romp that muddles two voices behind the lens (Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon) into an odd Frankenstein mash-up that looks like Batman v Superman, but sounds like The Avengers. To wit, it's a mess, but still kind of a blast.
That said, there's been a lot of chatter online recently about the numerous scenes that were featured in the trailer but never made it into the final cut, thus leading fans to petition Warner Bros. to release a "Director's Cut" from Snyder. However, this leads one to wonder if a "Director's Cut" could even exist. After all, how can an artist claim a cut on a picture they didn't actually finish?
While I hate to quote myself, this paragraph from BMD's review sums up the issue rather succinctly:
Sadly, it seems the perfect tone for [Justice League] was at least partially achieved due to unspeakable tragedy, as director Zack Snyder had to depart the production on account of an untimely death in his family, shortly after WB hired Joss Whedon (The Avengers) to step in and punch up Chris Terrio's script. Whedon also performed previously scheduled reshoots that (according to producer Charles Roven) account for 15 - 20% of the movie's finished form, allowing the renowned artist to add his personal touch to the picture.
Now, cinematographer Fabian Wagner is weighing in, telling the Hollywood Reporter that he hopes fans eventually get to see Snyder's finished vision:
“This one was even shorter than I expected, so there are scenes that aren’t in there. I really hope we get to see a director’s cut, which will give us everything that we shot that didn’t make it in. What I love about his [Snyder’s] director’s cuts is they are long, but he takes his time to tell the story. I’ve never watched any of his director's cut and thought ‘This is long'. Whether they are three hours long, or three hours and ten minutes, they always seemed to go quick.”
Agree to disagree on that last point, Mr. Wagner. I love Watchmen, but all the edits of that film feel slightly (or overly - in the case of the Ultimate Cut) long. The theatrical version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice* was borderline interminable, so I can only speculate that the UE (which runs thirty minutes longer) would feel like roughly half my lifetime had passed by the time the end credits roll (you're never getting me to watch that).
Still, the question stands: can a "Director's Cut" for a movie even exist if the man behind the camera let someone else finish the film for him? Technically, Snyder could return and re-tool Justice League, using both the moments that were cut and the pre-reshoot footage (assuming it still exists on a hard drive somewhere). It would essentially become Snyder's "Ridley Scott moment", echoing when WB chopped and screwed the theatrical iteration of Blade Runner ('82), only to have him deliver a completely different movie on home video a decade later.
Or, WB could lean into their "All In" marketing campaign and deliver an "All In Cut", should Snyder (due to his incredibly sad family situation) choose to just leave Justice League as is. In this hypothetical scenario, that version would almost act like a work print, with all of the deleted footage inserted to comprise one extended runtime, so fans could see what exactly was lost in the studio's rather judicious final edit. Who would oversee this sort of re-edit is another question entirely, but it's not difficult to imagine DC Bros still being disgruntled and claiming there's always going to be a "better cut out there", should Snyder not return in any capacity.
The odds of any of these happening are pretty good, as WB stands to lose a substantial chunk of change on Justice League's troubled production (with some estimating that bill running as high as $100 million). Whether or not anybody really wants a new cut of the movie is irrelevant. This is ultimately going to be a pure business decision, so it'll be fascinating to see how WB attempts to capitalize on the scenes we've only glimpsed in trailers, but haven't seen in context of a full motion picture as of yet.