Zack Snyder’s Justice League

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S2: How are you doing right now? I see.

S3: Traded me for me, I am. What’s in the box? Yo, yo, yo.

S1: Hello and welcome to Slate spoiler specials. I’m Karen Hines, staff writer at Slate and I’m joined by Slate senior editor Sam Adams. Welcome, Sam. Hello, Karen. So today we are spoiling Zack Snyder’s Justice League, also known as the Snyder Cut. And I thought we should probably start by saying what we thought of the theatrical Joss Whedon release of US Justice League, if we remember much of it at all.

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S4: I had to sort of like I know we watch both versions of it in the last week, which kind of wow, I had to, like, get back in touch with my feelings about the original Justice League, which basically none. Yeah, I mean, it seemed like a bad movie. It was weird to me that it was considered so like hated and like such a failure because it was not any worse to me than, like suicide squad or any number like the line whereby like, you know, this is like when people hated Age of Ultron. And I’m like, OK, I think it was great. But I was like the line where, like, that movie’s lousy and like the first Avengers movie is amazing. Like, I don’t I don’t find that like necessarily was bad, but it didn’t seem like categorically worse than a lot of other lousy recent movies I’ve seen.

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S2: Yeah, I really didn’t remember much of Joss Whedon Justice League, but all I remember is thinking that I couldn’t really make sense of a lot of what was going on with it, not because, like, the plot is confusing, but just because it looked very like all the colors were the same on the screen. And also the fact that the very Jossi humor didn’t really seem to jive with anything that was going on in the movie. But I haven’t really watched the Joss Whedon version since it came out pretty much so. I still felt pretty fresh about the whole thing going into watching the Senate last week.

S4: I mean, it felt like a movie that even if you didn’t know the history of the action writers version and kind of came into it, it just feels like a movie that doesn’t fit together. It feels like a movie that was broken and somebody tried to fix. And I guess based on the kind of reaction to it, I think we can say at this point, not successfully.

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S1: Yeah, that’s fair. OK, so I guess now we can dig into the sniper itself. I guess we should talk basically, like lay out the plot as it stands, even though there is kind of a lot of it. And then talk about more what we thought of the whole movie.

S2: So the movie starts it picks up not too long after Batman v. Superman, which ended with the death of Superman to save humanity. And it opens basically with Bruce Wayne trying to put together the super team in anticipation of what he expects will happen now that Superman’s gone and now that there’s kind of this kind of void in the super world.

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S4: Yeah, and I think if you want a sort of succinct explanation of, like, how the two versions differ, Joss Whedon version opens with this little sort of fake, you know, viral cell phone clip of these two kids coming up to Superman and talking to him on the street and be like, hey, Superman, we love you. You’re so great. What do you like best about Earth? Zack Snyder’s version opens with literally Superman death agonies echoing across the galaxy and awakening these ancient mother boxes, which will, you know, the villains are going to try to combine to like destroy Oliver. Literally, the first shot of it is just like Superman with a big, you know, like piece of metal stuck through his chest. I guess it’s a kryptonite spear. And then you just see these, like, shock waves, like pulsating outward from him. And it just cuts all around the globe into Atlantis and the mascara, which is, what, a woman’s homeland and everything. And it’s all there just pulsating through all these things. So that’s really a very straightforward advertisement about the kind of four hour movie experience that we’re in for here.

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S1: Yeah, it sets the tone so quickly because, like, you literally see these, like, ripples cascading across the screen to visually represent Superman’s death cry, which is so silly on one level. But Zack Snyder is so committed to it that it for me at least, it completely works where I’m like, yeah, normally I would laugh at something like this, but I’m like, yes, I am in it for the long run, which will I guess we’ll discuss our how we take to the Snyder verse later on.

S4: And it’s also one of those things where the movie just tells you like right away, like what you’re in for. And it’s like, OK, if this just seems totally stupid to you, like just leave because it’s not. That’s the movie. It’s not getting any better or any different than that. If you can, like, hang with that and maybe get into this very sort of heavy, like, mythic level that Zack Snyder is approaching the stuff on, then you’re going to get a lot more of that.

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S1: Yeah, I mean, I was thinking about that a lot, too, with regards to Batman. Superman, where the entire reason where I thought, like, that movie worked at all was because it’s so committed to that Zack Snyder level. I’m very like Gothic grandeur where everything is. Exaggerated everything is about like gods and kings, there is not really there’s not really room for, like, quippy stuff, we’re like because it’s so committed to this big vision, like, it either it has to be on the level of like a huge tableau or sculpture or some kind of great work of art, as it were.

S4: The weird thing about this movie is I was actually invited to the set like five years ago, I guess it was. And they were at great pains. And I wrote about this is kind of like, you know, an exercise in spin, which is very obviously what it was. You know, they flew journalists out to England, brought us to the set, and they showed us the scene, which if you see in either version, it’s one of the few scenes in both of Batman meeting the Flash. And it’s the one where The Flash tells him that he has this weird, you know, heat proof suit made of like space shuttle material in his kind of underground lair because he’s very into competitive ice dancing. And first himself is like a very attractive, nice Jewish boy. And they were great pains to tell us like this because the word was already out that, like Zack Snyder stuff is like a little bit over the top. People are getting a little tired of this, like just super grim and gritty version. And they’re like, this version is going to be fun, like the Justice League is going to be fun. And it just was very clearly like we’re not going to be fun. He was not making a fun movie. And the parts of it, even in this version that are fun, they feel like a bad version of Zack Snyder doing Joss Whedon and somehow like the we didn’t cut. Also, it feels like a bad version of Joss Whedon doing. Joss Whedon was like, none of it actually fits together.

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S1: Well, I mean, I would argue that the bits that are fun to me in the Snyder cut are not the parts that are funny. And we’re attempting to be funny, like the whole like the bits and the Snyder cut where I like want to like fist pump and yell like. Yeah, like I love what’s happening right now are like when Willem Dafoe shows up in a long wig and is like take off your mother’s dress and I’m like this love this. I want to see four hours of this, but we should recap a little bit more of the movie. So so Bruce Wayne is trying to put together his super team. Only Wonder Woman is really on board. Aquaman doesn’t want to do this. The cyborg is just kind of still out there and seems reluctant. Flash, they’re just having a hard time getting a hold of him. But when they do, he comes a he comes aboard pretty easily. So one of the big new additions to the Snyder is fleshing out the cyborgs backstory, where we already know that he was this high school student who was involved in an accident and his father brought him back to life sort of as the cyborg in an attempt to save his life. And we get to see more of that in this movie, along with more of his relationship with his father, which is a little testy. Like you see that his dad is just sort of not present for him when he is still human. And prior to becoming the cyborg, the most of the rest of the broad beats of the movie stay the same, except for the fact that the villain in Wheaton’s Justice League, Steppenwolf, is now kind of a secondary antagonist, sort of because Snyder introduces Dark Side, who is Steppenwolf’s old boss, who is kind of the ultimate big bad and will be the guy who brings about the apocalypse that Bruce Wayne is seeing in these visions that are present in the wind. And this as well.

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S4: Right? I mean, there is it’s weird because Zack Snyder had originally sort of vision. This is like a two part Justice League movie for DC. It had been cut down to a single movie even before he started shooting. But for some reason, this version restores like a tremendous amount of setup for a sequel that like if you thought Zack Snyder’s completed cut of Justice League was never going to happen, the exponential not happening. This is like a sequel to this movie is off the charts. And yet there’s like huge chunks of this movie, especially this like big 20 minute epilogue that are just devoted to setting up this this Justice League two that never going to happen. But, yeah, it is, I guess we should say, like it’s divided into six parts. So if you were not, you know, you don’t necessarily have to block out like an entire four hour evening to watch the whole thing. You can you can take your breaks and pause and go pee or whatever it is you need to do. Yeah. Yeah. And character saying it’s still basically the same, like there are these three kind of, you know, magical boxes that have existed on Earth for thousands of years have been buried. They’ve been reawakened by the death of Superman and they’ve called out to Steppenwolf’s like across the galaxy, who’s going to join them in the ruins of this nuclear power plant in Russia and basically turn the earth into a sort of fiery scape inhabited by lifeless pair of demons, which back, yeah, wouldn’t be the ideal outcome from Earth.

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S1: I will say that just based on the future apocalypse visions that Snyder puts into this movie, I, I sort of like I don’t want to see. But also I’m extremely interested in what that second part would be just because. It’s so visually disparate from literally everything else, because it’s just a desert wasteland, that man has like steampunk goggles. I guess the Joker is there for some reason. There’s no water anywhere. Deathstroke is now a good guy, I guess. And like with a Mohawk. Yeah. And it’s just like I don’t know, that seems like the kind of thing where it seems so far removed from what you’re seeing right now that I’m so curious and how that leap would occur. But I mean, we’re not going to get to see it. So I guess it’s not too much use in hypothesizing about it also, because I do feel like that tag is maybe the weakest part of the movie. But just to wrap up the rest of the plot so the other boxes are weakened in order to stop the giant aliens from taking over the Earth, Bruce Wayne and company decide that they need to resurrect Superman and try to do that with one of the last of the boxes that they have. Superman wakes up but is sort of evil when he wakes up because he doesn’t really have any memories of what happened. Lois Lane shows up to save the day. Superman recovers his memory. He joins the super team. They all find Steppenwolf and defeat him and the day is saved and. But is it? Yeah, it is.

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S4: But the broad arc of this movie and it basically it is, as you said, Karen, like a lot of the pieces are in the same place. They’re just much farther apart and there’s much more like kind of stuff in between them. But the broad arc of this movie, this is a movie about the formation of the Justice League. Right. So all the heroes are kind of they know they’re not team players. They don’t want to be in battles with each other, et cetera, et cetera. And there are three kind of major battle sequences. There’s one in Stryker’s island, which is sort of, you know, underground lair located between Metropolis and Gotham. Then there is this battle where Superman comes back to life and is doesn’t remember who he is. And so he fights the Justice League. You know, it’s five on one there. And then there is the big final battle against Steppenwolf, which is especially in the center version, very much kind of clearly involves like a sort of synchronized teamwork where like they are, you know, the three of them have to fight Steppenwolf and then Sjöberg is going in and like, trying to pull them, pull apart the mother boxes and Flash is running around to build up electricity to zap them with and eventually has to like, reverse time, which is slower than say, yes, I love it.

S1: Like, this is so dumb. It’s so good. Yes. I can’t believe the climax of this movie is man runs so fast that he turns back time and does the apocalypse.

S4: Yeah. Which is which is canonically like part of the Flash’s powers but is not in the Wheadon version at all. Like they just, they just kind of straight up save the day and and instead of like running around, building up an electrical charge and like turning back time, like the flash is running around, saving this like random Russian family who happens to live near the nuclear power plant, which is was entirely an addition, is one of the things that people who hate the Joss Whedon Justice League hate the most about it and just assume that stupid Russian family.

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S1: I didn’t know that there were degrees, but yeah, I mean, it’s a lot like they were trying to do like let’s have our own X-Men speedster sequence just because that went over so well. And I think is X-Men Apocalypse where Evan Peters runs around and everything else is in slow motion. And it is fun. But as I mentioned in my review, I feel like antithetical to what Zack Snyder is trying to do, where it’s like there is a lot of silly stuff. But the appeal is not so much in saying like, oh, look how silly we’re being a wink and more in terms of like it is silly, but it’s also so much fun and it’s just being pushed to the nth degree.

S4: Yeah. Well, can you talk about this? Because you write about in your review, which we should mention is headlined, actually the Snyder cut is great. I mean, you talk specifically about those two like speedster sequences. And I think there’s like you drawing like an interesting comparison there. So can you flesh that out a little bit?

S1: Yeah, of course. So like as mentioned in the X-Men Apocalypse, the scene is basically like everybody that moves through the school to get out of the way of an explosion like all of them have, like windblown phase. And it’s all just like funny words like, oh, look like he’s preventing this guy from kissing a girl. And it looks so gross because he’s stuck in time, like with his tongue out or whatever. And it’s just very like kind of cutesy funny. Whereas like this the big slow motion sequence, obviously, like half of the spider comes in slow motion, which I love. But anyway, the big slow motion sequence for the Flash in the Sarika is when he’s saving Iris West, who will become his wife, as comic readers know, from a car crash. And everything’s happening so slowly. But the idea isn’t so much as like, look how zany his powers are. But like, look, the like slow motion is being used as a sort of way to express the way you feel when you see someone that you’re like, oh, I’m in love. I’m in love with this person like you used to express emotional significance rather than purely for like a fun bit.

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S4: Right. And there’s a bit at the end of the movie to where Flash is like running like. Right as he is because the time travel thing or the time backwards e thing or whatever it is like, he’s it’s breaking the rules, he says, like it’s something he’s not supposed to do because he doesn’t really understand the. All the consequences of it, but he clearly realizes he he needs to at this point, but as he’s like getting up to that point and he’s in like the speed force, you know, he’s got this blue lightning crackling all around him. He just like starts talking to his dad at one point. And he’s like, if I don’t get out of this, dad, I want you to know that I was one of them, one of the best of the best. And there’s like, who is he talking to? You know? But it’s just like that’s one of those like if you’re asking yourself that question at that point, like you’re not watching his action or movie like his movie. So kind of macho and intense. But they’re also so like over the top, like sentimental, melodramatic. Like, he just loves that stuff.

S1: They’re very, very, very emotional is, I think the bottom line or it’s like you think of these kind of grim, dark movies and you just they look like they’re so tough or whatever. But I think part of what makes the center movies good is that all of this toughness is in service of characters that he’s ultimately saying, like are very human and are very fragile. I think we discussed this in a group chat recently, but like all that stares at the end are just like all about these people who are have fraught relationships with their dad. Like every single stinger is about family and about like not being able to talk to them or like not having appreciated them enough when they were alive and things like that. It’s all it’s very like very tender for a movie that is so that is so much comprised of, like, people punching each other.

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S4: Right. And I don’t know. I mean, I think, you know, by and large what we’ve been told and, you know, it does seem to be the case is this is basically a finished version of the sort of four hour assembly cut that Zack Snyder had on his laptop for three and a half years or something. They said they’ve only shot one new scene, which I think is just the tag line all the way at the end of the Martian Manhunter or something like the last, you know, a couple of shots you can tell because Ben Affleck looks like so much better, like he’s in so much better shape, like in that scene.

S1: It’s kind of funny.

S4: It’s like, yeah, it’s like a.. Armis, like daily Dunkin Donuts run. Ben Affleck just feeling good. And, you know, but, you know, part of the reason Zack Snyder left and it’s apparently a little more complicated than the initial story that put out. But is that his, you know, 17 year old daughter died by suicide while he was in post-production on this movie. And at that point, it was already falling apart. And they had brought in Joss Whedon to kind of oversee things and reshoot the movie. And Zack Snyder was just like, I I don’t want to fight for this movie anymore. Like, this is a personal tragedy in my family to deal with it. And I’m just leaving and that’s what happened. But now, like the framing of the end of this movie is this whole speech from Seiberg Father Silas Stone, played by Joe Morgan, who love is so great. Yeah, but he he kills himself to help the Justice League find Steppenwolf’s layer. And he leaves behind this little audiocassette message to his son, which plays his voiceover over all these kind of, you know, father parent reconciliation issues at the end. And it’s all this like apology note from the father about like neglecting him and not being there for him and how proud he is of his son and what great hopes he has for him. And it’s just the last thing you see on the screen here is the dedication to Zack Snyder, his daughter for Autumn, which he’s also been using as a hashtag when he tweets about the movie. And it’s very like it’s right there on the surface of this film, this apology from a father and a basically the father who in this case kind of sacrifices himself so that his child can live. And I’d find that like that’s really moving. And the weird emotions to associate with this, you know, well, on some levels, a movie about like Superman chasing after magic boxes. But it’s really like, you know, gets me right there.

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S1: Yeah. I mean, I think that’s sort of where the popular conception of versus what I think personally is actually I was maybe 10 to accomplish. Like, that’s where the general like miss is where what we think about now, when we think about Zack Snyder, films like I think the popular assumption is again, like very grim, dark, and it’s all just like guys punching each other, which I think we mostly get from the fact that his big breakout was three hundred, right. Where that is kind of the seminal Snyder work, where everything after that takes from that a little bit. And also that was a work that everyone has tried to copy since then. And I would say nobody has done successfully. Like, I don’t think anybody can do this style of movie. But Zack Snyder, which is not to say like, I think that’s what a director should be, but it’s an accomplishment on his part that all his movies share this very distinctive set of sense, and that even though studios have tried to make more out of it, it just kind of hasn’t worked. But things like Man of steel, I think man of steel is the big thing that I’m thinking about, where I think we also tend to classify that as sort of a grim, dark version of Superman, whereas I find that an extremely tender and moving film, especially the first half where Clark is kind of wrestling with the idea of becoming Superman and the fact that his very human foster parents are like. That’s like so much response, they know that it’s so much responsibility for one person to bear and they want him to be safe more than they necessarily want him to be Superman. Like, I really think that would be great. And I feel sort of the same way about Batman versus Superman and this new justice where we have an idea of what we think it is based on the fact that it’s Zack Snyder’s ex. But when you actually watch it and try to interrogate it a little more, you maybe get more out of it than necessarily the popular conception would be, if that makes sense.

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S4: Yeah, I mean, I think people are going to, you know, laugh at this and that’s fine. But I mean, I think there are some really like, genuinely interesting ideas floating around in here. And I think he’s dealing with kind of the rock bottom nature of like who and what Superman is like, maybe more directly than anybody since, like, you know, Richard Donner or Mario Puzo in the first movie. I mean, like like Zack Snyder’s Superman is an alien, you know, and like, OK, he sort of is, you know, pretending to be human, to like to, you know, get along with us, whatever. But he’s just fundamentally a person who could destroy every person on Earth at any minute. And it’s only not because he chooses not to and he never lets you forget that. And I think that that is it’s silly to talk about like truth when you’re dealing with a situation like that. But that seems like right or at least interesting to me to like that. I think there’s a lot of meat there to explore if you choose to go down that road.

S1: No, I totally agree. And it’s so it’s well encapsulated by like when they when you see everyone else fighting Steppenwolf and they can’t even get through his armor and then Superman shows up and he’s so obviously op, he just slices up on a Steppenwolf’s horse, just punches him all over the place. Laser’s I’m like, it’s nothing. It’s like, oh like that’s and even all the other characters saying, like, we think that the mother box is only woke up after Superman was dead because they were afraid of how strong he is, which is a crazy thing to say about any character.

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S4: Yeah. I mean, Steppenwolf wields and this is again, so Zack Snyder, but his big weapon in this movie is an axe that he, you know, sort of like a laser galactic axe that can like, you know, smash open the earth or whatever. But it’s a big, you know, medieval battle axe that he swings around. And at the very climax of the movie, when Cyborg is about to disrupt the unity and Steppenwolf is kind of sidling up to him like the little kid coming into that Zoome interview, he just like, you know, the ax is coming right down on him and Superman is doing it right in front of him. The axe just like stops and Superman is not impressed. And then he breathes is like cold breath on the axe and just punches right through it and shattered it. It’s crazy. You think it’s been like the ultimate weapon for three hours and then it’s just like, yeah, fuck this thing.

S1: I mean, yeah, the whole movie is sort of built around those kinds of insane moments where like even like the reveals of like although I will say I like I like Steppenwolf more in this movie, mostly because I felt like bad for him, because this explains more of why this movie explains a little bit more of why he’s doing this. It’s not just like I want to take over world, but it’s like I want to go back to my home world and this is the only way that they will let me go back.

S4: Yeah, he sort of has daddy issues, too, although I guess canonically Dark Side is like his nephew or something. If is that I think yes, I think he is Darksiders Uncle or something, which is weird to think of these like God, new God characters like breathing somehow and having like brothers and. Yeah but he has this, he like I don’t even think in the four hour version they tell you what he did, but he did something wrong. He like they just betrayed it. Yeah. That’s all. Yeah. So he’s got to like make it up to him and he’s like, please daddy, dark side. Like let me back, I’m going to conquer earth for you and then we’ll be cool. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So he said and it’s I mean it’s fascinating. Like one thing that’s really interesting is to have the opportunity to kind of like Abby, these two cuts real is a very limited number of people are going to want to actually put six hours into doing this. But like you just look at like the entire character of Steppenwolf because it’s an entirely digital character like Karen Hines does the voice, but he is credited as a voice. So the actual he was never on the set. And the entire character is like physically redesigned in the entire movie. Like he has this sort of like, you know, molten metal armor all over him. In the Snyder version of it. That was pretty cool. Yeah. Like the tiles keep moving and but you can just like you could just do that now you go into a movie and just be like we’re going to change the skin of this character in every scene and know Whedon character. Steppenwolf is also like a little more quippy, you know. Yeah, he’s a little more. Yeah, I’m just in a very like Widney way. And then Snider’s, you know, Steppenwolf is not there. No quips involved because they’re there to, like, destroy Earth.

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S1: And no, I like him better. Also, he has a big watery eyes that made me that extra, made me feel bad for him. He’s kind of cute in this, I think. Yes. Dark side. No, like not super interesting to me as a character. Like, I feel for being who who is ultimately the big bad of this movie. He doesn’t really do that much like disorder’s around or the dark side is.

S4: Yes, but I love the fact that there are characters named like Dark Side and decide that they’re not. Ironically, there is a character you have to know the Lord or look in the credits. But there’s also a character named Granny. Goodness. Yeah. Another would have like dark sides, henchmen and stuff. But but yeah. Yeah. Dark Side is kind of the I mean presumably there would have been more of it, but he’s just like the big bad evil, like ultimately not that complicated or interesting character in this.

S1: I did like that at the end when the portal is closing on him so that he can’t come to Earth anymore, they basically just kick Steppenwolf’s head through the portal to the dark side. I thought that was pretty good.

S4: Yeah. I mean, one of the interesting differences in this, as you mentioned, there’s like a lot more flash, a lot more cyborg, like a good deal more Aquaman, all of whom are like new characters are introduced in this movie. Yeah. But also the characters that carry over, like Zack Snyder’s Diana Prince Wonderwoman is like very different from her. Like one of the things that he said that they said on that visit and then got past her on the Internet and kind of made fun of that her you know, her Wonder Woman armor, which goes back like 5000 years, had all these, like, notches on it from, you know, people hitting it with swords. And they said it was sort of stained with the blood of her enemies or something. That was like the scene. That’s like a little goofy, but it’s like she is, you know, she, like, killed it straight up, kills people. I mean, yeah, she’s the one she cuts off. Steppenwolf’s head at the end of the movie was like with her sword Kleenex slice, you know, but like also at the beginning of the movie where her introduction is like her foiling a group of terrorists.

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S1: She like straight up kill some of those people like blood everywhere. She’s just killing you. Yes. I was like, oh, I don’t know. Well, I which is, I guess what you get to do when you are Zack Snyder making this ultimate cut of your movie, but also, like, kind of shocking because like the Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman, if you like any of the other superhero movies that we’ve seen recently, seeing your hero do that seems like unthinkable.

S4: Well, yeah. I mean, I think in Wonder Woman in 1984, like, no one dies in that entire movie. I mean, the first Wonder Woman is pretty gruesome. There’s a lot of kind of World War One era, like people getting gassed in trenches kind of stuff. But the eighty four, the more recent one is really notable for being a superhero movie, much like nobody dies.

S1: Yeah, I will say watching this movie, watching this Niharika, maybe realize how much I forgot about the first one I remember I was like, oh yeah. Like David Thewlis in that movie where he’s like, like deep faked into this as areas again, which I was like cool. Also like this version of Zus I feel like looks a lot more like comics, Hercules, but whatever it was still cool to see him like slinging lightning everywhere. That flashback in general is nuts. It’s just like three hundred. But in two minutes.

S4: Yeah. We should mention like one of the really expanded sequences in this, you get like I think, you know, two or three or four minutes of it in the Wheadon version, the sort of story of the mother boxes being on Earth for like five thousand years and how the, you know, the warriors of Earth, like United, like the Justice League, wink, wink, they were all these separate tribes, but they united and they kicked Darksiders ass except Darksiders and even in this movie. So it’s just in Wheaton’s version. So it’s just Steppenwolf. But they all got together and kicked his ass and sent him like scurrying back to space. And that’s like yet in this like 20 minutes of, you know, legends like like running at each other across like a barren plains of earth. The zoo’s character is like this, sort of like, you know, Macedonian bodybuilder. He’s like, you know, like putting his hands together, going are shooting these, like, lightning people and stuff. I mean, it’s just, again, like, so crazy and over-the-top. But you know that, again, like, you know, it’s goofy, but it’s like so it’s so kind of silly and enjoyable in some ways. And it’s like if you’re going to make a movie about a character named Dark Side who is threatening to, like, take over the entire universe, like you kind of got to, like, buy into that at some point. You can’t really, like, clip your way around it.

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S1: Yeah, I really I just had one second during that whole exposition where I was like, if I was Bruce Wayne and somebody was trying to tell me this story, I feel like, what the fuck are you talking about? But at the same time, he’s just met a woman who is immortal and all this other bullshit has happened. So maybe it’s not too far out of the scope of imagination after all.

S4: I mean, I think my favorite part of that sequence is like a lot of the story beats that are kind of glossed over in the Wheadon version, like make a little more sense and this one. But there are also some like the whole dark side mythology turns around this thing called the empty life equation, which which will somehow allow him to control all life in the universe, yada, yada, yada. And it was like. Hidden on earth at some point and then Dark Side got repelled and then apparently just forgot where he left it until Steppenwolf’s, like, stumbles on it. But if you go back and Wonder Woman is in line in the dialogue like, oh, it was anonymous among thousands of world. And it’s like, how do you forget where you left the anti life equation?

S1: Like, I mean, I don’t know anything about this in a comics context, but it’s just seems like you like it on paper. Like, I don’t no. This is not the thing to quibble about probably. But it was very much like like if it’s something that you like, I don’t know. I don’t understand any of it. It’s fine. I Yeah. Legitimately complain.

S4: Yeah. But yeah that’s just that. But that’s just like one of those things like a lot of it I don’t care about. But that, that part is just like I’m just like how did he, how did he not know where this thing was like. Serves you right darkside. Yeah. Like just keep that, keep track of your shit man. Yeah. But let me ask, I mean do you have like is there anything from the wheadon cut that you miss in this Karen.

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S1: Honestly, no, I barely remember the Wheaten and I don’t I feel like Joss Whedon is just not as distinctive a filmmaker as Xander is, which is what the big thing that I like about Zack Snyder is like you can watch a movie and know if it was directed by him. And there isn’t really as much of that, I think, in the theatrical release.

S4: Yeah, I mean, I think the only thing that I miss is just like a certain kind of conciseness, dare I say. I mean, it’s like I think if you if Zack Snyder had it’s just like if this movie had actually been released in theaters, like they would have cut, you know, 40 minutes out of it anyway just because like that’s you know, it’s other stuff, like one sequence that I kind of focused on, like there’s an after Steppenwolf, like a tax thermosphere and steals the mother box that atmosphere. And I have to warn Diana Prince that, like, this thing is happening, they’re not allowed to leave their island. So they have to shoot this kind of magical like centuries or millennia old fire arrow out into some shrine in Greece to, like, let her know. In the Wheadon version, there’s a shot of Connie Nielsen notching the bow, like notching the bow and letting the arrow loose. And that’s the sequence and the Zack Snyder version. There are twenty one shots of them, like unboxing the arrow, carrying it out and continues isn’t like staring at it in some line about like sky torches and whatever. And like this whole two minute sequence just kind of conveying that like this aros like hold is hell and very important. And, you know, I enjoy that sort of like mythic weightiness on some level. But it’s also like, you know, at a certain point you have to get to the fireworks factory.

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S1: Yeah, I think it my only counter that it would be like I really think if you were watching this in a theater in IMAX, I don’t know that you would. Notice the fact that time had floated a little bit, right, because all these images are meant to be seen on an IMAX screen, they’re meant to be consumed in the biggest visual way possible. And it’s hard for me not to watch. It was hard for me not to watch the screener and then not think if I watch this in a movie theater, like it would be absolutely losing my mind while I was watching this. And I feel like it would have made for fun. Like, obviously, this would never have released as it is into theaters, because four hours is an insane amount of time. But I like it at four hours and I feel like it would have been fun as a kind of roadshow movie in the same way, like The Hateful Eight was done right with it, with an intermission and whatever.

S4: And yeah, I think I mean, once who knows when this is, but I mean, once theaters sort of actually like properly reopen and can be filled and stuff, I can completely see them doing like, you know, fathom events type like, you know, once or twice, you know, screenings and theaters being packed for that, I think. Yeah, they tried to release it as a conventional, like, you know, however, in screenings you could fit into a day, maybe three. It would probably lose more money than the first Justice League. But I think it was sort of a one off event. I would be totally into doing that. It was funny that has come out now, really only because HBO makes this new streaming service like needs stuff to fill in. Their whole goal for twenty twenty one, since they don’t have movie theaters, is to get more subscribers to this thing. So it’s also like coming out on streaming TV in the sort of anti IMAX format. You know, people are going to be watching this on on iPads and phones and laptops and whatever. You know, Ed, that’s just sort of the movie business in twenty, twenty one, I guess. But it’s funny. Yeah.

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S1: It’s also funny to think that suddenly, like, this is the thing that they’re banking on because because of the fact that during production it was so clear that they were like, we cannot do this, we won’t allow this. But now that they need something to fill that space and to bring subscribers are like, we will do it. I mean, obviously, it is in part because of the fan reaction, but also sort of gets that. One of the other things that I like about this idea, which again, is that it’s a very singular artist’s vision, whereas so many other big blockbusters today are so homogenous and so much a part of the big corporate factory that you don’t really remember any of it after you leave the theater.

S4: Right. There is not like three seconds of this movie that you could watch and not know that Zack Snyder directed it. Yeah, and in a way, it’s funny because, yeah, it did completely fail and it did come close to kind of taking the whole maybe really did take a whole DC extended universe, like there have been sort of solo films. But the idea of having a big Marvel style thing where they’re releasing, you know, two or three movies a year and all building on each other is kind of dead now. But in a way, like the pressure’s off, like this isn’t you know, Zack Snyder isn’t the sort of brand ambassador for for the DC Universe anymore. And so we can because we know it’s a dead end, kind of enjoy it more in that way.

S1: Yeah, I really wonder what they’re going to do after this, because there really isn’t a homogenous version of DC anymore, which I think is for the best. But then you have like Robert Pattinson, Batman, which is a totally new actor stepping into the role. Then you have like they keep wanting to do more Wonderwoman movies, which is its own whatever thing.

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S4: And then there’s James Wolens, Aquaman, which is like Lisa Frank book Come to Life, which is incredible, but also not just totally unlike the other DC movies that exist and in theory, like a Flash movie that has been through, like I don’t even know how many sets of writers and directors and been pushed back year over year over year at May or may not happen at some point.

S1: Yeah, Billy Crudup just left. So who knows anymore.

S4: Oh man. Yeah, the poor flash I guess. I guess Ezra Miller is stuck in there also.

S1: He was like semi canceled, if I remember correctly, but just like nothing too concrete has come of it. So. Yeah, yeah.

S4: But he’s I mean, he’s between this and the fantastic Beast movie. He’s not picking his franchise super well.

S1: Yeah. But this is a better franchise than fantastic. But as I said, I want to say I would agree with that. Yes. But yeah, I don’t know. Just overall, this is a movie that I do find myself in awe and admiration of. Like, it’s a it’s an achievement that and not just in terms of the really unique circumstances that have led to its current release and the 70 million more dollars being poured into it. But just as. A kind of uncompromising artistic vision, although I guess there was one compromise, which was that they just liked everyone speculating about Harry Lennix with Martian Manhunter so much that they just made him Martian Manhunter, which I is good for him, I guess. Right. You have to see Martian manager.

S4: Yeah, but like one, I mean, there’s the first scene between meeting between Batman and Aquaman here when Aquaman kind of goes back into the ocean and Joss Whedon version, he just like kind of, you know, fucks off into the ocean and swims away. And the Zack Snyder version, there’s I think like a minute and a minute and a half of these, like, sort of hypnotically blonde, like Norwegian people, like singing a folk song as he goes. And one of them actually, like, starts huffing the sweater that he left behind. And it’s just like you were, you know, that’s like you’re in it at that point. Like, I don’t know anybody else who would try to do that, who would get away with that. Like, it’s just I mean, it’s very, very idiosyncratic. But if you are tired of all superhero movies, kind of seemingly the same and doing the same stuff like this is this does not fall under that heading.

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S1: Which is what makes it so great for me anyway. To me, a lot of the things that I forgot, I like that Michael Michael Hatton is in this. I mean, there’s so many small parts where I’m like, I like that this actor is in this as pretty much what I have to say about it, or it’s like I like that Michael Lambeck Platonism as I like that David goes into this. I like that J.K. Simmons is in this. I’m glad that I got paid to be in this movie. They all look great.

S4: Yes. And you mentioned Willem Dafoe and Amber Heard as Mira, who is so wonderful, so good.

S1: I almost wish they hadn’t changed Falco’s character design to be a topknot because the long hair is I guess the long hair makes sense for Zack Snyder’s version of Valco. Yes, you know what I mean, where he looks like a dinosaur, but like underwater.

S4: And I believe Amber heard like, lost her English accent between movies, too.

S1: They also did away with like, you can only talk underwater if you’re in an air bubble thing. A lot of things got scrapped, but they look cool. Just.

S4: Yes, yeah. So it’s a lot of, like, kind of dead end, some of them interesting, some of them less so that you could sort of see. But it’s again, like there’s really weirdly revealing glimpse into sort of like the long range planning of these like massive franchises that now control so much of the landscape. And these little design tweaks are made between movies and in this case, between the same movie.

S1: Yeah, and kind of a pity ultimately. Almost like makes me sad to see this because it’s so distinctive, whereas like Wonder Woman nineteen eighty four, I don’t remember anything about that movie. It was like. A very milquetoast movie to me.

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S4: Yeah, I remember like Kristen wigs, like neon sweater dress and that like this. He didn’t like the CGI fights were really bad and that’s.

S1: Yeah, CGI was not good in that movie, although I guess we’re we’re not spoiling one of money, many movies.

S4: But, you know, this this Nonaka does kind of undo a thought that I had been having because again, like Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman, eighty four is one of those things where it’s like people loved the first movie and hated the second one. And I thought they were both sort of different degrees of fine. But I didn’t kind of understand how you could love the first one and then not love the second one. They didn’t seem that different to me. And I was thinking, well, maybe just the fact that, like, we’re watching these movies that are meant to be seen in theaters where like the light and the color in the sound kind of blows away like a lot of the, you know, not especially good, like writing and acting director, good stuff. And maybe just the fact that, like, these things are now debuting at like noon on your laptop is just going to be going to be you’re realizing that a lot of these movies are really actually that good. They just they’re just big and amazing. Yeah, but the Snider cut is like not only debuting on our TV, but it’s even smaller than that is it’s weird. Like one three three Turner Classic Movies aspect ratio and still seems like a big sturm und drang like rock and roll superhero movie.

S1: Yeah, I completely agree. That was exactly what I was going to say where I was like, even though it is debuting in a non theater setting, it’s still extremely impressive to watch. It doesn’t lose too much by not being seen that way. Like, I don’t think there’s there would be as much smoke and mirrors in that sense leading. You believe something that’s good just because you saw it with Dolby surround sound or whatever. And I was thinking about it in terms of I saw Batman versus Superman in IMAX as Batman v Superman in IMAX as well. And I thought that was incredible and like, I don’t know what I’m getting at, but like, I wish that I had seen the sniper in a theater. And just so many of the images are so made, again, like for the big screen, like seeing things in IMAX is already an overwhelming experience, no matter what the movie is, but especially the Batman. Superman like the beginning is the child, Bruce Wayne being lifted up into the air by a swarm of bats and that from that moment I was like, yes, like I like this. I’m in for this.

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S4: You have like like this like the Superman ship that’s the size of, like several square city blocks in this and whatever it’s like you see on the screen, that’s actually the size of several square city blocks. That would be pretty cool.

S1: It’s impressive. Yeah. I mean, I guess we both landed on the page of the America. It’s pretty good.

S4: It’s very surprising to me because I nobody was kind of less enthusiastic watching it for hours I was on, but I was really like kind of converted at some point. And even the parts of it I think was like sillier. Overblown is, as you were saying, to like I would just I would rather see Zack Snyder’s version of Zack Snyder movie than Joss Whedon version of it. There are certainly things I would probably rather watch than either of those things, but it did really kind of he’s a filmmaker that as much as I don’t particularly like a lot of his movies, like I just find consistently interesting and distinctive. And this is all the interesting or distinctive parts of that, you know, turned up to 11.

S1: Yeah, absolutely. Happy to discuss this movie with you.

S5: In fact, if that’s our show, we subscribe to the Slate spoiler special podcast lead. And if you like the show, please write and review it in the Apple podcast store or wherever you get your podcast. If you have suggestions for movies or TV shows we should spoil or if you have any other feedback we’d like to share, please send it to spoilers at Slate Dotcom and for our Slate plus members, it’s servery time again, which means it’s your chance to tell us what you think about a slate. Plus in Slate, it’ll only take a few minutes and you can find it at Slate dot com slash survey. Our producer is Morgan Flannery for Sam Adams. I’m Karen on. Thank you for listening.