Back in 1978 and to great fanfare and success the Richard Donner directed, Marlon Brando/Gene Hackman/Christopher Reeve starring Superman was released to theaters.
That movie, to my mind, remains the pinnacle of superhero films, even though the effects, miraculous at the time, are pretty dated and not quite so spectacular.
What audiences at that time didn’t know is that the movie’s producers, Ilya and Alexander Salkind, decided to sack Richard Donner even though during the filming of the original Superman he was also filming Superman II.
In fact, by the time Mr. Donner was fired, some 60% of that sequel, perhaps a little more, was finished yet the Salkinds nonetheless fired Donner and brought in Richard Lester to finish up. Mr. Lester would receive sole credit for Superman II when it was released to theaters in 1980 despite the fact that a considerable amount of the material in the film was created under the direction of Richard Donner.
Because of the success of these films and over the subsequent years since their release, the fan community expressed a great deal of interest in seeing Richard Donner’s version of Superman II. In 2006, twenty six years after the theatrical release of the Richard Lester version of the film, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was released to DVD/BluRay…
While a fascinating watch, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut was a flawed work. The fact of the matter was that Mr. Donner hadn’t finished the film way back when and certain included scenes were audition/practice takes. They worked reasonably well even if they were crude considering the scenes around them.
What didn’t work, alas, was the film’s ending, which featured the “going back in time to set things right” climax which was featured in the original Superman. For those who didn’t know, the going back in time thing was originally intended to be used in Superman II but somewhere along the line Donner and company felt it was a better ending for Superman. They wound up using that ending in that movie and figured in time they’d get around to coming up with another ending for Superman II.
Because of the firing, that time never came and no new ending was created/conceived by Donner and company for Superman II. Thus, in the Donner Cut of the film, we’re given that ending, despite the fact that it was already used in the original film.
As I said above, I feel the Donner Cut is a fascinating watch but ultimately a flawed work. I nonetheless feel it is on par with, and in some cases better, than the Lester version of Superman II.
Fast forward to last year and the release of Justice League.
The production of that film was a source of considerable tension and gossip. Zack Snyder, the film’s director, seemed a man with a target on his back, given the controversy behind the release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
While some people (like me!) enjoyed BvS, there were many, including a large percentage of critics, who slammed the film.
Given that Justice League featured Mr. Snyder back in the director’s chair and with DC/Warner Brothers clearly feeling burned by the reviews of BvS (and to some extent Suicide Squad as well), there was a great effort made to show fans that JL would be a better product.
However, some 6 or so months before the film’s release, Zack Snyder announced he had stepped down from the production. His daughter committed suicide and he didn’t have the heart, he stated, to continue working on the film. Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) who had apparently been working on the script of the film, was promoted to director and tasked with finishing it up.
As it turned out, Mr. Whedon did extensive re-shoots. When the film was released last year, the critics were a little kinder but Justice League ultimately underperformed. It wasn’t a bust, but considering the amount of money spent on it, Warners was likely not too happy with the end results.
Worse, even casual fans of Snyder’s works could see the released film skewed heavily toward Whedon’s lighter, snarkier take. In fact, someone made this fascinating comparison of the visuals presented by each director…
Now, before I go any farther: I think this comparison is somewhat unfair. I suspect Whedon was under great pressure to get things done and done quickly and that may be part of the reason why the Whedon “visuals” look so much cheesier.
However, now that the theatrical version of JL has been released and now that the home video version is on the horizon (the digital version is already available) this does beg these questions:
- Is there a “Zack Snyder” cut of the film?
- If there is, will we ever see it?
As for the first question, there are rumors that Mr. Snyder had a 3 hour cut of the film made shortly before he left. Before you get too excited about that, there are further rumors that this version was deemed “unwatchable”, though by whom I don’t know.
There are also rumors, freshly released, that Mr. Snyder didn’t leave JL voluntarily, despite all that was stated at the time and the tragedy that occurred to him, that he was actually fired.
However, that’s all water under the bridge at this point and, like with Mr. Donner’s version of Superman II, we have a not insignificant amount of people out there who are curious to see the Snyder version of JL.
This is, of course, assuming that before he left Mr. Snyder did indeed create something approaching a final cut of his version of the film.
So, what is the likelihood of this happening?
Well, perhaps its due to the fact that the JL film is about to be released to home video but it seems that hints of a possible Zack Snyder cut of the film is starting to percolate into the net.
Mr. Snyder himself has commented on Vero regarding two deleted scenes he directed and what they meant in his version of the film. This article, by Jude Terror and found on Bleedingcool.com, details Mr. Snyder’s explanation…
Zack Snyder reveals secrets of the Snyder cut
There was another, even more interesting article I found, this one written by Brian Lafayette and found on fansider.com which notes…
Did Zack Snyder just tease the Justice League Snyder Cut?
Mr. Lafayette’s points out that Mr. Snyder, via Vero, posted the following pictures:
As Mr. Lafayette points out, a cut thumb. A “Snyder” cut, followed by a picture of Superman? Hmmm… could Mr. Snyder be, subtly if nothing else, teasing the notion that audiences might be getting his version of the film?
I have to admit, I’d certainly buy a “Snyder Cut” of the film if it is released. As I said too many times before, I’m a fan of BvS, especially the “Ultimate Cut”, and am very curious to see what Mr. Snyder would do with the Justice League.
Understand: I did NOT hate -and in fact enjoyed- the theatrical cut of JL. Having said this, that film was clearly more of a Whedon product versus a Snyder product.
Perhaps one day soon, and not 26 years down the road, I might get a chance to see Snyder’s take on Justice League.