The Snyder Cut’s uniqueness is not that it is fan-rescued, nor that Whedon poorly truncated it. Its glory is that it is a cinematographic opera, a perfectly woven tragedy, a Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk if you will.
What preceded this film, Joss Whedon was a theft of Snyder’s libretto; all the words, all the stage directions stolen from the wounded and abandoned Philoctetian Snyder. Instead of his Opera Seria, we were given a Dramma Giocoso, a light tale and happy ending instead of the intend dark finale.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is not meant to be taken in as a mere ‘movie’, but as an emotional Proscenium, a rotunda that covers you and envelops you. It is an experience that requires understanding that this will take time and a commitment to enjoy fully.
Sanders opera is a fresco of religion, mythology, and the human story; God and Mephistopheles, John the Revelator, Mohammad and Lucifer, et al.
While Superman’s insignia heraldically means hope, at our cinema’s Overture, this seems all but lost. Snyder and composer Holkenborg well understand this. From the first moments of the light touching the screen, we are met with an aria of grief and tragedy. There are no words spoken, but what we are witness to is an obbligato that is Superman’s death cry.
The demise of Kal-El is not a minor event, but a tonal paradigm shift that heralds that everything has changed, and nothing will be the same again. Superman’s death wail is not a gasp but a cosmic wail that announces the death of humanities sentinel. The walls of Jericho have fallen, and the world lays open and exposed, very similar to the mark left by Doomsday’s fatal blow, a savaged gaping breach penetrating Kryptonian armour.
With this downfall, Hell is awakened.
Steppenworlf is no mere villain, but a demon emerging from Hell under direct orders to destroy Humanity. Darkseid is no mere villain, but the embodiment of an exiled Lucifer who feels that Creations defilement is now within his grasp, now that Superman, the guardian archangel, has been vanquished.
Batman serves as our countertenor and prophet. Bruce Wayne, like the apostle Paul, has come to see how his persecution of the Kryptonian falls under the Messianic statement of ‘Forgive him, for he knew not what he has done.’
The Batcave is filled with Wayne’s silent confession of guilt, and yet the Flash has entered stage left to show him the path of redemption. Barry Allen’s Flash as shown us in Batman Vs Superman is messenger to the gods, revealing to Batman the revelation what will come to pass, should the Earth submit to fear and not take up arms and battle evil.
Barry Allen’s Flash and the Batman operate in perfect harmonic contrast to each other; one serves the light, the other the dark. It is they that have seen the future, and only they that know the where the river will divide. Barry Allen’s heroics are a portamento; moving from note to note, and dimension to dimension. Allen, who is the embodiment of mirth and laughter shows that it is he who holds the power of Zeus’s lightening. He is capable of bringing life to the Mother Box in an image that mimics Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam. Allen stands alone in the company of misery; Batman and Wonder woman, Cyborg and Aquaman, Lois, and Martha Kent are cloaked in a sombre pall lifted only when the lighthearted Flash brightens them. While the others grieve superman, it was Allen whose heart heard the song of joy from Clark Kent’s life.
Cyborg, however, is the centre of our tale. He is imprisoned in the orchestra pit yet to be liberated. Only one can do this: Wonder Woman. Like Zeus before her, Diana used Olympian power – drawn from a false god- to reshape from the human clay of an innocent man, Steve Trevor, whom she loved. It is only when Diana, Goddess of the hunt, daughter of the Lord of the Sky, is brought out from the cypress trees from where she has hidden that her redemption is secured. Batman, the embodiment of fear and darkness, now calls all the Gods of Olympus, Mercury, Artemis, and Neptune to unleash Kal-El’s banished titan. They cannot do this without Pluto- the Unseen, the Craftsman.
Cyborg, like Pluto, has been banished to Hades by his father. Taken from glory by paternal insensitivity and indifference, Victor Stone is our connection, our Prima Donna. Even his name evinces his very nature, for it is a man clad in the elements of Earth, that is our spinto tenor, our literal victor. Diana, goddess of the hunt is the one who, in finding him, brings him into the fold.
Aquaman, tragically, is almost a supernumerary in this opera. He serves no purpose but to be Sancho Panza to Bruce Wayne’s Don Quixote.
While possessing a thread of verismo, Arthur Curry’s whole tessitura is but an announcement of things to come, a preview of coming attractions. Were it not for Diana Prince’s intermissionary tale of man, Atlantean, and Amazon’s fighting together, Aquaman’s presence would be little more than a trouser role.
It is not necessary to describe the plot of both Snyder and Whedon’s craftmanship, for they are the same. But where one is a masterpiece, the other is a failure; prime rib in contrast to trimmed fat.
Whedon’s sin is that he crafted little more than a penny opera rewritten by his hubris. Can he be faulted for accepting the task of completing Snyder’s tale? No, not at all. Nor can it be said that he is a poor regisseur? Far from it, this is the architect of Buffy, Firefly, and The Avengers, after all. Why failure? In the film’s vernacular, Joss Whedon became a Parademon, a once noble being slain and resurrected as a creature of evil ; Twas, the beast that slay beauty here.
Whether or not the Lords of Warner and DC will decide to continue a Snyder-coloured palette for future productions is at this time unlikely. Upon completing his tale, Snyder has indicated that he is, if not reticent, loathe to craft more Superhero films. No one can blame him; the man has more knives stuck in his back than Julius Caeser.
Et tu, Whedon?
John R. White is a USAF veteran, and has served as Art Director for the Honor Flight Network, and Honor Flight Northwest Ohio. He is most well known as the Author of ‘The Tales of the Airship Neverland’ steampunk series, and the author and designer of the ‘Airship Neverland’ Roleplaying game.