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Justice League Needs More of Whedon's Vision, Not A Snyder Cut

Not a day goes by without fans asking for the infamous Snyder Cut of Justice League, a request which so far has, and probably always will, go unanswered. Despite this, the movie's reception signals that it needed the opposite. When Zack Snyder left the film's production following a family tragedy, he was replaced as director by Joss Whedon.

Despite having a filmography even more revolutionary than Snyder's, the resulting film was considered a disappointment by many. If, however, Whedon had come in at an earlier point in production, there's a heavy chance that the film would have positively reflected it. Here's why Justice League ultimately needed a Whedon Cut, as opposed to the equally nonexistent Snyder Cut.

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Whedon Gets Superhero Movies

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It's undeniable that Joss Whedon's superhero movies have been more successful than Zack Snyder's, both critically and financially. After all, he was the director of both 2012's The Avengers and the 2015 follow-up, Avengers: Age of Ultron. The former was especially monumental for not only the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but movies in general. In fact, it's equally undeniable that much of the rush to get to Justice League came from DC and Warner Bros.' desire to catch up to Marvel Studios.

Whedon's Avengers movies are also filled with fun blockbuster humor, trademarks of not only Marvel movies in general, but also Joss Whedon. Whedon's work is known for its offbeat, tongue-in-cheek comedy, and its use in Avengers solidified that particular tone for Marvel movies. This tone was markedly absent in most of the pre-2017 DCEU movies, which was a point of contention for many fans.

By having Whedon at the wheel for more of the movie's production, he would have been able to steer the DCEU in this more blockbuster-friendly direction, as opposed to the tonal mishmash that Justice League became due to it being made by two very different directors. In fact, his late-in-the-game hiring was evident in the film's notoriously rushed and sloppy editing.

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Snyder Was to Blame

Zack Snyder on the set of Justice League

For better or worse, everything that defined the DCEU at that point was driven by the vision of Zack Snyder. Ever since his cinematic version of Watchmen, Snyder had reveled in an edgy, more in-your-face direction that was a sharp contrast to the more clear cut and traditional heroics of Marvel's blockbusters. Similarly, superhero movies, which had become darker (at least visually) since the success of 2008's The Dark Knight, were then gravitating toward Marvel's trend by the time Man of Steel released in 2013.

The muted color palette, lack of jokes and darker stories and characterizations -- the DCEU's most reviled elements -- were all the result of Snyder plotting the course for the film universe. This was especially problematic given that it involved Superman, a generally lighthearted character who many viewers had certain, ingrained expectations about. On the other hand, the Marvel characters are to this day typically liked and defined only by their movie counterparts, with Spider-Man and the X-Men (who were not in the MCU at the time) being the only characters that mainstream audiences had any real point of reference for. This meant that the more controversial decisions would be especially jarring for the more iconic DC characters.

A Snyder Cut, if such a thing were to exist, would only give fans more of a glimpse at what, at that point, was clearly a failing formula. Many see the box office failure of Justice League as being a response to the controversy over Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This is especially believable, given that the preceding Wonder Woman did much better critically and financially. That movie, however, was not written or directed by Snyder, whereas Justice League clearly had his influence all over it.

A Tale of Two Directors

Justice League DCEU Only Movies

As mentioned, Whedon came in essentially to finish the job for Snyder, who had to abruptly leave. Though there were extensive reshoots, Whedon was still working within the framework that Snyder had provided. Whedon's directorial freedom was more akin to an owner of a restaurant franchise than that of a family owned restaurant. He could change some rules here and there, but Whedon was still cooking someone else's menu. Thus, for all the clamoring for a Snyder Cut, what fans got wasn't too far off. It certainly wasn't the Whedon Cut that the movie needed.

If Whedon were given the opportunity, the result more than likely would have been a snappier, more upbeat film. Both Aquaman and Shazam! have followed in this mold, and the success of the former in particular shows it to be the way to go for now. Whedon would have also been able to balance this more appropriately with the darker elements, making films more readily beloved than hotly contested. As it stands, Justice League with 80% Snyder and around 20% Whedon was a inarguable flop. A version of the film that was at least the reverse, if not 100% Whedon, would have been far more successful. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most obvious proof of that.

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