Those who keep up on doings within the superhero film genre will no doubt be aware of the recently-released “Snyder Cut” of the 2017 film Justice League, which was supposed to be DC’s answer to Marvel’s The Avengers, but which bombed pretty badly with both critics and at the box office. Maybe it should have been phrased in the form of a question …
Now, the original director of Justice League was Zack Snyder, director of several other movies I enjoyed, such as the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead and the 2009 superhero film Watchmen, which—don’t tell anyone*—I actually liked better than the graphic novel. He also directed several movies that I’m not going to say were good, exactly, but that looked cool and/or had soundtracks that I liked. But he wasn’t able to finish Justice League because of a family tragedy, and so Joss Whedon (of Buffy and, yes, The Avengers fame) was brought in to finish the film. Rewrites and reshoots ensued, and you might expect that, given Joss Whedon’s track record, the end result would have been an amazing success, but, yeah, not so much.
Anyway, in the years since the Whedon cut’s release, talk of a fabled “Snyder Cut” of Justice League has been floating around the Internet like a rumor of lost treasure, and eventually, through some manner of aligning of the stars and, possibly, magic, these rumors resulted in the Snyder Cut’s actually coming into existence and being released on HBO Max earlier this past March. I was kind of planning to ignore it—I mean, I already saw the original and it wasn’t great, plus I’ve always been more of a Marvel aficionado anyway**—but then reviews started to appear that indicated the “Snyder Cut” actually made a difference, so I figured I would check it out. I was some way into it when my wife wandered in from the other room and got a look at the reworked main villain. In the original, he was just kind of a generic big guy who might have been transplanted from a movie about gladiators, except for the, you know, horns; in the “Snyder Cut”, he’s a big guy some very shiny spiky animated armor who in no way looks like any other superhero character that I can name off the top of my head. You can compare and contrast the two versions below and decide for yourself which one is more memorable (hint: it’s the new one):
Wife: “That’s cool armor. Who is it?”
Me: “That’s the main villain of this movie. He has the unfortunate name of ‘Steppenwolf’.”
Wife: “Why is that unfortunate?”
Me: “Because he’s—” (singing) “—born to be wiiiiiiii-iii-ild.”
Wife: “He looks like he would make a good toy. Something to occupy you while you’re doing something else.”
Me: “What, like a fidget spinner?”
Wife: “No, more like one of those toys with all the little magnet pieces stuck together that you can manipulate. What movie is this?”
Me: “This is the ‘Snyder Cut’ of Justice League.”
Wife: “There’s a superhero movie you haven’t seen?”
Me: “Oh I saw the original, but …” (explains all about the ‘Snyder Cut’, as described above) “Also, the movie is four hours long now.”
Wife: “Four hours?! They would never have let him release a four-hour long movie to theatres.”
Wife: “Well, I’m glad he’s getting to produce his full vision after what happened to his daughter. And he did a great job on the armor.”
My wife then proceeded not to pay much attention to Justice League for a while. And by “a while” I mean “until Aquaman showed up”.
Wife: “Who’s that supposed to be?”
Me: “That’s Aquaman.”
Wife: “Is he a merman?”
Me: “Not really. He’s an Atlantean. Well, half-Atlantean. He lives underwater.”
Wife: “Is he the king of the ocean?”
Me: “Sort of. He’s the rightful king of Atlantis.”
Wife: “Is he Triton? Triton’s the king of the ocean, right?”
Me: “He’s not Triton. He has got a trident though.”
For some reason my wife at this point my wife suddenly became very interested in Justice League.
Wife: “Is he part Samoan?”
Me: “I don’t know.” (talks to Apple Watch) “Hey, Siri, what is Jason Momoa’s nationality?”
Siri: “Jason Momoa is American.”
Me: “Hey, Siri, what—”
Siri: “I’m ready.”
Me: “Hey, Siri, what is—”
Me: “Ugh. HEY SIRI. WHAT IS JASON MOMOA’S ETHNIC BACKGROUND?”
Siri: “Jason Momoa is American.”
(this continues for a while as I try to figure out what question will make Siri tell me where Jason Momoa’s family came from, until finally …)
Siri: “Jason Momoa is Hawaiian with Polynesian ancestry.”
Me: “He’s Polynesian, and Samoa is part of Polynesia, so … Maybe?”
So that was mostly answered, but more information was required.
Wife: “He’s huge. How tall is he?”
Me (talks to Apple Watch): “Hey Siri, how tall is. Jason Momoa?”
Siri: “Jason Momoa is 6 feet 7 inches tall.”
Wife: “He’s a giant! I’m 5 foot 3 so he’s …” (starts doing math while looking at some point high up in the air)
Me: “He’s almost a foot and a half taller than you, and nearly a foot taller than me. And much much wider.”
But wait! Yet more information was required!
Wife: “Does he really have those full-sleeve tattoos?”
Me (talks to Apple Watch): “Hey Siri, does Jason Momoa really have all those tattoos?”
Siri: “I can’t answer that.”***
Having finally resolved the various Aquaman-related mysteries, we were finally able to proceed with watching more of the film.
Wife: “Are you getting lots of material for a post? Although it’s just me asking questions.”
Me: “No one is going to be surprised when a ‘Not a Review’ of Justice League consists entirely of you asking questions about Jason Momoa. Literally no one.”
This being towards the beginning of the film, Aquaman was not yet a continuous presence, and my wife soon wandered off into the other room.
Me: “Do you want me to let you know when Aquaman is back on?”
Sadly, that night, Aquaman did not make a reappearance until my wife was already asleep; and being just about bedtime, I paused the movie, and didn’t pick it up again until a few days later. By that time I’d forgotten I’d paused it, but when I turned the Apple TV back on, there it was, right where I’d left it.
Me: “Hey, Aquaman is back, if you want to come watch a little more of Justice League.”
Wife: “Okay! Wait, I have to put on my better glasses.”
At this point, though, Aquaman was no longer in the ocean, was fully clad in some sort of armor, and was standing around in a plaza with the other heroes, including Ben Affleck’s Batman, who, Siri tells me, is 6 feet 3 inches tall.
Wife: “He looks smaller when he’s not underwater.”
She also remarked again about Steppenwolf’s**** new look, which can be seen to good effect in the trailer below:
Wife: “I really want an action figure with that armor. Except for the spiky parts, they look kind of dangerous.”
Justice League: The Snyder Cut has technically never put my wife to sleep, but that’s mainly because we never watched enough of it in a single sitting to actually drift off; she just wandered in for the Aquaman set pieces or to admire Steppenwolf’s**** shiny armor, then wandered off again. And, to be honest, four hours is a lot of movie to sit through all at once, even for me.
Me: “I’m watching this movie the way you usually do. It’s been a week and I’m only halfway through it.”
Wife: “Ha ha.”
Me: “One thing I can tell you for sure is that with four hours of running time, instead of just being constant fighting, this version has spent a lot more time developing the characters.”
Wife (after a moment): “And that’s a good thing?”
Me: “Oh, yes, it’s a good thing.”
Wife: “Okay. Because it sounded like there was going to be a but there.”
Speaking of butts …
Wife: “I love that armor but I’m not crazy about that tail.”
Me: “I don’t think it’s a tail per se. I think it’s like a codpiece on the front … and the back.”
Is there even a word for “codpiece on the back”? I have my doubts, but I’m a little afraid to Google it and find out. Maybe I should ask Siri.
Me (talking to watch): “Hey Siri, is there a word for a codpiece on the back?”
Siri: “It’s currently cloudy and 64 degrees.”
Thanks, Siri. Don’t know what we would do without you.
Addendum (several days after scheduling this post):
Wife: “Hey did your Jason Momoa post go up yet?”
Me: “Not yet, it goes up on Tuesday. And it’s a Justice League post, not a Jason Momoa post. Although it is mostly about Jason Momoa …”
* Especially Alan Moore
** And my favorite DC superhero, Green Lantern, is Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Film
*** This is one of Siri’s favorirte responses. I later looked it up and determined that, although Jason Momoa does have a number of tattoos, the full-sleeve ones were temporary and were added for the movie.
**** Born to be wiiiiiiii-iii-ild!