The DCEU was never meant to be the MCU, according to its original visionary.
With his cut of Justice League finally reaching audiences this week, Zack Snyder is opening up on why he took much different chances with the DCEU movies than the MCU did.
The different tones of the DCEU
It’s long been noted how the DCEU took a much different approach to their comic book characters than the MCU did.
While the MCU is bright and often mixes humor, the early Snyder films such as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman seemed overly dark, which turned off several critics and fans.
Speaking to the New York Times, Snyder acknowledged that fan complaint but noted that he always intended for the DC films not to borrow from the MCU formula but be their own entity.
“I knew it before ‘BvS,’ when we made ‘Man of Steel.’ Marvel is doing something else. They’re doing, at the highest level, this popular action-comedy with a heart. And they have that nailed. An effort to duplicate that is insanity because they’re so good at it. What DC had was mythology at an epic level, and we were going to take them on this amazing journey. Frankly, I was the only one saying that… I don’t know how to hit a ball any different than I hit it. A director has one skill — your point of view. That’s all you have. If you’re trying to imitate another way of making a movie, then you’re on a slippery slope.”
It’s notable that after Snyder was forced to steap back from the DCEU films, the movies did lighten up.
Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam were all praised by critics for following the MCU formula of presenting the heroes in a truly heroic light and with some light-hearted storytelling as well.
This would have contrasted with Snyder’s daring ideas for the Justice League sequels involving Earth conquered by Darkseid.
A major discussion was on Snyder making Ben Affleck’s Batman a brutal fighter willing to kill. This was a huge divergence from Christian Bale in the Christopher Nolan movies who sticks to a moral code.
Snyder admitted that moviegoers might not have been prepared to accept his darker take on the Dark Knight.
“I do think the movie came along at a point where everyone was like, ‘Oh, we don’t want that Batman. We want Batman to be the warrior-monk who’s cool.’ And I personally am fine with that.”
Snyder also discussed filming Jared Leto making a cameo as the Joker in a “Knightmare” sequence.
“I added it because this was going to be the last movie I make for the DCU and to have this entire cinematic universe without Batman and Joker meeting up just felt weird. Jared [Leto] and I had a bunch of conversations about it. I had mentioned it to Ben and I was like, Ben, let’s just do it at my house. I could shoot it in the backyard. Don’t tell the studio and I’m not going to pay you guys. I’m just going to shoot it myself. What happened is it worked out and we were able to do it for real. And then I called the rest of those cast members and said, Hey, would you guys be down to come around and do it.”
The Snyder Cut arrives
The interview comes as early reviews of the Snyder cut are finally emerging. The movie had a bizarre early release due to an HBO Max glitch, but a review embargo is being lifted.
So far, reviews are mixed, with many praising the film’s special effects and action scenes but complaints on the length and still some storytelling issues.
Amazingly, Snyder hints there may actually be an even longer cut still out there. There had been rumors that the original presentation would be almost six hours before confirmed as just over four.
Snyder claims he sent Warner Bros several cuts ranging from two and a half to over four hours long.
“My point of view is that the movie should be about 20 minutes longer each time. [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice] should be 20 minutes longer than Man of Steel, and Justice League should be about 20 minutes longer than Batman v Superman. I know that it’s indulgent. The truth is there’s probably about 10 Snyder cuts — there’s a longer version than the four-hour version.”
The idea of an extended cut of the Snyder Cut is wild but would fit the director’s mentality and how he always had a unique vision for the DCEU.
Justice League the Snyder Cut debuts on HBO Max on March 18.