The Stuff Whedon Added (Didn’t Help)
“Everything breaks, Victor. Everything changes.”Silas Stone, ZSJL
“You wanted more?”Wong, Avengers: Endgame
So Whedon didn’t just throw the cast against a greenscreen to film a bunch of one-liners and fight banter, no, new scenes were added, some woven out of whole cloth. And the problem with this, right, is that there was a 3.5ish hour rough cut that needed to be cut down to two hours, and every new scene they added meant something else needed to go. Some of this might have been a side effect of the editing process… cut an entire plotline about a Maguffin laser, now you need a new scene to explain how they find Steppenwolf’s base. Which means you now need to cut another five minutes somewhere else.
So I’m gonna go through the major scenes, and some I liked and missed, and some I’m glad are gone, but either way, they cut Cyborg’s arc to make room for them, and that ain’t ideal.
That opening shot with Superman. Cell phone footage of two kids interviewing Superman for their podcast. Whatever this scene was meant to accomplish, it doesn’t, because I’m not sure Cavill’s CG lip was ever more distracting than this shot, and it’s the first shot, terrible way to open the movie.
The opening credits. I was stunned that a slo-mo montage to a Leonard Cohen cover wasn’t Snyder footage. Stunned. Anyway I always skip through it. The world is sad. Yeah. Cool. Got it.
Batman V Parademon: Dawn of “They Smell Fear.” A really cool and well-shot scene of Batman getting the drop on a burglar in order to use him as bait to lure a Parademon. This scene is for two things: 1) establishing Parademons are drawn to fear the way sharks are drawn to blood, and 2) they hate police sirens. That second thing ultimately adds nothing (turns out I didn’t need a reason to believe the Parademons might chase the Batmobile), and the first thing is just an attempt to set up a climax resolution that doesn’t involve Wonder Woman decapitating Steppenwolf. They did want him to die, but wanted the heroes to only be tangentially involved, like the villain in any Sam Raimi Spider-Man. I’d rather have had that bit where Cyborg learns to manipulate computers in order to save a single mom waitress from homelessness, frankly, they could have just had Steppy dragged home screaming “No, I tried, my lord, I tried, please no–” and boom, same result. I mean it does seem like they cut as much Darkseid talk as possible, maybe to avoid setting up Snyder’s sequel, but still, my plan works and buys back five minutes of Diana/Alfred bonding.
That Russian family. At first I thought “Well I get it, they wanted to put a human face on the crisis,” but now I think the studio said “People say Zack’s Superman doesn’t save enough people, we need to show him saving people, put some civilians near the villain base,” despite Snyder putting the villain base in a Chernobyl-adjacent ghost town so he could do the massive property damage people love in all action movies with none of the human cost people bitched about in Man of Steel and mostly just Man of Steel. And you know what, these scenes are a waste of time and I don’t miss them one bit. Mission: Impossible makes us believe that Ethan Hunt should definitely stop that terrorist from ending billions of lives without constantly cutting to four random civilians we don’t know to give it personal stakes.
…I am shocked that we only just now got to my first Mission: Impossible reference, given my staunch belief that, as I’ll explain later, Mission: Impossible is the blueprint for how Justice League movies should work.
The Aquaman intro. Of all the character intros, other than the extra Batman scene he wove out of whole cloth, this one has the most extra stuff, and if I’m honest I miss basically all of it, especially “Arthur Curry. I hear you can talk to fish.” Instead we got three Icelandic girls singing about Aquaman for a weirdly long time and creepily sniffing his sweater and everyone hated it. Except those determined to view every frame as a masterpiece regardless of quality.
“Save one person.” Right before the tunnel fight, the inexperienced Barry freaks out. Batman tells him to save one person, then he’ll know what to do. It’s a nice moment and I missed it.
“Clark was more human than I am.” A solid human moment from Bruce Wayne. Nice scene between Bruce and Diana, doesn’t 100% work given we now know she hadn’t been living in seclusion between World War One and Batman V Superman, and doesn’t need “Bruce wants Diana to step into the light” as an arc.
The Big Gun. “Lois is at the Superman vs League fight because Batman knew she could calm him down” is clever and a good moment for Batman. “Lois is at the fight because her life is a depression loop” isn’t a good character moment for anyone. Advantage: Theatrical.
Aquaman sits on Diana’s lasso. Oh come on that bit was fucking funny. I would happily have traded one of the three “Steppenwolf calls home” scenes for that.
Barry faceplants on Diana’s boobs. Not only was that a bad joke nobody liked, it was a recycled bad joke nobody liked the first time either. We remember you did that bit in Age of Ultron with Bruce and Natasha, Joss. People hated it then too, Joss. Stop pitching that bit, Joss. If I see that same faceplant “gag” in The Nevers I’ll be mad at both of us, you for reusing that bit like it was ever funny, and me for watching The Nevers when there are better shows needing my attention. Rumour says Gal Gadot hated this bit enough she wouldn’t film it, and Diana surely isn’t facing the camera in that moment, so yeah, looks like her stunt woman took that bullet. It’s bad and I’m glad it’s gone.
The Brunch Monologue. Barry Allen hates brunch! Wokka wokka! I still think it’s a cute bit but it is gilding the lily a little. That is the only moment from Bruce meeting Barry that isn’t Snyder footage, and I can’t wrap my head around feeling it was needed. Yeah it sets up a cute reprise in the mid-credits scene but it feels less like “We need some more depth to Barry” and more like “Joss wanted people to know he thinks brunch is stupid.”
Superman and Flash race. A cute mid-credit scene referencing that constant question, “who’s faster, Superman or the Flash.” And a funny payoff to the brunch thing. Hardly essential but it was fun.
Lois and Martha bond. Basically an alternate version of a Snyder scene that has a dumb “hurr hurr sex” joke but also manages to establish that “misses Clark” isn’t Lois’ entire personality, so you tell me which is more respectful, no don’t do that you don’t have to do that
Moral debate. In the Theatrical Cut, there is some debate over the ethics of resurrecting Superman. Diana and Arthur are against it, maybe it’s a Pet Sematary scenario (that gets name-dropped twice), here everyone’s on board ’cause gosh don’t we all miss Superman. Might have helped if they’d more definitively and soundly lost their first fight with Steppenwolf.
“Can you talk to fish?” Having cut the entire plotline that let the League pinpoint Steppenwolf’s location, a new scene was necessary. The good: Diana encouraging Victor to trust in himself and that if his attempts to connect to the Mother Boxes go wrong, the team is here to pull him back. The less good: Batman asking Aquaman if he can find any leads from the fish community is that derpy, awkward Batman the Snyder crowd so very much hates.
The Quips. Quips and gags are stuck in all over this thing. And there’s a gradient of success. Sometimes they’re being added where no previous dialogue existed. The fight against post-resurrection Superman is an example. Or when Arthur tells Bruce “The strong man is strongest alone;” in Theatrical, Bruce replies “That’s not the saying. That’s the opposite of what the saying is,” and in Snyder he says… nothing. Leaves that unchallenged. Not better. See also Batman in the big climax not responding to “You really are out of your mind” from Aquaman. I’ll take “I’m not the one who brought a pitchfork,” thanks.
Sometimes the quips are punching up bland, generic dialogue. For example, when Cyborg catches Aquaman mid-air, in Theatrical he says “Ride ain’t over yet,” and in Snyder he has the much blander line “You’re welcome,” but don’t worry in either version Aquaman says “My man!” Or when Batman turns his new tank’s guns on Steppenwolf and the Parademons, Theatrical has him say “Sorry, I didn’t bring a sword,” which replaces the original line of “My turn.” Someone once held that as proof the Snyder Cut dialogue was better, and I was like… come on. “My turn” is the most generic, basic, placeholder “badass” line I can think of. At least “I didn’t bring a sword” is a reaction to the scene it’s part of. In Theatrical, Lois says “You smell good,” and Clark responds “Did I not before?” In Snyder, Lois says “You spoke.” That’s… Clark’s response makes much less sense that way. Obviously he used to talk. Whedon’s line was better.
But sometimes they’re replacing a perfectly good Terrio punchline, like when Batman notes that Diana just strolled through his security measures. Theatrical replaces “You got your money’s worth, it took me a whole minute to get past them” with “They looked expensive.” Actually I think the Terrio punchline was better. Very dumb that Whedon felt a need to replace it. Punching up the dialogue for humour needed a light touch and a scalpel, because Terrio’s script already has humour, but Whedon ran at this thing with a chainsaw.
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