#ReleaseTheEverythingCut: Different Takes Are Good For Long-Running Frachises

Today, HBO Max released the latest trailer for Zack Snyder's Justice League, while word came down that Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather Part III was getting closer to having a definitive director's cut release. These are the latest in a long trend -- the trend of extended or modified "director's cuts" of movies, particularly movies that are based on big, corporate IP. When, after three years of lobbying by fans, WarnerMedia released that they would finally, actually release the Snyder Cut of Justice League, there was an immediate outcry from some corners of the internet, claiming that by giving in to discontented fans, Warner was setting a bad standard that would encourage more such demands in the future.

They have proven to be right, to a small extent. It has not become a common thing, but #ReleaseTheSchumacherCut -- asking for an extended director's cut of Batman Forever -- and #ReleaseTheAyerCut, which would see David Ayer's original vision for Suicide Squad restored, have both found vocal supporters online. Neither is as loud or broad-based as the Snyder Cut movement, but they have been consistent presences on social media since the Zack Snyder's Justice League announcement.

But here's the thing: what's actually wrong with that?

There are people who would argue that some of the more vocal and aggressive elements of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut community have been abusive to their (or Snyder's) critics, but that's true of any pocket of fandom. There will always be a group of passionate, hostile fans, and often they are not representative of the larger body. It isn't fair to assume that any group of people would become tainted by the possibility of getting something they want. And arguing that the worst elements of the Snyder Cut movement, who have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, are representative enough of the whole that it's somehow an inherent bad to give that audience what they are asking for is not a supportable position.

More than just the Snyder Cut, though, it's arguable that directors' cuts as a whole do far more good than harm. While the heyday of DVD was marked by numerous such releases that came on the heels of standard releases, frustrating fans who felt "tricked" into buying the same thing twice, that no longer applies. Audiences are a lot more savvy now, and that's less of an issue.

Beyond that, DC's embrace of the multiverse, and the success of Joker, with almost nobody confused as to its prospective connection to the Justice League or The Batman movies, proves that audiences are ready for variant versions of the same characters and stories. The Snyder Cut is giving fans, even within the confines of the main DC Films continuity, an opportunity to decide which version of Justice League is "canon" to them going forward, and there's no real good reason why they shouldn't be willing to play with similar ideas in the future.

These films, which cost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to produce, are by nature somewhat creatively conservative. Studios want guaranteed success, and they can often hamper the actual quality of the product to do things they imagine will accomplish it.


Filmmakers, on the other hand, are creative types who by nature take big swings. The thing about big swings is that sometimes you hit a home run, and sometimes you strike out -- but those high-stakes calls are what makes the projects exciting. Snyder is a great example: his films are dynamic, exciting, and wildly different from other superhero films. For a lot of people, that doesn't connect, but for the people who like his films, they often connect to his take more than they ever have another DC (or Marvel) movie.

This is nothing but good news for franchises that face potential fatigue; certainly Christopher Nolan was good for Batman, even if his Dark Knight Trilogy bore little resemblance to how a lot of people perceive the character. And in the wake of a decade solid of nonstop superhero blockbusters, it's possible that virtually all superhero properties are in danger of franchise fatigue. The best way to prevent that? Presenting the audience with adventurous and ambitious adaptations that are more likely to stand the test of time.