On a 4:30 a.m. sanity-obligatory soundtrack-labor pause I do the trailer for Zack Snyder’s Justice League for maybe closer to the 54th time. It would be closer to 544 if I managed my moments of breathing in and out better and if every watch wasn’t so emotionally draining. It has to be clear—I could not express these thoughts less cynically-ironically, the same way Insidious 2 is my favorite movie.
Taking into unavoidable account all the tragedy, volatility, reactionary studio buffoonery, what ifs, and retrospection that came with Snyder’s DC film efforts leading up to the Snyder Cut, all my current hope in mainstream pop culture is revived concurrently with digital-lipless-Superman.
I’d be articulating what individualistically feels like a losing battle of what-this-mean[s]ingfulness when compared to the fandom that made real-Justice League a thing. Though poetically once I get over myself, what makes the Snyder Cut trailer featuring Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah a consistent comfort-revisit reflects an artist and community whose love transcends the art in question itself. On the first:
This might seem digressy but hold on please. There’s a critic whose paraphrased words sums up Snyder detractors’ opinion, that Snyder doesn’t give an f-word about humans. Which ties to the notion that his work is all style no substance. I couldn’t think more opposite to what I find that an ironically style-over-substance conclusion. I’m not here to academia-bro about the merits of Snyder’s variability of awesomeness aestheticism throughout his filmography. I’m also not copping out of committing to my opinion by undermining its legitimacy from the start. This isn’t a dissertation, and take it from a career delinquent-posing-as-filmmaker who generally could not care less about “auteur theory”: other than James Wan who directed my favorite movie Insidious 2, I can’t think off the top of my head another director who genuinely inspires me than Zack Snyder. And this is largely cause of—when it largely works to me—his thoroughly sincere merging of visual and humanity-driven storytelling. Chin-angled-upwards elitists seem to compartmentalize great artistic storytelling as exclusive from all-barrels-blazing in-your-face stylizations; and when style is merited it has to adhere to an abstract standard of intellectualist awards seasoning. [salt and pepper reference] The same reason why I—as with the fandom among them living legend Jake Tapper—am inspired by the humanity in Snyder’s storytelling that even gets you to care about the assisting all-out visuals so viscerally is personally relatable to why I might be the only living person who gets Insidious 2 to the point that it’s my favorite movie. I would cherish few things more than the chance to get in contact with James Wan and tell him what Insidious 2 means to me but that’s for another day right now I said I would try to not digress. Zack Snyder’s operatically human storytelling reflects his real-life self and bond with his fans. A person who connects, shares, and expresses as generously and sincerely as him—go back to touching yourself to your art house films if you think he doesn’t care about people. A person as committed to thermostat-breaking visuals doesn’t make a near-2.5-hour Superman movie where the first two thirds is an existential drama.
On the second matter: a community whose love transcends the art in question itself. It’s a community’s binding devotion that’s come through for the artist and his family through tragedy and as a result created a platform for real-life humanitarianism. For quite possibly the only time, a fandom was more about the artist and their loved ones beyond the art than the art. Superman with renewed contemplative purpose stepping out yet again despite all his loss and this time in a jet-sleek-black-family suit—the resurrection chamber’s light shining from behind him—is one thing. Raising awareness and resources for suicide prevention is literally saving lives. And in no other similar case has the mythic existence of an artwork been made possible to see the light of day because a fandom cared most importantly about the memory of an artist’s loved one, hence carrying on that loved one’s legacy. That’s why the Snyder Cut matters. Not simply cause Justice League and the story Snyder and company started can be realized the way it deserves to, but cause of why it’s ultimately being realized. And yet much of the humanity and compassion that’s led to this release can also be reflected in the encompassed art itself—on a literal to meta level.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League—with Man of Steel and BvS to go with it—transcendentally aren’t commercial products of WarnerMedia; they’re the realization of a modern testament to our shared humanity, controversial in its uncompromised darkness and in spite of that uncompromised in its ultimate hope.
Per Superman as the trilogy constant is a response to the times-tone-deaf nostalgia of classicists who wanted a Richard Donner reboot [freaking Superman Returns, how a movie starring the most powerful dude alive and an insane-but-not-yet-exposed-on-a-sexual-predator-level Kevin Spacey can be that disturbingly boring is mesmerizing]. The conflict-free creed of that era cannot sustain when humanity is more cynically divided as ever, but the hope and redemption Superman ultimately embodies will always rise through so long as people can imagine the best versions of themselves and realize those hopes and dreams Jor-El bestowed to Kal.
Zack Snyder’s Clark Kent is shat on from childhood through to when he emerges to the world in the red and blue suit for being suspiciously different, even if that difference is utilized by Clark to simply help others despite the rejection. And as with the most pure-hearted people in our era today, Clark has to ask—if even pensively—why the crud he should shoulder the existential burden of saving humanity itself when humans have time and again shat on him for doing the right thing and time and again cannibalized itself to the brink of self-annihilation. Yet Clark makes the choice to shoulder the burden, and not just cause he’ll get to make out with Lois or cause General Zod is just that effin peanuts. As such, Man of Steel graces both quietly and operatically as lyrical existential poetry that nails what the ethos of Superman should ask and symbolize for our shared humanity in modern morally existential times.
Batman v Superman—Snyder’s complete extended version—interpretably a dichotomist grapple between on one hand studio imposition [I just humbly wanted Man of Steel 2] Justice League fast-tracker and on the other hand an increasingly-fascinating-with-time-and-revisit daring-long-play. That a movie starring the beacon of hope can be this overwhelmingly dark and depressive in its pathos—to the point that a near-broken Superman has maybe slightly more than 42 lines of dialogue in the span of 3 hours—only speaks more to the resilient flares of light that shine through the cracks. This displayed in Superman’s final act selflessness for a human race he knows Can be better; Batman’s humbled and restored faith in humanity in repenting light of Superman’s sacrifice against Doomsday, and the rest of the collective who will shoulder the monument of Kal-El’s sacrifice.
And though the time between the release of BvS and Justice League has retroactively been this long only adds towards the ultimate earned payoff, towards the pinnacle of narrative catharsis with what would’ve been and now Can second-chance-be the real Justice League.
Zack Snyder’s Superman story—from Man of Steel to in all diegetic likeliness Justice League and very much the path to its release—is the story pop culture needed. It’s the monument of the light we may emit in spite of the darkest periods. It’s the embodiment of the best we can aspire to be, the furthest heights we can soar.