Things have never gone quite smoothly for the DC Extended Universe, often seen as the poor relation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and always playing catchup. The DCEU does not seem to have had the same overall guidance that the MCU had and with the announcement that HBO will screen the “Snyder Cut” of 2017’s Justice League things are only going to get more complicated.
What Is The Snyder Cut?
When DC wanted to create its own superhero universe, the DCEU, one director was pushed to the front – Zack Snyder. Snyder directed the first film in the DCEU, Man of Steel, in 2013. He then went on to direct Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, which brought Batman and Superman into conflict and introduced the character Wonder Woman. Naturally enough, a Justice League film was planned, this being a team of superheroes that worked together from the DC comics. Again, Snyder was to direct. However, after a family tragedy Snyder stepped down from directing and the project was taken over by Joss Whedon. Many fans were disappointed with the finished product with some believing Whedon had taken the film in a different direction to which Snyder had wanted. And so an internet campaign was born for the so-called “Snyder Cut” to be released.
The Two Film Problem
This has created a rather thorny philosophical problem – which is the real Justice League film? To use the correct term – which is canon? In the past this wouldn’t have been too much of a problem, canon was not something that worried the people who made Batman Forever, whilst nominally a sequel to Batman Returns it was very much its own film. But in the DCEU this is important as it will have repercussions to the other films and tv shows. In the world of comics, canon is at once incredibly complicated and incredibly simple. There is no one story for a superhero, there are multiple stories, they can be set in different time periods, change important details of the story, retell old stories in a new way. This is a perfectly natural part of comic books that allows them to remain refresh when characters can be decades old. Such a reset is probably coming to MCU relatively soon.
The DCEU machine is already winding up for the release of The Batman with Robert Pattison taking on the role. Obviously this will be a younger Batman/Bruce Wayne than Ben Affleck’s Batman and raises the question of where does this sit in the DCEU storyline? I have tried to find this out but it seems very unclear. Similarly what about Suicide Squad, The Suicide Squad, and Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey? Affleck’s Batman briefly appeared in Suicide Squad and as Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn runs through them it could be assumed they are all in the same universe.
I doubt in terms of plot too much would be different between The Snyder Cut and the original film. I can’t imagine that Snyder’s will feature a massacre of the main characters or a completely different outcome but if nothing else fans obsess over small details.
The Darkest Timeline
My own rather impractical solution is to have two separate DCEUs running alongside, each branching off from their own version of Justice League. The idea of having two competing DCEU timelines with the same actors and same plots is certainly intriguing, given that it’s DC you’d have to assume that each would be competing to be the darkest timeline – in the vein of Abed’s infamous belief, in TV show Community, that of six possible different ways for the show to go, there was a “darkest timeline”. Like in Community (as inspired by Star Trek) all characters in DCEU would wear goatee beards, the acknowledged universal symbol of evilness.
Abandon The Universe
My unpopular opinion on the MCU is I don’t think it promotes good storytelling. The MCU currently consisted of twenty-three films (as well as tv shows that are meant to take place in that universe) and every new film has to fit in. There can be a lot said for telling a story over multiple films and adding scope to the narrative but I see it as so much baggage.
Joker is probably the most critically acclaimed comic book film ever as well as being hugely financially successful and popular with traditional fans and it is not considered part of the DCEU. I would like DC to embrace this idea. They didn’t have to worry about how this film would fit into the wider story and just make a great film. If they want to do another Green Lantern film there is no reason for it to fit in with an existing story, it can be it’s own self-contained entity, allowing them to be more experimental. This will allow DCEU to have over-the-top minor character mad-cap adventures like the recent Harley Quinn and their brooding dark Batman films.
If nothing else the release of The Snyder Cut could be an interesting watershed for films with huge fandoms, fans made this happen. Much has been written about what effect fan dissatisfaction had in relation to the recent Star Wars films and it’ll be interesting to see how fans will use this new power.
Also Read: The Snyder Cut Saga