Black Culture Was A Super Power In Zack Snyder’s Justice League

His remix gave Cyborg and his father their damn propers. 


 

By now anyone with an interest in seeing “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” has had time to review the differences between the 2017 film and the 2021 version. Many of us went to see the 2017 film in theaters — back when we used to do that sort of thing — expecting at the very least a decent action film. But there’s always been something … off about the picture.

We now know what it is.

“The Snyder Cut” revealed the story of a dysfunctional family of geniuses and how their son’s journey leads him to save the world. This, of course, was completely left out of the original. Joss Whedon, the director who took over for Snyder, turned the film into a watered-down rambling action picture that barely compares to the likes of “Avengers” or “Avengers Age of Ultron,” movies he delivered to Marvel Studios in years past.

Whedon gave us a visual backstory on a Russian family trapped in a house that had no relationship to the main story at all. We got this weird perspective of Cyborg as this disconnected introvert and not a central character. Cyborg’s journey is at the heart of this story. To leave him out is an insult to every intelligent Black person who has ever wanted to see themselves save the day on the big screen.

It’s easy to blame the failures of “Justice League” on Whedon. 

When Snyder left the project during post-production in 2017, Warner Bros. had already brought Whedon in to oversee some aspects of the film, and that’s where the differences in the movie versions began — starting with reshoots. A LOT of reshoots.

Whedon changed about 75 percent of the original film after Snyder’s departure (adding things like a silly argument between Bruce and Diana in front of the team they are both trying to build). The ending — with a “race” between The Flash and Superman — had all KINDS of irrelevant nonsense.

And, you don’t have to take MY word for it.

Chris Terrio, the screenwriter who wrote the picture (and worked on Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice) recently said in a Vanity Fair interview: “The 2017 theatrical cut was an act of vandalism…Zack may be too much of a gentleman to say that, but I’m not.”

This “Justice League” debacle reveals a deeper problem. Actor Ray Fisher, who plays Cyborg in the movie, has exposed some of the issues shining a light on not only Whedon’s toxic set but points at the culture Warner Bros allowed.

 

 

It’s Well Past Time to Tell a Story from a Black Perspective

The heart of what should have been the DCEU’s biggest movie revolved around Black characters, and as soon as the original director dropped out, that character’s presence (as well as Iris West, The Flash’s love interest played by Kiersey Clemons in a brilliant slow motion scene) were cut. It took an entire campaign to get the original director’s vision back on screen to get these scenes included again. 

This actor basically risked it all to get the truth told.

Let’s face it. The part of Warner Bros. Pictures that deals with the DC Comics movies today has a problem with Black audiences that need to be addressed. If Warner Bros. Pictures are going to continue with these live-action DC Comics-based movies, they are going to have to understand that part of their audience is Black, and have been invested in these stories for decades.

They’re going to have to dig deep and tell a story from a Black perspective. What’s frustrating about this is that they’ve been able to do a great job of storytelling and world building in their animated projects. But in live-action, we get constant reboots of Batman’s origin story, and So. Much. Superman. 

In typical comic book story fashion, things were looking hopeful for a short period of time. Warner Bros. signed Ava Duvernay to a multi-year deal, which was supposed to include her vision on “New Gods”. But then they canceled the project. This is a horrible way to move forward from the “Snyderverse”. The good news is that they’ve already started production on “Naomi,”  a series for the CW. The bad news is that the recent “Batwoman” show at the CW is changing the female lead – again – and “Black Lightning” is over. Add the watered-down version of “Mister Terrific” to the mix and it looks like “Naomi” is our only hope. 

While all of this is going on, Disney is planning phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After wow-ing streaming audiences with “Wandavision” and introducing Monica Rambeau’s character, “The Falcon And The Winter Soldier” is telling a really good story from both Sam Wilson’s unapologetic black Louisiana roots to Bucky’s mind recovering from 100 years of super soldierdom.

It’s an interesting balance that DC Comics could – and should – be telling. And there’s an “Ironheart” series coming – a Black woman in the Iron Man suit is going to be hard to compete with. Add to this the fact that there’s a LOki series, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, SPiderman AND Black Widow stories coming … this is not gonna be easy.  This may, in fact, be too much for just the Snyderverse to repair.

SIDEBAR: Fade to Black, and Watch the Magic Happen

There’s still time to fix things (see sidebar), so long as we don’t don’t hire Whedon again. We can be on our way to creating enjoyable DC Comics-based movies for generations to come and avoid returning to the era of “Brand Eccch”.

 

Daryle Lockhart is a longtime marketing executive as well as founder and editor of SciFiGeneration.com. A former comic book shop owner, Lockhart has written (or been interviewed) about movies and science fiction for TheRoot.com, TheGrio.com and NBC.