Should we trust Zack Snyder's vision? The premiere of Zack Snyder's Justice League - 82% exposed Warner's negligence when making the final cuts and revealed what we all already knew: that the director is not as lost as he thinks. The problem then does not lie in the clarity that he has for his adaptations and the themes that he wants to cover with them, but it does lie in his original projects. Snyder is best known for being comfortable with graphic novels and comics that help him visually immerse the viewer, and no one has any complaints about that.
You may also be interested: Zack Snyder finally admits that Warner and Joss Whedon destroyed his Justice League
However, from the start of his career, Snyder has struggled with original ideas, with Army of the Dead-78% being the second and most recent proof of this. The first title that he worked on in this way was Sucker Punch: Mundo Surreal-24%, which was released in 2011 and had a terrible reception from the public and specialized critics. The film had generated a lot of expectations precisely because it was a work without precedent, but the final result seemed to have left its mark on Snyder as a director only fit to bring those stories of paper heroes to the big screen.
But just as it has been granted more opportunities in terms of the world of DC, perhaps it is time to look at Sucker Punch with different eyes. The tape tells the story of Babydoll (Emily Browning), a young woman who is locked up in a psychiatric hospital by her stepfather, who wants to keep her inheritance. During her stay in this horrible place, full of abuse by the caretakers, especially Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac), the young woman becomes familiar with other inmates and plans her escape. As a mental escape to cope with all this, Babydoll imagines two different worlds, one where she was taken to a brothel to sell her virginity to the highest bidder, and another where she performs heroic tasks worthy of comics or video games.
During production and before the premiere, both Snyder and the female cast commented on how feminist and subversive the story was, generating a lot of excitement among fans. However, when the public saw the final cut, they were not very convinced of the director's proposal and stated that his “feminist vision” was more of an excuse to see young women in short skirts. The truth is that the film is quite feminist and contains a clear criticism of the way in which the image of women is promoted in the audiovisual media.
Also read: Sucker Punch: Surreal World, by Zack Snyder, what did the critics say at its premiere?
At this point, and with everything we know that the various cuts caused by the production company also in this film, we will have to give Snyder the benefit of the doubt. But if you don't believe it, here's why Sucker Punch works despite its disastrous ending and is a great example of what the director can do if they let him.
One of the biggest complaints the public has is that they don't see the point in Babydoll imagining all these worlds to get her through the asylum. References to Alice from Alice in Wonderland are evident even with the songs they use, but the idea of these worlds is an important part of Snyder's criticism and it all has to do with how the figure of women is limited. in the world of entertainment that has fostered stereotypes that are known by others. Calling a woman crazy is common, as much as calling her a bitch or a whore, but at the same time those who call them that idealize the woman's body as an action figure that can fight against a thousand enemies without messing up her hair, in heels, wearing a wide neckline and If they're lucky, he even gives them a glimpse of his underwear.
These are the worlds that Snyder talks about with everything and what is expected of each of them. The first world, the real one, is where Babydoll is accused of killing her younger sister in a fit of madness. To lock her up, only the word of her stepfather is enough, who in the introduction is shown as a potential rapist, as well as a man who wants to steal money from the protagonist's family. The second world is an imaginary one where Babydoll arrives as the new piece of meat in a brothel. Here she refers to the value of her virginity that she still retains of hers, which makes her momentarily untouchable before other men who want to possess her. In this world it is clear how men perceive these women and how they seek to subjugate them by exploiting their sexuality, but limiting them in that same aspect. The last world is another imaginary where Babydoll shows herself as a freer and definitely powerful woman. Here she has an incredible ability to fight, hand-to-hand combat, handle weapons and even swords, but she is always dressed as a schoolgirl. This world represents the idealized expectations of the impossible woman, the one who, even in her freedom, continues to serve the needs of the man who sees her with desire while she fights. Any other vision that exists, where she proves that she is not crazy, where her virginity or the way she uses her sexuality does not matter or where she fights wearing pants, is simply unacceptable.
To give more emphasis to this, Snyder uses the so-called male gaze, which is basically a way of saying that, on a visual level, in movies and television series we are presented to women according to the usefulness that the male part set them. For example, if we are talking about a femme fatale then surely the camera will follow her long, bare legs as she takes a seat, but if she is a mother of a family the camera will show her without makeup and wearing loose clothes. This is because of how women serve the story being told. In the case of Sucker Punch, it is handled almost ironically. We are seeing a group of girls fighting against the men who abuse them, organizing a whole plan to escape, what are we going to pay attention to?
We recommend you read: Zack Snyder reveals that Sucker Punch is a feminist movie and that there is a Snyder Cut of it
The way Snyder frames and takes shots is clearly referential. When Babydoll is in her mental institution sometimes she depersonalizes her, she does not see her face or she is seen from afar. In this world it is not uncommon for the protagonist to also be at ground level, being observed by those who submit her. In the world of the brothel the sexual part is exploited. They dress in Babydoll for a show that scares her, but here she finds the part of her where the male gaze is used against those who watch her. In this world of transition, the protagonist dances and we are told (not shown) that this dance is so sexual that they literally cannot stop watching her. Acknowledging this gift will help girls in their escape plan, as well as make a clear statement about female personal agency.
Finally, in the world of action, Babydoll and her companions are fighters, this is where Snyder takes advantage of the clichés of seeing them fly with their skirts blown by the wind and making spectacular landings (the ones that Deadpool - 84% makes fun of so much) , but at the forefront is always the depressing context of things: constantly abused girls. The sexual and psychological abuse, the beatings, the threats, a possible lobotomy, all of that is worse than going against dragons or zombies in the trenches against which they fight comfortably and where they gain personal strength and a little peace of mind. It is at this level where they can better deal with the most grotesque and dangerous aspects of their reality because they materialize them as monsters that they can defeat.
Perhaps the best way to understand the tape is precisely with the name. Sucker Punch references a surprise hit, a violent event you don't expect, and Snyder pulls it off on two levels. First, with the expectations already mentioned where the woman is presented as the male gaze, she has always been presented in the cinema, but with a much more disturbing, deep and revealing background that any attentive viewer can decipher. The second level has to do with the final twist, where we are told that Babydoll is not the conventional protagonist and that her character works to support the story of Sweet Pea, played by Abbie Cornish. In the final part, when Babydoll herself realizes that she serves someone else, a comparison is made with the figure of the guardian angel, which we had already been shown in the introduction, but what Snyder actually shows, beyond the religious reference is the importance of sorority. Babydoll and Sweet Pea don't have to like each other, love each other, or have a special connection; It is enough to know that both have lived under constant abuse for one to sacrifice her life for the other and consider it fair and necessary.
Keep reading: Cast of Sucker Punch: Surreal World wants the Zack Snyder cut
The biggest problem the movie has is the resolution, not necessarily the twist. When Babydoll sacrifices herself for Sweet Pea, her original script had her willingly giving up her virginity to The High Roller (Jon Hamm), who in the real world is a doctor about to perform a lobotomy on her. The comparison between the operation that will leave Babydoll missing and the possibility of a rape in the world of the brothel is emphasized a lot, but in the final cut we only see how she turns herself in to a group of guards who take care of the brothel and how they lobotomize her. In an interview for The Guardian, Emily Browning clarified that the scene where she offers her virginity was indispensable: it was, on the one hand, the great act of sacrifice, but also an act of decision on her body. However, Warner felt that the scene sullied the purity of her character and asked Snyder to cut it down. The director did, but the scene felt like Babydoll was being manipulated and abused by The High Roller, throwing all feminist planning out the window. He ultimately decided to remove the scene entirely and let the viewer fill that space.
Both Snyder and the rest of the cast have always shown their displeasure at that decision, since the original scene perfectly closed the message of the story. Now that there is a victory with the premiere of Justice League, some fans of Sucker Punch began their own campaign to have the cut that the director had originally planned and give new life to this project that for many was ahead of its time.
Don't go without reading: Zack Snyder reveals that for Christopher Nolan seeing his Justice League cut was cathartic