Joss Whedon Justice League controversy shows the power of video editing

Justice League
(Image credit: HBO Max)

With the recent release of the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League, viewers have been given a rare glimpse into the video editing and production decisions made by Joss Whedon, who was brought in to complete the original movie. 

While directors have been ousted from productions before, it's not exactly common to have two separate versions of the same film released, so fans have been quick to break down the key differences between the two. 

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While there are plenty of obvious video editing (opens in new tab) differences in the HBO Max (opens in new tab) version, such as aspect ratio, color grading and CGI (Superman's upper lip is much less creepy (opens in new tab) now!), TikTok users have identified a few key differences that don't paint Joss Whedon in a particularly good light. 

TikTok (opens in new tab) user @yannisnerdverse (opens in new tab) has posted a video showing a scene involving a conversation between Wonder Woman and Batman. While the Snyder recut (which was the originally shot footage) simply shows a standard shot of Bruce talking to Diana, the Whedon footage inexplicably includes a gratuitous shot of her butt to accompany Bruce's face in the frame. 

@yannisnerdverse (opens in new tab)

Joss Whedon Snyder Cut Reshoot ##snydercut ##justiceleague ##wonderwoman ##galgadot ##batman

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Whether or not the scene was reshot solely to introduce this angle, or it was simply an opportunistic after thought, many fans have reacted poorly to seeing this treatment of Wonder Woman's character. 

TikTok user @0rest4wycked (opens in new tab) also posted a video on the topic, commenting, "Can you imagine doing a movie with a director and having a new director come on and add new scenes and every new scene that director adds degrades your character in some way. The Snyder cut had far less panning shots of Wonder Woman's ass… [In Joss Whedon's version we see] insert scene where Superman beats the hell out of Wonder Woman. Insert scene where Aquaman goes through the entire team and says, 'you're valuable', 'you're valuable', 'you, Wonder Woman, are hot'."

These TikTok users aren't the only ones who have noticed differences in the way the Wonder Woman character was treated between the two cuts. Popular culture website CBR noted that (opens in new tab) there were many dubious shots that had been added in by Joss Whedon, "There are at least half a dozen upskirt shots of Diana in Joss Whedon’s Justice League alone in her scenes as Diana as well as her action sequences as Wonder Woman. In fact, no action scene in Justice League is complete without its gratuitous body shots of her thighs, butt, or cleavage."

It's worth remembering that there was a backlash against the gratuitous lingering shots of Wonder Woman's body in 2017 when the film first came out. However, the release of the Snyder cut has made it clear exactly who decided to include this shots – and has also made the intentions pretty clear as well. The swift and vehement fan reaction against Joss Whedon's, let's face it, pretty creepy additions just shows how powerful a few individual filmmaking decisions can be.

Ultimately, Whedon's upskirt shots and video editing decisions did absolutely nothing to further the story (or distract from a boring and unnecessarily complicated plot). However, what they have done is expose what his priorities are as a director. It's probably pretty safe to say that we won't see another Joss Whedon DC movie again…

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With over a decade of photographic experience, Louise arms Digital Camera World with a wealth of knowledge on photographic technique and know-how – something at which she is so adept that she's delivered workshops for the likes of ITV and Sue Ryder. Louise also brings years of experience as both a web and print journalist, having served as features editor for Practical Photography magazine and contributing photography tutorials and camera analysis to titles including Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab) and  Digital Photographer (opens in new tab). Louise currently shoots with the Fujifilm X-T200 and the Nikon D800, capturing self-portraits and still life images, and is DCW's ecommerce editor, meaning that she knows good camera, lens and laptop deals when she sees them.