Weird nerds around the world were elated when HBO Max announced in May that the mythical “Snyder Cut” of Justice League would be coming to the streaming service in 2021. For those who aren’t extremely, bafflingly online, the “Snyder Cut” is director Zack Snyder’s original version of DC’s would-be blockbuster superhero team-up. Snyder, who directed both the terrible Superman movie and the maybe-not-quite-as-terrible-but-still-pretty-bad Superman vs. Batman movie that came out last decade, and who was the initial prime architect of the DC Comics Extended Universe of movies, was replaced by Joss Whedon while Justice League was in production. The final film apparently diverged from Snyder’s master plan, and what should’ve been a guaranteed box office smash wound up being a money loser.
Snyder’s a gifted visual stylist, well-suited for commercials and music videos. If you remember that Soul Asylum video with Norm from Cheers, you know what I’m talking about—Snyder directed that. He’s never shown himself to be especially interested in developing characters with any degree of subtlety, humanity, or sense of humor, or at understanding anything past the surface level, and he consistently showed a bit of a cynical streak in his earlier movies, so he maybe wasn’t the best guy to handle a multi-billion dollar franchise of films starring iconic symbols and children’s heroes like Superman and Batman. And sure enough, his Superman movies proved he had absolutely no understanding of the character whatsoever. Every movie he made for DC scored mediocre reviews (or worse) and underperformed at the box office, and yet the studio still committed to his vision for Justice League. Until they stopped committing to it during production and went in a different direction.
Since the muted reception to the Justice League movie that actually played in theaters, a very vocal segment of Zack Snyder fans increasingly demanded the release of the so-called “Snyder Cut,” eventually launching the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut on Twitter. It became a running joke on social media, as the fanboyish trolling of the “Snyder Cut” clamorers often crept into any public discussion of Marvel movies or the DC films that came after Snyder’s ouster. These fans loudly, stubbornly called for the release of a movie that didn’t even really exist. It was another expression of the worrisome fan entitlement that has become so prominent and so divisive in culture over the last couple of decades, and for a lot of people who either didn’t care about or actively disliked Snyder’s version of the DC Universe, it became very common to make fun of these people.
There was no reason to think a “Snyder Cut” even existed, or would ever see the light of day. And then, this past May, it was announced that Zack Snyder’s Justice League would be coming to HBO Max in 2021. The apocryphal “Snyder Cut” would indeed be a reality, only after tens of millions of dollars of new editing and post-production. Snyder even wanted to shoot new footage with the cast, an expensive proposition that was quickly shot down.
With the release of the “Snyder Cut,” Warner Bros. decided to cater to a loud and angry group of fans that probably isn’t anywhere near large enough to justify the extra expense. It’s a move that echoed EA’s release of a “new” ending for Mass Effect 3 and presaged the absurd online rumors that Disney is going to “delete” the three latest Star Wars movies from canon. All this stuff is ridiculous, and personally I can’t even begin to understand how anybody could care about any of it enough to get angry or demand change. But this is what fan culture is today, apparently.
The most absurd thing about all of this, though, is the recent news that Snyder’s Justice League is going to be over three and a half hours long. A superhero movie that already bombed once is somehow creeping up to the length of a historical epic. We’re talking a Lawrence of Arabia, Gone with the Wind, The Irishman runtime, here—and only months after The Irishman, a movie that spanned decades and focused on a real guy who had an outsized impact upon America at the time (I’m not talking about the Irishman himself, who was probably lying about a lot of that stuff, but Jimmy Hoffa), was roundly mocked and criticized for being way too long. But yeah, the dark, gritty, surly superhero movie needs four hours to tell its story.
It’s possible that Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be broken up into a miniseries instead of running as a single film. That would make the extreme length less egregious and thus less mockable. (Don’t worry, there’d still be a ton else to mock about this particular piece of nonsense.) Even then, you’d have to be a pretty diehard fan of Snyder’s juvenile angst or his specific depictions of the Superfriends to want to spend that much time watching this thing.
Let’s put this into context. Not enough people wanted to see Justice League in theaters when it was only two hours long. Now Warner expects people to watch a version that’s almost twice as long and fully overseen by a guy whose other DC movies were laughingstocks.
There’s so much else you can do with that amount of time. You can watch almost any other movie ever made and still have a good hour or so left over. You could watch any Avengers movie, even the incredibly long Endgame that had to wrap up 10 years worth of stories. You could watch any two Police Academy movies, and then make it most of the way through a third one.
You could even watch entire seasons of some of the best TV comedies ever. Yeah, this is the destination. This is where I’ve been going with this the whole time. It only took me a thousand words to get here, so maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to complain about Zack Snyder and his comically bloated film. Who knows.
I do know that watching any of the shows below would be a better use of anybody’s time than watching almost four hours of a Zack Snyder superhero movie. And this list doesn’t even count British sitcoms—almost none of those seasons last much longer than three hours, so this list could’ve been nothing but like 60 different shows from overseas.
One day the “Snyder Cut” will be live on your HBO Max account. You might be tempted to watch it. Maybe take a moment to regroup and recharge and then queue up any of the TV seasons listed below for a far more entertaining and invigorating experience—even if there is a solid chance that Zack Snyder’s Justice League will wind up being unintentionally funnier than any of these shows.
Jody Hill and Danny McBride’s brilliant exploration of male fragility would be the unquestioned champion of HBO comedy if it wasn’t for Danny McBride’s other two HBO comedies. #RehashTheSnyderCut fans will probably appreciate how obnoxious Kenny Powers is, although you’re definitely not supposed to identify with this guy. Season one is six episodes long and clocks in at just under three hours, whereas season two adds an extra episode and brushes right up against the 210 minute mark. You could knock out either one in the time it would take to watch another version of the same bad superhero movie. And guess what: it’s already on HBO Max, so you don’t even have to pull up another app or wait until next year.
No, not the original U.K. version of The Office; both of that show’s two seasons fit the bill, but are disqualified due to that British exemption I mentioned above. The American Office launched in 2005 with an initial season of only six episodes. The pilot is an awkward recreation of the original’s first episode and probably the worst possible foot to get off on; the show quickly steadies itself, though, and by the third or fourth episode becomes the show that so many people love. You could watch the whole first season in only 131 minutes; that’s shorter than probably half of the superhero movies that have come out the last decade.
Parks and Rec followed The Office’s example a little too closely at first. Its first season is also only six episodes, and similarly the first episode is the worst one of the entire series. It doesn’t improve as quickly as The Office did, but it’s also far from a disaster. It’s not a great introduction to the series—this is maybe the only show where I would recommend newcomers to skip the first season until after they’ve watched enough later episodes to know each character. It was clearly a work in progress, but the bones were there, and at 126 minutes this season is barely half as long as what Zack Snyder is threatening to unload upon the world.
Joe Pera’s Adult Swim show is a beautiful, lyrical, live action Peanuts special of a series, and one of the three or four best comedy shows of the last decade. Even with the abbreviated runtimes of Adult Swim shows, you couldn’t fit both seasons into the allotted time, but each one would individually fit. Season one has nine episodes in 110 minutes, and season two gets a bit more space, unspooling 14 episodes in 176 minutes. Both are brilliant, but start from the beginning, if you haven’t already. Joe Pera absolutely understands Superman way more than Snyder ever will.
Okay, this isn’t a sitcom, but Netflix’s sketch comedy show is the most hilarious thing on TV. And the first season can be binged in under two hours. Not only will you enjoy it way more than anything Zack Snyder could ever make, but you’ll also understand so many memes and Twitter jokes that probably just confused you beforehand.
Here’s a weird one: At 77 minutes, you could watch Delocated’s first season three times and still fit it into the window it’d take to watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League. You could also just about squeeze in the third season, which, due to increased episode length, runs for 212 minutes. You couldn’t watch the second season, unfortunately, as it’s the longest one of the series; yes, it’s the best season of Delocated, but there’s no bad season of Jon Glaser’s unhinged reality show parody, so don’t worry.
I’ve been repping this show so hard for so long that I don’t even remember much about it. It aired for six weeks on NBC in 2007, and was a bone-dry parody of detective shows starring Andy Richter as a boring, unassuming accountant who accidentally falls into becoming a private investigator. If the Coen Brothers and Dan Harmon collaborated on a Columbo remake, it’d probably feel a little like this. With only six episodes ever made, the whole series barely cracks two hours.
Let’s go out with a bang. Police Squad!, the legendary show from Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker that only lasted for six episodes in 1982 but was eventually reborn in theaters as The Naked Gun, takes only three hours to watch. Those are three of the most hilarious hours you’ll ever spend with your television set. Even if you’ve already seen this show—even if you’ve already seen it a dozen or so times—you’d be more spiritually and intellectually nourished by watching it again than spending time on Justice League.
Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s on Twitter @grmartin.