While the critical consensus on Zack Snyder has been trending towards the positive after the Snyder Cut was released, there’s one movie of his that gets very little love. 2011’s Sucker Punch was unfairly overlooked when it hit theaters, scoring just 22% on the Tomatometer and making $89M on an $82M budget.
The most common criticism was that it’s simply an excuse to ogle attractive women in skimpy costumes as they fight robots, zombies and monsters. But ever since its release, people have been pointing out that the film is an indictment of the shallow ‘kickass girls’ fantasy strip-mined by creators like Joss Whedon. The movie is named Sucker Punch because it draws you in with the promise of objectified women then proceeds to completely undermine and deconstruct those tropes.
Snyder seems frustrated by the pic’s reception and in an interview with the Happy Sad Confused podcast, he’s said he’d like to revisit it, stating:
“Well, that movie was supposed to be rated R, right. […] It was a hard R when I wrote it. It was really intense and scary, and it was really meant to – you know, it’s probably the movie that I feel like is the most misunderstood movie that I made. Just in its fight, just to have someone say, ‘oh, that’s the masturbation fantasy of a twelve-year-old.’ You’re like, ‘Wow, that feels…that feels like I must’ve miscommunicated the entire thing because that is the exact opposite.’
If you’re acknowledging that, then you’re culpable for the fantasy. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to make you say, ‘fair enough.’ But are you not complicit? […] Can you not come all the way back around to say that you did that?”
He went to explain how the studio pressured him to change various aspects of the project, including reducing the budget, deciding it should be PG-13 and ditching several completed scenes, saying:
“It was the first movie I made where I felt pressure to change it.”
It’s worth noting that there’s already an alternative cut of Sucker Punch that restores the R-rating. The Extended Edition is generally regarded as the superior watch by fans, adding back in 18 minutes of footage including Oscar Isaac performing “Love is the Drug” and Carla Gugino’s character Madame Gorski. The movie also ends on a different note, with added scenes casting a new light on Jon Hamm’s Doctor.
But beyond that, there’s a Sucker Punch Snyder Cut that remains unseen. According to director of photography Larry Fong, this features extended musical numbers, a more direct condemnation of female objectification and ditches the studio-mandated voiceovers. Sadly, however, I doubt there’s enough interest in the pic for it to see a re-release, with the bad press around it ensuring that most won’t even give it the time of day.
Still, if you enjoyed Zack Snyder’s Justice League and want to watch his most misunderstood and underrated movie, be sure to check out Sucker Punch. The extended edition is the one to go for, and you might be surprised at the fun you have.