Don’t Be As Gullible As Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith Can Be Quite Lovable

It is for that reason he was the co-host for the Dawn of the Justice League, network television event advertising DC’s coming slate and included on every BvS disc.  He hosted the Yahoo! Movies release of Man of Steel.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve referenced him on my show either for his Jon Peters story or Suicide Squad or more!  He is a comic book store owner, host of Fat Man on Batman, and his transparent Everyman quality gives him substantial geek cred.

As an Everyman he’s as susceptible to falsehoods and clickbait as everyone.

On November 29th, Kevin Smith published the following Fat Man on Batman episode (skip to 1h56m):

Upset at the alterations to Justice League, Kevin pulls up a website and shares 22 alleged alterations to Zack’s original vision.

The only problem?  They’re not real.  Not exactly.

Kevin is not affirming any of this to be true.  He doesn’t know.  He just bookmarked a wordpress post that merely parrots (with minor alterations, editorial, and without attribution) a /r/DCEULeaks post published November 18, which was promptly discredited and deleted.  Unfortunately, not before obtaining traction online being republished on other clickbait outlets like Nerdist, etc. (com’on guys, do better!)

History Lesson

The redditor’s post history is telling.  It’s filled with inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and the same kind of vague attempts at teasing and disclosures which get used in cold readings for fraud psychics and spiritualists who prey on the hopes and pain of others… only a lot less deftly and readily apparent.  Nonetheless, the timing is telling, let’s break it down:

  • October 19, 2017 – ViewerAnon’s 54-point plot breakdown.
  • November 13, 2017 – US Fan Screenings of Justice League.
  • November 17, 2017 – US Justice League release date.
  • November 17, 2017 – Ultracal31’s 2,138-word leak (“changed, deleted and Snyder vs Whedon”).
  • November 17, 2017 – Ultracal31’s leak is corroborated by ViewerAnon.
  • November 18, 2017 – Original 21-point “Differences” and immediately debunked.
  • November 18, 2017 – Ultracal31 debunks “Differences”.
  • November 19, 2017 – TheAscendedAncient leaks footage debunking “Differences”.
  • November 19, 2017 – The wordpress site that Kevin reads posts “Differences”.
  • November 22, 2017 – The Nerdist publishes a video based on “Differences”.
  • November 24, 2017 – LDN_Film is moderator verified and does an AMA debunking “Differences”.
  • November 24, 2017 – The wordpress site edits “Differences” to remove debunked parts and add LDN_Film points.
  • November 29, 2017 – Kevin reads wordpress version of “Differences” on Fat Man on Batman.

What am I getting at?  “Differences” is illegitimate.  It comes after theatrical release and is based entirely on information already known or fabricated guesses.  It sources ViewerAnon’s breakdown, Ultracal31’s two-thousand-word leak, the litany of pre-release press and promo materials, and general (largely wrong) assumptions about Zack Snyder’s inclinations, intentions, proclivities, and style (with a sprinkling of studio or fan mandated “fixes”).  Except to the extent it draws from accurate sources, none of the original material is real, true, or truthful.  It is a guess.

Outside of its elaboration on information we already knew before November 18, it provides no insight, nothing verified, nothing corroborated, and is- frankly- a lie.

Confirmation

This shouldn’t have to be said, but just because a celebrity reads a website aloud doesn’t “confirm”, verify, substantiate, or corroborate the content.  Kevin didn’t fact check.  He has no source.  He doesn’t know.  He just took a wordpress post to be true and gave it 60,000+ more eyes than the 80,000 views Nerdist gave it one week earlier.

Alleged Audience Confirmation

What about the audience member allegedly breaking NDA to affirm what Kevin was reading off?  To us, she is faceless, nameless, and impossible to verify or authenticate in any meaningful way.  If you have an ounce of skepticism you have cause to doubt some random person alleging inside knowledge.  Nonetheless, even taking her at face value, what did she really say?

  • 2h5m31s – “I promised them I wouldn’t talk today, but um, yeah.  Most of that stuff was in there.”
  • 2h5m37s – “That’s the version that you saw?” / “I saw that and I saw the other version too.”
  • 2h5m45s – “In terms of seeing them both, what did you think?” / “Um, I like the first one better.”
  • 2h6m21s – “You saw Darkseid?” / “Yes, there was a Darkseid in there.  Kind of like the finished, but not really.”
  • 2h6m28s – “Not fully finished?” / “No, dressed in a suit kinda.”
  • 2h6m35s – “Steppenwolf is killed by Darkseid on Apokolips.” / “That, I did not see.”
  • 2h7m15s – “Did Cyborg die in your version?” / “No.”

Reasonable Skepticism

I have to say, I don’t find this audience member credible.  It’s an old cross-examination standby but we use it because it works: “Ma’am, were you being truthful and honest when you signed your NDA?  Were you being truthful and honest when you promised you wouldn’t talk last week?  So now that you’re talking we see that your word, integrity, and honesty mean nothing.  So all you need is attention to break a contract, to break your word, to break a promise… so how much attention do you need to bend the truth if not outright lie?”  She lacks the integrity to keep a contract and is willing to break it for attention… who is to say she’s not willing to lie for attention too?

The real sticking point is the Darkseid stuff where she says, “a Darkseid”, “kind of like the finished”, and “dressed in a suit.”  There aren’t multiple Darkseids so it would never be “a Darkseid”, there isn’t a finished or final Darkseid in the theatrical cut so how could she compare her alleged version to the non-existent “kind of like the finished” version?  And I’m not going to elaborate on how Darkseid would be represented in unfinished VFX but it would be… unusual… to describe it as “dressed in a suit” whilst knowing it was “a” Darkseid.  She was rather unconvincing.

Remember, this is November 29th.  “Differences” has been disseminated since November 18th and what if the audience member was one of the 80,000 people who watched it on Nerdist or other outlets already, believed it to be legitimate, and simply parroted it here pretending to be an authentic insider?  In theory, nothing she says proves she is someone who saw a screening (that even the author of “Differences” claims was WB Executive exclusive contradicting her!) versus an attention-desperate person who read a rumor they believed and claimed as their own inside knowledge.  It is impossible to tell if she is repeating an earlier rumor or her own actual experience from what little she shared.  Nothing new, original, specific, or testable.

Even If True She Debunks “Differences”

All that said, pretend she’s absolutely 100% honest to the best of her ability.  She’s confirmed nothing from “Differences”, not a single specific point or element or enumerated thing is corroborated by her answers.  Only vague, broad, sweeping incomplete generalizations!  “Most of that stuff was in there” not “Everything you said is exactly how it was.”  That makes it impossible to verify any individual list item because we don’t know if it is included in “most of that stuff” or not, rending the list worthless.

If she’s being truthful and if “Differences” is based off of legitimate leaks prior to November 18th, I should hope that some of the stuff was in there!  We should expect it!  That doesn’t legitimize or confirm Differences, only the reliable sources it drew upon, it doesn’t make the list itself reliable.

Instead, when confronted with specific, enumerated, explicitly listed items from “Differences”, she denies seeing them!  If she’s reliable and truthful, she says Steppenwolf isn’t killed on Apokolips and Cyborg didn’t die, in direct contradiction to “Differences”.  How desperate do you have to be to start pushing “Differences” as Zack’s vision given it is completely uncorroborated and the sole source of authority explicitly debunks the only two explicitly unique points related to it?  Why would you push “Differences” when it has been contradicted and debunked by verified insiders, our own eyes, the author’s lack of credibility, etc. when we have a wealth of legitimate information to draw from?

What’s the Harm?

Well, even if it isn’t true what’s the harm in promoting it, sharing it, and insisting upon it?  So what if an unsubstantiated rumor gets passed around?  Why can’t we have our fantasy or ignite outrage and action over a fantasy?

Integrity and Values

If you’re asking these questions, we part ways on a fundamental level in terms of values.  Yes, in some sense fantasy is harmless.  However, irresponsible dissemination of misinformation, the failure to fact-check, the valuing of sensation over integrity, honesty, and truth… getting in the habit of this over leisure leaks into how you live your real life.   One of the reason we love comics, mythology, and stories is because they provide the narratives we use to frame and order our lives.  But if we don’t value truth, journalistic integrity, honesty, critical thinking, and empathy, we will fail to recognize falsehoods and get swept up in illegitimate narratives all too easily.

What If It’s False?

But setting aside your own integrity and character, let’s do a balancing test or Pascal’s Wager.  Let’s imagine that I’m right and “Differences” does not accurately reflect Zack Snyder’s version of the film.  If you respond to, fight for, promote, insist upon, and get outraged over “Differences” and it isn’t Zack’s film then what are you fighting for, getting upset over, and what message are you sending?

The people who know- I mean really, actually, truly know what Zack’s film would have been compared to “Differences”- now know you don’t actually care about Zack’s film which is something else entirely.  They have no reason to admit, disclose, or release something that doesn’t match what the ill-informed are clamoring for.  It ends up being an insult to the people who worked on the earlier vision because people keep saying “Man, we should have got Differences!” while the filmmakers hang their heads and think, “But our film wasn’t that Differences nonsense!”  It’s an open declaration there’s no market for the actual and authentic thing.  People would rather have the fantasy they’ve conjured.

What If It’s True?

Conversely, let’s say I’m wrong.  What is so different about Differences that you can’t simply promote all the authenticated, established, verified, corroborated, proven, known, and seen differences between the advertising, promotional, leaked, mentioned in print / press / interviews / junkets, social media hints, etc. omissions and changes that we know and can prove that it’s indispensable?

Is it Cyborg’s death debunked by Kevin’s audience member?  Is it Darkseid debunked by LDN_Film?  Is it Perry debunked by Laurence Fishburne?  Is it because the author of Differences lacks the imagination to make the first scene of the film anything but the first scene in the trailers?  Are we really losing anything discarding the discredited Differences and instead relying upon all the other authenticated information even if Differences magically turns out to be true?  No.  Seeking to rely on more credible facts because you value truth, honesty, and integrity is never a mistake.

Think critically.


Abridged Differences is a Lie List:

  1. Shown only to WB Executives so conveniently impossible to corroborate.
  2. Justice League started with Bruce recruiting Aquaman? (Or just a failure of imagination projecting the trailer directly onto the film.)
  3. Absence of any specific extended dialogue.
  4. Absurd Iris library scene debunked by leaked footage.
  5. No dialogue during history lesson; Ares already in credits.
  6. Using Geek Magazine’s October issue bungling of Darkseid family tree as legitimate.
  7. We already knew by September 5 that Karen Bryson had been cast and by October 15 a promo event in the Philippines revealed the car crash origin.
  8. We already knew in June 2016 Vulko was cast and the additional Atlantis scenes from verified leakers don’t corroborate.
  9. Deleted line, “No protectors” means raising a dead Kryptonian is unnecessary for Steppenwolf to win and certainly unnecessary before Earth falls (do it after winning).  No race to resurrect.
  10. Batman has no way to know about the Codex, or that Steppenwolf knows about the Codex, or that the Codex has anything to do with alleged resurrection without a ton of expositional technobabble.
  11. Post-Credit scene filmed by Snyder included Lex’s escape decoy, meaning they never intended a Deathstroke breakout scene.
  12. Man of Steel “threaten my mother” scene how far away the farm was and why there would be no bystanders. But if there were, why do they evaporate from the scene?  Because author forgot them.
  13. Whoops.  Claiming a Whedon reshoot is a Snyder original?  Tsk tsk.
  14. Obvious pandering “fixes” omitted when film was desperate to include “fixes.”
  15. Misunderstands guilt and heroic sacrifice life as one thing creating a suicidal narrative non-existent after BvS, “I won’t fail him in life.”
  16. No Heggra casting.
  17. LDN_Film states Superman’s scenes were not substantially different before or after reshoots in terms of content or substance or plot; mostly dialogue tweaks.
  18. No library was used as a set or location.
  19. Literally undermines the meaning of “cyborg” by eliminating all organics.
  20. Laurence Fishburne never filmed anything for Justice League.
  21. And many many more!
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11 Comments

  1. I completely agree with you Doc. I myself was confused and disappointed after the first viewing of Justice League. However, I have learned to love the film and be happy with what I have instead of insisting upon getting an alternate version which might or might not exist. Looking forward to hearing your opinion about the film once you have the time to gather your thought and produce the next episode.

  2. I accept the version Kevin Smith was reading is anything but reliable.

    Saying that I can not accept the movie that was released into cinemas. It broke my heart to see how Clark and others were treated. To see complete disregard for the prior story, tone and logical conclusion that we should expect. Yes,failure to meet my expectations is this films biggest crime. However it was on such a fundamental level of failure I can not accept it into my heart like Man of Steel did.

    Sure I can stretch anyway I want to say why character A acts the way they do but it’s unnatural and a stretch. Anything from Flash suddenly joining as the quirky guy instead of being an orphan in pain looking for a father figure to support him, it was just really uncaring film making.

    I totally and utterly reject this films existence into my heart. Heart broken

  3. I won’t really know how much was changed unless and until we ever get to see the so-called Snyder cut of JL. I’m not really interested in trying to guess at what Zack and Chris Terrio wrote, and tha Zack filmed, by picking apart this list that Kevin Smith assembled. Smith is basing his conclusions on some sketchy foundations in some instances is a fair criticism, but let’s not let that obfuscate from the main issue. Imo the forrest from the trees: almost without a doubt, WB/Joss Whedon overhauled the film that Zack shot. We can easily infer that from how much was changed from the trailers! They even reshot scenes that were in the trailers to match Whedon’s tone in the scenes that Whedon shot. I can’t really judge this fairly until I see the Snyder cut. But there is plenty of reason for me to doubt that then theater release remain faithful to what Snyder shot.

  4. Wow! Did i miss something here? I’m not sure if you’re making a general point using Kevin Smith and this particular episode as an example or there is something more personal at play here. Either Way, what you’ve written is sound.

    As a fan of your podcast I’m very interested in getting your thoughts on JL. Waiting patiently for the next episode.

    In the interim, If i were to guess I would reason that it’s your least favorite in this “trilogy.” Simply because it veered away so much from what you appreciated from a “true” Synder project.

    • It’s a general point about fact-checking, integrity, and credibility. If you want something, it isn’t worth skipping fact-checking or compromising your integrity just because it agrees with your desires NOW… because once you lose credibility it is very difficult to regain it.

      For example, the list itself lost credibility because of many, many errors and inconsistencies and debunked descriptions, moreover the author lost credibility because of false predictions and false insider information (like the wrong time Whedon joined). So at that point, nothing he says should be believed until it can be vetted.

      The lesson also applies to narratives and incomplete information. At the end of the day we have VERY incomplete information, so if you wish to maintain credibility you should fact-check stories before imposing or accepting narratives (like what happened in BvS!) because if it comes to light you were wrong and your outrage misplaced, no one is going to hear you when you speak out about something real.

      Integrity means bringing out the truth even if it is uncomfortable, confronting, complex, or confusing… like a real-world Superman might not be all sunshine and rainbows… so even if in the short term the facts are against your interest, in the long term people recognize your integrity and credibility and listen when it’s truly important.

      • Completely agree with you here. However, something that has become glaring to me, at least, following the “DCEU’s” emergences is the narrative of just getting “it” out there. It doesn’t seem to matter if that information is fact checked or not, as your suggesting. The only thing that seems to matter is will it generate buzz and I assume clicks for your brand and whatever ends that translates into.

        Thus assuming my premise and observation are sound then it’s not a stretch to reason that concepts of integrity and credibility have taken a back-seat to speed and attention, first and foremost.

  5. I even commented in the original reddit post whet it was posted that the “leak” made little sense (the Deathstroke breakout makes the least sense) and that it contradicted more trustworthy leaks by the VFx and marketing personnel.
    We will likely get a Squad style Extended Cut of the film on Blu-Ray and who knows what the future might hold. Superman II, Alien 3 and so on all got assembly style re-cuts down the line and JLA is as cult status worthy as those. Let´s just be happy that the movie we got is as good as it is, flaws and all. And good luck to Zack with The Last Photograph! He delayed that film for a decade to serve his masters at WB.

    Here is my 8/10 JLA Imdb review for all that care:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0974015/reviews-1030

  6. The only leak that might be legit is the Ultracal31 post. Honestly, that particular list of changes and cuts doesn’t sound much different than the final edit. I think I’d rather read Terrio’s original script than see Snyder’s original cut because that IS Snyder’s vision for the film before the studio began meddling.

    I’m curious to hear your thoughts about JL.

  7. I think the audience member was lying.

    If she thinks she can get away with breaking her NDA then she thinks she can get away with lying. If she doesn’t think she can get away with lying- like she’s going to get caught- then she wouldn’t break an NDA with fines and punishment. Unless, there is no NDA because she’s lying. Liars are stupid and that’s why their lies are bad and inconsistent.

    Here’s a plausible story for why she lies “on the fly” like that.

    Last week she watched the Nerdist video with the same rumors and pretended to be an insider but pretended to be under NDA so she wouldn’t say anything. That’s already a stupid lie. If you’re under NDA you’re not supposed to advertise it. But she wants the attention of being an insider because she believed an internet rumor. She’s already established this going into this week.

    They start talking about the rumors which she knows and nods, so Marc calls her out and puts a spotlight on her, and now she’s caught. She either has to stick by her NDA story and say nothing because SHE WOULD STILL BE UNDER NDA or, because she’s an attention-seeker, she now starts to lie more. “Oh I didn’t want to talk last week because of NDA but with the spotlight on me now, I’m going to talk!” Only she doesn’t realize that when Kevin talks he TALKS.

    He starts pressing her and asking her questions on EVERY. SINGLE. THING. And, at first, she’s giving general answers but he presses her for details, “What did it look like? Describe it!” And she starts to sweat, her story is less convincing, and the details are crap. So what does she do? She starts claiming she didn’t see any of the rest of the scenes. No more follow-up questions. It ends the inquiry. She’s lying on the fly. Kevin, who is there, can see she’s sweating, clamming up, not believable, and only going to say BS… so he stops asking.

    Have you EVER known Kevin to back down or be too embarrassed to ask questions?! NEVER! He’d press on if he thought she was legit. He has been subject to NDA himself and he flirts with the edge all the time, but even the high-and-mighty connected Kevin DOESN’T BREAK NDAs! The instant she started to open her mouth Week Two claiming to be under NDA STILL, it was obvious she was lying.

    • I take no position on whether she is lying or not, but walk you through the outcomes either way. Even if she is truthful and honest, the vague nature of her comments means it is impossible to point to any one list item and say it was true. Therefore, the list is not useful, we may as well go back to authenticated sources of changes we know of and can prove rather than points on a sketchy list that might not be “in there” even by her own testimony.

      Thanks for your comment but if you would like to keep posting, in the future, please do not insult people directly on my site. Please find another way to communicate your points or views, thank you.

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