Zack Snyder's Justice League Explained

05/20/2020 EDIT: It is real and it is happening! Zack Snyder has confirmed today that the Snyder Cut will be releasing exclusively on HBO Max sometime in 2021.

If you were on Twitter this weekend, you might have seen a few tweets mentioning the Snyder Cut. In fact, on Sunday, which marked the two year release anniversary of Justice League, over 700k tweets called for the release of the Director's Cut of the film using #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. The support came from all over with celebrities like Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Ben Affleck (Batman), Abdul Yahya (Black Manta in Aquaman), and Dave Bautista (Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy) joining the fans in their requests for the film's release. However, a lot of people don't know what the Snyder Cut is, let alone why these celebrities are championing it. In this article, we answer all the big questions like what is the Snyder Cut? Is it real? Will it ever come out? And more. Without further ado, let's take a closer look at the series of unfortunate events that surround Justice League (2017).

So why is the theatrical cut of Justice League not good enough? Well, at the start of post-production for Justice League, Zack Snyder and his wife/producer faced the tragic loss of their daughter, Autumn, which made the two of them step away from the film to deal with the incident. At this time, the studio brought in Joss Whedon, the writer/director of Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, who, at the time, was working on a Batgirl film for the DCEU. Under the supervision of Whedon, and at the request of Warner Brothers, there were extensive reshoots that cost an estimated $25 million and the film was cut down to a 2-hour runtime.

Something important to note here, however, is that when Zack and Deborah Snyder exited the project, the studio did a major shuffle in the crew that worked on Justice League. While many think that the addition of Joss Whedon is the extent of the changes, there were also quite a few people who were part of Snyder's team, such as Jay Oliva and JunkieXL, that were replaced once Whedon came on, including a whole new team of writers who were brought in to lighten the mood. A similar incident happened to David Ayer's Suicide Squad, with reshoots taking place for that film just a few months before its release with the intention of making it not as serious as Batman v Superman.

While it was said that only a small portion of Zack Snyder's original Justice League was changed during the reshoots, the exclusion of characters and scenes, that were included in the promo material, says otherwise. Furthermore, even though Zack Snyder is credited as director of the film, he didn't do the press junket prior to launch and he didn't even show up to the premiere of the film. In fact, some of his posts on Vero suggests that he may not have even seen the theatrical release of the movie at all.

What exactly is in the mythic Snyder Cut? Well before we dive into this topic further I want to give a fair spoiler warning for Justice League, if you haven't watched the film yet and don't want it spoiled then skip ahead. With that said, Snyder's cut of Justice League, which was much longer than the theatrical cut, focused more on the team members individually before they came together for the big fight. The film starts with a long sequence in which Bruce Wayne is trying to find Arthur Curry. This search is cut down and the rooftop fight with the Parademon was added in its place in the theatrical cut. Aquaman's underwater fight with Steppenwolf played out differently and was much more extensive in the Snyder Cut. The film also laid the groundwork for the Aquaman solo film that would soon follow. Cyborg was supposed to be the heart of the movie according to Zack Snyder and his story contained flashbacks to him being a highly praised athlete and showed him trying to come to grips with his new identity. Flash's storyline includes a scene of him saving Iris West (Kiersey Clemons) from a car crash and it also shows his work on the cosmic treadmill that he uses in Batman v Superman briefly to warn Bruce about Lois. Speaking of Lois, she has more screen time in Snyder's cut and it shows her reeling in from the ending of Batman v Superman. The fight against Superman at Heroes Park takes place at night and he doesn't say the "tell me do you bleed" like he does in the theatrical version. Actually, he has no lines at all in the entire fight. Perhaps the biggest change to Superman, though, is that there are no CG upper lip scenes. Although that's probably obvious.

This is all just a brief overview of some of the core additions in the film. I haven't even touched on Cybrog's vision of the Knightmare sequence from Batman v Superman as he tries to split the mother boxes, the black Superman suit that is seen when Clark revisits the Kryptonian ship, the complete exclusion of the Russian family subplot or, due to the fact that Justice League was supposed to be a 2 part series, the film ended with Steppenwolf starting to go up the boom tube as Wonder Woman cuts off his head which lands at the feet of Darkseid who stops Steppenwolf's rolling decapitated head with his foot. Alright, with the spoilers out of the way, and hopefully a better understanding of what makes the Snyder Cut so different from the theatrical cut, let's move on.

This all sure sounds exciting but the question remains, is the Snyder Cut even real? Well, according to multiple sources the film is not only real but finished to a pretty high degree. In an interview with MTV News, Jason Mamoa (Aquaman) has stated that he has seen the film and confirmed that it is totally different than the theatrical version of Justice League. Kevin Smith has also confirmed the existence of the film, saying "there is a Snyder Cut" while on CinemaBlend's ReelBlend podcast. Junkie XL, the original composer of the film, has confirmed that the score is finished and is "still there." To add to the details, early this year The Art Center College of Design held a charity event with Zack Snyder where, for 3 days, they screened the Director's Cuts of Snyder's films. The promo image, which represents an amalgamation of Snyder's films, had a small little easter egg by way of the number 214 written in Superman's cape. This represents the 3 and a half hour (or 214 minutes) run time of the Snyder Cut.

But why would they release it now? It's clear that in the past DC and WB have tried to actively move away from the dark themes that were so prevalent in Man of Steel, BvS and Suicide Squad. However, if the success of Joker, which has become the highest-grossing R-rated film, crossing $1 billion at the worldwide box office, all without a release in China, proves anything, it's that now is better than ever to release dark and gritty tales of superheroes. What may have looked like a possible waste of money now looks more like a lucrative opportunity to both soothe fans and make a profit. Now let's say that Warner Brothers do have a change of heart and decide to move forward with a release of the Snyder Cut, how would they go about it?

Due to the partnership between Warner Brothers and HBO in preparation for their HBO Max streaming service, there have been hushed rumors that a Snyder Cut could emerge as an exclusive release on HBO's streaming platform. To perhaps add fuel to the fire, Damon Lindelof, the showrunner for HBO's Watchmen series, posted a photo of the Justice League on his Instagram with the caption: "I'm not saying I've seen it, but if I HAD, I would unequivocally support the powers that be to #releasethesnydercut". If that is the case, this flood of social media support could all be a fantastic marketing tactic that is clearly doing better than any trailer or poster could possibly do.

Now, much like any big movement that garners a following from around the world, there is inevitable toxicity attached to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut with some angry fans sending aggressive messages with the intention to bully certain people into the release of the film. However, it is important to recognize that it is only a small minority of the overall population and several times in the past the supporters of the Snyder Cut have come together to raise money for The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an organization very close to Zack Snyder since the loss of his daughter. Not to mention the billboards in Time Square and banners behind planes. It should also be mentioned that some extremely dedicated fans have actually tried to piece together their own Snyder Cut with a combination of leaked footage, scenes from the first two films, and score from Batman v Superman in hopes of capturing the essence of Snyder's vision.

Personally speaking, I do wish that the Snyder Cut sees the light of day. I have seen Justice League a few times and each time I lose myself in the rabbit hole of my imagination about what could have been. I may be in the minority in regards to enjoying Batman v Superman, but I am a realist. I know that a lot of people don't like Zack Snyder's take on DC characters. However, as both a film watcher and a filmmaker, I think it only fair to at least let him complete his vision of the story. After all, we've only seen two-thirds of the story arch for Superman and while it may not offer redemption to everyone who isn't a fan of Snyder's films, it would still mean a whole lot to the vocal minority that has been supporting Snyder and his films since 2013.

It may seem that things are grim and that doesn't matter how many billboards are bought or hashtags are used the studio will never listen, but the recent redesign of Sonic for the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, that reportedly cost Paramount Pictures $5 million, is proof of the contrary. In fact, this whole predicament arguably germinated because of the studio listening to the audience. Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad may have done well at the box office but people were not happy with the films' dark tone. And it's to please these people that the studio went to such lengths to "fix" Justice League. At first glance, the Snyder Cut may simply look like the story of an artist not being allowed to fully realize their vision. But there's another side to the coin as well. A story of a studio trying so very much to please its audience that it loses sight of itself and starts to pursue a beautiful lie.

Here are some of the big names that have come out in support of the Snyder Cut and we'll keep updating it, so as the support for the movement grows, so will this list:

Jason Mamoa (Aquaman in Justice League)
Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman in  Justice League)
Ben Affleck (Batman in Justice League)
Ray Fisher  (Cyborg in Justice League)
Ray Porter (Darkseid in Justice League: Snyder Cut)
Ciaran Hinds (Steppenwolf in Justice League)
David Ayer (Director of Suicide Squad)
Abdul Yahya (Black Manta in Aquaman)
Junkie XL (Composer for Batman v Superman)
Clay Enos (Still Photographer for Justice League)
Jay Olivia (Director of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns)
Diane Nelson (Former President of DC Entertainment)
Simu Lui (Shang-Chi in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings)
Dave Bautista (Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy)

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