After two-and-a-half years of social media posts, giant ads in Time’s Square bought by die-hard fans, and airplane banners flying over Comic-Con, the fabled “Snyder Cut” of Justice League is finally coming to life. The project, whose official title will be Zack Snyder’s Justice League and which may in fact take form as a miniseries rather than a movie, will hit HBO Max in 2021.
For the few of you reading this who don’t know, director Zack Snyder left production of Justice League about midway through 2017. The reason given at the time (via The Hollywood Reporter) was that Snyder left the project to deal with the loss of his recently deceased daughter. Although that has always been the official reason, rumors have abounded for years that Warner Bros. was still stinging from the reception to BvS and wanted to go for a lighter take, suggesting that Snyder’s departure was perhaps for more than just personal reasons.
Avengers’ Joss Whedon was soon assigned to take over the reins of the film, probably in the hopes that he’d bring in some of that Marvel magic. Although Snyder was ultimately the credited director on the final film, the movie as released was far shorter and far less Snyder-y than what we would have gotten had he stayed on board. And thus, the #ReleaseTheSynderCut movement was born. And two years later, it has paid off.
What We Expect to See
So what can folks expect from this version of Justice League? In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that came right on the heels of the Snyder Cut announcement, the director said that the version that landed in theaters contained but one fourth of what he actually shot. Over two hours were left on the cutting room floor, and we should expect to see all of that material.
Over the years on social media, Snyder has teased things fans hoped would make it into the film but never did. Characters like Darkseid, DC’s biggest bad, and Flash’s girlfriend Iris West were meant to be introduced. Kiersey Clemons shot scenes for Justice League as the latter character, but they were edited out.
Of course, there will likely be far more character moments, particularly for Ray Fisher as Cyborg and Ezra Miller’s Flash. In regards to the latter, his time-travel arc hinted at in Batman V Superman would have been explained… at least to some degree. In one of Snyder’s Vero livestreams, the director revealed that Cyborg would have helped Flash create his cosmic treadmill in Justice League or its proposed sequel. At the very least, the seeds are likely planted in Synder’s original cut.
Superman’s resurrection is said to be handled totally differently than what we ended up with; we may see a longer battle between a confused Man of Steel and the rest of the heroes, and the military may even come into play. Snyder has since revealed images of Kal-El in his black suit from his cut of the film. In the comments on that image, he added, “Let’s put it this way, in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, he will have a black suit.”
What We Hope to See
So that’s what we can expect, but what do we want to see? For starters, one of the biggest flaws of the theatrical cut of Justice League is just how darn cheap and rushed it all looks. The big alien invasion final act looks straight out of a video game, or a Mummy sequel from the early 2000s. The effects are pretty abysmal, and should totally be redone. And yes, that includes all the effects on the movie’s big bad Steppenwolf. Go back to square one there.
And if you’re going to bother redoing the finale, then why not add in actor Harry Lennix as General Swanwick/the Martian Manhunter? Snyder has confirmed that he intended to include the Man of Steel and BvS actor in Justice League, which would have finally revealed that he was indeed the Martian hero J’onn J’onzz in human disguise.
But perhaps an even bigger impact would come from making good on that Green Lantern tease. We see an alien Green Lantern in the flashback sequence in the theatrical cut, which Snyder confirmed on social media was from his work on the production. Moreover, he stated that the alien G.L. we see was not the Green Lantern; this hints that one of the famous Earth Lanterns like Hal Jordan or John Stewart was going to be appear, as had been rumored. For the League’s big debut in live-action, all the original founding members should have been there. The final shot should have seen both heroes included in that classic team pose.
At present, it is all but confirmed that Darkseid will get a bigger role in Snyder’s version. DC’s biggest bad warrants more than just the one bit of dialogue the Justice League movie gave him, and the fact that he was overshadowed by one of his minions is just plain wrong. Give fans the Dark Lord of Apokolips at long last.
On the other end of the spectrum, some of the best moments from the theatrical cut were its more humorous bits—notably, many of Flash’s interactions with the other characters. The moment where he and Cyborg dig up Clark Kent’s body will likely have to go, as it won’t be part of the plot anymore. But other funny moments, like Aquaman sitting on Wonder Woman’s lasso and confessing his truths (a Joss Whedon addition), shouldn’t be tossed just to make sure every bit of lightness is gone.
What It All Means for the Future
One of the more interesting parts of the Snyder Cut announcement is the notion that this might not just be a four-hour movie, but instead broken up into six half-hour installments. Frankly, this might be the smarter move here. Even at home, a four-hour movie is a chore to sit through. But The Mandalorian proved half-hour bites were more than 0kay with audiences. In fact, if this version of Snyder’s Justice League clicks, and the streaming numbers are good, this could be a new beginning for the DC Universe and the Justice League of America.
Without a doubt, Warner Bros. wanted Justice League to be their Avengers. But regardless on where you fall on the MCU vs. DCEU debate, the facts are that Marvel Studios beat WB to the punch with their theatrical giant superhero team-up film by six years. In the theatrical world, Justice League was always going to be the runner-up. It doesn’t matter to the general public that in the comics, the League pre-dated the Avengers. In movie world, Marvel simply came first.
Say the audience responds to a Justice League miniseries, we could see the property transition from big screen franchise to a seasonal six-part event series. Snyder always had plans for a Justice League trilogy after all, and this could be how that all comes into play: via streaming and not theaters. Streaming is becoming more and more dominant in entertainment, even for big budget action fare. This will be even truer in a post-coronavirus world. Snyder’s next project is Army of the Dead for Netflix, so he is hardly above doing non-theatrical projects.
And given that Zack Snyder cast them in their respective roles, we doubt Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, and Jason Momoa would be against a semi-regular Justice League presence on HBO Max, especially if it’s just once every couple of years. All actors have shown extreme loyalty to Snyder every chance they’ve had on social media and in interviews. So maybe Ben Affleck wouldn’t come back as Batman. But constantly recasting Bat actors is just a fact of life these days.
Yes, Marvel is bringing the MCU to Disney+, so there is precedent for this already. But it’s not Iron Man, Thor, or Cap getting the Disney+ treatment. If Warner Bros. transitions the JLA to streaming with all their big gun characters involved, it would be a mighty bold move that no one saw coming. And it would generate subscribers for years. Not to use a term from their marvelous competition, but this could be their endgame. Just please, whatever happens, make sure the mustache-removal budget is sufficient this time. We beg you.
Featured Image: Warner Bros.