The version of Justice League released in theaters is credited with Zack Snyder as director, but he left the production before it was completed in the wake of a family tragedy, and in his absence, Joss Whedon was brought on to add nearly 80 new script pages and reshoot massive chunks of the movie. The final product bears little resemblance to Zack Snyder’s original intent.
In the years since Justice League’s release, fans have mounted a persistent campaign for the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League cut. New information has been dug up, leaked, or sometimes provided directly from Snyder himself to show what Snyder’s original intent was. While it once seemed a long shot, general consensus now seems to assume the movie will release eventually.
- Movie Title: Zack Snyder’s Justice League
- Release Date: TBA
- Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds, Amber Heard, Joe Morton
- Director: Zack Snyder
- Writer: Chris Terrio & Zack Snyder
- Last Updated: February 17, 2020
Much of the debate about the Snyder Cut has revolved around whether or not it even exists. Thankfully, Snyder has confirmed on two separate occasions that he has a director’s cut of the movie. It was actually apparent even before Snyder left the project that he had completed his own cut, as he was working on final VFX approvals, color grading, and doing ADR, all of which take place after a director’s cut is locked.
When Snyder left the project, it was revealed he had screened his cut of the movie for executives in accordance with the Director’s Guild of America Basic Agreement. Then, at his Director’s Cut event in March 2019, he told a fan his cut exists, then again on December 4th, 2019, Snyder posted an image of his director’s cut film reels to social media.
Zack Snyder already has a reputation for long movies, with a director’s cut of Watchmen coming in just over 3 hours and the Ultimate Cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice also clocking in over 3 hours, but his director’s cut of Justice League takes things even further with a 214-minute runtime, which calculates to an hour and 34 minutes long. This was first revealed at his Director’s Cuts event, but once again when he posted the image of film reels specifying the 214-minute runtime.
Since there was debate surrounding the level of completion of Zack Snyder’s Justice League cut, many people assumed it may just be an assembly cut, or other less complete iteration of the filmmaking process, but Snyder confirmed his assembly cut was actually 5-hours long, indicating the 214 cut is the real deal for him.
While director’s cuts often have similar plots with deleted scenes and maybe an alternate ending, the Snyder Cut is almost an entirely different story from the Justice League theatrical cut. On a high level there’s a number of basic elements that are similar, though. The villain is Steppenwolf, he’s trying to collect all the Mother Boxes, Batman puts together a team of heroes to stop him, and they resurrect Superman to aid in the final fight.
Beyond those basic similarities, though, Snyder’s film had a number of major differences. First, all the characters had backstories to set them up, and Cyborg’s story was used as a framing device for the entire movie. While he’s merely a supporting character in the theatrical cut, he’s the “heart” of the Snyder Cut, as he was literally created by a Mother Box, he’s the only one with the power to stop the Unity at the end. There was also a looming threat of DC big bad Darkseid throughout the movie, from the history lesson through a cliffhanger endings setting up a sequel.
There were also numerous characters totally cut from the movie, including Darkseid (Ray Porter), Iris West (Kiersey Clemons), Ryan Choi (Ryan Zheng), Elinore Stone (Karen Bryson), Nuidis Vulko (Willem Dafoe), Antiope (Robin Wright), Desaad (Peter Guinness), Ares (David Thewlis), and Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix).
For the first couple of years after Justice League was released in theaters, Snyder’s director’s cut was dubbed “the Snyder Cut” and the slogan “Release The Snyder Cut” became a legend unto itself, whether as a meme, a rallying cry for fans, or even as a fixture of pop culture, the phrase even got adopted for other circumstances here fans wanted to see a director’s original vision, such as Release the Trank Cut (of Fantastic 4) or Release The Abrams Cut (of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker).
While the name “Snyder Cut” isn’t likely to go away any time soon, Zack Snyder seems to prefer a different title, beginning to refer to his version of the movie on social media as “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” and even releasing branded merchandise using the Zack Snyder’s Justice League name and logo. This title seems to better capture what the Snyder Cut really is. It’s not just an alternate cut of Justice League, but a whole other vision, from the mind of Zack Snyder.
Since Justice League promotion started while Zack Synder was still on the project, there’s a number of posters in-line with his original vision already, although after an official release is announced, there may be new posters released to lean more into the particulars of Snyder’s vision to differentiate Zack Snyder’s Justice League from the theatrical Justice League.
In addition to official posters, Snyder also hosted a contest challenging fans to make their own posters for Zack Snyder’s Justice League. None of these count as “official” by any stretch, but there is a level of Snyder endorsement, making them at least worth mentioning. And with over 1,200 posters submitted, there’s certainly a high level of interest.
Several trailers for Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League were released before he left the project, so, technically speaking, there are several trailers for Zack Snyder’s Justice League cut already, but it would seem logical for any kind of release announcement to be followed shortly by a new trailer highlighting the differences from the theatrical cut. Even the Ultimate Cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice got its own trailer showing some of the scenes that had been cut for theaters.
Of course, with an abundance of Snyder footage in early trailers and (sort of) in the final movie, a plethora of fan trailers have been released over the years showing fans’ impression of what Snyder was truly going for.
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Stephen M. Colbert