“The Snyder Cut” is here. After years of fan petitioning begging for the original cut of Justice League, it has finally arrived at HBO Max.
This backstory for the cut of the film is almost legend at this point. While filming Justice League in 2017, director Zach Snyder left the film due to the death of his daughter. Warner Brothers Studios decided to let Joss Whedon take over production, who directed the first two Avengers films for Marvel. This led to a very disjointed film that felt like the two visions were clashing constantly. The critics didn’t like it and the fans detested it. With a reported $300 million budget Warner Brothers lost millions and the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) that began with Snyder’s Man of Steel looked like it was over.
There seemed to be a glimmer of hope for fans of Snyder’s vision for the DCEU. Petitions online to “release the Snyder cut” gained thousands of signatures and even the actors from the film were campaigning on social media. #ReleasetheSnydercut was trending everywhere and the fans eagerly awaited a response from Warner Brothers.
The fans got an answer when HBO Max announced the addition of Zach Snyder’s Justice League . According to Snyder, the studio did not want to do re-shoots of the film. The studio wanted his version to use the film shot by himself and Whedon. Snyder did not do this, however, and reportedly spent over $70 million on creating his original vision for the film. So, what did the fans get in the end? What exactly makes the Snyder cut necessary? For starters, the film is four hours long.
Yes. FOUR. HOURS. LONG.
Yet, its runtime feels justified as it is a historical moment for fans of DC, who willed their way to convince an entire studio to re-cut and re-release a four-year-old film. For the fans who could not get enough of Snyder’s darker take on the DC Universe and the storylines he started with 2013’s Man of Steel, this film is an absolute joy.
It is important to note Snyder’s version of the film is rated R. His cut boasts more violence and blood and some explicit language not in the Whedon version.
Zach Snyder’s Justice League shares the overall storyline with the original release, but with more runtime to flesh out the characters. One example is we get great development from Cyborg, a young college kid who is part man and part biomechatronic. His reluctance to forgive his father for saving his life by merging him with biomechatronic parts plays a big role in his arc. He struggles with accepting that he needs to use his newfound powers and resources as a supercomputer to join other meta-humans in the fight against potential threats.
We also get a more fleshed-out version of the film’s villain, Steppenwolf. In Snyder’s version, he is but a servant of a much greater evil, Darkseid. Darkseid is the ruler of Apokolips and seeks the three Mother Boxes to combine their powers to destroy and conquer entire universes. The film also shows Darkseid’s first attempt at conquering Earth and his failure to do so when Earth’s protectors, comprised of Gods, Atlanteans, Amazons, Men, and a member of the Lantern Corps. all fight together to expel him and his Parademons from Earth. Now with Earth’s protectors either now dead or at odds with each other, Earth is primed for Darkseid’s second attempt. He sends Steppenwolf to do his bidding, deeming it easy enough as Earth has no protectors after the death of the Kryptonian, Superman.
This entire chain of events was not even in the previous cut of the film, giving Snyder’s version scope and connections for future films to take place in the DCEU.
The most talked-about change in the film is the addition of Jared Leto’s Joker. In a Bruce Wayne/Batman nightmare sequence, the future destruction of Earth courtesy of Darkseid is shown. The last survivors comprised of both heroes and villains working together are Batman, Mera the Atlantean, Deathstroke, Cyborg, and Joker. The scene is only a few minutes but highlights a chilling performance from Leto’s Joker. The tense exchange between Batman and Joker is what fans have been waiting for, making references to past storylines and their turbulent relationship. After an outcry from fans of Leto’s studio-driven look and script as Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad, Leto gets a fresh yet comic-accurate look and time to shine.
There is still so much more to see in Snyder’s Cut of Justice League and it is well worth the four-hour runtime. Snyder truly made this film for fans and delivered on his continuation of the DCEU. As further projects following 2017’s Justice League failure have been canceled, we may not see his vision fully come to fruition. At least with the Snyder Cut, we can now know what could have been.
Zach Snyder’s Justice League currently sits at 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. You can watch it now streaming on HBO Max.