When 2017’s Justice League hit cinemas it didn’t really have the impact Warner Bros. intended. The film was widely slammed for its muddy plot and visuals, poor scripting and jarring edits. Its production was fraught with a number of challenges, including the sudden departure of original director Zack Snyder following a family tragedy.
The Avengers helmer Joss Whedon was brought on to finish the film and lent his own unique tone of voice to the material that changed it into something new. Studio meddling and reshoots later morphed Snyder’s remaining work into the tonally-inconsistent mess that Justice League ultimately became — but fans now have new hope for the film with the announcement of Zack Snyder’s Justice League due for release in 2021. Here’s what we know about the Snyder Cut.
It’s a film that promises to restore the original vision of Justice League without the ‘meddling’ of outside influences, but whether it can weave gold out of garbage is yet to be seen. Details around the mysterious Snyder Cut of the film have been trickling out for the last three years and while we don’t know exactly what the film will look like, we do know a lot about it.
The Snyder Cut will cost way more than $45 million
According to popular rumour, Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League is an already existing piece of media, sitting in a vault waiting to be unleashed. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly the case — and getting the Snyder cut released will actually cost Warner Bros. and HBO far more than the US$30 million ($45 million) initially floated. On a Recode Media podcast interview, WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt confirmed as much.
“It’s been months of discussions with Zack and the producers to figure out how to do it,” Greenblatt said of the extensive process. “It isn’t as easy as going into the vault and there’s a Snyder Cut there to put out. It does not exist. Zack is building it and it’s complex…[it’s] a radical rethinking of [Justice League] and it’s complicated, and wildly expensive.”
When asked of the potential cost of the project, Greenblatt said, “I wish it was just $US30 ($45) million, and [I’ll] stop there!” The full amount will likely be much, much higher.
The Snyder Cut may exist as a skeleton
While the soon-to-be-released Snyder Cut does not exist in complete form, ScreenRant reported in 2018 that the cut was rumoured to be completely sequenced with a final runtime, an approved edit and a complete musical score. The only thing ScreenRant reported as missing were final VFX shots and minor CG tweaks.
The report makes clear that there are conflicting accounts on the matter and no verifiable information available. If the semi-complete Snyder Cut did exist, it’s likely Snyder’s departure was seen as an opportunity for Warner Bros. to step in and fix a film that executives are rumoured to have deemed ‘unwatchable’.
In 2019, filmmaker Kevin Smith (who was reportedly close with the Justice League production team) stated the Snyder cut certainly existed at the time, but in its rumoured, unfinished form. “The ‘Snyder Cut’ that, again I haven’t seen, but the one I’ve heard everyone speak of was never a finished film. It was a movie that people in production could watch and fill in the blanks,” Smith told CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast.
While it’s clear that it existed in some form, it’s likely not as complete as popular rumours would have everyone believe.
Darkseid will appear in the Snyder Cut
In a tweet, Zack Snyder confirmed the villainous Darkseid would make an appearance in the new film. The image confirms the hulking warlord will appear alongside what looks to be large, crab-like beings.
Darkseid took a backseat to his general Steppenwolf and the Parademons in 2017’s Justice League — but he originally had a much larger part to play. Actor Ray Porter was cast as Darkseid for the original film in a role that would’ve seen the villain conquer Earth over a three-movie arc. According to ScreenRant, his appearance in Justice League was largely relegated to history lessons and scattered scenes like the one above.
Given the character’s history and desire for planet conquering it’s likely these history lessons involved flashbacks to Darkseid conquering planets. Whether the new film will be able to differentiate the character from the more popular and well-known planet-conqueror Thanos is yet to be seen. Both share similar ideologies and character designs — although Darkseid precedes Thanos by several years in the comics.
Time travel will play a much larger role in the film
Zack Snyder’s original plan for Justice League leaned heavily into The Flash’s time travelling abilities according to a 2020 livestream with the director. According to Snyder, The Flash would’ve gone back in time to save the league after their failed attempt to stop Darkseid’s planned invasion.
“I had this idea that in the future when [the Justice League] are talking about sending Flash back to warn [Bruce Wayne], that Cyborg would be doing the calculations to send him back and would say ‘I have two possibilities of where to send Flash back in time,'” said Snyder. “In the new timeline the [The Flash] goes to a different point in time that’s closer to the event that we haven’t seen yet in this film.”
In 2017’s Justice League cut, The Flash is only seen time travelling in strange, short clips and it’s mostly left up to the viewer to interpret these segments.
Snyder’s cut of the film will likely pick up this thread and expand on the importance of The Flash’s time travelling abilities to the main plot. As superhero fans will note, this is a similar idea to the main story of Avengers: Endgame so it’ll definitely be interesting to see how it plays out.
Cut characters could be restored
Also revealed in a 2020 livestream was the planned appearance of Martian Manhunter in Justice League. According to Snyder, he was supposed to be revealed as having taken on the role of General Swanwick, who first appeared in Man of Steel. He was played by Henry Lennix.
Snyder posted several storyboards on Vero which confirmed the planned appearance of the character. If given total control of his own cut, it’s likely Martian Manhunter’s cameo will be restored.
Also due for an appearance in the film was Kiersey Clemons’ Iris West, whose introduction was reportedly ‘awesome‘. Some of her cut scenes have ended up online in incomplete form, but she could end up being restored fully in the Snyder Cut.
Other cut characters who initially had much larger roles in the film were Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, Cyborg’s father Silas Stone, Amy Adams’ Lois Lane and Amber Heard’s Mera. Whether they’ll make the final cut is unknown.
It’ll be much darker
Justice League‘s original cut featured highs and lows of tonal inconsistency because of its ‘too many cooks’ problem. When Snyder was forced to depart the film mid-production, veteran superhero writer/director Joss Whedon took over directorial and writing duties. He also oversaw reshoots that aimed to add a ‘lighter’ tone to the film after the studio determined Snyder’s vision to be too dark. A studio mandate further decided the film should be under two hours, meaning that many of Snyder’s original, darker scenes would likely have been cut.
Whedon has become known for his irreverent humour, as seen in classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers and other projects. While his sharp wit may have served another movie well, Zack Snyder’s Justice League vision was intentionally dark and injecting it with humour only served to undermine the the more sombre parts of the film.
It’s likely that many of these scenes will be shorn off during the editing process to reduce the complaints of tonal whiplash experienced in Justice League.
The initial cut was 3 hours, 34 minutes long
According to an Instagram post, Zack Snyder shared an image of the initial Snyder Cut in its original form via Vero in 2019.
This image revealed the original runtime of the rough Snyder Justice League was three hours and 34 minutes long. Given the released film is just two hours, that makes up nearly double the length of the film in unused footage.
It’s likely this rough version will be whittled down again, but given how passionately the Justice League fans have rallied around the Snyder Cut release, having the new version of the film run this long wouldn’t be surprising.
While we don’t currently know exactly how Zack Snyder’s Justice League will turn out when it releases next year, it certainly presents an intriguing opportunity to correct one of 2017’s biggest film misfires. While it’s exclusive to HBO Max in the U.S., it’s likely that Australian fans will be able to access it via Foxtel. Stay tuned for more news on the Snyder Cut as we learn more.