Ever since Zack Snyder stepped away from the filming of JUSTICE LEAGUE, diehard and casual fans alike have lamented the departure of the DCEU’s lead auteur. When the final cut of Justice League delivered by current Hollywood pariah Joss Whedon debuted to lukewarm reception, speculation among fans quickly turned to what might have been, had Zack Snyder been able to see his vision through. Now, four years and an extra $70 million dollars later, fans who have been pushing for the release of ‘the Snyder Cut’ will finally get their wish. So, we’ve put togetehr your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about Justice League, the Zack Snyder Cut that is, dropping on HBO Max and VOD worldwide on March 18th, 2021.
What is Zack Snyder’s Justice League?
After getting the DC Extended Universe cooking with Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder was soon tasked with ‘Uniting the Seven’ and bringing all of DC’s marquee characters together in Justice League, a moniker that decided to drop the old-fashioned ‘of America’ suffix. Sadly, Zack Snyder’s daughter passed away during filming, and the director made the respectful and understandable decision to step down from the production. Warner Bros., with a multi-million dollar movie on the line, decided they couldn’t wait – and brought in The Avengers‘ director Joss Whedon to complete production.
Whedon changed a lot of what Zack Snyder was attempting to bring to the table, including an overhaul to the film’s ending, the return of Superman (who had died in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice), and the removal of several supporting characters – many of whom were POC, including Kiersey Clemons as Iris West and Harry Lennix as General Swanwick/Martian Manhunter. Actor Ray Fisher (Cyborg) later went on the record with Forbes saying that the “erasure of people of color from the 2017 theatrical version of Justice League was neither an accident nor coincidence”.
During this hotbed of news regarding Whedon’s many changes to Snyder’s vision, Fisher’s allegations about Whedon’s deplorable behavior on set and a muddled final product of the movie itself, fan support slowly grew into a movement: ‘Release the Snyder Cut‘. The ‘Release the Snyder Cut’ movement even drew the support of its stars, and Zack Snyder himself was very gracious in accepting the support and finally coming to a place in his personal life where he was ready to revisit the project.
On May 20, 2020, Snyder announced (after an online watch party of Man of Steel) that the so-called Snyder Cut would be released as Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max sometime in 2021. The announcement coincided with a piece by The Hollywood Reporter, who initially reported that the undertaking would cost an additional $20-30 million to complete with Snyder’s preferred editing, VFX and score. After all is said and done, Zack Snyder‘s Justice League is now expected to be a four-hour movie.
When will be released?
Originally earmarked for early 2021, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is now officially pencilled in for release on March 18th, 2021.
Where can I watch it?
Originally earmarked for release on Warner Bros. new streaming service HBO Max, Zack Snyder has since confirmed that his cut of Justice League will simultaneously debut worldwide in all markets on VOD. Snyder went on to explain that “platform availability will depend on each territory (with the exception of China, France, and Japan, where the release dates are TBD). Additional details for specific markets will be shared soon.”
For the time being, it’s unclear how much it will cost to rent Zack Snyder’s Justice League on VOD; if it follows the Wonder Woman 1984 model, it’ll cost you a whopping $29.99. If you’re outside the USA and you have access to a premium streaming service that has the rights to HBO content – for example, Crave in Canada – it’s reasonable to assume that eventually Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be available on those services, but not initially.
What are the differences between Justice League and Zack Snyder’s Justice League?
You might be asking what the difference is between the Justice League we got in theaters in 2017 and the impending Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and why is it worth your time and money? Well, considering the fact that Zack Snyder shot 90% of his movie and Joss Whedon allegedly only used about 10% of that, there’ll be a substantial amount of difference.
Some of the changes are cosmetic, like the aspect ratio changing to 1:66:1 because Snyder shot on film and Whedon on digital. The red sky Whedon had for his final showdown between the Justice League and Steppenwolf’s parademons will be changed back to what Snyder originally envisioned (a more realistic gray/dark blue night sky).
The majority of differences obviously pertain to the plot and Whedon’s/the studio’s removal of a large amount of screen time for several beloved characters. The biggest inclusion is probably DC’s big bad Darkseid, who will feature in more scenes on Apokolips and in the climax of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Darkseid is seemingly introduced more effectively when Wonder Woman goes on an archaelogical adventure and finds a bunch of cave hieroglyphs with his mug shot all over them.
Later in the movie it also looks like we’ll get a good look at Darkseid’s reliable right hand, DeSaad, and speaking of the bad guys – the widely-panned CGI rendition of Steppenwolf has been greatly improved upon, giving the villain a gnarlier, even more metal vibe which fans have already applauded.
The famous Knightmare sequence, which shows Batman’s nightmare vision of a world torn asunder by Darkseid and his forces, will be lengthened. The biggest addition to that sequence will be Jared Leto’s Joker, returning for the first time since Suicide Squad, in a scene where he actually exchanges words with Ben Affleck’s Batman (as opposed to having him flailing around on the roof of his car).
Superman’s return will be almost entirely different from the sound of things, considering that he’ll be wearing his iconic black suit from the 90s and meeting Alfred as they compete for the Biggest Gentleman award. If he fights the Justice League like he does in the Whedon version, it’ll be a fairly different account. The biggest win for fans is that the awful Superman reshoots – with Henry Cavill’s Mission: Impossible Fallout moustache CGI’d off his top lip to unnerving effect – will be gone.
In addition to a differently-colored sky, the climax to Zack Snyder’s Justice League will feature some other differences. Joss Whedon’s Justice League featured a hastily tacked-on, completely random Russian family living in the middle of nowhere all alone, to be harangued by parademons in the movie’s denouement. It was an addition made as a cheap way of raising the human stakes for the finale, but one that will be missing from Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
There’s to be more Cyborg, described by Zack Snyder at DC Fandome as the “heart” of his Justice League. Ray Fisher’s Cyborg had whole swathes of plot excised by Whedon and/or Warner Bros, and with Snyder returning to see his vision through, Cyborg’s full story arc is being restored. There’ll be more Silas Stone – allegedly delivering the film’s closing monologue instead of Lois Lane – and a small appearance by Ryan Choi (The Atom) as a STAR Labs employee.
Jason Momoa’s Aquaman will get a little more fun and a little more iintroduction to Atlantis, with more Mera footage and even an appearance by Willem Dafoe’s Vulko, which we knew he filmed years ago. Speaking of cameos, Kiersey Clemons’ Iris West makes an appearance, as well as the aforementioned Harry Lennix’s General Swanwick/Martian Manhunter. Jesse Eisenberg also supposedly filmed more scenes as Lex Luthor, predating the end-credits tag setting up the Legion of Doom that already exists. How he fits into Zack Snyder’s Justice League remains to be seen.
Is Zack Snyder’s Justice League canon?
Whether you want to consider Justice League (2017) or Zack Snyder’s Justice League the definitive cut of the movie is entirely up to you. What’s been made clear by the top brass at Warner Bros is that this endeavor is being seen as a “storytelling cul de sac” (as per a New York Times piece on DC president, Walter Hamada), without any potential of a sequel – either for the theatrical version of Justice League or for the Snyder Cut. All that matters, essentially, is that when you’re rewatching the DC Extended Universe movies, you’ll get to decide which Justice League you want to watch, because you’re going to have two options.
Since the failure of Justice League, Warner Bros have been quite clear about the direction they’ve decided to go in with their DC Extended Universe. Focusing on the characters, letting multiple versions of each have a time to shine. Case in point, there are rumours that Ben Affleck’s Batman will soon be returning in the Ezra Miller-led The Flash movie, in addition to Robert Pattinson’s The Batman debuting the same year (2022). While this allows for a lot more creative freedom than what Marvel Studios are doing across town, it also means that questions regarding ‘canon’ become fairly irrelevant.
Who is the villain?
The villain of Zack Snyder’s Justice League continues to be Steppenwolf, as per the theatrical cut of Justice League. However, the villain’s CGI look has been updated to be more in line with Snyder’s original vision for the character, giving the alien a sharper, more metallic vibe (which has been met with positive response from fans and critics alike, following the reveal on Twitter).
Who is doing the music?
Junkie XL was originally going to score Justice League for Zack Snyder, but when Snyder stepped away and Whedon stepped in, Junkie XL was suddenly replaced by Danny Elfman. Junkie XL aka Tom Holkenborg took the decision in stride on Twitter, stating that as his mentor Hans Zimmer taught him – “you haven’t made it in Hollywood as a composer until you’ve been replaced on a project”.
However, now that Zack Snyder is back to finish his eponymous cut, he’s literally getting the band back together and has enlisted Junkie XL to finish the score for Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Snyder and Junkie XL worked together last on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the composer came up with the now-iconic intro theme for Wonder Woman (which is still used in her solo movies).
For fans of Zack Snyder and Junkie XL collaborations, they can also look forward to hearing the composer’s fine works on Snyder’s impending Netflix original zombie epic, Army of the Dead.
Is it R-rated?
Zack Snyder’s Justice League poster