Zack Snyder’s Justice League—the fabled Snyder Cut—is being released in its full anticipated glory. Everyone who contributed to fundraising campaigns for the Comic-Con billboards, purchased an ‘All the Gods’ shirt from InkToThePeople, or incessantly spammed #ReleaseTheSnyderCut on every Warner Bros. social media post, can claim participation in an unprecedented mobilisation of fan support for artistic freedom. We should all be bloody proud.
But, after a deluge of articles refuting the Cut’s existence, or eventual release, many are still unclear on what exactly ‘the Snyder Cut’ is. I’m here to (somewhat) fulfil long-time campaigner Lis Wonder’s request, and provide a guide to The Snyder Cut, for the uninitiated.
Can someone make a “SNYDERCUT FOR DUMMIES” video. Very simple, short, and informative? I think we should educate on what it is about. Some think it’s like an extended version of Josstice League or extra material. They don’t know it’s a totally different movie or what it means.
— Lis.Wonder (@LisWonder1) May 21, 2020
Snyder and Company Tease His Vision
As the first part of an intended “Justice League trilogy,” Justice League aimed to orchestrate the construction of a complex DC universe. Subsequent films would incorporate elements of the Injustice, Final Crisis, and Flashpoint stories (with BvS’ ‘Knightmare’ scene even heralding Snyder and Capullo’s 2019 ‘Last Knight on Earth’).
All would culminate in Batman’s sacrifice, the birth of Johnathan Kent, and a restoration of hope above all. Suffice to say, Zack’s operatic vision encompassed many of DC’s fan-favourite characters and iconic arcs.
Snyder’s original cut also featured cameos from Darkseid (Ray Porter), Desaad (Peter Guinness), Green Lanterns Kilowog, Tomaar-Re, (and, possibly, Hal Jordan, portrayed by Sam Benjamin), Ares (Nick McKinless), Vulko (Willem Defoe), Iris West (Kiersey Clemons), Mrs. Stone (Karen Bryson), and the eventual adopter of The Atom mantle, Ryan Choi (Zheng Kai).
Some of these cameos (such as Desaad) were even shown ahead of release to members of the press, according to (and including) Grace Randolph.
Zack also confirmed in the Man of Steel watch-along—where the HBO Max announcement was made—that he intended to incorporate Supergirl into a Superman sequel later in the timeline.
Actress Christina Wren also alluded to her role as Major Carol Farris being transformed into Star Sapphire via Instagram.
Even comedy legend John Cleese teased his involvement in the film during production in London, with many suspecting him to have played Deathstroke’s mentor, Billy Wintergreen.
However, in May, 2017, Zack and Deborah Snyder took time away from Justice League’s post-production to deal with the shocking death of their daughter, Autumn. Geoff Johns, long-time DC Comics writer, and producer on both Green Lantern (2011) and Justice League, employed Joss Whedon to extensively rewrite and reshoot Snyder’s film in his absence. At the apex of family tragedy, Zack was ousted from his life’s work.
Whedon reduced Snyder’s five-hour assembly cut down to the two hours that Warner Bros. executive Kevin Tsujihara (who was also responsible for the detrimental half hour of cuts to Batman v Superman) believed would make for the most screenings in cinemas. He then also replaced up to 85% (according to producer Charles Roven) of Zack’s footage with his own (and applied extensive colour correction and CGI augmentation to what remained).
Other embarrassing additions include: Ezra Miller’s Flash falling on Wonder Woman’s breasts (which Gal Gadot refused to film, meaning her stunt double had to stand in and face away from the camera); covering Batman’s shot on the gargoyle, and Cyborg’s body in a hoodie; and, of course, the oft-mocked CGI moustache fiasco.
Product placements from companies like Gillette were incorporated to cover the $20 million in additional post-production costs.
TLDR: WB made a real pigs ear of a surefire success. Therefore, ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ set to debut in 2021 is an entirely new film: comprised of five hours of unseen, and yet-to-be-filmed new footage. The only glimpses fans have seen of Zack’s original vision was three years ago, in Justice League’s original trailer.
Since release, Zack has teased his version’s existence with stills and story-boards, posted to his Vero account. Zack established thematic links between his DCEU vision and the Arthurian legend of the Holy Grail (with 1981’s Excalibur being the film the Waynes viewed before being gunned down in Batman v Superman).
He confirmed Cavill’s Superman was to wear the iconic black suit until his redemption in the third and final instalment of the pentalogy.
He posted an image of the film reels to confirm the Cut’s existence.
He also replied to Forbes’ repository of bad takes, Scott Mendelson, who suggested the Cut didn’t exist with confirmation of a five-hour assembly cut.
And he dropped multiple bombshells with pre-rendered CGI stills of Prince Uxas—before his ascension to Darkseid—invading Earth instead of Steppenwolf in the Wonder-Woman-narrated flashback sequence.
But the biggest reveal fans were robbed of was Harry Lennix’s General Swanwick being the Martian Manhunter. In the original version of Lois Lane and Martha Kent’s conversation about Clark—which Whedon reshot to give us a joke about Lois being “thirsty” instead (-sigh-)—Martha Kent would leave the room, shape-shift into the Manhunter, and then again in to the General.
Snyder had been building to this since Man of Steel, originally intending to include him in the film (until David S. Goyer objected). Zack, however, still included clever visual cues as far back as Man of Steel, with Swanwick and Superman staring at one another in the reflective glass of the interrogation room. Lennix, since Snyder’s Vero post, expressed desire to shoot the scene should the Snyder Cut be released.
The Snyder Cut Movement
Snyder certainly wasn’t alone in vocalising desire to see his vision come to fruition. 800,000 tweets urging Warner Bros. to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut sent the request trending worldwide on November 19th , 2019: the second anniversary of Justice League’s theatrical release.
Notable voices among supporters were the League members themselves—Ben Affleck (Batman), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), and Ray Fisher (Cyborg)—Joe Manganiello (Deathstroke), Ray Porter (Darkseid), Nick McKinless (Ares), Christina Wren (Carol Ferris) Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Black Manta), composer Junkie XL, cinematographer Fabian Wagnerdrop, stunt coordinator Eunace Huthart, former president of DC Entertainment Diane Nelson, Suicide Squad director David Ayer, HBO’s Watchmen showrunner Damon Lindelof, Mortal Kombat and Injustice game director Ed Boon, actor Dave Bautista (the MCU’s Drax the Destroyer), DC Comics artist Lee Bermejo, DC animated movie director Jay Olivia, Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld, Chronicle director Josh Trank, Kevin Smith, and even Subway.
Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor) and Ezra Miller (the Flash), whilst not having Twitter, expressed their support on other occasions for the film’s release. And DC’s Chief Editor and legendary artist Jim Lee congratulated Zack upon announcement.
That global outpouring of support was what led to Warner Bros calling the Snyders at 7 AM the following morning to discuss finishing the film. But it was the actions of dedicated fans for two years prior which had it culminate in the star-studded tweet-storm that caught Warner Bros. attention.
Upon Justice League’s 2017 theatrical release, a Change.Org petition was started, and accrued 100,000 signatures within 5 days. Zack Snyder partnered with InkToThePeople to sell shirts modeled on his drawings for his DCEU vision, with proceeds going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in Autumn’s memory.
Additional proceeds went to the AFSP when a crowdfunded Time Square billboard, and bus shelter, to coincide with New York Comic-Con exceeded their crowdfunding goals.
An AFSP and #ReleaseTheSnyderCut banner was crowdfunded to appear at a football match between Middlesbrough and Tottenham.
Subway donated 15,000 sandwiches in solidarity with the movement along with Ben Affleck’s ‘Feeding America’ charity efforts, in December 2019. And CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell is writing a book on the movement, set to also release in 2021.
The #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement was an impassioned, grass-roots effort that all who participated should be proud about. Our InkToThePeople hoodies hangs like a Kryptonian cape in our wardrobes, ready to be donned on launch day.
So, what next?
Justice League Comes To HBO Max
No exact date is set yet, but Zack Snyder’s Justice League is expected to debut in 2021 on HBO Max. COVID-19 has delayed the filming of additional scenes. However, the $20-30 million granted to Zack to finish is currently being spent on the film’s original VFX artists working on CGI scenes (including a complete reversion to Steppenwolf’s original design) during lockdown.
Speculation suggests it will take the form of a six-episode miniseries, with each episode being at least 35 minutes; like a living limited-run comic-book.
Additional previously-unplanned cameos are being filmed to be included in the final version.
Grace Randolph teased her knowledge of an actor, who voiced support for the Cut’s release, being featured. My money is on Rorschach actor, and friend of Zack’s, Jackie Earle Haley. He’s one of the only actors from Watchmen yet to appear in the DCEU (with The Comedian, Nite Owl, Dr Manhattan, and Silk Specter playing Thomas Wayne, Ocean Master/the U.S. President, Henry Allen, and Kelex, respectively).
What are the implications of its success?
With the failure of Birds of Prey, and concern about Robert Pattinson’s Batman and the political controversies of his co-stars, could we be experiencing a Snyder-era DCEU Renaissance?
AT&T’s Twitter account did just acknowledge the existence of, and fan interest in, David Ayer’s cut of Suicide Squad.
Henry Cavill (and his agent) wants to see his return to the Superman role, with Cavill being in high demand after the success of Netflix’s The Witcher.
With Zack’s schedule freeing up, we could see a Man of Steel sequel, or even (though improbable) a continuation of Snyder’s Justice League arc.
In a rather meta-way, Justice League has experienced its own hero’s journey: birth, attack, death, rebirth. Though the future of DC’s films are uncertain, the Snyder Cut movement has set precedent for the positive impact of mobilised fans, and the desirability of creative freedom in the film industry. This bell cannot be un-rung.
Alexa, play ‘Come Together’.