Later this year, director Zack Snyder will return to screen with a zombie apocalypse heist movie, Army of the Dead, that appears to be a throwback to his horror-drama roots (rent his incredible Dawn of the Dead, if you haven’t yet seen it). But while his fans are patiently waiting for his next film, those die-hard Snyder enthusiasts haven’t given up hope that they will one day see the correct version (aka, The Snyder Cut) of his last film – the superhero team-up movie, Justice League.
Casual comic-book fans may think that Justice League already came out. “That’s the movie with Superman’s terrible CGI lips, right?” But we know that the movie released in theaters in 2017 was an abomination of the true cut that Zack Snyder planned to deliver to fans, and that the Snyder Cut of Justice League is something totally different than what’s available right now. (You might not know that I am personally writing a book all about The Snyder Cut, and if you want updates, follow the Twitter account @RTSCBook!)
Let’s go through everything you need to know about the status of The Snyder Cut of Justice League.
UPDATE: HBO Max Is Releasing The Justice League Snyder Cut In 2021
On May 20, 2020, during a live commentary for a watch party for Man of Steel, Zack Snyder revealed to fans that the Snyder Cut was, in fact, headed to HBO Max. The streaming service followed up this news with their own official announcement. It's happening. An exact date was not included in the announcement, but the digital streaming service will release it at some point in 2021.
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The Justice League Snyder Cut Is 214 Minutes Long
The Snyder Cut movement, or RTSC Family, has adopted the number 214 as a rallying cry. That’s because Zack Snyder has informed them, in comments under posts he has shared on the Vero social media tool, that his current cut of Justice League runs 214 minutes. That’s 3 hours and 34 minutes of Justice League content, as opposed to the theatrical cut, which was ordered by studio executives to come in under two hours.
That means the Snyder Cut of Justice League is almost twice as long as the version fans received. Imagine how much more story could be told in that amount of time? Or how much more (and better) character development could be allowed to unfurl for characters like Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) – major characters who were short-changed by the plotline of the theatrical cut?
Snyder, on Vero, recently shared a photograph of film cannisters that he claims contain his cut of Justice League. The cannisters were labeled, “Z.S. JL Director’s Cut.” They were accompanied by the message, “Is it real? Does it exist? Of course it does.” Now, some skeptics have argued that the cannisters could be empty, and this could be more showboating by Snyder. The only way to tell is to release the Snyder Cut.
Justice League Was Part Of A Five-Film Arc
Justice League would have been Zack Snyder’s third film in the DCEU, which was growing beyond his control even when he was still at the helm. David Ayer made Suicide Squad, while Patty Jenkins was about to release the first Wonder Woman (at the time).
As for Snyder, he and screenwriter Chris Terrio reportedly had plans in place for the next two movies, which would have introduced the classic DC villain Darkseid, and explore more of the timeline that was shown to Batman (Ben Affleck) in the “Knightmare sequences” of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Remember this scene?
We won’t know for certain which story elements would have been teased out in The Snyder Cut of Justice League. There were hints of historical sequences for the Motherboxes, more scenes for characters like Vulko (Willem Dafoe) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), and suggested appearances by The Green Lantern Corps, which would pay off in future movies. We’ll likely never get those films from Snyder, even if The Snyder Cut of Justice League sees the light of day. But the director did collaborate on this exclusive graphic, used to make shirts to support charity, that fans believe spells out the five-film story Snyder intended to tell. What is your interpretation of this image?
So Many Key Actors Were Cut
It’s downright impossible to reduce a 214-minute movie to a truncated 120-minute package. This means that numerous characters ended up on the cutting room floor, though we have come to learn about their contributions to Justice League thanks to interviews, and photos shared by Snyder on Vero.
The villains, alone, would turn the heads of DC fanatics. We know that Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) was the main antagonist. But The Snyder Cut of Justice League also allegedly shows Darkseid (played by Ray Porter) and Desaad (played by Peter Guinness). We would have met Dafoe’s Atlantean leader Vulko in Justice League, though he appeared in James Wan’s Aquaman instead. Additionally, there would have been more scenes with Mera (Amber Heard), as Arthur Curry’s plotline would have been expanded.
Flash and Cyborg also were sacrificed to bring Justice League under that two-hour mark. Kiersey Clemons filmed scenes with Ezra Miller where she played love interest Iris West. This would have transitioned her into a Flash movie, which still hasn’t happened to this day. While we did see Victor Stone’s father, Silas (Joe Morton), in the movie, Snyder has scenes with Cyborg’s mother, Elinore (Karen Bryson). She ended up on the cutting room floor. And Snyder has hinted that sidebar villains like Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Ares (Nick McKinless) would have appeared in the 214-minute cut.
Superman Will Be Drastically Different
Zack Snyder’s Justice League will be much longer than the theatrical cut that Warner Bros. released, and it will expand a lot on what was shown, but the main storyline will be relatively similar to what was shown. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Diana (Gal Gadot) still will be recruiting the members of the League who are not privy to an attack coming. Steppenwolf will be seeking out the Motherboxes, and the League will have to resurrect Superman (Henry Cavill) so they can complete their mission.
Here’s where the movie will seriously detour. One Vero, Zack Snyder shared an image of Cavill in his Superman suit… only, it was the black suit that fans had been hoping to see! Following the “Death of Superman” storyline from the DC Comics (which was shown on screen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), the world went through the Reign of Supermen, and one “version” of the hero wore a Regeneration Suit.
Snyder has confirmed that Cavill would fight in the black suit in the finale of his Justice League, leading many fans to wonder how (or if) Cavill would transition back to his classic red and blue suit. We will have to wait until we see Zack Snyder’s Justice League to answer that burning question.
Unwatchable? Or Amazing?
If we were Zack Snyder, we’d be hosting a screening of the director’s cut of Justice League on a nightly basis. As it stands right now, there are precious few people who can claim that they have seen it. Jason Momoa told MTV that he saw it, and thinks it needs to be released. He also gets social media bonus points for taking to Instagram and telling followers that it’s “Ssssiiiiccckkkkkkkk!” Consider us intrigued.
The original knock on Zack Snyder’s Justice League, however, is that it was deemed “unwatchable.” This was the verdict handed down by studio insiders who claims that they saw an early screening of the cut, and this is what prompted Warner Bros. to shift away from Snyder’s tone (largely believed to be more mature, serious and darker) to the jokier approach of Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
However, even that feedback has changed over the years. Just recently, Snyder’s stunt coordinator Eunice Huthart spoke with ScreenRant and said that while she hasn’t seen the cut of the film with her own eyes, many she has spoken with who HAVE seen it say that it’s “amazing,” brilliant” and “absolutely golden.” Sounds very promising.
Additional Photography Coming?
There’s a good chance that Zack Snyder might be shooting new scenes to bring his Justice League closer to completion. The director recently sponsored an artistic competition on Vero, where Justice League fans submitted their options for movie posters for Snyder’s cut. The winner was Victor Ku, who goes by The Mighty Pegasus online. And as a prize, Ku received the slate that was used on the set of Justice League every day. But on the back was the following message:
Additional photography? Zack Snyder hedges his bets, and uses language to ensure that he’s not giving away the truth, fully. But the way that prize is worded, it sure sounds like the director plans to stage some new photography for his Justice League, and that Ku will be allowed on that set if and when the production gets underway.
This story has been extremely fluid over the years, with new developments happening almost every week. Do you think that Zack Snyder’s Justice League eventually will see the light of day? Or is it a pipe dream that fans are chasing, with no end in sight?
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.