Why Zack Snyder’s Justice League Included A Watchmen Reference

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Zack Snyder is a filmmaker known for a unique visual language. He’s also clearly got an interest in bringing comic books to life, first working on the Watchmen movie before working on his trilogy in the DCEU. And now we know why he snuck in a Watchmen reference into Justice League.

After years of fan campaigning, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was finally released to the public via HBO Max. The four-hour streaming event was vastly different from the theatrical cut, especially Cyborg’s story and the treatment of his father Silas Stone. Silas perished in the film in a way similar to Dr. Manhatten’s Watchmen transformation, and Snyder Cut VFX supervisor Bryan Hirota recently confirmed this connection, saying:

Zack and DJ thought that it could be something like the birth of Dr. Manhattan, so that definitely was a touchstone as an idea. That was definitely one of the things we were thinking about as we were developing it. I think one thing that was a little different is Silas has a close-up where his skin is bubbling like inside of a microwave and little bits of his hair are catching on fire and stuff. I think Silas' death is a little more gross than in Watchmen, but there are shades of that in this.

Do you hear that sound? It’s various comic book fans patting themselves on the back for connecting Zack Snyder’s Justice League to Watchmen. Although it turns out that the crew got to be more gnarly with the Snyder Cut given its rating and streaming home. Which is exactly why they re-explored signature visuals.

Dr. Manhatten's Birth

Bryan Hirota’s comments to ScreenRant further highlights just how visual Zack Snyder’s various film projects are. Snyder has a sensibility unlike any other, and he was able to throw everything and the kitchen sink into the Justice League. And when Joe Morton’s Silas Stone perished as a result of the Mother Box, Hirota and Snyder decided to make a reference to the Watchmen movie.

The Snyder Cut and Watchmen are currently available on HBO Max. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.

Both Silas Stone and Dr. Manhattan’s fates occur to them through a blinding blue light of power that breaks apart their bodies. Although as Bryan Hirota referened, the sequence in Zack Snyder’s Justice League is far more gruesome. The Snyder Cut didn’t hold back when it came to gore, and Silas’s death was certainly a painful one.

It should be interesting to see if the narrative seeds Zack Snyder planted in Justice League ever come to bloom. The studio has shut down reports of a sequel, but the Snyder Cut’s expanded story has renewed interest in Ray Fisher’s Cyborg and his backstory. We’ll just have to see what comes next for the constantly growing franchise.

The next installment in the DCEU is The Suicide Squad on August 6th. In the meantime, check out our 2021 release list to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.