The Real Story Behind the Long-Demanded 'Snyder Cut' of Justice League

IMAGE Warner Bros.

Justice League is a highly controversial movie. It was released in 2017 but people are still arguing about it today because of the 'Snyder Cut' or the alleged original version of the film by director Zack Snyder. Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, and Zack Snyder himself are calling for the release of the original vision of the film.

We lived in simpler times when Zack Snyder’s 300 debuted in 2006, back when we were floored with slow-mo gladiators, a sepia-everything filter, and Gerard Butler in a skirt. Snyder’s career blew up over the next decade, leading to a top role in shaping the DC Universe—directing Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

But by the time we got Batman v Superman, we were already two Avengers deep, and the film—which was also built to lead into a Justice League team-up—received poor reviews. And suddenly, it looked like Snyder’s hyper-stylized brand of explosions and brooding Afflecks maybe wasn’t as appreciated as it was in the aughts.

Regardless, Snyder was tapped to direct Justice League. But in May 2017, with the film set to release the following November, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Snyder’s daughter, Autumn, had died of suicide, so he would step away from Justice League to be with his family. At the time, he said, “I’ve decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”


Warner Bros. brought on Joss Whedon, who directed the first two Avengers films, to finish the film. And when Justice League debuted in November 2017, it was welcomed with iffy reviews and a disappointing box office pull. This is when things get weird and a little confusing. Charles Roven, a producer for Justice League, told The Washington Times that Whedon reshot somewhere between 15 and 20 percent of the movie. That doesn’t totally clear with what Justice League became, which views like Snyder v Whedon—shifting constantly between the former director’s penchant for desaturated explosions, and the other’s funny quip-per-second style. Which had fans wondering… how much of Snyder’s original vision was compromised when Whedon joined the project?

Enter the petition. Ultimately racking up close to 200,000 supporters, it calls for the release of Snyder’s director’s cut, with an epic angry essay attached: “Fans have been waiting for years, while others have waited decades for the film to finally arrive on the silver screen. The 2hr runtime is disrespectful towards Zack Snyder’s vision and towards the fans who have waited for more than a year to see the alien’s story come to an end.”

Evidence of a significantly different film racked up, too. Shortly after Justice League’s release, footage cut from the film leaked on Vimeo, showing additional Cyborg scenes, an appearance from Kiersey Clemons’s cut Iris West, and more Martha Kent-Superman footage. Darkseid, who’s kind of like the Thanos of the DC Universe, was allegedly supposed to be introduced in the film too. Warner Bros., of course, squashed all the fun and wouldn’t release the Snyder Cut.

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Which leads us all the way to March 2019, when fans asked Snyder once and for all if his version of Justice League exists. He said, "All I can say is... sure there's a cut... it's done. I have a cut. I have a bunch of them. So, it's not like... that's up to them [Warner Bros.]."

And now, a full two years after Justice League released, Snyder and co. are revving back up the call for the Snyder Cut.

Now that we’re so far removed from Justice League’s original debut—not to mention well into DC’s new Joker and Birds of Prey future—it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see the Snyder Cut. But a fan can dream, right?

This story originally appeared on Esquire.comMinor edits have been made by the editors.

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