The Full Story Behind the 'Snyder Cut' of Justice League
It's been a long two years since Justice League debuted in March 2018. (Seriously—it's only been that long.) Since then, we've seen a Margot Robbie-fronted Birds of Prey feature, and Joaquin Phoenix nab an Oscar for playing the Joker. Oh, and the first look at Batinson. And that's only DC's superhero films. Marvel wrapped up a 23-movie-long saga in that window.
What's probably made that amount of time even longer: The never-ending fan outcry for the "Snyder Cut" of Justice League, an alternate (and hopefully, better) version of the critically-panned superhero team-up from director Zack Snyder. Now, according to Snyder himself, his OG cut will hit HBO Max in 2021. He announced the news during a live Q&A following a virtual screening of Man of Steel. A month later, HBO Max dropped a 30-second-long preview of the Snyder Cut—which gave us our first look at Darkseid, DC's Thanos equivalent. It looks like he'll be the big bad of the film.
If you're unfamiliar with this particular fan vs. studio saga, let's get you up to date: Way back in the before times, Snyder was tapped to direct Justice League after helming Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. 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 Change.org 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.
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.
This takes us to Snyder's HBO Max announcement, which confirms, once and for all, that the Snyder Cut is alive and well. Let's move to the big question: What can we expect when we finally see this thing? According to The Hollywood Reporter, Snyder has a lot of material to work with and is currently deciding how best to release it:
It is currently unclear what form Snyder’s Justice League will take. Whether it will be released as an almost four-hour director’s cut or split into six "chapters" has yet to be decided, but the Snyders are now in the midst of reassembling much of their original postproduction crew to score, cut, add new and finish old visual effects, and, yes, maybe bring back many of the actors to record additional dialogue.
"It will be an entirely new thing, and, especially talking to those who have seen the released movie, a new experience apart from that movie," Snyder says of his cut of the film, which sources tell THR will cost somewhere between $20-$30 million to finish. "You probably saw one-fourth of what I did."
Let's hope it was worth the wait.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.