After years of protests, petitions, often vicious pile-ons, and Twitter hashtags, what once seemed impossible is actually happening: WarnerMedia announced on Wednesday that HBO Max would “#ReleasetheSnyderCut,” and be home to a new version of the 2017 superhero film Justice League, overseen by director Zack Snyder. The “Snyder Cut,” if you will, is expected to cost upward of $20 million in order to become a very different movie from the one that Joss Whedon had a hand in cobbling together in reshoots.
But what new material is the Snyder Cut expected to feature? Here’s what you need to know about what Zack Snyder planned and has revealed over the years for his version of Justice League.
Darkseid and the return of the Knightmare
Batman v Superman’s Knightmare sequence hinted at a dark future in which the alien tyrant Darkseid took control of Superman and destroyed the planet. Snyder clearly had more he wanted to do with the concept, and Justice League would’ve had another Knightmare that shed more light on the possible future. A planned sequence would have shown a destroyed Hall of Justice and the Omega symbol in Gotham Harbor. A storyboard also reveals Darkseid would’ve made an appearance here, using the Mother Boxes to terraform Earth. With three years now passed since then, there could be a remixed version of this idea, or the entire concept executed as originally envisioned.
Superman making more sense in the movie
Superman’s return in the film is, uh, a little off, partially due to Henry Cavill’s mustache, which he sported during reshoots and had notoriously CG-ed out of the final shots. But the fight following his resurrection would’ve been different, reports claim, with Lois doing more to help him come to his senses. Following that, we would have seen him fly for the first time (...again), and meet Alfred before joining the League. There was even a look at his black suit inside the Kryptonian ship.
STAR Labs and the Atom
Cyborg’s father Silas Stone (Joe Morton) works at STAR Labs, a key science group in the comics. STAR Labs factored more into the original film, including a fight scene involving Steppenwolf that led to Silas’ death. Additionally, one of Silas’ assistants was supposed to be Ryan Choi, aka the second Atom, played by Zheng Kai. The scene was filmed and later removed from the final cut, though Snyder had no problem releasing a photo of Zheng as the character. Ryan wouldn’t have suited up, but it still would’ve been a nice cameo for all the Atom fans.
Get to know the new guys
Snyder’s cut of Justice League allegedly spent more time in the lives of Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. Barry Allen’s love interest Iris West had a cameo (played by Kiersy Clemmons), which was later cut. There was originally more Atlantean lore, and the ending would’ve seen Aquaman talk with Mera and Vulko to set up his solo movie. Cyborg also had more to do in the film, not only reading up on the Mother Boxes, but testing his new powers and offering a look at Victor Stone pre-heroic rebirth.
Time travel, again
During the final battle in Russia, Cyborg (Ray Fisher) had to stop the Unity of the Mother Boxes from terraforming the earth. In Snyder’s original version, he would’ve failed, forcing Flash to time travel — because that always works out — to give Victor a second chance. With some Speed Force help, Cyborg would’ve been projected into the Mother Box and been forced to face his old self, and both of his dead parents.
A Green Lantern?
During a flashback showing the invasion of Earth, a Green Lantern joins the fray against Steppenwolf’s forces. The Lanterns are killed and their rings fly off, but the tease is just a tease. When asked by a fan, Snyder said that it isn’t the Green Lantern, meaning he wanted one of the human Lanterns like Hal Jordan or John Stewart to appear before Whedon took over. No one was ever officially announced as playing a Green Lantern, but perhaps they were keeping the actor a secret.
Meet the Martian Manhunter
Across all three of Snyder’s DCEU films, Harry Lennix has played the United States Secretary of Defense Calvin Swanwick. Swanwick, as it turns out, would’ve appeared in the Snyder Cut as an important DC hero: Martian Manhunter. Storyboards for a scene featuring Lois Lane and Martha Kent reveal the Martian took the form of Superman’s mom before shapeshifting to Swanwick. Shooting with Lennix didn’t occur before Snyder left the project, and the reveal had to be cut. But maybe CG can help the Manhunter from Mars be realized.
Lex Luthor was going to be in it more
Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor shows up in Justice League’s post-credits stinger, but he was expected to show up earlier. Eisenberg has confirmed several of his scenes were cut, and Batman is seen using the villain’s journal to learn about Parademons. Concept art for the film shows Lex in prison with his journal on his bed, implying Batman visited him to grab the journal early in the film. In addition, his summoning of Deathstroke to start the Legion of Doom in a post-credits scene was not in Snyder’s version. It’s unclear what would be in its place.
The entire third act
Whedon’s reshoots are most evident during the climactic battle in Russia. Snyder has said before that things in the final film, like the Russian family that Flash saves and the root-like structures that grow out of the ground, were not part of the original version of the film. One of Justice League’s original trailers shows that the battle would’ve taken place at night rather than midday. The Snyder cut is also where we would’ve gotten to see...
This is the big one. It’s well known that Snyder wanted the Justice League to meet Darkseid during the film’s original climax. Concept art reveals that he would’ve made multiple appearances throughout the film, including as his younger self, Uxas, who fought Ares during the invasion of Earth. The heroes would’ve met him via Boom Tube after killing Steppenwolf, and Batman had a line referencing his arrival. Darkseid was meant to be voiced by Ray Porter, and appear alongside his chief torturer, Desaad, played by Peter Guinness. To avoid a cliffhanger, the ending was reshot, but since they’re adding new effects and dialogue, maybe we’ll see the evil New God after all.
What makes the cut for the Snyder Cut
Zack Snyder has insisted that his version of Justice League will feel like an entirely different movie from Joss Whedon’s version. It’ll have new visual effects sequences, additional character development, and some added dialogue. Per Snyder’s words, the film is assembled from around “90% complete footage,” and around 214 minutes long.
Darkseid is for sure showing up, but it’s unclear if some scenes will be reworked to accommodate for the changing landscape of the DCEU. For example, will Aquaman meeting Mera and Vulko at the end get cut, since his film has already come and gone? What gets added to further set up the incoming Flash movie?
We’ll find out as we get closer to Zack Snyder’s Justice League, premiering on HBO Max sometime in 2021.