A few weeks ago, HBO Max made a big splash when they announced that the fabled SnyderCut – Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League, the big DCEU superhero team-up that was a sequel to Batman v. Superman – will air on their new streaming platform next summer.
We’re still a year away, but to the fans who’ve been clamoring for this ever since the original movie hit theaters, a year is nothing. We thought we’d fill the time by answering some questions about HBO Max’s potentially 4-hour version.
What is the Snyder Cut?
There are two prongs to this answer.
The first involves the production of the original Justice League. The movie was being directed by Zack Snyder when tragedy struck his family (his daughter committed suicide) and Warner Bros brought in Joss Whedon (The Avengers 1 and 2, Buffy) to finish things off. The result is a mish-mash of Whedon’s bright, quippy style that worked so well for Marvel and Snyder’s grim, portentous vision that hadn’t worked so well for Batman v. Superman. After Justice League came out, it was clear the merger of these two styles didn’t quite work, and for years fans have been hoping to see the pure, unadulterated, 100% Snyder version of the movie.
The second prong is the fan movement that made this happen. Much like the fans angry about The Last Jedi or the end of Game of Thrones, DCEU fans have been on Twitter screaming into the void – or so we thought – about Snyder’s original version of the movie. The #ReleasetheSnyderCut hashtag has been floating around, even getting boosted by Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot. Unlike angry fans of Star Wars and GoT, this time it actually worked.
Where is the Snyder Cut?
This is perhaps the biggest point of confusion because the Snyder Cut doesn’t exist.
The aforementioned fans screaming about releasing this mythical version of the movie don’t seem to understand that there is no other version of it. At least not yet.
At one point, before he left the project, Snyder showed executives a rough cut – likely the assembly cut or rough cut version, which is an unedited cut featuring all of the footage that was shot, cobbled together to give the director a sense of the narrative, and they were unhappy with what they saw. Snyder was sent off to edit the movie down, but before he could finish, Whedon took over, reshooting scenes, jettisoning plot lines, adding levity, and trimming it down. Snyder has said that the theatrical movie contains maybe “one-fourth” of footage he shot.
The thing is, the footage he had shot was far from finished. According to THR, the version Snyder provided was “a semi-unfinished work, with no visual effects, no postproduction.” Contrary to many fans’ fantasies, the Snydercut isn’t a finished movie, sitting in Snyder’s attic, just waiting for someone courageous enough to let his vision loose on the world. The Snydercut needs a year of work and at least $20 million before it will exist.
Head of HBO Max Robert Greenblatt explained on the Recode Media podcast: “It’s been months of discussions with Zack and the producers to figure out how to do it. Because it isn’t as easy as just going into the vault and there’s a Snyder Cut sitting there to put out… it does not exist. Zack is actually building it and it’s complex. Including — and I don’t want to get into too much detail that we haven’t already talked about yet — but new effects shots. It’s a radical rethinking of that movie and it’s complicated and wildly expensive, of course, a number I won’t quote… I’ll just say I wish it was just $30 million… It’s an enormous undertaking and very complex.”
Speaking of enormous, the movie is supposedly going to be either a four-hour movie or as a 6-part miniseries.
How Will the Snyder Cut be Different?
For one thing, Darkseid will apparently be in it. The villain was teased in a dream sequence in BvS but didn’t appear in the Justice League, leaving the underwhelming Steppenwolf to do the dirty work. But according to his twitter account, Snyder is bringing his big bad back.
He’s coming… to HBO Max pic.twitter.com/tthWwAqzWp
— Zack Snyder (@ZackSnyder) May 27, 2020
This means that the story itself will need to be rebuilt to support this change, and it sounds like Snyder is planning to do just that. According to THR, the director is bringing back the old crew to re-cut the footage, finish the score, add visual effects, and maybe even re-record dialogue.
Among the big changes could be an improvement to Superman’s storyline, or at least his face. After coming back for reshoots, Henry Cavill’s Mission: Impossible mustache was digitally erased to notorious effect in the finished movie, and rumor has it that Snyder has plenty of non-mustache footage to work with, which would imply a very different version of Superman’s story than we saw in the movie.
We can also expect much more screentime for Cyborg, who plays a pivotal role in Snyder’s original vision. The director has referred to Cyborg as “the heart” of his movie, which originally included a lot of pre-super backstory for the character and some emotionally resonant happenings with his father. There may also be appearances from Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, and the Atom.
When is the Snyder Cut Being Released?
This one is pretty straightforward: May 2021 on HBO Max.
So there you have it. A little less than a year from now we’ll be able to watch the Snyder Cut – officially titled Zack Snyder’s Justice League – and judge for ourselves.
I sort of want to say it can’t be worse than the theatrical release of Justice League, but having already inhaled the pure Snyder experience that is Batman v. Superman, I can’t be positive.