• Josh Martin-Jones

A Brief History of Zack Snyder's Justice League

It does not go without saying that the social media hype for the Snyder Cut is the reason why Zack Snyder’s Justice League is happening and is set to release on HBO Max next month. Today, I wanted to take a look at the history of Justice League, and why it is that I am really looking forward to watching Zack Snyder’s cut next month.


The History of the “Theatrical/Whedon Cut”

Back in May of 2017, Zack Snyder stepped down from the role of Director of Justice League to deal with family tragedy, when his daughter sadly took her life. When it was announced he was stepping down, Snyder took a break and stated that he had left the film to “be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me”. This prompted Warner Bros. to hire the filmmaker Joss Whedon, who helmed the first two Avengers films and Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Whedon has recently been in the news again, not to do with the Snyder Cut itself, but by allegations raised by some of his former cast members from Buffy, and prior to that Ray Fisher, who plays the role of Cyborg in the Justice League who accused Whedon of ‘abusive, and unprofessional behaviour.’

Whilst taking over in May, 6 months prior to the scheduled release of the film – Whedon oversaw the rewriting of the script and extensive reshoots for the film. In the end, Whedon added 80 new pages to the script and only ended up using about 10% of the principal photography which Snyder shot, releasing a completely different film to the one envisioned by Snyder.


Justice League was soon released on November 17, 2017, and was met with mixed reviews from critics, and the film grossing $657.9 million at the Global Box Office – with an original budget of $300 million. Up against a break-even point of as much as $750 million. Due to the film losing Warner Bros. money, the movie was deemed a box office bomb.


Many changes were made from Snyder’s script, these briefly include:

  • Removal of characters and reduced presence of others

  • Removal of backstories for Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg

  • Changes to Superman

  • Removal of Steppenwolf’s First Invasion of Earth against the Olympian Old Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, Green Lantern Corps and Humans

  • Changes to the final battle

  • Removal of a Post Credits Scene featuring Lex Luthor and Deathstroke


#ReleaseTheSnyderCut

Not long after the release of the “Theatrical Cut”, an online petition started by a fan of the film urged Warner Bros to release the original cut of the film. This kickstarted the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut campaign after the petition reached over 100,000 signatures in a matter of days. Following on from the petition saw the birth of the ForSnyderCut website – a site used to raise awareness of the movement and would cover various items in the push for the release of Snyder’s cut of the film. Things like unused storyboards and campaign images were posted to the site, including this image of a storyboard featuring Darkseid, a character cut from the film.

One of my favourite pieces of the campaign which #ReleaseTheSnyderCut did, was advertised for the film during a FA Cup match which took place at the Riverside Stadium when Middlesbrough played Tottenham Hotspur.

Sooner rather than later, Snyder himself took to social media and began teasing fans with never-before-seen images and storyboards from his version of the film, highlighting how different his version of the film was compared to the theatrical cut. Snyder himself then announced in March 2019 that his original cut did exist. However, it was not until February 2020 when anything became of it when WarnerMedia chairman Toby Emmerich acknowledged the movement and reached out to Snyder.


Snyder invited executives from Warner Bros., HBO Max and DC to his home to view the Snyder Cut and present new ideas for the release of the film and impressed by what they saw and heard, decided to let the project proceed, and it was later announced on May 20th by Snyder that Zack Snyder’s Justice League would release on HBO Max in 2021.

initial reports stated that no additional photography would be shot, as Snyder was not given authorization by WarnerMedia. In any case, on September 23, 2020, it was uncovered that Snyder was getting ready to shoot extra film in October. Affleck, Cavill, and Fisher reprised their parts for the shoot. With the expense of the extra shoot, the spending plan was assessed to have expanded to around $70 million. The extra shoots started by October 6.


Sometime thereafter, Amber Heard, Jared Leto, and Joe Manganiello joined the cast to repeat their DCEU parts as Mera, the Joker, and Deathstroke, separately. Snyder expressed that simply four to five minutes of the new film was shot during extra photography. In January 2021, Snyder confirmed that work on the cut is now complete.


The first teaser trailer for the film was released on August 22 during the DC FanDome event, which included fans first tease of a Black suit Superman and Darkseid – the villain cut from the original version of the film. A second trailer was released on Sunday, marking roughly one month till the release of the film.

Zack Snyder's Justice League is set to be released on March 18, 2021, on HBO Max.


A Few Thoughts

I’m eagerly awaiting the release of this film, purely because this release of the film has been nearly 4 years in the making. I thought the first version of the film was utter garbage, and surely this version can’t be as bad? Really? Will this film lead onto anything else? If there’s success, will Warner Bros. move forward with films set in the Synderverse, and will we finally get that Man of Steel sequel?


I really hope this film is better than the original, and that it's not a mess as the internet would explode, and the film could be seen as the biggest waste of money ever. Or, the film could do really well and it could open the door for many more director cuts of films to be released… who knows, #ReleaseTheAyerCut could be the next one for Suicide Squad…


Will you be watching Zack Snyder’s Justice League when it drops on HBO Max (or wherever it is going in the UK)? Let me know in the comments or by following me (@JoshM_Jones) and Mo (@StreamingBuffer) on Twitter! I for one will be watching it as soon as I can to see how the internet reacts to it…

Until then, happy streaming!


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