It’s a movie you only thought you knew. And while the story is similar, this time you get to see the material that was once left on the cutting room floor exactly the way the director wanted it to run.
But how did “Justice League” go from a mediocre superhero flick to a new four-hour fan favorite?
Director Zack Snyder signed on with Warner Brothers to make Justice League back in October of 2014. Snyder had previously found success with the genre directing the 2013 Man of Steel and was already set to direct the next box office blockbuster, Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.
DC and Warner Bros aimed to create a universe with their characters similar to what Marvel and Disney had already accomplished.
During the initial Justice League announcement, the studio said it would be two parts with the first release in November of 2017. Shooting was scheduled to begin almost immediately after Snyder’s Batman Vs Superman movie hit theaters.
Tragedy turned Justice League from just another superhero movie to a passion project.
On March 20th, 2017 Zack Snyder’s daughter Autum Snyder committed suicide. He was still working on the project with his wife, and show producer, Deborah.
Snyder kept working on the film from home to distract himself until May 2017, when both he and his wife stepped down to deal with their loss. The studio offered to move the release date, but Zack opposed the idea.
Instead, Warner Brothers picked Joss Whedon, who wrote two of the Avengers movies, to replace him in the director’s chair while Snyder stepped back. The audience was assured that Whedon would adhere in Zack’s vision for Justice League, and finish where he left off.
Justice League was finally released in March of 2018, but it wasn’t Snyder’s vision for the movie. While the movie more than doubled its production budget at the box office, fans were not impressed. Many said it didn’t live up to the hype.
It was only after watching the movie that audiences learned the film had heavy edits and scene deletions which altered Snyder’s original vision.
After the initial release of Justice League a movement was formed on social media under the hashtag #releasethesnydercut. The movement included those fans who were certain there was a cut of Justice League that was completely different from what they saw in theaters.
Zack Snyder added to the movement when he joined a social media app named VERO.
In addition to sharing about his life, he also posted images from Justice League. The black and white photos were of scenes that were not included in the original release. This added fuel to the now internationally trending #releasethesnydercut movement.
Eventually Justice League stars Ben Afleck (Batman), Jason Mamoa (Aquaman), Ezra Miller (The Flash) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg) joined the social media movement.
According to published media reports, some Warner Brothers insiders called any release of a director’s cut of Justice League a “pipe dream.” The studio was not willing to commit to funding the project.
In May of 2020, Snyder was taking questions from fans following a social media rewatch of his Man of Steel movie. Initially Snyder joked the material needed to make a director’s cut of Justice League was probably on a hard drive in a bathroom somewhere.
The jokes were a prelude to a big announcement.
Snyder turned his computer to the camera which showcased a movie poster for a new release of Justice League on the new streaming service HBO Max. The service was a marriage of HBO and Warner Brothers properties.
For the next year fans were treated to epic teasers, trailers and stills from the new version of Justice League.
Released in March of 2021, the Zack Snyder cut exceeded expectations.
According to the website Rotten Tomatoes, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League lives up to its title with a sprawling cut that expands to fit the director’s vision — and should satisfy the fans who willed it into existence.”
So far, the movie has a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes which is nearly double its predecessor’s percentage. The audience score for the new cut is an impressive 96% on Rotten tomatoes.
The film website IMBD ranked The Snyder Cut the second highest rated superhero film with a score of 8.8, second only to The Dark Knight.
The Snyder cut succeeded at what it was trying to accomplish. It restored the original story line and motivations of the characters. Audiences saw a more serious film with heartwarming moments that the first cut didn’t offer.
Perhaps the greatest success of the Snyder Cut was showing the power fans have over films. What started with hashtags and hope ended up being a streaming blockbuster.