Zack Snyder’s ‘Justice League’: 10 burning questions you might have about the Director’s Cut

  • The ‘Snyder Cut’ of the 2017 DC superhero movie is out on HBO Max – here are some no-spoiler answers to things you’re wondering
  • Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman, Flash and Cyborg appear in a four-hour edition of a film movie buffs and aspiring filmmakers won’t want to miss
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Zack Snyder's Justice League features all your favourite DC characters. Photo: TNS

Zack Snyder’s Justice League comes out on HBO Max today, the original director’s cut of the much-dissed 2017 movie.

But if you’re not a major movie buff or comic book aficionado, you might not know why this much, much longer version is being released.

Let’s tackle a bunch of burning questions you might have about the film.

Why is there a Snyder Cut in the first place?

It’s a good question since the original was pretty decent. But there’s been quite a story behind the scenes with Justice League.

Snyder and his producer wife Deborah stepped back from post-production in early 2017 after their daughter Autumn’s death, and Joss Whedon (Avengers) was brought in to finish the film and shoot new scenes.

The original movie made some money, but got roughed up critically. Then a grassroots #ReleaseTheSnyderCut campaign grew over the ensuing years online, and Cyborg actor Ray Fisher publicly accused Whedon of “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable” on-set behaviour.

Aside from the tumult, some toxic corners amid Snyder’s loyal following, and whether or not the world needs another Justice League, it is satisfying to see an artist get to complete his work that had been derailed by personal tragedy.

What’s Justice League all about?

Steppenwolf has had a bit of an update for the new cut. Photo: Warner MediaBoth the Snyder and Whedon cuts are essentially the same movie: Batman (Ben Affleck) needs to recruit a bunch of heroes to take on Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds), a supervillain from the hellscape world of Apokolips, when the villain brings an army to Earth to unify and harness the combined energies of three all-powerful Mother Boxes. (They’re kind of like the Infinity Stones from the Marvel movies.)

Oh, and the gang also resurrects Superman (Henry Cavill), who died at the end of Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. (Not a spoiler! It’s in the trailers!)

What’s the biggest difference between the movies?

Think of them like different paths of a road trip: the Whedon Cut takes a shorter, two-hour drive to a certain destination, while the Snyder Cut is the four-hour scenic route. Many of the new scenes are extended versions of what came before, and a comparison of the two showcases each filmmaker’s differing style, especially in the way they view the movie’s resident Man of Steel.

More of a Marvel fan? Here’s a refresher on one of the greatest cast superhero movies ever

Overall, Snyder’s vision features a lot of slow-motion action and offers a darker, solemn vibe, from character interactions to the music. Whedon’s movie is quite a bit sunnier – he reshot scenes to add a lighter quality – and the score, with bits of memorable themes from the Christopher Reeve’s Superman and Michael Keaton’s Batman films, lends a nostalgic bent not in Snyder’s previous DC entries.

Did they do anything about that horrible CGI villain?

Yes! Steppenwolf (performed via motion capture by Ciaran Hinds) looks about 2,318 times better than in the original film. Recent DC projects have had kind of a rough go with their computer-generated bad guys but Steppenwolf 2.0 oozes primal, troublemaking brutality. And thankfully there’s no terrible digital erasing of Cavill’s moustache this time around.

Anything else get fixed from the Whedon cut?

A lot of Cyborg’s backstory never made it into the movie shown at cinemas, but his Frankenstein-esque origin tale, and the family friction caused when his scientist dad (Joe Morton) saved his life by mechanising him, is explored in detail in Snyder’s new version.

It also firmly plants Cyborg as the audience’s surrogate within this newly formed band of superheroes, with a fully formed character arc that unlocks new emotional depth by showing him coming to grips with his new heroic lot in life.

Did it really need to be four hours, though?

No film needs to be four hours because that’s just cruel, unusual and exhausting. (The Ten Commandments is allowed because it’s a biblical epic.)

This would have been just fine at an Avengers: Endgame-length of three hours, though one also now realises Whedon’s no-win situation trying to shoehorn a four-hour movie into two.

Also, why is it rated R?

Heads literally roll, many of Steppenwolf’s alien Parademons get hacked to pieces, and Batfleck drops an F-bomb.

Do we get to meet anybody new this time?

Some new personalities who missed the Whedon Cut show up. Cosmic baddie Darkseid – DC’s version of Thanos – makes his debut, as does his chief henchman Desaad. Both are CGI characters and look pretty boss, especially Darkseid.

Iris West (Kiersey Clemons, who’s in the upcoming The Flash movie) also makes a quick first appearance as the Scarlet Speedster’s future love interest, and Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix Jr), a fan-favourite Justice Leaguer from the comics, finally gets his cinematic introduction.

Wait, didn’t I hear Jared Leto’s Joker is in this?

You bet, and it’s a much different, almost philosophical yet still nihilistic guy as opposed to the tattooed gangster audiences saw in Suicide Squad.

Snyder filmed a new scene for his director’s cut that let Affleck and Leto’s arch-enemies share the screen for the first time. He’s still no Heath Ledger, though.

Capsule review: So, is the Snyder Cut worth a watch?

It is an improvement on Justice League in the sense that there’s better character development and the world-building’s more impressive – that’s the luxury of having a four-hour movie.

Snyder also attempts to throw in a lot of personalities and plot points to set up future movies so it’s a bit of a mess, too. (And if you’re used to widescreen presentation, Snyder’s filming in a square-ish IMAX-ready format might drive you batty.)

While both cuts have their positives and negatives, the existence of the Snyder Cut is most interesting as a fascinating study of two filmmakers’ radically different views of iconic superheroes.

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