Ever since the release of “Justice League” in 2017, many DC Comics fans have been actively campaigning to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut of the film. The movement began after director Zack Snyder, who had previously helmed two movies set in DC’s cinematic universe, 2013’s “Man of Steel” and 2016’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” left the project in the middle of post-production amidst a family tragedy. “The Avengers” director Joss Whedon stepped in to get the project across the finish line through a process that included substantial reshoots and retools.
The result was not particularly well met. Critics had mixed to negative reactions to the film, with Variety calling it “as close to generic as a sharp-witted high-octane comic-book movie can get.” Audiences were also lukewarm on the film; “Justice League” grossed $229 million domestically and $657.9 million worldwide against a reported $300 million budget, a drop of more than $200 million from the gross of its predecessor. DC fans quickly took to social media with the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut to advocate for Warner Bros. to release Snyder’s originally intended version of the superhero team-up film.
The hashtag continued to sustain itself long after “Justice League’s” theatrical release ended, with fans even flying a banner reading “WB #ReleaseTheSnyderCut of Justice League” over New York Comic-Con to draw attention toward the movement. Even so, the existence of a “Snyder cut” of the film became somewhat of an urban legend, with many doubting if a version made with Snyder as the primary creative voice behind it could be compiled with current resources. However, on November 17, 2019, the second anniversary of “Justice League’s” release, Snyder himself and cast members Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot took to social media to share the hashtag, adding credibility to the prospect of the cut becoming available to the public.
Finally, in May, Warner Bros. announced plans to release a cut of the film with a production directly led by Snyder. So, now that we know #TheSnyderCut will be #Released, what concrete details do we know about it? Despite a flurry of fan speculation, few official teases have been made and much of the work is still ahead for the project. More information will surely emerge about the new cut over the coming months, but here’s what we do know as of now about the project.
Darkseid is in it
The cosmic tyrant who seeks to conquer the universe is a mainstay villain for DC Comics and the master of “Justice League’s” primary antagonist Steppenwolf. It has been reported that Ray Porter had shot scenes for “Justice League” playing Darkseid through motion capture. In June, Snyder offered new footage of the film through Twitter, spotlighting Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman as she enters a cave. The clip concludes by cutting from a horrified Wonder Woman to footage of Darkseid standing atop a volcanic wasteland. How exactly Darkseid will factor into the new cut is yet to be seen.
— Zack Snyder (@ZackSnyder) June 18, 2020
It is aiming for an early to mid-2021 release
Sandra Dewey, president of productions and business operations for WarnerMedia entertainment confirmed the release window in June. Deborah Snyder, the director’s wife and production partner, reportedly pitched executives on completing their cut of the film in February, giving the film roughly a year to a year and a half as a production timeline.
It will be exclusive to HBO Max
The new version has not been announced to have a theatrical or physical release. Instead, Warner Media is producing the cut as a must-watch for its new streaming service. After entering an already crowded market with its launch in May, the company hopes to wield its global IP to draw subscribers to HBO Max.
It will be longer than the original version
Leading up to the theatrical release of “Justice League,” it had been reported that Warner Bros. had fought for a cut of the film that did not exceed two hours. The film released with a 120-minute runtime. Snyder has expressed excitement for how a longer runtime will allow the film more space to explore various characters and ideas.
It might not take the form of a feature-length film
Although exact details on the format of the Snyder Cut have not been confirmed, it has been reported that Snyder outlined the concept of releasing the new version through episodes and cliffhangers in his initial pitch to WarnerMedia executives. Since the project represents an unprecedented investment in a rework of an existing film, it remains more than possible for its final form to be outside of a traditional feature length format.
The re-edit has a substantial production budget
The Snyder Cut has been reported to have a production budget ranging from $20 to $30 million, reuniting many members of the original post-production team to assemble the new version. The number represents a substantial investment in the project from Warner Bros.
The production will not include reshoots
Though the Snyder Cut is a multimillion-dollar project, Warner Bros. will not fund reshoots or new scenes with the original cast according to The Wrap reporter Umberto Gonzalez. Considering the difficult task of reassembling a high-profile cast, especially under restrictive health regulations to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the decision is a sensible one. The budget will instead go toward possibilities such as special effects, scoring and ADR. Since many scenes were cut or reworked from Snyder’s original version of the film, there is likely plenty of existing footage to work with in assembling the new cut.
Junkie XL’s original score will be used for the cut
Tom Holkenborg, aka Junkie XL, who worked on the “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” score with Hans Zimmer, was originally attached to “Justice League.” However, the theatrically released cut of the movie featured music composed by Danny Elfman. Holkenborg has confirmed that his original score was completed during production. Zack Snyder has since confirmed that he plans to use Junkie XL’s score on the film via the social media platform Vero.
Many characters’ arcs are getting a substantial rework
Snyder has expressed interest in working to add new bits of character development in his version. Featuring a team of six superheroes, the original “Justice League” showed some difficulty effectively navigating its numerous characters. While viewers were already familiar with Henry Cavill’s Superman, Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, the film also took on the task of introducing Aquaman (Jason Momoa), the Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), to mixed levels of success.