Zack Snyder Will Release the ‘Snyder Cut’ of ‘Justice League’ on HBO Max

By Matt Donnelly

The mythical, unreleased version of the 2017 superhero film “Justice League” will finally see the light of day on Warner Media’s HBO Max in 2021.

After years of campaigning from talent and comic book fans, the studio behind the DC Films ensemble “Justice League” will offer original director Zach Snyder’s cut of the film, which saw heroes Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg and Superman share the same screen.

Director Zack Snyder announced the news on a live Q&A Wednesday, following a virtual screening of his Henry Cavill-led Superman film “Man of Steel.”

Snyder completed the majority of work on “Justice League” in 2016, but stepped away from post-production and editing in light of a family tragedy. Warner Bros. brought in “The Avengers” helmer Joss Whedon to finish the job, and the varying styles of both men led many fans to believe Snyder had envisioned a much darker take on the project.

Budgeted at a reported $300 million, the film grossed over $650 million worldwide and did not resonate with critics, sitting at 40% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The DC assemblage was largely perceived as a miss in comparison to the juggernaut of Marvel Studios, and led to a creative pivot away from a tightly connected cinematic universe in favor of a far more loosely assembled collection of comic book adaptations.

This includes Todd Phillips’ global smash “Joker,” which won Joaquin Phoenix the best actor Oscar and grossed over $1 billion at the global box office. Ben Affleck has subsequently vacated the batsuit, in favor of Robert Pattinson in an upcoming reboot from director Matt Reeves.

#ReleaseTheSnyderCut became a massive grassroots rallying cry — an example of how fandom can seize hold of a franchise despite all efforts by the studio to control it, especially online. Then in November 2019, “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot kicked the campaign into overdrive by tweeting the hashtag with a grayscale still from “Justice League,” with Affleck and Snyder himself following suit — sending fans into a twitter-fed frenzy. Even Aquaman, Jason Momoa, called for the darker film to drop as recently as May 19, 2020.

Snyder himself admitted that his own cut of the film existed, but the onus was on Warner Bros. to release it. While plans to release the Snyder cut theatrically never took shape, its value for HBO Max is undeniable.

As Warner Media’s own bid at a “Netflix killer,” as many have labelled fledgling OTT services like Disney Plus, global event IP like “Justice League” is invaluable subscriber bait for the platform, which launches May 27.