!! SPOILER ALERT !!
The following article contains heavy spoilers from Zack Snyder, on his cut of Justice League.
The film’s creator recently sat down with Esquire to address some questions from audiences, surrounding the recent release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. While Snyder didn’t answer every question fans might have, he did address a lot of the new and exciting changes made to the previously released film.
First, we have to address the surprise of this cut of Justice League seeing the light of day. Fans were shocked when the film was first announced, but quickly rallied behind the new version. Snyder himself was perplexed that he’d be back in the director’s chair.
(We) thought it was unbelievable. We were pretty sure that someone had made a mistake. (We) had to do the work of finishing it, and it’s not a small amount of work.
Snyder also revisited the story of how his wife Debbie, and colleague/JL producer Christopher Nolan, had told him not to see the theatrical cut of Justice League back in 2017. Zack Snyder has now explained that he knew even from the run time of the film that major portions would have been cut and storylines would have been changed from his original vision.
I was like, geez, that’s got to be problematic. How could they have serviced all these characters correctly? And it turns out that they didn’t.
The actors of Justice League and the DCEU had apparently also given their stamp of approval to this new cut of the movie. Snyder explained that all the actors seemed to love his version, and that he was most excited to give justice to the story he had written for Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. Snyder was able to fully flesh out both Cyborg and The Flash’s arcs in his revised Justice League.
I’m really happy to have Ray’s story put back. And also for the climax, what Flash is able to do, really rounds out his character and gives him a real sort of cathartic end game.
Cyborg and his story were discussed considerably in the interview with Snyder. Seemingly right since Cyborg got so greatly shafted in the theatrical cut of Justice League, Snyder discussed similarities between Cyborg’s story and Dr. Manhattan, as well as the ultimate fate of Victor’s father, Silas Stone.
That sequence where we learn about Cyborg’s backstory is very Manhattanite. But I really love it and I love that kind of storytelling where it’s just a lot of lacing together of these images to tell a story without a lot of dialogue…Victor Stone speaks to all of us who are suffering from some depression or self doubt—we all have this massive untapped potential within us.
Oh, when he gets killed by the electron laser?… No. He doesn’t get to come back with massive powers but that’d be cool. I like that!
Zack Snyder’s Easter eggs
Some Easter eggs were also brought up in Snyder’s interview, including one he quickly debunked. First addressed was Superman’s black and white suit, clearly from Death of Superman, which Snyder confirmed. He also explained his interest in a book by Robert Bly called The Red, White, and Black:
The white of naivety, the red of anger, and the black of humanity. I just felt like the black suit is really symbolic of that as well. But also, frankly, I flew him straight up to the sun to charge him up. I like the black suit as a practical thing of there needing to be a way for Superman to charge up quickly and be stronger than he was. So it works in a theoretical and symbolic way.
Snyder debunked the reference made with the single mother Cyborg helped however. The woman, named Linda Reed, was not an Easter egg pointing to Archer Girl.
You know, frankly, no, it was not [a reference]. That one is not, but it’s cool. I’d do that sort of thing.
The character of Steppenwolf was vastly improved in the Snyder cut. Not only was he a more intimidating and less human antagonist, Snyder really wanted to focus on a greater backstory and more sympathy for the villain.
I have no idea what happened to the original Steppenwolf, and I’m 99% positive that his eyes are different because he’s kind of scratch built. And, by the way, we had tons of conversations where I was like, “We really need his eyes need to emote because I really want his story to be sympathetic.” He’s just trying to get back in Darkseid’s good graces. He f*(#£d up a while ago, and he needs to make it right.
One of the more significant Lois Lane scenes showed her waking up alone in her apartment, before the audience saw a pregnancy test in her nightstand. Viewers immediately grabbed on to this brief moment and ran with it. Luckily, Snyder confirmed what we were all hoping for: a half Kryptonian, half human on the way.
She’s definitely pregnant.
Snyder further elaborated that this child of Superman and Lois Lane would eventually become a hero in their own right, most likely after the death of Batman.
You see, I always wanted Barbara Gordon to come into the movies. Commissioner Gordon would be on the way out, and we’d have Barbara starting to play a bigger role. My idea was that after Batman sacrificed himself, there would be a window where there was no Batman, and I thought Barbara could fill that until the child of Superman and Lois, who has no powers, would become Batman when he was of age.
Snyder probably had the most to share about that epilogue, especially since audiences undoubtedly have the most questions about that part of the film.
The epilogue finally allowed audiences to see the Joker and Batman on screen together. Fans have been hoping for this moment for some time and Snyder felt it was essential for the enemies to face off.
If this is my last DC movie, I felt it was going to be rude for me to have never gotten Batman and Joker together, and so I kind of came up with that scene.
The Joker scene also took some coordination on Snyder’s part. He had to convince Ben Affleck to exit retirement as Batman and return to shoot his scene with Jared Leto’s Joker. He also gave Leto space to ad-lib as the Joker, with his creative lines actually making the Snyder cut.
“You don’t want to kill me, I’m your best friend. Besides, who’s going to give you a reach around?” was an ad-lib. And after he ad-libbed that he was like, “That’s never going to be in the movie”, and I go, “You watch.”
Zack also addressed the Martian Manhunter scene. Surprisingly, the scene was not going to be about that green League member but another: Green Lantern. After resistance from the studio however, Snyder was forced to change the scene.
The last scene with Martian Manhunter, originally, I had shot it in England, and the dialogue was very similar, but it was supposed to be one of the Lanterns… then the studio had told me I wasn’t allowed to shoot anything… I shot stuff anyway, of course, in my yard, and one of the things I shot was the Green Lantern scene… the Green Lantern was John Stewart, and that was part of it too. I was like, I don’t want to take a person of color out of this movie. I’m not going to do it, but then I felt like having Harry Lennix’s Martian Manhunter at the end… that was okay.
The future of the DCEU
Although not officially canon, Zack Snyder’s epilogue for Justice League opened up a world of possibilities for sequels, and further DCEU films. Although Snyder expressed having faith in the market of cinema possibly driving the studio to create further projects with him, he didn’t find this option particularly realistic.
I know that the studio doesn’t really have any interest, clearly, in doing another movie with me… I guess it’s a careful what you wish for kind of a scenario… with the amount of effort that the fans had had mustered to get this movie made, and the dedication and the money they’ve raised for suicide prevention and mental health awareness, I wanted the movie to be hopeful and optimistic, and that included the vision for future movies.
Snyder expressed interest and insight into the further arcs he wanted to tell in future DCEU projects if they were to ever happen. The two he really wanted to make were a Cyborg solo film, and an Atom movie following Ryan Choi. Unfortunately, Snyder conceived these ideas more than 5 years ago, and has little hope for these ideas bearing fruit.
Zack also further explained the Knightmare scene in the epilogue. The details of this scene could have even led to further films in the alternate future from Batman’s nightmares.
So basically, in the alternate-future movie, we would have been in this post-Superman, Anti-Life Equation world, where the team knew that the only way to fix the world was to run Flash back and warn Bruce to save Lois… the movie was basically going to be about a ragtag group of Justice League members pulling off a crazy mission to… jump Flash back in time.
The night before the big mission, they would have this last supper sort of reckoning, where they would all tell their stories. One of those stories was Joker telling the story of the death of Robin… and there was always a fun thing that we were doing where I had this concept for time travel, where the earth has to be in relatively the same position in space. So you could only jump like once a year or you would jump into space.
This was the direct sequel.
Then the third movie was going to be about after they rescue him, or after they send Flash back in time, and then Batman sacrifices himself. That would be as we go into the third movie, which would have been about the battle between Darkseid and the defenders of Earth.
Other sequels Zack Snyder hoped for, and was building toward, would have included his large final chapter, the third movie in this alternate-future timeline.
I had just assumed that the final movie was going to be very much a Superman movie. Like the final chapter was going to be a large percentage of Superman to just bookend the whole thing. Because if Batman died, it would have very much fallen on Superman to be the de facto leader.
By the way, at that point, Wonder Woman would have been made queen of Themyscira, and she would be leading the warriors of Themyscira into battle against Darkseid herself. Arthur would be leading the armies of Atlanteans, Superman basically is going to be the head of the Justice League and the Armies of Men. So Superman would have gone from this kind of berserker Superman, to a benevolent Superman.
Although this would not be the typical arc audiences are familiar with for Superman to go on, the ideas in Snyder’s head are more than fascinating. He had also thought about scenes portraying the deaths of Aquaman, Harley Quinn, and Lois Lane. Clearly though, Snyder’s mind contained quite a few ideas for the future of the DCEU. Maybe someday they could come to life, but as Snyder said himself, be careful what you wish for.
Final thoughts on the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Finally, when asked how he felt about the film and its journey, Zack had this to say,
It’s very cathartic. It’s like this incredible relief, to be honest. I dedicated the movie to my daughter, and the thing I was most stressed out about was, frankly, that the movie wasn’t good enough. That gave me the most anxiety.
But then, as we finished it, I felt better about it. She was a bit of a dork, so I thought she would have really liked the movie. Regardless of whether people liked it or not, I took solace in the fact that she would have liked it. It’s nice that the fans seem to really love it. That’s good news.
Zack Snyder’s daughter Autumn passed away in 2017. This ultimately led to Joss Whedon taking over the reigns on Justice League. Dedicating the film to his daughter seemed the appropriate thing for Zack to do. With Cyborg and The Flash’s connections to their parents, we definitely feel that Snyder celebrated the love he had for Autumn, and expressed all his emotions for her in a beautiful way.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is available for streaming on HBO Max.
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