Zack Snyder’s Justice League (colloquially referred to as the Snyder Cut) is the 2021 director’s cut of the 2017 American superhero film Justice League, the fifth film set within the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) based on the team of the same name appearing in DC Comics publications. It is intended to match director Zack Snyder’s original vision for the film, prior to his departure from the production and subsequent studio interference. The film follows Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and a revived Superman (Henry Cavill) as they form an alliance to stop the extradimensional New God Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his army of Parademons from conquering Earth for his overlord Darkseid (Ray Porter).
Released by Warner Bros. Pictures in 2017, Justice League had a difficult production. Its script underwent major changes before and during production between 2016 and 2017. In May 2017, Snyder stepped down during post-production following the death of his daughter, Autumn Snyder, and Joss Whedon was hired to finish the film, completing it as an uncredited director. Whedon oversaw reshoots and other changes that incorporated a brighter tone and more humor while reducing the runtime significantly in accordance with a mandate from Warner Bros. The theatrical version polarized critics and underperformed at the box office; this resulted in Warner Bros. opting to prioritize developing future films around individual characters, with less regard for consistency and continuity within the wider shared universe.
Many people expressed interest in Snyder’s version of the film, which they often referred to as the “Snyder Cut”. Although most industry insiders reported its release unlikely, Warner Bros. moved ahead with it in February 2020; in May, Snyder announced it would be released as Zack Snyder’s Justice League as a HBO Max Original Film. $70 million was spent to complete the visual effects, score and editing, with new material being shot in October 2020. The release was originally planned as both a six-episode miniseries and a long feature-length film, with the former concept being cancelled in January 2021 in favor of releasing it as the latter. The film is dedicated to the memory of Autumn Snyder.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League was released on HBO Max in the United States on March 18, 2021. It became the fourth-most-streamed film on the platform that year. The film was widely considered superior to the 2017 theatrical release, and critics praised Snyder’s direction, visual style, action sequences, performances, improved characterizations, musical score, and balance of emotional weight and humor, although the runtime received some criticism.
- Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman:
A wealthy socialite, the owner of Wayne Enterprises, and co-founder of the Justice League. He dedicates himself to protecting Gotham City from its criminal underworld as a highly trained, masked vigilante equipped with various tools and weapons. Director Zack Snyder described Affleck’s Batman as on a path of redemption in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, feeling guilty due to his actions in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).
- Henry Cavill as Clark Kent / Superman:
A Kryptonian survivor with superpowers and a journalist for the Daily Planet based in Metropolis. He is the inspiration for the Justice League, which he becomes a member of. In 2018, Cavill described Superman as he appears in Snyder’s Justice League as coming closer to completing his character arc that began with Man of Steel (2013) and becoming the “true” Superman as depicted in the comics. Snyder said while he loves the traditional portrayals of the character, he wanted Superman to have a realistic arc and develop as a character, and not be a “one-dimensional Boy Scout”.
- Amy Adams as Lois Lane: A reporter for the Daily Planet and the love interest of Clark Kent.
- Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman: An immortal demigoddess princess and Amazon warrior. She is a co-founder of the Justice League.
- Ray Fisher as Victor Stone / Cyborg:
A former college athlete who, after being cybernetically reconstructed after a nearly fatal car accident, is turned into a techno-organic being enhanced by reactive, adaptive biomimetic alien technology. His enhancements include the abilities of flight, variable weaponry and technopathy. Much of Cyborg’s character development was removed in the theatrical release, and Snyder described Cyborg as he is depicted in Zack Snyder’s Justice League as “the heart of the movie”. Similarly, Fisher stated that Cyborg’s character arc is emotional and allegorical of “the journey that Black people have taken in [America]”. According to Fisher, the only scene of his directed by Snyder which remained in the theatrical release was that of Cyborg meeting up with Batman and Commissioner Gordon at the Gotham City police rooftop.
- Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry / Aquaman: An Atlantean half-blood with aquatic powers.
- Ezra Miller as Barry Allen / The Flash:
A Central City college student pursuing a degree in criminal justice in the hopes of exonerating his father of the murder of his wife, Barry’s mother. He is capable of moving at superhuman speeds and entering the Speed Force to time-travel.
- Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko: An Atlantean who acts as Arthur’s mentor.
- Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor:
Superman’s archenemy and former head of LexCorp. Luthor’s appearance at the end of the film was originally intended to tease Affleck’s now-reworked The Batman project rather than a potential Justice League sequel.
- Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth: Bruce Wayne’s butler who provides tactical support for Batman and the Justice League.
- Diane Lane as Martha Kent: Clark Kent’s adoptive mother.
- Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta: Diana’s mother and Queen of the Amazons.
- J. K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon: The Gotham City police commissioner and an ally of Batman.
- Ciarán Hinds as Steppenwolf:
A New God military officer from the planet Apokolips who leads an army of Parademons in search of the three Mother Boxes held on Earth. Hinds had previously described Steppenwolf as “old, tired, still trying to get out of his own enslavement to Darkseid”. Steppenwolf was redesigned for the new release, bringing his appearance closer to Snyder’s original vision.
- Zheng Kai as Ryan Choi:
A scientist working at S.T.A.R. Labs, under the leadership of Silas Stone. By the end of the film, Choi is promoted to Director of Nanotechnology at the company. The character was intended to star in a spin-off, with Snyder having pitched a film to the studio, which would have featured Choi taking up the mantle of The Atom, and taken place in China with a Chinese cast.
- Amber Heard as Mera:
An Atlantean who was raised by Arthur Curry’s mother, Queen Atlanna. Unlike her appearances in the theatrical version and Aquaman (2018), Heard uses a pseudo-Queen’s English accent throughout the film.
- Joe Morton as Silas Stone: Victor Stone’s father and the head scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs.
- Lisa Loven Kongsli as Menalippe: Hippolyta’s lieutenant and Diana’s aunt.
- David Thewlis as Ares: The son of the Olympian Old God Zeus and the half brother of Diana Prince. Stuntman Nick McKinless portrays Ares physically, while Thewlis’s face is superimposed on McKinless’s using CGI.
March 18, 2021
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