On March 18, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” was released on HBO Max, the culmination of five years of campaigning by fans and those involved with the movie. This release showed the power of a fanbase and is an unprecedented move in the movie industry.
The release of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” (known as the “Snyder Cut”) is such a big deal because a Justice League film starring the same actors was released in 2017.
2017’s “Justice League” directed by Joss Whedon (which many refer to as “Josstice League”) was originally supposed to be Snyder’s version of the film. Zack Snyder, who had previously directed in-universe movies such as “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman,” was largely spearheading the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).
After filming the “Snyder Cut”, Snyder’s daughter committed suicide, causing him to leave the film. As a replacement, Warner Brothers brought in Whedon, known for his work with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to IndieWire, rather than continuing the editing process of the film already shot, Whedon chose to rewrite and reshoot 90% of the movie Snyder had created.
The movies share the main characters Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. They also have the same overarching plot of the fight for the mother boxes against alien invader Steppenwolf and his leader, the supervillain Darkseid.
However, these movies are very different. This can be seen in the run time alone, with the “Snyder Cut” coming in at four hours long and “Josstice League” at two hours.
“Josstice League” was not well-received by fans or critics, with criticism aimed at Whedon’s writing, bad CGI, the lack of introduction given to some characters and his overall plot decisions. The treatment of women and people of color in “Josstice League” on and off screen was an important point of criticism.
Whedon added an unnecessary romance between Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and wrote scenes or framed shots in a way that put the focus on Gadot’s body.
Part of what Whedon wrote out of the movie was the majority of Cyborg’s plot, a Black superhero played by Ray Fisher. When compared to the “Snyder Cut,” a lot of the characters of color were cut from Whedon’s version.
Whedon was also accused of abusive behavior on set by Fisher, with other cast and crew members backing him up. According to IndieWire, Gadot confirmed a similar experience with Whedon. Fisher’s allegations were followed by a wave of allegations made by actors and crew members from Whedon’s other projects.
After seeing “Josstice League” and learning how little of Snyder’s vision made the movie, fans began to call for Warner Brothers to #ReleasetheSnyderCut. One of many Change.org petitions in 2017 got 180,000 signatures. This turned into a global social media movement, with cast and crew of the “Snyder Cut” joining in.
In 2020, over a livestream, Snyder and his wife announced to fans that the “Snyder Cut” would be released in 2021 on HBO Max.
Now released, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” is a four hour film divided into six parts and an epilogue and has received positive reviews from fans and movie critics. With expanded plotlines for the main characters, easter eggs for comic book fans and the (SPOILER) reveal of the seventh founding member of the Justice League, fans have been given everything they hoped for during their five year campaign to get this film released.
They’re not done yet though. Given that “Josstice League” is still canon in the DCEU, fans have started a new movement to #RestoretheSnyderVerse.