Mythical. That is a word Zack Snyder and his collaborators like to use when describing Justice League and its lineup of superheroes. To be sure the character of Wonder Woman is inspired, at least in part, by ancient Greek mythology, but they all take on a mythic bent in Snyder’s mind, which he expanded upon during the DC FanDome panel for “The Snyder Cut” of Justice League. And like any good epic myth, Snyder’s vision for Justice League is meant to be long.
Indeed, it was at the end of the “Snyder Cut” panel when the filmmaker revealed that the film will have a gargantuan length of four hours and be released not as a single viewing experience but in four individual installments. That’s right, Justice League just effectively became an HBO Max miniseries.
“It’s going to be in four parts, one-hour each,” Snyder revealed. “So four hours of Justice League is coming your way. We’re going to work on a way of bundling it together at the end, so you can watch it as a single film if that’s the way you want to experience it.”
This is a fairly surprising development in the labyrinthine saga revolving around Justice League’s production and release. For nearly three years, a passionate segment of fans demanded Warner Bros. release “The Snyder Cut” for the film, even as this cut didn’t technically exist. While there had been an assembly cut of Justice League produced—purportedly running close to six hours—and which had been slowly shortened, the movie’s edit was far from over, not to mention post-production work that includes special effects, music, sound editing, color correction, and a legion of other aspects hadn’t been completed.
So when WB and HBO Max announced they were going to release “the Snyder Cut,” it also meant they had to make it. Nevertheless, one would be hard pressed to find a fan who expected to get a four-hour cut, or one that would be released, at least initially, like a TV series. However, there is a commercial and creative wisdom in this decision.
If “the Snyder Cut” of Justice League is borne out of fan demand to get a different, allegedly more substantial version of the movie, giving them as much content as possible may generate greater value than trying to make something that appeals to the widest possible audience. This also puts Justice League now in the rare company of four-hour epics that include Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, and maybe less illustriously, Cleopatra. But more importantly, if it’s cut up over four episodes, HBO Max could potentially space Justice League out over four weeks. This means if it starts in the middle of any given month in 2021, it would ensure two months’ worth of subscriptions for fans who want to see it all live.
To be clear, this is purely speculation, and no timetable or release has been announced. But what is clear from the new “Snyder Cut” trailer is that it will be filled with plenty of glorious slow-motion money shots.
Snyder also took a moment at the end of the panel to reassure fans who do not live in the U.S. or a country where the HBO Max service is offered that it will be made available via traditional international distribution plans.
“Also to all my international fans and everyone watching all over the world, don’t worry if you don’t have HBO Max,” Snyder said, “because we’re working on a distribution plan, so I promise you that you’re going to get the chance to see it.”
The question though of whether they’ll see it as a movie or television series remains to be answered.