Zack Snyder’s Justice League: What’s in the Snyder Cut Story?

HBO Max will "release the Snyder Cut" so we break down everything we know about the story of Zack Snyder's Justice League.

Justice League Movie
Photo: Warner Bros.

The Snyder Cut is coming. After many years, even more petitions, a hashtag that wouldn’t quit, and the support of the entire cast of the film, Zack Snyder’s original vision for Justice League will be hitting HBO MAX in 2021, with the fitting title: Zack Snyder’s Justice League. It’s a vindication of sorts for the director, who had to bow out of the project during filming because of a family tragedy. Warner Bros. brought in Joss Whedon to replace him, and the finished product seemed to leave nobody happy. The #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement was born, and eventually…HBO listened.

“It will be an entirely new thing, and, especially talking to those who have seen the released movie, a new experience apart from that movie. You probably saw one-fourth of what I did,” Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter. The piece that broke the news also reported that the film might actually end up being split into a limited series and Warner Bros had allotted $20-30 million for the project. So, with all of that in mind, then what can you expect to see in Zack Snyder’s Justice League

The “Really Scary” Version

The biggest thing that fans are expecting here is a change in tone. Whedon was credited with adding a sense of humor to the rewrites that probably wasn’t originally there (though none of us have read either script so it’s impossible to say if that’s true). Snyder has spoken to the fact that the original version was “really scary” which concept art by Victor Martinez backs up.

It looks like one of the major horror-influenced moments that was cut was the reveal that the parademons were actually humans who had been transformed in cocoons. We always welcome more body horror in our superhero films so if this is the angle HBO and Snyder go for we’d be okay with it. 

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Black Suit Superman

The climax of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice featured the death of Krypton’s most famous son at the hands of Doomsday. It was a poignant moment for fans even if you weren’t a fan of the divisive movie because it was taken almost directly from the incredible Death of Superman arc. That classic comics event changed the face of the industry and sequential storytelling forever, and the fact that Clark was killed by Doomsday here made many viewers think that we might have been getting an arc inspired by that event. It turns out at least one other thing from Death of Superman was meant to appear in Justice League: the black Superman suit. 

Since the release, Snyder has posted images of the iconic suit and it was momentarily featured in a deleted scene on the home video release. We know that WB is giving Snyder a truckload of money to finish his new version of the movie, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this beloved suit makes an appearance. Sadly, no word on whether Steel, Superboy, Metallo, or the Eradicator were ever meant to show up, though. We can dream. 

As a postscript we should probably mention THE SUPER ‘STACHE. One of the biggest complaints about Justice League was that the reshoots included some very bad CGI to erase Henry Cavill’s Mission Impossible facial hair. So, as much as we would love to see Superman with the ‘stache intact, it’s far more likely that the new version will include some of the other Superman stuff from pre-reshoots. That would probably include a black suited Superman and the Anti-Life version who will be reigning over Apokolips earth. 

Iris West 

Kiersey Clemons is one of the best actresses of her generation. If you don’t believe us check out her eclectic work in brilliant films like Heart Beats Out Loud and Sweetheart. The indie darling made waves when she was cast as Iris West in Justice League, but sadly her scenes never made the cut. Hopefully that will be rectified in any new version of the film as honestly this was the most exciting casting in the whole movie. There is still hope that we might see Clemons in Andy Muschietti’s Flash movie… if that ever actually happens

Martian Manhunter

On his Vero account, Snyder confirmed a fan favorite theory: Harry Lennix’s General Swanwick who appeared in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League was originally meant to be revealed as none other than J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter. This is likely going to be a part of HBO Max’s Justice League project as Snyder has stated he managed to film everything around the reveal except for Lennix revealing himself as the alien, meaning that it wouldn’t take much to finish the sequences. 

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Knightmare & the Death of Lois Lane

During a Q&A for Batman v Superman on Vero, Snyder spoke to the fact that much of his plans for Justice League were sidelined by the response to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. “The original Justice League that Chris [Terrio] and I wrote, we didn’t even shoot,” Snyder said. “There’s a lot of it that we shot [but] the actual idea, the hard, hard idea, the scary idea, we never filmed because the studio was like, ‘That’s crazy.’ And we were so insecure at the time after [Batman v Superman] came out, we were just like, ‘I guess it is crazy. We’re f—in’ nuts. There’s gonna be mass hysteria in the streets if we film this.'”

The “crazy” stuff they reference there centers around the strangely out of place dream sequence that Batman has during Batman v Superman. It’s a sepia-toned Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic nightmare where Superman runs the world as a fascist god. According to Snyder, the original script for Justice League spent a lot of time explaining how that world came to be. Fans of the Injustice games and comics series had probably already put this all together, but basically after the death of Lois Lane–hinted at in BvS when Barry Allen uses the cosmic treadmill to warn Bruce about how she is “the key”–Superman succumbs to the Anti-Life equation, losing all his free will, and becoming EVIL! 

The Anti-Life equation was created by Jack Kirby as part of his sprawling Fourth World saga. It’s a mathematical formula that can be used to control any sentient life form including, in this case, Superman. Snyder’s Justice League apparently would have then seen Batman working alongside a damaged Cyborg (Yay more Ray Fisher!!) to try and send Barry Allen back into the past to stop the events. The wildest part is apparently the time travel shenanigans would have actually been what killed Lois in the first place as Darkseid would have used the scheme to go back in time and kill her in the Batcave? Sounds like a paradox to us. Either way, this seems like a key part of the narrative that will likely play a part in whatever Snyder’s new Justice League eventually looks like.

From a comic fan perspective it does make a lot of sense that Terrio and Snyder would utilize the Anti-Life equation, as the Fourth World was also the home to their original villain for the Justice League, Darkseid. Speaking of Darkseid…

Darkseid / Uxas

Speaking of that big blue boy, he is another of the biggest changes that was made from Snyder and Terrio’s original script. In the final version of Justice League that hit screens in 2017, a lesser known DC villain called Steppenwolf was the film’s big bad working at the behest of Darkseid. The plan was for Steppenwolf to have been killed by Wonder Woman in Snyder’s version of the film (so we may see that in the new project too).

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That, however, was not the original plan; in fact, according to Snyder, Darkseid was meant to be the original big bad. He even knew the actor that he wanted to play him: Ray Porter. This wouldn’t have been the ageless god, though, it would have been a younger iteration of the character known as Uxas, going by the name he was given by his parents who were the royal family of Apokolips.

But which version of Uxas/Darkseid is the big question here, though. The original incarnation is the second son of the royal family of Apokolips who murders his older brother to take the ultimate cosmic power. The New 52 version was a farmer who killed the gods his world worshiped and created Apokolips himself.

Snyder is a big fan of Ayn Rand who created the Objectivism movement, which among many other things pushes the idea that “a man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity.” The more Randian of the two is definitely the second iteration, so we’re betting that would have been the version we saw in Justice League… or that we might still see in the upcoming project. 

New Genesis/Apokolips

Justice League was originally meant to be a story told over two parts, with Warner Bros. initially announcing release dates for both Justice League Part One and Justice League Part Two. That partially explains the movie’s ending, which hints at Earth becoming New Genesis. What is New Genesis, you ask? Well, this once again ties back to the “Knightmare” sequence in BvS. That world which we were meant to revisit in Justice League featured a huge omega symbol carved in the ground that comics fans instantly recognized as the symbol for Apokolips. Though this hinted at the arrival of Darkseid, it was never really explained; but it seems that Darkseid had terraformed our planet to make it more like his home world. 

So what does that have to do with the end of Justice League? In the lore of the Fourth World, New Genesis is a utopian planet that resides near the Orion constellation. It’s basically the dreamscape to Apokolips’ nightmare world. The end of Justice League hints that with Steppenwolf defeated Earth has begun to be terraformed into New Genesis. It was an interesting take that seems to hint that the “Knightmare” future where Earth becomes Apokolips has been changed. Whether or not we’ll see either of these planets or Earth become either of them in the new version of Justice League is unclear, but if Terrio and Snyder’s script is the basis for this then we’ll likely see the Knightmare Earth/Apokolips mashup come true at least for a while. 

What else do you want to see in Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max? Let us know in the comments!