It’s been nearly a year since it was officially announced, and we’re now only a month away from its arrival on HBO Max, but “The Snyder Cut” is very real. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is apparently complete, and after months of teases we finally have a full trailer, one comprised almost entirely of unseen footage.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here…
Now, in order to properly give this the analysis it deserves, we’re not going to go chronologically or shot by shot. Instead, we’ll break this up into themes, characters, and events, and try to piece together the significance of each in relation to what we think the story is.
With that in mind, let’s start with the the character who has been the most central to Zack Snyder’s conception of the DCEU…
Zack Snyder started the DCEU with Henry Cavill starring as Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel. That first film told a detailed Superman origin story, and was followed by 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which not only introduced Ben Affleck’s Batman, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, but it also killed off Superman at the hands of Doomsday. Superman’s resurrection was always intended to be a central piece of Justice League, and it’s front and center in the trailer for Zack Snyder’s Justice League…
Literally the first shot of the trailer goes right back to Superman’s death. Here we have Cavill’s Supes, still with that gruesome, gaping chest wound that was inflicted on him by Doomsday, and in the clutches of the monster.
Is this some kind of dream sequence tied to the flashback, either a vision Superman himself sees as he dies? Or perhaps more likely it’s how Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips are alerted to his death. The way his scream is represented by soundwaves here, and is juxtaposed with Eisenberg’s Luthor saying that “a bell has been rung” would seem to indicate the latter. We’ll almost see early in the film to bridge Batman v. Superman with Justice League, and remind audiences that despite all the other DCEU movies that have been released since BvS in 2016, we’re still picking up right where that last film left off.
Here we have Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry and Gal Gadot’s Diana watching some kind of holographic representation of Superman. This is almost certainly the ol’ “wow, wouldn’t it be great if this guy was around to help us whup some alien ass? It’s a shame you helped get him killed, Bruce!” kinda scene.
What’s really notable here, though is what a classic Superman pose this is. This is a really cool shot, and looks like a Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson drawing of the Man of Steel come to life.
Unlike that first shot, this is DEFINITELY from the resurrection of Superman scene. In the foreground there’s a photo of Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent sinking in the water/chemical bath just as Cavill’s Superman is being lowered into it in the background. Costner’s “you’re here for a reason” speech here faintly echoes the one Glenn Ford as Pa Kent gave young Clark in Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie, as well.
Amy Adams as Lois Lane seems to be coaxing a recently resurrected Clark to come with her, as they stand on the grounds of the Kent farm. With the distance between them, and Adams’ beseeching gesture, is it possible that at this point Clark is “alive” but not yet fully “aware” of who he is?
In the theatrical cut of Justice League, when the team first awakens Superman he’s disoriented and fights them. So the human connection, first with the woman he loves and then with the place he grew up might be what makes the difference and reminds him of his human soul, despite his Kryptonian upbringing.
Clark has put a shirt on here, so we can assume that this embrace with Lois and Diane Lane’s Martha (!!!!) is the following morning, after he has reacclimated to the land of the living, has his full mind and soul back under control, and is ready to deliver the feel-good ass kicking of the year to Steppenwolf, Darkseid, and a whole mess of Parademons.
And what better way to represent Superman’s “rebirth” than with an homage to the “first flight” scene from Man of Steel? I always liked the way they represent the onset of Superman’s powers of flight in that film, as it implies that he doesn’t just propel himself like a jet, but rather manipulates the very force of gravity itself around him.
And let’s face it, many folks have tried to bring the famed post Death of Superman/Reign of the Supermen black Superman suit to live action, but nobody has ever gotten it quite as right as what we see here. This looks really sharp.
There’s long been speculation that when Superman returns in Zack Snyder’s Justice League that he’s evil, or that his mind has been manipulated by Darkseid to make him a slave and another soldier of Apokolips. There’s plenty of precedent for that in both the comics and animation, and whenever you see “angry Superman doing heat vision eyes” in a Zack Snyder movie, it’s easy to assume that’s where we’re going. Especially considering the “knightmare” vision Batman had in Batman v. Superman, which is also present in this trailer (more on that in a minute).
I’m not entirely sure that’s not where we’re going, but at the moment, I don’t think that’s what happens. I just think that Superman wears the black and silver suit, likely as a way to augment himself while still relatively weak from resurrection, to deliver the aforementioned feel-good asskicking of the year to Steppenwolf and friends. Maybe. Don’t hold me to that.
Anyway, speaking of Steppenwolf and friends…
The biggest alterations to Zack Snyder’s Justice League come in the form of the main villain, Steppenwolf, and the addition of other villains (including Darkseid, Desaad, and Granny Goodness). Let’s start with Steppenwolf…
Get a look at Steppenwolf unmasked. He’s certainly um…distinctive.
They didn’t skimp on his armor, nor his axe. In fact, based on a very quick cut that sees him knock an Amazon warrior off her horse with his axe and drawing a considerable amount of blood splatter, I don’t think they’re going to skimp on the amount of damage Steppenwolf’s vibro-axe can do.
This is an interesting new shot, though. Steppenwolf kneels before what might be a boom tube opening, or is perhaps communicating with Apokolips via whatever that coffin-shaped device is.
Is he reporting his progress to Darkseid? Is Darkseid displeased with him? Does this sequence take place in the past or the present?
In fact, let’s talk about these new villains for a bit…
Darkseid, Desaad, and Granny Goodness
In addition to the redesigned Steppenwolf, we’re going to see some more baddies from Apokolips show their demonic faces in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
This is a very cool shot, and it appears to depict the evil homeworld of Apokolips, and specifically the throne room of Darkseid himself. Apokolips is ruled with an iron fist by Darkseid, in stark contrast to its twin planet, New Genesis, which is populated by the heroic New Gods. All of these characters and concepts were created by Jack Kirby during his time at DC Comics in the early 1970s, and they’ve remained a cornerstone of the DC Universe ever since.
And here we have our best look at the unholy trinity in the background of Steppenwolf’s assault on Earth. From left to right we have Desaad (who is Darkseid’s advisor and torturer-in-chief), Darkseid himself, and Granny Goodness (who trains the armies of Apokolips).
You can see Darkseid wearing the omega symbol, which is also visible on the banners in the throne room. Darkseid’s eyes are glowing with what is known as the “Omega Effect,” a powerful energy he discharges from his eyes.
It’s not clear if this image of shirtless Darkseid swinging a warhammer of some kind takes place in the present or the past, or on Earth or Apokolips. It’s likely the past, though, perhaps when he was still known as Uaxas.
And speaking of the past…
Just like we saw in the theatrical cut, we’ll learn in Zack Snyder’s Justice League that this isn’t the first time that Steppenwolf and the hordes of Apokolips have visited Earth. Here we have Diana in some kind of temple (is it in Greece? On Themyscira?) looking at an old depiction of a conflict…one that certainly appears to depict at the very least the combined armies of Themyscira and Atlantis taking on the alien invaders. The “circular” ships in the sky line up with how we see the Apokoliptian craft elsewhere in the trailer…
Not sure if the above shot is contemporary or from a flashback, but we’ll get to all that in a moment. There’s another reference to Darkseid having made his way to Earth in the distant past…
While my Ancient Greek is rusty/non-existent, this seems to say something to the effect of “darkness” and “Darkseid,” so…yeah.
Note the cool depiction of a Mother Box, too. Something something, “any sufficiently advanced technology,” etc etc. Also, Darkseid seems to holding a spear or an arrow in that painting which…
Whatever that arrow is, it’s ancient, and may end up being key to defeating the forces of Apokolips. Now, as for this mysterious temple…is there any chance that it’s also this from elsewhere in the trailer?
Or was this something more ancient that was at one point the headquarters of Steppenwolf and his invading force?
Now, on to the rest of the heroes…
It has long been indicated that Ray Fisher’s Cyborg didn’t seem to get enough to do in the theatrical cut of Justice League. Zack Snyder has stated, however, that Cyborg is “the heart” of his intended Justice League story, and it seems like we’ll be seeing more of him in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
Nothing too specific here other than how much more versatile he already appears, from the cannon on his shoulder, to what seems to be his comic book accurate sound cannon on his right arm, and more!
Perhaps more importantly, we’re going to spend a little time with Cyborg before he was Cyborg. Here’s Ray Fisher as Vic Stone, quarterback for the Gotham City University football team. We’ll likely see his origin on film, or at the very least get some more footage of Vic as a football star, but this shot in particular seems to be something a little different. Perhaps when Vic is navigating cyberspace, he still sees himself as he was when he was still whole…or maybe this is something else entirely.
As possibly indicated by…
If I had to guess (and this is only a guess), Vic is trying to interface with a Mother Box here, and it isn’t going well. Is this what sends him into that possible dream state from the image above?
Interestingly, the next shot seems to show the Flash appearing over his shoulder, is it to save him from whatever’s happening here? Or is Vic’s issue with the Mother Box bringing Flash back from somewhere else in spacetime?
And speaking of The Flash…
We never really learned a heckuva lot about Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen/Flash in the theatrical cut of Justice League, but that seems like it’s going to change with The Snyder Cut.
It’s been no secret that Kiersey Clemons’ Iris West, who was left out of the theatrical cut of the movie will finally make her debut here. This shot in particular of the rescue scene that has been teased several times is new to us, though.
The fact that it also involves food and condiments as Barry’s perception of events slows time down seems to pay homage to Flash’s first appearance in Showcase #4, in which one of Barry’s first super speed acts was to catch a spilled tray of food in a diner in mid-air before the waitress knew what had happened.
Even though we saw Billy Crudup show up as Henry Allen in the theatrical cut, his appearance in the trailer here would seem to indicate that maybe Barry’s overall arc will feel a little more important in this version then it did there.
The whole “hands on the glass” thing was done quite a bit between the TV versions of these characters, played by Grant Gustin and the great John Wesley Shipp. But there’s one other similarity to the TV show worth pointing out…Henry is rocking the Jay Garrick look with the grey hair at the temples going on. With certain developments on The Flash TV series, this could also be an indicator of how things will be handled in the DCEU. And seriously, wouldn’t Crudup look badass as Jay Garrick? I wrote lots more about Jay Garrick, one of my favorite characters, right here.
Wonder Woman and the Amazons
Remember that while both Wonder Woman movies take place before the events of Justice League, Zack Snyder always intended his vision of the character to be pretty consistent between Batman v Superman (where she emerges “in public” to the world) and Justice League (which furthers that theme). This shot of kids in danger and not necessarily relieved to see an immensely powerful being who may or may not be coming to their rescue
We’re definitely going to get that massive flashback sequence (to the first “Age of Heroes”) where the mythical armies of Earth take on the first invasion from Apokolips in ancient times, and the Amazons are once again front and center.
This is just an extremely badass shot. I genuinely hope this flashback, which was pretty brief in the theatrical cut, is extended for a while here. The Amazons have backup of course…
Aquaman and Atlantis
As with Wonder Woman, it’s important to remember that Snyder was the one who cast Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and there’s likely elements of his Atlantean backstory that didn’t make it into the theatrical cut of the film.
I’m just hoping that as with the Amazons, we get more of the armies of Atlantis kicking ass in ancient times. This former king of Atlantis (or Poseidon himself?) wearing Aquaman’s armor is a pretty cool shot.
I saved the Batman section of this for last because, well, on the surface ol’ Bats seems to get the least to do in this trailer. Or does he?
I’m only including this shot because it’s a reminder that Ben Affleck might very well be the best live action Bruce Wayne ever. Dude looks like if the Batman: The Animated Series version of Bruce stepped into the real world.
Anyway, here he is feeling guilty about the events of Batman v Superman. As he should.
A new Batmobile?
This doesn’t appear to be the “Knightcrawler” vehicle that Batman drove during the battle under Gotham Harbor in the theatrical cut so…what is it? From this angle, it does kind of remind me of the “bat-tank” version of the Batmobile that was made famous in Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley’s The Dark Knight Returns, which was a profound influence on Batman v Superman and the conceptualization of the DCEU Batman as a whole.
Is it possible that this shot, in which we see Parademons about to lift and flip the current Batmobile, is an indicator that it’s destroyed and Batman upgrades to something a little more heavy duty?
It seems plausible, especially since the reasoning for Batman driving a tank in The Dark Knight Returns came down to the fact that he had “modified her during some nasty riots.”
Detective Comics #27
And here we have the old reliable homage to the cover of Batman’s very first appearance in 1939’s Detective Comics #27…
Parademons might be a little tougher than those gangsters, though.
The “knightmare” dream sequence in Batman v Superman was one of the more controversial elements of the film, and it was used to justify Batman’s mistrust of Superman. In it, we saw a world ruined by the armies of Apokolips. It seems we’ll be revisiting that vision here, albeit this time with a twist…
Jared Leto’s Joker Returns
“We live in a society…” (seriously, dudes?)
OK, but for real, Zack Snyder revealed a bit about the return of Jared Leto’s Joker in a recent interview. In particular, if you’re wondering why Joker is dressed in police gear with a bulletproof vest, the director says he collects this stuff, as well as badges (presumably from officers he has killed). “He has tons of badges,” Snyder told Vanity Fair. “Those are his trophies.”
So the long-awaited meeting between Leto’s Joker and Affleck’s Batman isn’t part of the “main” story of the film, and instead takes place in a kind of dream sequence, like an addendum to the “knightmare” scene from BvS. We’re likely to learn a little bit more about their history in the course of whatever talk they’re going to have here, too.
And there you have it, folks…all the sense we could make out of this massive trailer for Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Spot anything else? Let us know in the comments!
Zack Snyder’s Justice League hits HBO Max on March 18.