Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League By Zack Snyder
It’s pretty common for a notable director to have a director’s cut.
But the circumstances surrounding Zack Snyder’s re-approach to his 2017 opus Justice League are quite an anomaly from both a filmmaker and studio perspective.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League isn’t exactly a case of restoring footage that was on the cutting room floor or polishing up the edit, rather for the filmmaker it was a journey of redemption, passion and finally correcting cinema history and his legacy with the version of the movie which was intended — even if Warner Bros. doesn’t recognize the recut as part of its DC canon (read on).
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Zack Snyder’s Justice League on a whole other level serves as a purging for the cast involved: In the months leading up to the recut’s release, the pic’s actor Ray Fisher, who plays Cyborg, strongly voiced his opposition to Justice League‘s replacement director Joss Whedon, alleging him of gross and abusive behavior on-set years ago. This fired off a recent investigation by WarnerMedia into what went sideways during Whedon’s involvement. Snyder departed Justice League four years ago in the wake of his daughter Autumn’s tragic death by suicide, in addition to Warner Bros’ tapping Whedon to bring a lighter tone to what was already a dark feature DC superhero ensemble; planned to be the comic book franchise’s version of Marvel’s Avengers (which Whedon directed as well as its 2015 sequel). It has been presumed that Whedon whittled down Fisher’s Cyborg character to a great extent in the first theatrical release of the film.
At the same time, what sets Zack Snyder’s Justice League apart, is that it’s not every day that we hear about a major studio investing a substantial amount of money again (gulp, $70M), in a feature which wasn’t a commercial hit the first time around. Not to mention, it’s not evident that this recut will see a theatrical release, however, Snyder below talks about an Imax cut. Justice League was ten years in development prior to its November 2017 release, delayed at a certain moment by the 2007-08 WGA strike. In the wake of Christopher Nolan stepping away from the Batman and DC films as director, Snyder, who made his mark with 300 and Watchmen, took the reins starting with 2013’s Man of Steel and continuing onto 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Justice League grossed $657.9M worldwide (compared to Disney/Marvel’s first Avengers’ $1.5 billion) off what was an estimated $300M production cost, and according to Deadline film finance sources, lost $60M at the time. That price tag on Justice League is now at $370M as Warner Bros heeded the social media call of the pic’s fans and cast to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, seeing a worthy reinvestment and making it a hopeful jewel to its frosh streaming service HBO Max. Snyder got to do three days of reshoots in October during Covid as well as additional VFX work on his new version with the running time of the feature jumping from the original release’s 120 minutes to 242 minutes, literally double the movie.
ZACK SNYDER: It’s a good question. I mean, literally, I think it has a lot to do with what the ask is. The ask is to unite these characters characters or six characters into a team. If you want them all to be fully realized, you’re asking for a lot of movie, and it just, it wasn’t my intention to create a four-hour movie. It was just the way…that’s just what happened when the question was asked: What does a full Justice League banquet look like, and it looks like the whole thing, the trimmings, the appetizer, the three courses, the dessert, the after-dinner drinks, the whole thing.