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What To Know About The Justice League Snyder Cut Before It Comes Out

It's finally happening — HBO Max is going to release the Snyder Cut. The four-hour-long Zack Snyder's Justice League is a legend borne of tragedy. In the midst of working on Justice League, Snyder suffered a family loss, and stepped away as production was nearing its end. Warner Bros. then brought Joss Whedon across comic book lines to finish the film, since he'd already proven his superhero team-up chops with the Marvel Cinematic Universe's marvelously successful The Avengers. However, Whedon didn't simply finish what Snyder had started — he rewrote and reshot the vast majority of the movie and, to quote The Boys, Warner Bros. decided that "the new Joss rewrite really sings."

Well, fans didn't feel the same. Justice League was released in November 2017, and was promptly declared a huge disappointment. It awkwardly mixed Whedon's patented snappy dialogue with Snyder's austere vibe, while also struggling to introduce the newest team members. So it wasn't long until fans, and stars like Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Ben Affleck (Batman) took to Twitter demanding that Warner #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.

Now, it's finally time. Zack Snyder's Justice League arrives March 18 on HBO Max. Here's everything you need to know.

The Snyder Cut is made mostly from the original footage

At first, the so-called Snyder Cut existed simply as unfinished footage with no special effects, but that didn't stop fans from flying a plane over 2019's San Diego Comic Con with the message, "WB #ReleasetheSnyderCut of Justice League," or collecting over 100,000 signatures on a Change.org petition. Snyder joined in, continuously teasing his version of the film on social media. Two years after Justice League premiered, Warner Bros. decided to take a chance on it and asked Snyder and his wife Deborah — who's worked as a producer on nearly every DCEU movie — if they would come back to the project (via The Hollywood Reporter).

With a reported $70 million budget, the Snyders set to work to turn what had been abandoned three years previously into a polished movie. The four-hour-long preliminary cut already existed in January of 2017, but much of the original footage never made it into the theatrical cut. "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," Snyder, who's never seen the theatrical release, said to THR. "You probably saw one-fourth of what I did."

In fact, Snyder's intended Justice League story was supposed to be told across three movies, but considering the theatrical cut's box office failure and a packed slate of DC projects on the horizon, it seems unlikely that Warner Bros. will move forward with the sequels regardless of the new version's streaming success. Still, its existence represents a huge triumph for fans of Snyder's vision.

Ray Fisher's Cyborg will have a larger role

While the theatrical cut of Justice League saw the introduction of Victor Stone a.k.a Cyborg (Ray Fisher) into the DCEU, much of his story was actually cut out of the film. According to Fisher — who's said that Whedon's Justice League set was an abusive work environment — nearly every Cyborg scene in Justice League was a reshoot (via IGN), and the Snyder Cut will feature large amounts of previously unseen footage of him. It's expected to include his origin story, complete with scenes of Cyborg learning to use his new abilities.

"Cyborg is the heart of the movie," Snyder said at DC's virtual FanDome event in 2020 (via IGN). "Cyborg is the thing in the end that holds the team together in a lot of ways." Aside from Cyborg, the Flash and Aquaman will get more fleshed-out stories as well. The Snyders told THR, "What's so lovely about this is that we get to explore these characters in ways that you're not able to in a shorter theatrical version."

Even the leading trio of Batman, Superman (Henry Cavill), and Wonder Woman will see some changes. Snyder has teased that Superman will be wearing a black suit, in contrast to his usual red and blue, while character inconsistencies with previous films — like the murderous Wonder Woman — will be fixed. Plus, several of the actors recorded extra dialogue and even shot new scenes for the director's cut, so it's sure to have a lot of material that fans have never seen before.

The Snyder Cut will feature several new characters

By this point, a few trailers for Zack Snyder's Justice League have already set fans abuzz with the excitement that the famed DC villain Darkseid will finally make his appearance. Played by Ray Porter, he's the supreme leader of the planet Apokolips, and the true Big Bad behind Justice League's villain Steppenwolf. He never appeared in Whedon's version of the film, though, and still has an uncertain role in the Snyder Cut. At IGN Fan Fest, Snyder said he's "the sequel bad guy" but assured fans that he's definitely in it.

It's unclear just what Steppenwolf and Darkseid's plot will be in the director's cut, but Snyder teased that their "very complicated" relationship will be part of it. "I'm not going to give it away but the dynamic between the two of them, some things happened in the past," he said. "There's a bunch of issues between them and so, yeah, I think that all plays out. Yes, the answer is there's quite a complex relationship there."

Darkseid isn't the only newcomer to the new cut. Several other characters, including the Flash's love interest Iris West (Kiersey Clemons), Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix), and The Atom, will all make appearances. On top of that, Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke will play a bigger role, even teaming up with Batman. Previously, he was only seen in the post-credits scene, being recruited to the Legion of Doom by Lex Luthor, but Manganiello has reportedly shot new footage for the Snyder Cut.

Jared Leto's Joker will make an appearance

While Zack Snyder's Justice League began as a realization of Snyder's original vision for the film, at least one element will be completely new: Jared Leto's Joker. First introduced in Suicide Squad with the word "damaged" prettily scrawled across his forehead, the Joker was never in the original plan for Justice League — which at the very least saved the cast from Leto's reported in-character gifts. But Snyder had long wanted to explore Joker and Batman's fraught relationship in the DCEU, he told Vanity Fair, so he decided to bring him into the fold for the director's cut.

This isn't The Dark Knight, though, so the Joker isn't going to be the main event. In fact, Snyder has already revealed what the Joker's doing in Justice League. Spoiler alert: He appears as a harbinger of chaos in Bruce Wayne's "Knightmare" vision of a world where Darkseid successfully invades Earth. It's a warning for Bruce about the pressing threat, but it's also an opportunity to dive into their history.

"The cool thing about the scene is that it's Joker talking directly to Batman about Batman," Snyder said. "It's Joker analyzing Batman about who he is and what he is. That's the thing I also felt like fans deserved from the DC Universe. That is to say, the Jared Leto Joker and the Ben Affleck Batman, they never really got together. It seemed uncool to me that we would make it all the way through this incarnation of Batman and Joker without seeing them come together." 

Zack Snyder's Justice League is not DCEU canon

Despite all the buzz over Zack Snyder's Justice League, it ultimately will not be part of the DCEU's canon going forward. Think of it like a different timeline of events. Snyder said at IGN Fan Fest, "I think you can view my Snyderverse version of the DC superhero canon as its own thing. I love Patty [Jenkins] and James [Wan] and what they've done with their movies and are amazing, but at this point I was just like, this is its own thing and it doesn't really owe anything to anything, so I'm just going to do it exactly as I had always intended." He also offered advance warning that the film ends on a cliffhanger because of his original three-movie plan. Unfortunately, fans may never see whether the heroes fall off that proverbial cliff or pull themselves back up.

But even if there are no further sequels, fans can at least take solace in the news that there will be two different versions of the Snyder Cut: The standard one hitting HBO Max on March 18, and a black-and-white version nicknamed "Justice is Gray" that will arrive on the streaming platform at a later date. Overall, the film will have many visual differences from the theatrical release, from Steppenwolf's new design, to the aspect ratio, to the color of the sky. On top of that, the music will be different.

Until the new version debuts, it's hard to say just how much more fans will appreciate Zack Snyder's Justice League than they did Joss Whedon's 2017 cut, but we can certainly expect it to be different. For an extra special viewing experience, you can even watch it with Zack Snyder himself in a virtual screening.