WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Wonder Woman.
It was more and less complicated than fans might have expected, but the mystery of Zack Snyder’s Wonder Woman cameo can be put to rest. We’ve found what is almost certainly the Batman V Superman and Justice League director craftily hidden in the World War I setting of Diana’s box office-smashing origin film… just not where fans will likely be looking for it. As it turns out, fans wanting to see Zack Snyder’s Wonder Woman cameo already got an eyeful back during Dawn of Justice. Just one more way Wonder Woman makes BvS a better movie.
That means Snyder holds two cameos in Batman V Superman, considering it was also the director’s hands standing in for Bruce Wayne’s in a close-up shot. Fear not, DCEU fans: the cameo in Wonder Woman and Batman V Superman is far more clever, cementing Patty Jenkins’s hero and origin film in the history of superhero cinema – and guaranteeing Zack Snyder is standing alongside her (having introduced her to the world). Let’s break down the details, the evidence, and the final ruling.
The Batman V Superman Photo
It was our first introduction to the world of Wonder Woman long before her origin story would hit the big screen. Marking a new approach to building out a shared universe, Bruce Wayne uncovered evidence of Diana’s immortality in the form of a century-old photograph, depicting her in her Wonder Woman film with castmates alongside. It was the first official look at the period film, and through BvS and Wonder Woman that followed, this photograph itself became a key plot element linking two films separated by a hundred years.
In truth, it was just one piece of the secret Wonder Woman story told in BvS, as Diana’s small role strung throughout the larger Batman/Superman conflict revealed more than audiences may have first realized. That theory was proven true with her own film, as those who turn to repeat viewings or DCEU marathons will soon learn exactly how Wonder Woman makes Batman V Superman better. But the story of how this photograph was taken from a film only starting production, and embedded into another DCEU project is just as interesting – and where Zack Snyder’s real cameo lies.
Fans know that Zack Snyder was on the set, in full World War I costume for the photo session thanks to an early glimpse of a photo showing just that (a photo shared by Zack Snyder himself). And while that may have led many to instruct fans to seek out his face or voice in the scenes in question, they’re unlikely to turn up anything concrete. Wonder Woman is filled with DC easter eggs, but Snyder’s presence in a trench, or even the action scene that precedes the victorious photo isn’t all that likely.
Why? Because as is confirmed in the recently released Wonder Woman: The Art and Making of The Film, the photograph scene (embedded above) was actually the first day of production on Wonder Woman, taken on an incomplete set. Producer Deborah Snyder explains:
“…it was an exciting first day of shooting since it was a passing of the torch. The photo links Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice to Wonder Woman, so both Zack and Patty were present that day, working collaboratively. It was an exciting shared moment as we watched the DC world expanding and it was wonderful to be able to capture that moment in such a unique way. Photographer Stephen Berkman must have shot twenty glass plates before he, Zack and Patty all felt they had the winning photo, as shooting a daguerrotype is art wrapped in a science experiment.”
The photo was shot first to make the overlap feasible for post-production, and word that Snyder was on the set for it had spread online from the first rumors of its existence. But there’s one detail that closes the window on just where and how Snyder could appear in the finished picture. Here’s Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins’s recollection of the beginning of production:
“…it really was the first moment of, ‘Look at this, look at these people and look at this world and this set.’ And here it was, we were shooting that photograph. Then we came back and shot that scene again and that was even more interesting. Because now it was Day 70 of the shoot and I was like, ‘Oh my God, here we are! And now I understand it all so much differently, yet it’s still the same.’ So that was fascinating.”
So if Snyder’s cameo was limited to the day that the photograph was actually taken – and his presence in the above screencap of B-roll footage from behind the scenes is obvious – searching for his presence in the scenes around it are going to prove fruitless. The only answer is that his presence was captured on that day. More specifically, in that photograph. And wouldn’t you know it…
Cameo Case Closed
That’s right, Zack Snyder has been hiding in the background of that iconic image this entire time. At least, that’s what all the evidence confirms – and as the only other human figure identifiable in the image, it’s as clever a cameo as they come. In the Wonder Woman photo shared by Snyder himself, he can be seen in full uniform holding what looks to be a Maxim machine gun. In the B-roll footage, that’s clearly Snyder in the same uniform, having placed the machine gun on the ground beside him while the photo of our heroes is being taken.
Pay close attention to his placement at the rear of a nearby British tank, his posture, and the lighter material of what looks to be the straps of his haversack or webbing, and it’s hard to miss him in the final photograph. Standing as proudly as the heroes, reduced into the distance, almost entirely out of focus. The film shows a few moments of footage leading up to the actual photograph being taken in which that same group of soldiers milling about the tank can be glimpsed, but this seems the more fitting easter egg.
So there you have it: a cameo filmed for Wonder Woman… for Batman V Superman… still used across both films. Zack Snyder may win the gold medal for superhero director cameos, with a form and subtlety that will prove hard to top.