Nearly two years after the theatrical release of Justice League, there's no longer any reason left for Warner Bros. to not release the film's much-discussed "Snyder Cut". Following the tragic loss of his daughter during the film's post-production, Zack Snyder stepped down from directing duties on Justice League, with the studio bringing in Joss Whedon to oversee reshoots. Although Warner Bros. assured fans that these were typical pick-ups in the lead up the film's release, it would become clear that this was far from the case, and that the version of Justice League released into theaters was a massive shift from Snyder's intended vision for the film.
Since then, DC fans have engaged in one grassroots initiative after another in a bid to convince Warner Bros. to release the Snyder Cut of Justice League. Zack Snyder himself has teased his cut extensively on social media, revealing just how stark the differences are between the two versions of the film. More recently, the campaign has gained further prominence and media attention by the growing number of Justice League cast and crew members voicing their support for the release of Snyder's original cut of the film, with Jason Momoa giving it an especially prominent endorsement during the Aquaman press tour.
With the ongoing efforts by fans of Snyder's DC films to see the Snyder Cut, it's clear at this point that it will remain an omnipresent topic among DC films until it is actually released. Ultimately, the power to authorize the cut's release rests entirely with Warner Bros. However, when one examines the situation overall, it becomes clear that whatever reasons Warner Bros. may have had until now for not releasing the Snyder Cut, there's no rational basis left to continue sitting on it.
It Exists (In Some Form)
The very existence of the Snyder Cut itself has arguably been the biggest point of contention for as long as the campaign for its release has gone on. The official word for a long time was when Snyder stepped down from the film, his cut of Justice League was, at best, a rough assembly of the scenes he had shot for the film, with little to none of the necessary visual effects or ADR work completed or even near-completion. That perception would gradually change, with Snyder releasing a steady stream of never-before-seen images from his cut of the film on social media.
These teases offered considerable anecdotal evidence on Snyder’s part of the existence of another version of Justice League. At the same time, storyboard artist Jay Oliva would confirm the cut's existence on several occasions. After over a year of Snyder's social media teases and fan campaigns, the topic of an alternate cut of Justice League ultimately came to a head during a director's cut event held by Snyder in March, where the director himself publicly confirmed the existence of his cut of Justice League for the first time. In the ensuing months, the existence of the Snyder Cut would also receive further confirmation from filmmaker Kevin Smith, and Jason Momoa recently confirmed he has been shown the Snyder Cut as well. While estimates have varied on the overall completeness of Snyder’s cut of the film (some estimates ranging as high as $40 million), the consensus it that it's far more than a rough assembly of raw footage, and there's always been evidence to believe it was significantly complete.
Snyder has given little specificity on the exact state of the cut, other than specifying that a particular shot of Steppenwolf's defeat was "never completed" beyond the pre-viz image he shared, but considering he also described it as "done" during his Director's Cut event and he can give an exact runtime of 214 minutes, and has been showing it to people he's close with, like Jason Momoa, it's clear a release is far within the bounds of reality, whether it'll be released in a mostly complete state or receive proper funding for 100% completion is the only question.
Demand Isn't Going Away
Aside from the existence of the Zack Snyder's cut of Justice League now being beyond dispute, what is equally clear is that the push for its release is highly unlikely to subside. The fan-organized campaign for the cut's release began almost immediately after the film’s theatrical debut, with a Change.org petition netting nearly 180k signatures during the film's opening weekend. Since then, DC fans have continued an ongoing effort to persuade the studio to release the cut in a variety of ways, including flying an airborne banner over the studio lot. In addition to numerous other fan-driven initiatives, both big and small, these efforts by DC fans culminated in an endeavor to spread awareness of the Snyder Cut at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con. On top of that, fans have rallied behind the cause of suicide prevention, with their collective efforts having raised thousands of dollars for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in honor of Snyder's daughter. All of this clearly shows that the demand for the Snyder Cut is not only there, but that it’s not going away.
What’s more, the cast and crew of Justice League have also started to get in on the action, as well. The film’s director of photography, Fabian Wagner, along with storyboard artist Jay Oliva have both vocally supported the Snyder Cut’s release. Additionally, Ray Fisher, possibly the most impacted of any of the principal cast by the film's reshoots, has also supported the cut's release. Jason Momoa has arguably provided the most visible rallying cry of anyone directly connected to the film, publicly calling for its release, and later confirming to have seen it on social media. Other prominent media figures have also begun publicly advocating for the release of Snyder’s version of the film, including Kevin Smith, as already mentioned, along with Deadpool co-creator Rob Liefeld. Additionally, the Snyder Cut has also received further support in the comics community such as Death of Superman co-writer Jerry Ordway. With the sheer momentum of the fan campaign, along with the growing number of Justice League cast and crew members and other public figures voicing their support, it's clear at this point that the Snyder Cut is a Pandora’s Box that is simply never going to be closed.
DC Isn't Maintaining Strict DCEU Canon Anymore
Another factor that's been seen as blocking the release of the Snyder Cut has been the question of canonicity. With a significantly altered version of Justice League having already been released in theaters, Warner Bros. could well be reluctant to release the Snyder Cut on the basis of contradicting the already established version within the DCEU canon. To be sure, Snyder's social media teases and other information that's been publicly revealed have made clear that his cut of Justice League is different enough from the theatrical version to essentially be a completely different movie. However, a number of factors demonstrate that this would not be true barrier to the release of Snyder's version of the film, not the least of which being Jason Momoa's revelation that Aquaman was given a direct set-up by Snyder's cut during the press tour for the film, essentially indicating that Aquaman flowed more naturally from Snyder's version of Justice League.
However, even if Warner Bros. sees it as too big of a departure from canon, they've already displayed a clear intent to make future DC films less connected. The upcoming Joker film has been positioned as an Elseworlds one-off, with the potential of leading to more such movies in the future under a "DC Black" label. Additionally, it's unknown just how much, or how little, connection Matt Reeves' The Batman will have to the DCEU, with the same being true for Ava Duvernay's New Gods. Of course, other DC films such as next year's Birds of Prey are clearly set within the larger franchise, and with Aquaman being DC's biggest hit ever, that's sure to also be the case for the forthcoming Aquaman 2. However, what this ultimately makes clear is that, with or without the Snyder Cut being released, Warner Bros. is already venturing into making DC movies set outside of the established continuity of the DCEU. That essentially makes the idea of the DCEU's canon being a blockade to the release of a different version of Justice League a moot point.
HBO Max Is The Perfect (Easy) Way To Release The Snyder Cut
Of course, should Warner Bros. choose to approve the release of the Snyder Cut, that obviously opens the question of the platform through which it would be released to the public. In this case, however, Warner Bros. already has a built-in mechanism with which to release it in the form of the upcoming HBO Max streaming service, which is set to launch next year. The platform will serve as a streaming outlet for all Warner Bros. owned content and affords the studio several advantages in how they could put Zack Snyder's version of Justice League out to the world.
The first benefit is that it would be a comparatively easy method by which to release the Snyder Cut, essentially concentrating the film in a single location for viewers to flock to. This also has the added benefit of incentivizing a greater number of subscribers, with a never-before-seen version of Justice League sure to draw attention from casual viewers along with fans already campaigning for the Snyder Cut's release, and enticing an entire new wave of potential subscribers for HBO Max. Additionally, an HBO Max release could serve as a perfect testing ground for Warner Bros. to set up a subsequent home media release, which would give the studio a second source of revenue to draw from Zack Snyder's version of Justice League.
HBO Max being a digital platform also means quick and easy distribution at a minimal cost. Even if Warner Bros. simply wants to unceremoniously "dump" the cut to wash their hands of the whole situation, HBO Max is the perfect solution there as well.
The decision to release the Snyder Cut is one that Warner Bros. alone has the power to make. However, everything that has happened in the time since the theatrical release of Justice League clearly demonstrates that releasing his cut of the film is the wisest course of action for the studio to take. Fans have campaigned for it relentlessly, and over time even the cast and crew have also begun to join. Furthermore, Warner Bros. has an ideal platform to release it in the form of HBO Max, while the idea of contradicting an established canon has no real weight, given the studio's own approach to both past and upcoming DC films. Two years out from the film's theatrical release, it's clear that the topic of the Snyder Cut of Justice League can only be put to rest by Warner Bros. releasing it, and at this point, there's really no reason left not to.
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- Aquaman 2 (2022) release date: Dec 16, 2022