Comics on Film: Is There a 'Justice League' Snyder Cut?

Comics on Film: Is There a 'Justice League' Snyder Cut?

Jan 19, 2018

Ever since Justice League first hit theaters back in mid-November 2017, certain DC movie fans — particularly those who have a very, very strong allegiance to Zack Snyder — have tried to petition Warner Bros. Pictures to release a version of the DC Comics-based team-up film that more closely resembles the original vision that its first director had for it.
This has manifested in the form of a plethora of online petitions and even organized meet-ups at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California in an attempt, organized and not-so-organized, to try and compel WB to release what's been colloquially referred to as the "Snyder Cut" of the latest DC Extended Universe film.
So, this brings up an interesting set of questions: first, is there any promise that a version of Snyder's original vision for the film would necessarily make it better? On top of that, and perhaps most importantly, does this cut even exist?
Let's examine both of these questions.
Would the "Original Vision" of Justice League Actually Make For a Better Movie Than the Theatrical Cut?
The thing that continues to be pretty fascinating in examining this question is that there are people who believe, unquestioningly, that Snyder's influence would absolutely result in a demonstrably better final product than what we got from Justice League at the hands of Joss Whedon in theaters.
From our perspective, and at the very least from the perspective of public perception, there is absolutely no guarantee that this would be the case.
It seems prudent to point out that Justice League has a higher critic score on Rotten Tomatoes than both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, and perhaps more pivotally, its audience rating is higher than every other DC Extended Universe film except for Wonder WomanJustice League also has a higher CinemaScore than many previous Snyder films, including Batman v SupermanSucker PunchWatchmen, and Dawn of the Dead. (According to this metric, audiences enjoyed Man of Steel, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, and 300 more than Justice League.)
From a financial perspective, yes, Snyder's DC films have all performed at a higher level than Justice League, but if you want to focus the conversation on the critical reception from both paid reviewers and general audiences, then Justice League – by most measures – is actually liked better than many of Snyder's other sole directorial efforts. So, it doesn't seem like it would necessarily be a slam dunk to guarantee that a 100% Snyder-directed Justice League would result in an absolutely better movie than the final theatrical cut of the team-up film we saw this past November.
Of course, is this question even feasible?
Does a "Snyder Cut" of Justice League Even Exist?
Again, no. It can't, and it doesn't, at least not in any form that would be anything near presentable to the public at this point in time. When Snyder felt compelled to leave the production, he did so too early in the overall filmmaking process to have much of an effect on the final cut. While Snyder's footage all certainly exists, the tragedy that required him to leave Justice League did so too early on for him to have spent any significant amount of time in the editing bay putting the finishing touches on any of his footage. On top of this, the conspiracy theorists who contend that original composer Junkie XL has a full, finished alternate Justice League score ready to replace the work of Danny Elfman just simply don't have a leg to stand on.
Of course, superhero movies are no strangers to the idea of alternate versions potentially being initially assembled after-the-fact. Will a "Snyder Cut" ever exist? Maybe, but — from the perspective of actually putting all of the pieces together — it would actually have to be created, for all intents and purposes, from scratch. Such an occurrence has happened in this genre before, and even to one of Justice League's most prominent characters, to boot.
In a previous edition of this column, we discussed some of the most consequential "alternate cuts" in superhero cinema. While we included the "Ultimate" cuts of both Watchmen and Batman v Superman on this list, the scenario that seems most applicable to the possibility of a future cut aligning to the vision of the original director actually revolves around 1980's Superman II.
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut — Forerunner to a "Snyder Cut?"
When original director Richard Donner was fired by that film's producers, they brought in a new director to both finish the film, and to shoot more footage in order to qualify as the finished product's sole author under the rules of the Director's Guild. This effectively erased Donner's name from the entire production, but 26 years later, he got the opportunity to actually restore as much of his original vision as could be salvaged through the efforts of a then-unprecedented letter write-in campaign.
The result was 2006's Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, which restored the originally photographed performance of Marlon Brando, reprising his role as Jor-El from the first film, and also restoring a far more serious tone to the entire proceeding that audiences simply didn't get to see in theaters back in 1980. Still, the creation of The Richard Donner Cut was a studio-sanctioned effort that required a lot of additional work, up to and including the photography of some new material and the creation of new special effects, in order to restore at least part of Donner's original conception of the Superman sequel.
This is likely the kind of future effort it would take in order to bring Snyder's original vision for Justice League to life, and since it's happened before, it may not be the best bet to assume that something like this could never happen again. Such an occurrence, though, would have to appeal to far more than simply the Snyder-faithful: it would have to be an effort that would prove to WB that it would be beneficial and profitable to go through the effort of actually bringing Snyder back to complete the film that he intended to make on day 1 of Justice League's pre-production.
It's certainly not an impossible task, but it most definitely is a herculean one. If film fans have strong enough organization and collective will to see it made, then you never know what the future might bring.
Justice League will be released on digital HD on February 13, and on standard and 4K Blu-ray on March 13.

Chris Clow is a comic book expert and former retailer, and a writer with work having appeared in the Huffington Post, Fandango and others. He also hosts the podcasts Discovery Debrief: A Star Trek Podcast and Comics on Consoles. You can find his weekly Comics on Film column every week here at, and you can follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

Categories: Comics, Features, Geek, Editorials
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