Believe it or not, somehow the campaign to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut for Justice League actually worked. HBO Max has announced that the original unfiltered version of the film - originally directed by Zack Snyder - will be released exclusively on the platform.
Snyder left the film part way through the post-production process of the 2017 feature film due to his daughter Autumn's suicide, and Joss Whedon took over his position. During that time, Whedon and Warner Bros made significant edits and rewrites to the film, changing a lot about what Snyder had originally envisioned.
We’ve pulled together everything you need to know about this new version of Justice League, including the release date, the format, the plot and more. If you’re interested in other DC shows on HBO Max, then check out our similar article on the new live-action series Justice League Dark.
Justice League Snyder Cut release date
The cut will be coming to HBO Max in 2021. However, no month has yet been estimated - when this changes we’ll update this piece. You can check out what other big shows are coming to HBO Max here.
There’s lots of work that’ll need to be done in the meantime - finishing off original effects, adding in a new score and maybe even calling back some of the actors to record new dialogue to complete the finished product.
If you’ve not yet got a HBO Max account, you can sign up on the website. The streaming service costs $15 per month and at the moment is only available in the US. However, there is a way to watch HBO in the UK, and some users can also get HBO Max for free.
Feature film, or a mini series?
Put it this way - there’s a LOT of footage in this original version. The Hollywood Reporter states that in January 2017 (when Snyder was still working on the film) the film was four hours long. Warner Bros wanted the cut to version to half of that, which obviously meant omitting a lot of story details.
We may get the full four hour director’s cut - something that would work for a streaming platform rather than a cinema release as people can pause for breaks (no need for bladders of steel here).
Alternatively, there’s also been rumours of the footage being split into six ‘chapters’. Personally we think the latter sounds like a more likely option, as HBO Max can build hype for each episode and really maximise their marketing on this.
Plot differences from the 2017 movie
First of all, there will be a big tonal shift. The original was said to be a lot darker than the final cut we actually got to see. This was mainly down to the decision to make the film much lighter in re-shoots after the negative reactions of Batman Vs Superman, which was criticised for being too serious and heavy.
Secondly, Snyder originally had plans to make a Justice League trilogy. The three films would eventually build to the Knightmare scenario, which was a long-standing conflict between Superman's Regime and Batman's Insurgency, leading to an apocalyptic version of the world.
One of the main antagonists in this trilogy would have been Darkseid, an arch-nemesis of both Superman and the Justice League. Darkseid would eventually be able to control Superman and turn him into the evil version Bruce Wayne saw in the Knightmare vision in Batman Vs Superman. This first film would introduce him to the Justice League.
As for Steppenwolf - we have strong suspicions that his role will be very different. Steppenwolf was originally in Suicide Squad, but was taken out of that movie and placed into Justice League, with re-shoots making his appearance more fitted into the film. He’ll probably still appear, but working more as an accomplice to Darkseid than for his own gain.
The Wrap also speculated that Superman’s resurrection would be a lot darker. Rather than fighting with the team, the writer suspects that things wouldn’t go as expected, and Superman would turn bad. Perhaps it would be through an accident, or even a trigger such as the love of his life, Lois Lane, being killed. Either way, the ensemble would be a lot more fractured.
Finally, Joe Manganiello was the original actor for Deathstroke, and he teased that a post-credits scene with his character would be included in this cut.
The original end credit scene...— JOE MANGANIELLO (@JoeManganiello) May 20, 2020
⚔️ 🦇 💀 https://t.co/ZT76RG15w0
Why is this being released?
Well, it seems like a lot of this was down to fan campaigning. The social media hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut caught fire, with Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck both contributing their own support for the cause. Fans bought out billboards with the slogan on, and even flew a plane over San Diego Comic Con with a banner attached to it.
Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of Warner Media Entertainment and Direct-To-Consumer gave a statement on the decision to bring the cut to HBO Max and how the involvement of the fans played an impact:
“Since I got here 14 months ago, the chant to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut has been a daily drumbeat in our offices and inboxes. Well, the fans have asked, and we are thrilled to finally deliver. At the end of the day, it really is all about them and we are beyond excited to be able to release Zack’s ultimate vision for this film in 2021.”
Hopefully it will be worth the work on a financial level, as this project will cost Warner Bros around $20 to $30 million. Ouch.