You have probably heard the name or you have probably seen it posted (a lot of times) in comment sections online, but what is the Snyder Cut? What does it refer to and why do so many people make reference to it?
Read on for details…
The Snyder Cut is an extended cut of the live-action movie, Justice League (2017). It is a phrase used by fans who long believed that an alternate version of the film existed, which is truer to the vision that director Zack Snyder had originally intended for the movie – rather than the version that was released in cinemas.
Fans believed that this version of the movie would differ greatly to the theatrical release of Justice League – specifically in length. It would include alternate scenes, new plotlines, and even a different tone to the film.
Why would a Snyder Cut exist?
In early 2016, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opened in cinemas. Touted as a huge event – the first theatrical pairing of the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel – the film was highly anticipated by fans.
However, when the movie hit screens the reception was lukewarm. Critics were less than keen on the picture and audiences didn’t take to it in the way that Warner Bros. Pictures (the studio behind the movie) had hoped.
Worried that critics and audiences would react in the same way to the next big picture, Suicide Squad, the studio enforced some changes to the movie to make it more appealing. Unfortunately, Suicide Squad was also met with negative press when it opened in cinemas and this wasn’t good news for Warner Bros.
Keen not to experience the same problems for a third time, the studio requested changes be made to Justice League, to ensure it would be more appealing. The script underwent alterations and additional tinkering took place behind the scenes while the film was in production.
Then in May 2017, six months before Justice League was set to arrive in cinemas, director Zack Snyder stepped down from his role on the project. The reason for Snyder’s departure from Justice League was due to a tragic family bereavement – which meant the director needed to take time away from his work.
With Snyder no longer available, Warner Bros asked Avengers (2012) director Joss Whedon to complete the movie. Whedon had already been involved with altering the script for Justice League, and as he had experience overseeing comic book team-up movies over at Marvel Studios, he was deemed the right person to take on the job.
Under Whedon’s direction the movie underwent further changes, including a number of reshoots to alter scenes that had already been shot be Snyder. This included re-filming scenes with Superman actor, Henry Cavill.
Despite the script alterations, the change in director, and the reshoots, Justice League hit cinema screens in November 2017. But after all the work to ‘improve’ the film, the critical response was still not as good as Warner Bros. had hoped for.
The movie was met with an underwhelming response both critically and commercially and Justice League was deemed a flop.
Many fans were unhappy with the finished product and those who followed the movie’s tumultuous development felt that the finished film was not the Justice League movie that should have been released. Instead, they felt that the changes that had been made – specifically the reshoots – altered the movie too much from Snyder’s original vision and that was the version they had wanted to see.
Under the belief that Warner Bros. had the original material locked away in a vault, those same fans signed a petition and took to social media to voice their desire to see a new take on Justice League – one that only utilised material directed by Snyder (and nothing from Joss Whedon). These social media comments were preceded by the hashtag: #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.
Why do fans want to see an alternate cut of Justice League?
When Justice League arrived in cinemas it was surrounded with negative press. It had been widely reported that the movie had experienced a difficult shoot and it was clear the film was different to what was originally intended.
The film was lighter in tone to Snyder’s previous DC movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and felt more like a Joss Whedon film (i.e. it was more quippy). It was also much shorter than expected, coming in at exactly two hours, rather than the two-to-three-hour mark that had been previously rumoured.
Footage that had been included in the trailer was also not in the finished movie and scenes involving Superman in a black suit – a nod to the comic book storyline The Death of Superman – were nowhere to be seen. This suit had previously been highlighted as appearing in the movie, so its absence made it quite evident that significant changes had been made to the plot.
At the time of the movie’s release, the studio played down the idea there were changes in the film. However, thanks to the trailers and various set reports, it was clear that a large amount of the film had been altered during the reshoots – specifically the majority of the scenes involving Superman
There was also a big tell-tale itself – Henry Cavill’s face!
Back in 2017, when Justice League was to undertake reshoots, Henry Cavill was midway through shooting his next project, 2018’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout for Paramount Pictures. In the movie, Cavill had to sport some rather distinctive facial hair (if you’ve seen the film you will know what I mean).
Due to issues surrounding costs and scheduling, Paramount forbid Cavill from shaving his moustache, which caused problems for the Justice League reshoots (as Superman does not have facial hair in the movie). To get around the continuity issues, Cavill reshot scenes still sporting his face hair, but digital effects were added in post-production to remove it!
Unfortunately, the effects used to alter Cavill’s face were not as effective as they needed to be and any scene that employed this technique created a very distinctive, very noticeable new look. A rubbery mouth, if you will.
Due to the digital interference, it became clear which scenes in the movie were reshot under Whedon and which were part of Snyder’s original cut. Despite comments from Warner Bros. that the differences between Whedon and Snyder’s cuts were minimal, it was quite apparent that this was not the case.
This quickly led fans to question what else was removed/altered. And while these questions arose, they also requested the original version be given a release.
Because the theatrical release of Justice League didn’t meet expectations, the belief amongst some fans was that the Snyder Cut would be a better version of the film. They were are keen to see this take on the movie in order to compare and contrast the two pictures, and made this known to Warner Bros.
But all the time they made requests, one question continued to persist: Did the Snyder Cut really exist?
Does the Snyder Cut exist?
From the time of Justice League’s release in 2017 up until May 20th 2020, Warner Bros. was adamant that the Snyder Cut did not exist. Director Zack Snyder disagreed.
Speaking in March 2019, while at a fundraising event, Snyder said: “It’s done. I have a cut. I have a bunch of them.” The comment was caught on video and uploaded to Twitter via the @SnyderCutJL account.
A number of industry figures also joined the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement, including writer/director Kevin Smith and Justice League actor Jason Momoa. They wanted to see what Snyder had planned for the movie and were insistent the Snyder Cut existed.
Will we ever see the Snyder Cut?
Movie studios are known for holding on to unused footage from productions – heck there are vaults out there filled with deleted scenes, unused takes, screen tests and the like. As such, every once in a while (usually during an anniversary year), studios will re-release old pictures with new, ‘never before seen’ sequences, either to make money theatrically or via home video.
Take Superman: The Movie (1987) as an example. Currently there are three different versions of the movie available to buy on home video: The Theatrical Cut, The Special Edition, and The Extended Cut. The Extended Cut runs for three hours and eight minutes and is a version of the movie that was originally lengthened for television broadcasts.
This TV cut – or Extended Cut as it is now known – was released on Blu-ray in 2017, to sit alongside the other releases of the film. Warner Bros. didn’t necessarily need to issue the edition, but knowing that fans would buy it *holds up hand and admits to buying it*, it made sense to release it.
Likewise, back in 2006 Warner Bros. released the Donner Cut of Superman II (1980) – an alternate take on Superman II, to reflect Richard Donner’s original vision for the movie. Donner never completed his movie, as he was fired from the picture midway through production, so the version that made it into cinemas only had half of his stamp on it.
Releasing the Donner Cut was yet again another way for Warner Bros. to make some additional income on an old movie. This happens quite often, so when Warner Bros. claimed there was only ever one version of Justice League, it just didn’t seem true.
And it wasn’t. Kind of.
On May 20th 2020, Warner Bros. changed its official stance regarding the Snyder Cut to announce that the Snyder Cut DOES exist – or at least WILL exist. And not only that, but it will receive its premiere in 2021 via subscription service, HBO Max.
In a nutshell, money is being invested by the studio for Snyder to complete his vision, to release a Snyder Cut.
So, yes, there is/will be a Snyder Cut and after years of fans pestering the studio, it will be getting a release. But will it be any good?
This cut will be a reworking of the movie rather than the simple release of an existing cut. So, it could be better than the theatrical cut… but it might not, and only time will tell.
The best fans can hope for is to see an alternate take on Justice League which is more palatable than the one released in 2017. But either way, the fans asked for a Snyder Cut and they are finally getting one.