Following the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, fans of the DCEU breathes a sigh of relief as the mythic “Snyder Cut” did not disappoint. While the film is far from perfect, it is undoubtedly a major improvement over what we’ve got back in 2017. Widely deemed as one of worst films of its genre, the theatrical release of Justice League was a failure of epic proportions, one that prompted Warner Bros. to revise its strategy regarding the brand.
The release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League represents an aspect of Warner Bros.’ revitalization of the brand. Alongside Joker and projects like The Batman on its way, the studio seems to be doubling down on bringing more Elseworld stories to the forefront. As we cross our fingers in hoping that Warner Bros. announce some sort of continuation to what is now dubbed as the “Snyderverse”, we at The Cultured take a trip down memory lane and assess the differences between the two editions of Justice League, and why one is superior to the other.
5. Batman is no longer Tony Stark
Perhaps the biggest insult to the Batman character since the time he had bat-nipples on his suit, 2017’s Justice League went to great lengths in sabotaging the Dark Knight. With Joss Whedon taking over the mantle during the reshoots of Justice League, the director opted many creative changes to the characters that Snyder developed over two movies. It is not surprising that the director of The Avengers thought that the only billionaire in the Justice League should behave like Tony Stark from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
By comparison, Bruce’s arc in Zack Snyder’s Justice League serves as a continuation of his storyline as seen in Batman v Superman. Bruce Wayne’s character in the “Snyder Cut” of the film is driven by faith, not fear, as seen in the theatrical cut (Something that was mirrored to Tony’s arc as seen in Captain America: Civil War). In Snyder’s take on the film, we see an optimistic Bruce impacted by Superman’s sacrifice for humanity during the final act of Batman v Superman, as opposed to one that’s wisecracking and announces that something is definitely bleeding.
4. Everything about Steppenwolf
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Steppenwolf was downright awful in 2017’s Justice League. Whether it’s his hilariously bad goatee, his unhealthy obsession towards the mother boxes, or his generic motivation to cleanse the world, Steppenwolf’s characterization in the theatrical cut is terrible whichever way you cut it.
Conversely, Steppenwolf is more fleshed out in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Due to the benefit of the extended runtime, we see the character’s entire motivation being fleshed out. In the Snyder Cut, Steppenwolf yearns to return to his home planet, a wish that is constantly denied by his master, Darkseid. While the character is far from the greatest antagonist within the genre, his motivation and character is serviceable in the director’s vision for the film.
As a result of different directors handling a single project, 2017’s Justice League is horrendous to look at. Whether it’s the cinematography, lighting, or special effects, the theatrical cut comes across as a TV movie with a more than average budget. Snyder’s vision is in conflict with Whedon’s direction for the film, resulting in a movie that is not only painful to experience, but awful to look at.
In the Snyder Cut, we see cinematographer Fabian Wagner delivering a stunning motion picture. Although he is credited as the cinematographer in the theatrical edition of the film, Wagner’s talent shines through in Zack Snyder’s Justice League as the film showcases the cinematographer’s talents by delivering visually striking imagery. Coupled with Snyder’s intuition for style, the cinematography of the final product is a sight to behold.
Following the release of 2017’s Justice League, reports of the film being mandated to only two hours of runtime were widely circulated due to the negative reaction towards Batman v Superman. As a result, the product is one that feels lacklustre and underwhelming. For a film featuring some of the most important characters from comic book history, the theatrical cut of Justice League feels far from epic.
Due to the advantage of being released on a streaming platform, Zack Snyder’s Justice League makes good use of its four-hour runtime. While the film feels bloated at times, many of the scenes featured in the theatrical cut were much more fleshed out, paving the way for proper tension and effective worldbuilding.
1. Everything about Cyborg
While most members of the league are improved in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Cyborg is easily the best part of the entire film. After being reduced to little more than an emo teenager in a robot suit in the theatrical edition, the Snyder Cut restores the character by placing the entire narrative focus on Victor Stone/Cyborg. By giving the character an emotionally compelling backstory, Ray Fisher’s Cyborg shines as the heart of the film.
In addition, Silas Stone also has a much more prominent role in comparison to the theatrical cut, as his relationship with Victor plays a key role in his progression as a character. With Cyborg playing such an important role in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the film succeeds in delivering the emotional payoff that was absent in its theatrical counterpart.