After four long years, fans of DC Extended Universe (DCEU) are finally getting what they’ve been asking for – The Snyder Cut, now officially known as Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Whilst some fans would rather pretend that 2017’s Justice League, completed by Joss Whedon after Snyder exited, doesn’t exist, this four-hour magnum opus or opuscule, depending on who you ask, does give us audiences something to compare and evaluate, in determining which version tickles our fancy.
As Whedon based his version, which some fans have dubbed Jostice League, on what Snyder already shot, a lot of what we see in both versions are identical, especially the big fights and set pieces. Using the same characters – Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash – Zack Snyder’s Justice League has several elements that are completely new, and to the delight of some, different from the 2017 version. These differences not only change the way we appreciate the film and its heroes, but it also feeds on what Snyder has been building upon for the last decade.
And of course, it brings some sort of validation to Snyder supporters, who want their whims and wants shown in the final product that unfortunately, cannot and will not be regarded as the definitive version of the film, since it now contradicts several elements in subsequent DCEU films..
With a new score and special effects, there are many differences between both films but here are the 10 key narrative and visual differences seen in Zack Snyder’s Justice League that one should pay attention to.
Oh, and spoilers ahead.
1. Steppenwolf Upgrade
Steppenwolf was the big bad in Whedon’s version, but here, he serves Darkseid who is the main big bad. Surprisingly though, he’s not only more viscous, but he also looks very different. Thanks to the magic of CGI, Steppenwolf here is more elegant looking, extremely menacing and serves as a better villain than in the original. Aided by an R-rated sequence, this Steppenwolf is incredibly brutal as expected from a warrior of Apokolips.
2. The Amazons vs Steppenwolf Battle
One of the best scenes in the Justice League 2017 movie was the battle between the Amazons and Steppenwolf, to claim one of the Mother Boxes. Whilst still pretty action-packed, Snyder has taken things to a whole new epic level, and added an entirely new battle sequence that shows Steppenwolf brutally attacking the warriors.
Flinging around whole horses with Amazons still riding them, and slashing them in the face with a gigantic axe, the battle between the Amazons and Steppenwolf is a whole lot more brutal. This first battle properly states Steppenwolf as a fearsome villain who is dangerous and murderous, and not weak and cowardly like in the original.
Speaking of bad guys, the biggest villain of them all is Darkseid.
The 2017 film had Steppenwolf mention the New God in a single line – “For Darkseid”. The brief mention was done for narrative purposes, as Warner Bros indicated to Whedon that they were not moving ahead with Snyder’s proposed Justice League trilogy and he was tasked to make a standalone flick. But since Steppenwolf is Darkseid’s lackey in the comics, it wouldn’t make sense to follow Snyder’s filmed version that makes use of Steppenwolf, but not reference Darkseid in any way. Without any studio interference, Snyder has fully embraced his original plans and revealed Darkseid as the embodiment of evil, in search of the Anti-Life Equation. The only drawback? Darkseid never once uses his Omega Beams on Earth’s heroes.
4. The Age of Apokolips
After being decimated by Steppenwolf, the Amazons send Diana Prince a little sign that signifies danger looming and this burning signal was also used in the original. But in Snyder’s version, the flame is more than a marker and Diana diligently follows the sign and tries to figure out what it means. Together with Diana, viewers are led to an underground tomb and we see drawings of Darkseid on the walls of the tomb. The drawings were the retelling of the last time Darkseid almost united all three of the Mother Boxes. Looking at it, Diana knows what this means – a whole of trouble, and she has to stop it.
Audiences also get a preview of DeSaad, Darkseid’s master torturer, and when Apokolips is also seen towards the end of the film, we also get to see Granny Goodness in her live-action debut in the DCEU. Are the Female Furies also present? That deserves another viewing.
5. Vulko (Along with the Joker, more Deathstroke and Mera)
Not to spoil it for you but characters that have been previously (and endlessly) teased have finally made it to the screens, Kilowog, The Joker and Deathstroke were some of the few additions, but the most surprising inclusion is Vulko, played by Willem Dafoe.
Vulko is the chief scientific adviser of the kingdom of Atlantis and we saw him in James Wan’s Aquaman (2018). His new role in Zack Snyder’s Justice League is crucial in helping Aquaman, as well as pushing him towards the right direction in claiming the throne to Atlantis. Vulko wasn’t part of the theatrical release so it is definitely an unexpected (and very welcomed) addition though this version of Vulko looks very different from the one we see in the standalone Aquaman movie.
Oh, and Mera sports a less reddish head of hair, and why is she speaking with a British accent?
6. The Wild Wild Iris West
Whilst treated as a Walmart version of Marvel’s Spider-Man in Whedon’s version of the film, the Snyder Cut gives The Flash his own identity that still sets him up as a young and funny hero. Fans are also awarded with a much detailed Flash backstory, origins and, we even get to see the hero meet Iris West.
Avid followers and readers of The Flash – be it in comics or on TV – know that Iris West is Barry’s love interest slash fiancee. In all of the violence that is in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, this meet cute of Barry and Iris will make any fan weak.
7a. It’s Cyborg’s World, We All Just Live In It
Cyborg in Whedon’s Justice League can be described with one word: forgettable.
For a film that was meant to introduce members of the Justice League, many of their backstories were glossed over and sped through, especially Cyborg’s. Snyder’s Cut means that Cyborg finally gets the attention and focus he deserved.
Cyborg’s role and inherent importance is much more fleshed out in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. In Whedon’s version, he was just a boy turned robot but Snyder really delves into his origin story, of which much of the storyline here is around Victor Stone and his relationship with his dad. This brings us to the next point.
7b. More Silas Stone
With much of this movie focused on Cyborg, Snyder also spent time building up his father Silas (Joe Morton), who serves as the human anchor to his robotic son. The great Joe Morton was given the shaft and did the bare minimum in Whedon’s version of the film, as his biggest scene was where he, along with some other scientists at S.T.A.R. Labs were captured by parademons when they were in search of a Mother Box.
Snyder’s cut allows Silas to show off more about what his work is about, and how close his connection to the Mother Box is. He is also more involved in Cyborg’s life in Snyder’s cut, making this father-son duo a pretty great time in times of crisis.
8. The Martian Manhunter
His appearance and inclusion in the DCEU has been teased and conjectured since his first appearance in Man of Steel, and no, we’re not talking about J’onn J’onzz, but rather Secretary of Defense Calvin Swanwick (Harry Lennix). Fans have long indicated that Swanwick could be The Martian Manhunter aka J’onn J’onzz, one of the founding members of the Justice League (depending on which continuity you are reading) and a few years ago, Snyder said that was always his plan.
Well, as it turns out, Swanwick is J’onn J’onzz and he has several key scenes in this version. The first is when he takes on the form of Martha Kent, to speak to Lois Lane to get her out of her funk after the death of Superman. The next is when he appears in front of Bruce Wayne at the end of the film. Lennix’s role has never been a secret, since he also filmed the additional scenes.
The question is, if what we see on screen is a shapeshifter taking on the form of Martha Kent, why are also assuming that the shapeshifter is not pretending to take on the form of The Martian Manhunter? Hmmm…..
9. Bye bye rooftop scene, Moustache-gate and saving the children
Whedon introduced three key sequences to his version that have been derided and scorned by fans everywhere, and while some would say the opening montage of Superman, with Henry Cavill’s moustache removed by CGI, as an abomination, we much prefer to highlight the rooftop scene (in fact it was the opening scene), of Batman stopping a burglar on the rooftop as being the worst of the lot.
In a series of goofy and amateur looking fights, Batman was interrupted by a Parademon who was attacking a family nearby. Whilst it doesn’t sound so bad, Whedon’s execution was incredibly terrible. The director had claimed it was meant to be “comedic”, but was later edited to take on a more dramatic and serious tone.
Well, it definitely was a joke as the only thing comedic about the scene was how seriously bad it was. Oh, and that family that the Flash and Superman had to save in the final act? They are gone too, so good riddance Whedon.
10. Black Superman Suit
What follows the Death of Superman? His return of course, in a shiny black suit. Audiences have been looking forward to seeing Superman in a black costume and Snyder delivers. We’re just glad there’s no Super mullet to accompany this version. The original scenes with Henry Cavill were filmed with the red and blue costume, and the suit was later coloured black in post production by Snyder.
The black Superman suit was a big point of contention between Snyder and Warner Bros when he was still in charge of the film and when Snyder left, Whedon kept the blue and red suit. The black Superman suit is not just a big visual difference, it is also a testament to Snyder’s directorial vision of the Justice League movie he always wanted to make.
To be fair, not everything Whedon did was bad. We miss hearing John Williams’ iconic theme play for a second when Superman appears to fight Steppenwolf, and who can forget the post credit scene, of the race between Superman and The Flash? Sadly, both of these were filmed and added by Whedon, and not part of Snyder’s original vision.
And there you have it. Whether or not you’re a bigger fan of Whedon’s work or Snyder’s cut, Zack Snyder’s Justice League has alot to add and give to the fans that at the very least deserves to be watched and appreciated for all the heart and hard work that’s been put into it.