If you’ve given Zack Snyder’s Justice League a watch on HBO Max or HBO GO, you would’ve already noticed that pillaring the content itself are two black boxes.
Out of the many visual and narrative differences seen in Snyder’s cut, the squared 4:3 aspect ratio may be the most jarring of them all. No, there’s nothing wrong with the movie, or with your device. This boxy look was done intentionally by Snyder – call it creative direction if you must.
When editing Batman v Superman for IMAX, Snyder fell in love with the squared look and filmed Justice League in that aspect ratio in order to better project the film onto IMAX screens. Of course, as many would know, Snyder left the film and Joss Whedon took over the reins as director and released the 2017 Justice League in a widescreen format.
Despite Zack Snyder’s Justice League releasing on HBO and not in theatres, the movie was still framed in 4:3 to fulfil Snyder’s desires and creative direction.
“The film was originally shot that way. You know, don’t forget it was intended for the theatrical release, and it was intended to have an IMAX release. But now that it was on HBO Max, Zack didn’t want to change the aspect ratio, because everything was framed that way,” said Deborah Snyder, wife to the 300 director and producer of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
“And it’s also, I just think it’s just so unique. You’re getting so much of the picture, you’re seeing a lot more. If we then made the decision to just chop it off, we would be losing part of the frame. So it was really important to maintain the aspect ratio because that’s how it was originally intended to be. That’s how it was shot. That’s how the visual effects were done.”
Unfortunately, there’s no way viewers can remove the boxes on HBO. Instead, viewers can change their picture settings on the TV to zoom in on the movie, but that would result in a significant portion of the frame being cut off.
Like it or not, you’re stuck watching Zack Snyder’s Justice League in the weird 4:3 ratio. Guess all you can do is take comfort in knowing this format was done so on purpose.