An Analysis of the Zack Snyder’s Original Version of Justice League

Justice League has been rather disappointing for DC and Warner Bros. as a whole. The long awaited team up film featuring DC’s most popular superheroes had an underwhelming opening weekend, raking in $93 million in the United States. While that may sound like a lot of money, people definitely expected more from what was supposed to be DC’s version of Marvel’s first Avengers movie. Reviews for the film has been incredibly mixed. Nothing terrible but Justice League didn’t exactly wow critics. But, for the general moviegoing audience, they found it entertaining… at least according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Don’t you love/hate it when critic and regular viewers don’t agree?

This may lead DC and Warner Bros. to doubting their decision of hiring Joss Whedon, the man who was actually behind Marvel’s Avengers film, to take over Zack Snyder’s directorial duties while the latter had to deal with a family crisis. Joss Whedon and Zack Snyder’s styles are really on the opposite side of the spectrum, with Whedon going for more lighthearted moments (which Justice League had an abundance of) while Snyder prefers a more gritty style (which Justice League still had a bit of). But I guess we’ll never know what would have been the general consensus if Snyder was the only proverbial cook in the kitchen.

Or would we?

Recently, the Internet has been abuzz with leaks of some of the deleted and altered scenes from the film and it does seem that the tone and feel of Justice League under Snyder would have been totally different from the finished product. While the original Reddit post that compiled all of the edits and cuts has been taken down, a blogger from Superhero Talk Site managed to pull them out before it happened. You can even see bits and pieces of footage as the trailers have a lot of scenes that didn’t appear in the finished product.

It’s obvious that the film was meant to be longer but Warner Bros’ mandate to make Justice League less than 2 hours meant we got an incredibly heavily edited version. But with all of the leaks, fans now have a general idea of what Justice League was supposed to be like. So let’s go talk about those changes now. But, since there are a lot of edits and cuts, I’ll just focus on the broad strokes and give my take on the original scenes…

The biggest thing I noticed from the original Snyder version would be that it retains the same “grimdark” tone of Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Here, Batman is wracked with guilt because, apparently, he was a murderous psychopath before the event of BvS. They also shot scenes showing what caused Victor Stone/Cyborg’s accident (crashing a car while arguing with his mother) as well as Clark Kent/Superman almost killing a bunch of nosy people while at the Kent farm with his “laser-eyes” and Ma Kent having to calm her freshly resurrected son before this happened. From my point-of-view, I’m glad some of the them, like aforementioned “laser-eyes” scene, was left on the cutting room floor as I wasn’t a fan of the “grimdark” tone both Man of Steel and BvS had.

The original Zack Snyder version of Justice League would have more callbacks to Man of Steel and BvS. In one deleted scene, Cyborg detects a hidden code in Superman’s DNA which would allow him to come back to life. He’s referring to the Codex, the DNA library of the whole of Krypton which Jor-El “installed” into Kal-El before sending his son to Earth. Bruce Wanye confides with Alfred about the “nightmare” he had during BvS, where the Earth was taken over by Parademons. Also, during the “laser-eyes” (I just love typing “laser-eyes” because it sounds so stupid in my head) scene, Ma Kent tells Clark to focus on her voice and to “picture the world as an island” like she did in Man of Steel when young Clark was just getting used to his powers. These scenes would’ve been neat little winks to the audiences that remember the films and may have made Justice League feel a little more like a part of a bigger story but, ultimately, doesn’t really affect the story all that much.

Now, if you’ve seen Justice League, you’re probably wondering why the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman didn’t get a whole lot of backstory. Well, that’s because most of the scenes where they actually showed their history got dropped. Besides Cyborg’s car crash origin, there was a scene where Barry Allen/The Flash is trying to get a date with Iris West but gets too nervous and chickens out. The Fastest Man Alive does save her from a car crash; you see glimpses of that in the trailer as it’s the one where Barry is breaking a pane of glass with the tip of his finger. Another scene that got cut was Aquaman consulting Mera and his mentor Vulko, played by Willem Dafoe (how dare you cut out a scene with Willem Dafoe!) regarding if he should help Bruce. Even Steppenwolf got some scenes to flesh out his character! It turns out the soul of his mother, Heggra, is in the Mother Boxes and he gets to talk with her. Steppenwolf also plans to use the Mother Boxes against Darkseid in the future. I really wish these scenes were left in the final cut we got but I guess they had to be sacrificed to meet the 2-hour runtime Warner Bros. wanted.

Besides the change in tone, Joss Whedon also implemented a couple of really huge changes in the script. One of them has to deal with Cyborg’s fate. In Snyder’s version, Heggra (who’s in the Mother Boxes) talks to Cyborg to distract him and Steppenwolf gets behind Cyborg and rips him in two, essentially killing him. Cyborg’s body is taken to the Batcave, where Batman and The Flash acknowledge that the biological parts may be dead… but there’s still hope to revive the mechanical side. Honestly, I’m glad they didn’t kill of Cyborg as it would be an unnecessary death in my opinion. And, really? They would’ve killed off the only black member of the Justice League? Not cool!

In Joss Whedon’s version, Steppenwolf essentially wusses out after his axe is destroyed and the Parademons turn on him. The villain’s ultimate fate would have also been different in Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League. Steppenwolf would first try to tempt Superman to joining his side giving the Man of Steel visions of what the world would look like if he did (essentially the “nightmare” Bruce had in BvS). Superman snaps back to reality before giving the final blow to Steppenwolf, who makes a hasty retreat back to Apokalips. However, upon his return, Darkseid would kill him and comment that he would like to face off against the Last Son of Krypton. Now, this would’ve been an awesome scene. I mean, seeing Darkseid on the big screen would’ve made me lose it and it’s sad that DC decided to nix that clip.

Zack Snyder’s version would’ve added some meat to the story, like Zeus and Ares having to team up against Steppenwolf in the past, Commissioner Gordon making a few quips about Wonder Woman and Cyborg, Superman going to Alfred to get his new super suit, Clark Kent talking to Pa Kent and Deathstroke breaking Lex Luthor out of prison. These scenes do feel like filler, especially the one where Superman talked to his dead fatherĀ (because Superman has the superpower to talk to dead people, apparently). But they would’ve been nice little Easter Eggs for viewers who have watched all of the DC movies so far so I am kind of sad they were cut.

Would the Zack Snyder version be better than the one we got from Joss Whedon? Honestly, I actually don’t think so. My biggest issue with the Zack Snyder version would be the same issue I had with Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice: it’s too “grimdark.” I actually like how Superman was handled here. While Zack Snyder tries to pound it in our heads that Supes is a beacon of hope, he never came off as such as he was too mopey and filled with angst all the time. In Whedon’s version, I actually felt the positivity I should’ve felt all this time. He kind of felt like the Christopher Reeve version, which was that the world is a good place that’s worth protecting.

I do think Zack Snyder had the right idea of focusing on the backstory of The Flash, Cyborg and even Steppenwolf as they would’ve been much more fleshed out. However, the dark tone would probably turn me off in general. I would definitely be up for seeing a amalgamation of Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon’s version, where most of the story beats Snyder wanted to go for with Whedon’s more lighthearted tone. If Warner Bros. make an Ultimate Cut which inserts most of the scenes that were edited out (which they’ve done so many times before), I would definitely be down for watching it.

What do you think of Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League? Let me know in the comments section below!

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