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The Road to ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’: Director Zack Snyder and Producer Deborah Snyder on Making ‘The Snyder Cut’

March 15, 2021Ben MK

Never underestimate the power of fans. That's one of the lessons moviegoers can take away from Zack Snyder's Justice League — a film that, by its director's own accounts, would not even exist were it not for the fans. Now, four years after the release of Justice League's much maligned theatrical cut, The Snyder Cut — a version of the movie that has itself attained a level of mythic status to rival even that of its titular superheroes — is ready to be unleashed upon stay-at-home audiences. But was it worth the wait?

I sat down for a virtual roundtable with Zack and Deborah Snyder to chat about Zack Snyder's Justice League and to find out more about future projects he might have in store for comic book fans in the future. The following is an edited version of that conversation.

The fans have been petitioning for your cut of the film for years. What are your thoughts on the fandom — both the good and the bad sides of it?

Zack Snyder: The fandom has been amazing. It's 100% a fact that this movie was inspired by the fandom, as far as its existence. There literally would be no movie. So we're super thankful, of course, to the fans. I can't say that enough. But [because of] everything [that has been] done for [the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention] and the amount of lives that have been saved, in a lot of ways the movie is like a thank you to the fans for that work.

[As for the negatives], I don't think that the fans should not express their opinion. I think that's an important thing. But [regarding] the fans of mine that have supported the Snyder Cut, there's always been a respect for the vision that I have for the movie. And for an artist, it's incredibly uplifting and the support is unbelievable. So I do think that if people are passionate about a thing, they need to express it. But also I feel like they need to measure [their] expectations. You take the good with the bad, as they say.

Are there any particular themes that you're out to explore with this cut of Justice League?

Zack Snyder: I'm a fan of myth and I make a strong relationship between these characters and the pantheon, and how they reflect on our modern world, in the same way that Norse or Greek mythology has its roots in understanding the reality that you're given and using gods to interpret that world and/or understand it. And I think that our gods do the same thing for us.

If you look at Cyborg, he's a modern god of technology. The rest of [the Justice League] even have counterparts in Greek mythology, but Cyborg does not. He's a very uniquely modern invention, but [he] deals with a lot of our issues and the way our world is now tethered so scarily to these grids of electronics. Not to say to take it too far — I wanna give you a piece of entertainment that is fun, but if you wanna go on a deeper journey, let's do it. It's important to me that the movies be seen through that prism.

How does The Snyder Cut compare to your original cut of the film?

Zack Snyder: This cut of the movie was a cut that I finished in January of 2017. [It was] just after we returned from England [in] 2016. We worked on the movie for a little bit, we had a break for Christmas, and then we came back and we did our final touches. It was close to four hours, but I continued to work on it and it ended up being a pretty sophisticated version of what would be a long cut of the movie. But it is what it is, and the evolution was the evolution. I shot what I wanted to shoot while I was shooting what [the studio] wanted me to shoot.

We were really happy with it, so when we went to make [The Snyder Cut], it was pretty much the movie we made. Except for those little bits, like the Jared Leto [scene, which] I wanted to add because I really thought that we needed a Batman-Joker confrontation.

Deborah Snyder: But there was so much unfinished. And there was so much that they finished, but it was not finished in our style. Out of 2,656 shots, we used 11 shots [from the theatrical cut].

What are your favorite scenes from this cut of the movie?

Deborah Snyder: I really loved the Iris and Flash sequence. It's a lot of fun. You get to see [Barry's] powers a little bit more, but I also just like the juxtaposition of this car crash and these flying hot dogs with this really emotional music, because that dichotomy really works for me.

Zack Snyder: For me, it's really just Cyborg's journey. And Cyborg learning his powers and his origin and getting to know him and go through that deep dive with him, because he's so awesome in the movie. And weirdly, [it's] so meta to the struggle of the film in a lot of ways. What happened to the movie and what happens to Cyborg are intertwined in an impossible way.

In the comics, Superman dons the black costume following his death and resurrection so that he can better absorb sunlight. What's the significance of that costume in the movie?

Zack Snyder: It's kind of for the same reasons. There's a baptism in sun that I feel reflects that concept. I didn't put too super-fine a point on it, but I wanted that moment where he's bathing in the light of the sun so you could see that he's really being charged up. And beyond that, I'm a fan of Robert Bly, Joseph Cambell-ian red, white and black — the red of naivety, the white of anger and the black of humanity — and that that journey be similar to the journey that Superman is on. And to end on the black, for now, it makes sense to me.

Of course, #RestoreTheSnyderVerse has recently been trending. Would you ever consider a comic book sequel to Justice League?

Zack Snyder: I talked to Jim Lee about it. We literally had a plan to do a comic book — a huge run. We were gonna basically do a comic book based on the whiteboard that I had up in Dallas. And then I wanted to do a mini run on Joker [and] Robin — what was happening with Batman, what was happening with Joker, and what was happening with Robin — just that story as its own micro story. We were both super into it, and then the budget got cut and he said, "Maybe in the future, if there's fan support." But we'll see.

Looking ahead, are there any other comic book franchises that you might be interested in adapting in the future?

Zack Snyder: I'm working on a bunch of ideas right now. We're trying to maybe create a giant IP of our own that doesn't need necessarily to be put to the committee, as far as what's right and what's wrong. I love working in the comic book genre, clearly. [It's been] 14 years since Watchmen and you can go all the way back to 300 if you want, cuz those are all comic book movies. So I am not afraid of comic book movies, but it'll be nice to try something else. [laughs]

Zack Snyder's Justice League streams March 18th, exclusively on HBO Max and Crave Canada.

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