Top 10 Biggest Changes in Zack Snyder's Justice League
WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Second time's the charm for this infamous comic book movie! For this list, we'll be looking at the most significant tweaks Zack Snyder made to his long-awaited director's cut of “Justice League.” Our countdown includes Martian Manhunter, Superman in Black, Jared Leto as The Joker, and more!
Top 10 Biggest Changes in Zack Snyder's Justice League
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Biggest Changes in Zack Snyder's Justice League.
For this list, we’ll be looking at the most significant tweaks Zack Snyder made to his long-awaited director’s cut of “Justice League.”
Do you think these changes improved the film? Let us know in the comments.
#10: The Final Battle
Watching the theatrical cut of “Justice League,” the climax caught us off guard with its reddish-orange skies and hellish imagery. It looked nothing like the dark blue backgrounds in the early trailers, which we honestly found more atmospheric. Snyder restored the blue hues for the final battle, although that’s not the only change. Joss Whedon added that random Russian family in his version, saying that he wanted to show “what it’s like for the people on the ground.” While we get where Whedon was coming from, this subplot didn’t contribute much and the family wasn’t sorely missed in “The Snyder Cut.” Steppenwolf receives a more violent end as well, earning that R rating.
#9: Martian Manhunter
J’onn J’onzz, better known as Martian Manhunter, is one of several heroes we had hoped to see in the theatrical cut. While we got no such appearance in that version, Snyder initially had plans for the character. On a commentary track for the Ultimate Cut of “Batman v Superman,” Snyder mentioned that Martian Manhunter was Lt. General Calvin Swanwick incognito. In a storyboard that didn’t make Whedon’s version, Martian Manhunter was going to visit Lois Lane’s apartment under the guise of Martha Kent. While actor Harry Lennix previously appeared in “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman,” “The Snyder Cut” officially solidified Swanwick and Martian Manhunter as one and the same.
#8: New Music by Junkie XL
Whatever your thoughts on Snyder’s filmmaking style are, his movies almost always have amazing soundtracks. Junkie XL, aka Tom Holkenborg, collaborated with fellow composer Hans Zimmer on “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman.” He was set to work on “Justice League” as well, but Danny Elfman replaced him. Elfman usually goes hand in hand with DC projects and while his “Justice League” score wasn’t bad, it was a far cry from his “Batman” days. Junkie XL was brought back on board for “The Snyder Cut” and his music didn’t disappoint, particularly “The Crew at Warpower” track.
#7: Steppenwolf’s Updated Design
For many, one of the theatrical version’s biggest letdowns was its villain. Aside from being far less interesting than his comic book counterpart, Steppenwolf had a generic look obviously rendered through CGI. While Snyder’s Steppenwolf is still clearly draped in CG, his design is a vast upgrade. Not only is his armor infinitely less silly, but Steppenwolf’s facial features are far more atrocious… in a good way. While a cooler look is one thing, “The Snyder Cut” also delves deeper into Steppenwolf’s backstory and motivation, as well as his dynamic with Darkseid. That said, Steppenwolf isn’t the only major antagonist this time around.
#6: More Aquaman
Before James Wan made Aquaman one of the DCEU’s MVPs, “Justice League” didn’t give Jason Momoa a ton to work with. Aside from that one infamous line, it’s hard to even remember what Arthur Curry did in that version. Originally, Snyder planned to set the stage for Wan’s film. Aside from giving Mera a more prominent role, Willem Dafoe shot a scene as Nuidis Vulko. There was also to be more exploration of Atlantis’ mythos and development for Arthur himself.
#5: Building a Better Cyborg
Out of the central six heroes, Cyborg is arguably the one who got the shortest end of the stick in the original version. The film did little to flesh out Victor Stone’s life before his accident, his relationship with his father, or his personality. Virtually everything about the character is improved upon in “The Snyder Cut,” although the CG can still be hit and miss. Nevertheless, Stone finally emerges as somebody we root for and empathize with, as opposed to just another member of the team. Snyder described Cyborg as “the heart of the movie,” which shines through in the final product. We’re still waiting to hear more about that standalone Cyborg movie, but his development here has us more optimistic.
#4: Superman in Black
We get that Whedon was going for a more light-hearted tone with his “Justice League,” but why lose Supes’ black suit? It’s one of the most memorable aspects of “The Death of Superman” story arc. With Superman’s inevitable return, we all assumed he’d dress in black for the occasion. Instead, Whedon opted out for traditional red and blue. “The Snyder Cut” finally sees Henry Cavill don the black suit. This version also restored the deleted scene where Supes meets Alfred. Overall, the Superman here is significantly different than in Whedon’s interpretation ... particularly around the upper lip!
#3: Iris West & The Flash
Barry Allen is another character who got short-changed in the theatrical cut. You know, there’s more to the Flash than quips. “The Snyder Cut” makes more of an effort to explore the death of Barry’s mother, the incarceration of his father, and his romance with Iris West. Actress Kiersey Clemons was going to make her DCEU debut as Iris in “Justice League,” but her contributions were left on the cutting room floor. Iris finally appeared in this version, most prominently during a scene where Barry saves her from a potentially fatal car accident. Snyder also aimed to make more sense of the future Flash from “Batman v Superman,” which ties into our next entry.
#2: Jared Leto as The Joker
After the mostly negative reception to “Suicide Squad,” Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Joker, and not even getting a cameo in “Birds of Prey,” Jared Leto’s future in the DCEU seemed to be up in the air. So, you can imagine our surprise when Leto popped up at the end of “The Snyder Cut’s” trailer, complete with longer hair and messier lips. Batman encounters Joker in the Knightmare future where “society” has become much, much stranger. Although Snyder didn’t originally intend to incorporate the Joker, Leto was enlisted after the director’s cut got the go-head. Joker plays an important role in this version, having stolen the Mother Box that allows the Flash to travel back in time.
We always knew that Darkseid wouldn’t be the central villain in the theatrical cut. At the very least, though, we thought the film would set him up for future installments. Aside from a brief mention, Darkseid was a no-show. The trailers for “The Snyder Cut” quickly established that Darkseid would play a meatier role in this version. Portrayed by Ray Porter, Darkseid made his long-awaited live-action film debut here. This version also made room for some of Darkseid’s followers, including Desaad and Granny Goodness. While we’re sure the DCEU has even bigger plans for Darkseid and Apokolips, this was a satisfying taste for now.