2017’s Justice League was a disappointment for many. After a personal tragedy and following some creative differences with the studio, director Zack Snyder stepped away from the nearly finished production being infamously replaced with Joss Whedon.
The finished film didn’t please critics or audiences, but after years of campaigning by both fans and the man himself, Snyder returned to his original vision and in March 2021, the world finally saw what could have been when Zack Snyder’s Justice League premiered.
The new cut is significantly different and at four hours, twice as long as the 2017 theatrical version. It places more emphasis on Victor Stone (a.k.a. Cyborg as the film’s emotional core), and was clearly supposed to set up plot points for the DC Extended Universe, bringing in Jared Leto’s Joker from David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.
Ahead of the film’s home entertainment release, we chatted to Snyder and producer Deborah Snyder about this epic superhero tale.
Zavvi: First of all, congratulations, I can’t believe that we’re finally here and we’re seeing your original vision of Justice League. I’m going to dive right in and ask about that Knightmare sequence. Was that there from the beginning? And when exactly did you decide to bring in Jared Leto as the Joker as well?
Zack: I don’t want to call it an Easter egg, but that was a storyline that I had envisioned for a future film. But I thought, this feels like this is going to be my only chance. And my big thing was that I felt like I owed the fans that Joker‐Batman confrontation scene.
And so I called Jared and said: ‘Hey, if I get Ben (Affleck) to do this, would you be interested in in shooting this scene?’ And at the time, the studio was like ‘we don’t think you should shoot anything.’ So I said: ‘Let’s just do it in my house. You could come over, we shoot in the driveway…’
Deborah: And I said: ‘No.’
Zack: And Debbie said: ‘No’
Deborah: There was COVID, there was a lot of people, costumes…
Zack: So eventually, they did say: ‘Okay, go get a real studio and do it for real.’ So we did and both of them agreed to do it. And I’m pretty happy with it, it came out kind of fun.
Zavvi: Steppenwolf isn’t the only villain that we get because we also get introduced to Darkseid. Did you imagine him as a key player in more films? And why was he someone that was really interesting to you as a big bad?
Zack: He absolutely was the main bad guy and would have been in continued stories. That was really the way we always looked at it. Even in Batman v Superman, I was putting the Omega symbol everywhere, because he’s on his way.
He was important, not only because of his king daddy status as bad guy, but also his relationship with Steppenwolf. And all that was fun for me to kick around with figuring out how those guys were interacting and how it made the film richer. It was fun to play with those two.
And they’d been in the movie in the way that they’re in the movie now since I finished this cut in January 2017.
Zavvi: The emotional core of the film is Cyborg, and also Barry as The Flash – we see some really cool abilities that we haven’t seen before. Why was it important to you to showcase more of those two characters?
Zack: When Chris (Terrio) and I sat down to write the script, that was all just stuff we really thought was important for these two new characters. From the beginning, we’re framing the movie around Cyborg and it was going to be Cyborg’s story.
Deborah: Because we had a Man Of Steel movie, and then we introduced Batman, and then Wonder Woman had a story and Aquaman, but these guys, we didn’t know as much about them.
Zack: Cyborg’s really the heart of the movie and he takes us on the full journey, all the way in, with Silas at the end, (his) voiceover takes us out.
Zavvi: Where would you love to see these characters go next? And are you open to returning to them?
Zack: I’m really interested in them thriving. I’m interested in an amazing Aquaman movie, and Wonder Woman 3 and the Flash movie, and I think they should make a Cyborg movie as far as I’m concerned.
That makes a lot of sense, especially after seeing this movie. Obviously, Cyborg would be the next movie because he’s just so awesome.
And yes, we have a fully fleshed‐out universe we could dive into, but the truth is, Warner Brothers, I don’t think they have any real interest in continuing this storyline and they are the keepers of the IP and it’s up to them.
I’m super happy with the way the movie turned out, and I love these characters, and I’m super proud of them.
Deborah: It’s been such a journey. It’s taken a lot to get to this point and quite honestly it’ll be nice to just enjoy the moment right now. I don’t want to lose the moment, so many people worked so hard to get here.
Zack: And also, you’ve got The Army Of The Dead coming too so we’re ready for that.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is out on home entertainment from 24th May.