Zack Snyder’s Justice League: The Snyder Cut vs the Theatrical Cut

Photo: Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher in Justice League (2017).. Image Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment
Photo: Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher in Justice League (2017).. Image Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment /
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Justice League, HBO Max, Zack Snyder's Justice League, Snyder Cut, How to watch Snyder Cut online, Watch Zack Snyder's Justice League, HBO Max live stream
Photo: Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher in Justice League (2017).. Image Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment /

Just how different is Zack Snyder’s Justice League from the theatrical release? We compare and contrast both versions to find out.

After four years of disgruntled fans demanding Warner Brothers and DC to “release the Snyder Cut,” and a very successful ad campaign over the past several months, Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) is now available in all its four hour extravaganza glory on HBO Max.

Whether it was worth the wait or worth watching is up to you – especially after reading the Bam Smack Pow! review. Yet considering how both critics and audiences maligned the original version of Justice League (2017), there’s only question which matters: “Does it make any difference?”

To answer this, yours truly all but sacrificed sanity and sleep patterns by watching both the theatrical and the director’s cut of Justice League back-to-back. This, of course, proved to be an interesting experiment and viewing experience unto itself, and the result proved more astonishing than anticipated. Because while Zack Snyder’s Justice League is different than the theatrical version, you don’t appreciate just how different the films are until you see one right after the other.

Those changes are what we will be going over, covering what effects they had on the narrative, characters, and even stylistic differences. Naturally, there will be plenty of SPOILERS, so it’s best to read this after watching Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Yet, I’ll also keep some of the movie’s spoilers to a minimum just in case.

The opening of Zack Snyder’s Justice League vs. the theatrical cut’s opening

In terms of the overall plot, both DCEU films are almost the same. Yet it’s also apparent that both cuts are very different movies. This isn’t just due to the films having different running times, or that the Snyder Cut has additional and expanded scenes, but how both movies edit and arrange their scenes that make all the difference. And these differences, and how they fundamentally alter the overall story, happens right from the opening frames of both versions.

In the theatrical cut, the movie begins with smartphone footage in which a group of awestruck kids interview Superman (Henry Cavill) for their blog. The scene then shifts to an undetermined time after Superman’s death in Gotham City. Here, Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) stops a would-be burglar and encounters a Parademon for the first time, a sequence clearly inspired from Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s Justice League #1. Afterwards, we have montage accompanied by Sigrid’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” showing the state of the world after Superman’s death.

None of this is in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Instead, the Snyder Cut opens with Superman’s death from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), specifically showing how his death cries literally sent shockwaves around the world. It’s these very shockwaves which wake up the Mother Boxes, especially one that’s guarded by the Amazons on Themyscira. After this, we then cut to extended version of Bruce Wayne attempting to recruit Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Oh, and Bruce recognizes him right off without the help of a mural and speaks fluent Icelandic, thank you very much!

Thus in the theatrical cut, Joss Whedon places greater emphasis on Superman being a symbol of hope and how his death – and that lack of hope – affected the world. In the Snyder cut, Zack Snyder uses Superman’s death to drive the narrative forward while also making the movie a logical extension of Batman VvSuperman. It also sets up a grander sense of scale than the theatrical cut, telling its audience that this won’t be an Avengers-style redux with DC characters.