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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The characters

As stated in Bam Smack Pow’s review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Steppenwolf and Cyborg receive the most improvement from the theatrical cut as characters. Aside from a complete design overhaul, Steppenwolf’s motives for obtaining the Mother Boxes are different, too. As he’s been exiled from Apokolips, his invasion of Earth is all about making amends for “betraying” his lord and master, Darkseid (Ray Porter).

Yes, Darkseid is better established as the even greater threat for the DCEU in the Snyder cut. Unlike the theatrical cut, it was Darkseid, not Steppenwolf, who led the first attack on Earth during the “Age of Heroes” flashback (which is also far more extensive and brutal). It also includes speaking parts for his henchmen, DeSaad (Peter Guiness) and a blink and you’ll miss it cameo of Granny Goodness. Also without getting into heavy spoilers, Darkseid’s motivation for wanting to conqueror Earth and the multiverse will be recognizable to fans of the DC comics, especially if they’re familiar with Jack Kirby’s New Gods.

As for Victor Stone/Cyborg, the Snyder cut recounts his origin and devotes much of his restored character arc towards the relationship between his father, Dr. Silas Stone (Joe Morton). One also can’t help but see a direct parallel between Victor and his father with that of Clark Kent and his father in Man of Steel (2013). Moreover, the Snyder cut does a better job in showing just how extensive Victor’s technopathic powers are, along with his connection to the Mother Boxes. In short, Cyborg is changed from a minor character into the film’s most important.

Barry Allen/Flash (Ezra Miller) also gets some extra attention, including a scene in which he saves Iris West (Keirsey Clemons) from a car accident. There’s also a greater emphasis on what he’s capable of doing involving the Speed Force, which the Snyder Cut shows involves time travel. It’s that later ability which also ends up being crucial during the movie’s climax, with Barry motivating himself with the very words his father, Henry Allen (Billy Crudup), mentioned to him earlier.

That said, many of Flash’s scenes from the theatrical release are no longer present. This includes Batman giving him advice about saving people, the post-credit scene of his race with Superman taken from Superman Vol. 1 #199, and that very awkward moment where he lands on top of Wonder Woman before quickly getting to his feet. Basically, the Snyder Cut maintains Flash as the “comic relief” of the team without going overboard with it like in the theatrical cut.

There are much more subtle changes, though, when it comes to Aquaman. Both films portray the future King of Atlantis as a cynical, rough-around-the- edges type, with an affinity towards outcasts since he feels like one himself. But the theatrical version doesn’t shy from making Aquaman the butt of some jokes. Hence we get Bruce’s “I hear you talk to fish” line, or the scene in which Aquaman reveals what he really thinks to his teammates after accidentally sitting on the Lasso of Truth.

Snyder’s version, however, makes it clear that the heir of Atlantis is closer to the X-Men’s Wolverine than he is the Avenger’s Thor. In fact, he’s the only member of the Justice League who thinks it’s a bad idea to use the Mother Box to resurrect Superman. Synder’s cut also does a better job in setting up James Wan’s Aquaman (2018). Not only does this version show that this is the first time he meets Mera (Amber Heard), but a scene with Willem Defoe as Arthur’s mentor, Nuidis Vulko, is also restored.

And there’s two other notable DC characters who have prominent roles. One of them is Silas’ assistant at Star Labs Ryan Choi (Zheng Kai), the third version of the Atom. The second character happens to be a signature member of the Justice League. In fact, this cameo appearance also changes the context of certain key scenes in both Man of Steel and Batman V Superman. Of course revealing who this person is, when they appear, and even the actor who plays this character, would also be too much of a spoiler to reveal here.