The Snyder Cut of Justice League has been one of the most talked-about phenomenons on social media. From the moment that Justice League released to the public in November of 2017, fans have been asking for the original version of the film. Zack Snyder, the director of the film and the architect of the DC Extended Universe was in the midst of putting together a five-film arc, not unlike Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. The soul of this arc was Superman. Through Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, Superman was placed at the center, at the nexus of the universe being built.
The character was on an arc to become the hero most fans know him to be. Man of Steel told the story of the birth of Superman. Focusing on Kal-El’s journey to discover himself and his destiny. Batman v Superman, continues this frame of thought, this time looking at Superman through humanity’s eyes. Themes of the modern immigrant, Post-9/11 xenophobia and powerlessness are wrapped around a cinematic thread line, complete with Joseph Campbell’s words literally encompassing the film. At the end of it all, Superman was set for his most triumphant return yet. When Justice League finally happened.
When Zack Snyder was removed from Justice League, Joss Whedon was brought in to “fix” the film, primarily Superman. The result was a caricature of the character. Superman was mostly relegated to being his Super Friends self, a far cry from the serious and more mythological take Zack was going for. All of this was only further accentuated with the infamous mustache and the poor CGI removal of it. The final was a freakishly bizarre Superman both visually and in writing. Gone was Hans Zimmer’s score, the lush color pallet and an arc that has been two films in the making and in came a rushed product, trying to cast the widest net and coming back with nothing. In short, the theatrical cut of Justice League didn’t just put a stop to Superman on film, it effectively fridged the character.
The Snyder Cut of Justice League is a direct sequel to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It carries forward all of its themes, story beats and character moments. Once again, Superman’s story is the focus of a much wider arc. For those who might not have felt the “classic” Superman in the previous films, he was indeed coming. In the Snyder Cut, Superman’s death and rebirth are given a much larger thematic context. In between the alien invasion of Apocalypse, Batman and Wonder Woman’s search for other heroes and Cyborg’s origin story, Superman’s is brought to full fruition. Officially, we have only seen two scenes of the Snyder Cut, showcasing Superman in his most heroic light yet. The first is Superman’s moment in his pseudo Fortress of Solitude, walking through all the Kryptonian suits, even passing the iconic Black Suit. He eventually finds himself standing face to face with his own suit, leading to an entrance scene that rivals the Flight scene of Man of Steel. The second is his moment with Alfred. Landing at Bruce Wayne’s home, Alfred addresses him by Master Kent instead of Superman, a moment that leaves a smile on Superman’s face akin to that of Christopher Reeve.
Hope and heroism are the elements of Superman’s character and they are on full display in this small microcosm of a scene. Gone are the cartoony elements of Superman saying he was itchy coming back to life and in are the moments that truly define a hero’s story three films in the making. The Snyder Cut does not simply bring Superman back to life, it recements him into the hero is he was meant to be. Henry Cavill’s future as Superman is in doubt, and while releasing the Snyder Cut may change that, what can’t be understated is his performance in this unseen film. This is one large Superman focused story that bonded the entire DCEU together. Zack Snyder dropped a key photo of Superman from The Snyder Cut on the social media platform Vero, with the caption, “He Has Yet To Rise.” Likely the start of the film, with fans being treated to a new shot of Superman’s sacrifice to save the world, the film once again shows how it is one part of a larger nexus. This Justice League movie is not like The Avengers, it plays more like Lord of The Rings: Return of the King. To use an even more specific reference. This moment is not unlike the opening of The Two Towers, which starts at the point Gandalf dies and follows him through a journey. Opening in a similar fashion in Justice League truly speaks to how cinematic Zack’s vision was for the character.
A key theme of Zack’s films is redemption. Superman is one of the many characters that need to be redeemed after the fallout of Justice League. The theatrical cut of the film shifted the trajectory of the character from something thematic, mythological and organic to nothing more than a Saturday morning cartoon. Superman’s character will be redeemed with the Snyder Cut of Justice League and the rebirth of Superman is yet to be truly witnessed. Here is to all of us getting that chance soon.
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