Fans eagerly awaiting the debut of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max next year were thrilled to hear that a new trailer was coming today to mark the third anniversary of the theatrical cut’s release. They’re probably feeling a teensy bit cheated right now, since what dropped was actually an updated black-and-white version of the teaser trailer from the virtual DC FanDome event in August—although the eagle-eyed viewer will spot a few seconds of new footage. But at least Snyder also provided a virtual breakdown of said trailer during a livestreaming event on Vero.
The August trailer had been removed from YouTube earlier this month because of contested music rights issues—the trailer was set to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Now those issues have been resolved, and Snyder marked the occasion with this latest black-and-white offering, Cohen soundtrack intact. (You can watch the full-color version here.)
Apparently, Snyder’s ideal vision for Justice League would be a black-and-white IMAX version. “That, to me, is the most fan-centric, most pure, most Justice League experience, because that’s how I lived with the movie for two years, in black-and-white,” he told The Film Junkee in a recent interview.
As we reported previously, the original Justice League, released in 2017, was the third film in a trilogy that included Man of Steel (2013) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). It brought together Ben Affleck’s Batman and Henry Cavill’s Superman with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Snyder completed all the principal photography and was well into post-production, but he stepped down as director in May 2017 following the tragic suicide of his daughter,
Joss Whedon took over directorial duties to complete the film. Whedon rewrote the script, adding some 80 pages, and did extensive reshoots. He also cut more than 90 minutes of Snyder’s original footage to accommodate the studio’s requested 120-minute run time, although Whedon’s version retained the basic story outline. The result was what some critics called a “Frankenstein” film, struggling to incorporate the very different visions of two directors. Reviews were mixed, and while Justice League wound up grossing $657 million, the purported break-even point was around $750 million.
Fans started clamoring for an alternate “Snyder cut” soon after the theatrical release, launching a social media campaign that occasionally got ugly. In May, during a virtual watch party for Man of Steel, Snyder confirmed that his cut would air on HBO Max, insisting it would feel like an entirely different movie, with new visual effects sequences, additional character development, and some added dialogue. It reportedly cost around $70 million to finish the editing and visual effects, along with additional photography; per Snyder, his director’s cut will include four to five minutes of newly shot scenes.
During the DC FanDome online panel, Snyder confirmed that his cut will be aired on the streaming platform in four one-hour installments. In addition to being darker in tone, Snyder said that the character of Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) has been redesigned and that Steppenwolf’s uncle, Darkseid (Ray Porter), will be the main villain. Darkseid did not appear at all in the original theatrical release, so this will be the character’s first appearance in a live-action film.
Snyder has since confirmed that Jared Leto’s Joker will also appear in the director’s cut; the character did not appear in the 2017 theatrical release, but Leto participated in the reshoots. There’s no sign of Joker in this updated trailer, but we do catch glimpses of the Batmobile shooting down aliens and Cyborg watching from a window as kids play football in the street below. And yesterday, Fisher shared a photo on Twitter showing Cyborg using a hologram to peek inside some Mother Boxes—a key plot point in the original film that is clearly being preserved in the Snyder cut. We’ll have to wait for a bona fide fresh trailer to learn more.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League will debut on HBO Max in 2021.
Listing image by YouTube/HBO Max