Zack Snyder’s Justice League is finally out! And if you’re like me, you’ve probably been watching it on repeat ever since it dropped on HBOMAX. Whether you’re watching a chapter a day or the entire 4 hour epic, the deep dive into the Snyder Cut has already begun. And one of my biggest take aways from this film is the additional photography that Snyder decided to do.
Getting a chance to bring his original vision back to life, Snyder saw a rare opportunity to give fans even more than they bargained for. And this meant bringing back key players for additional photography. This included; Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Amber Heard, Joe Manganiello, and Jared Leto.
Mind you, the additional photography wasn’t something the studio exactly wanted. Warner Bros saw this film getting released as a one and done. But when talks of a sequel got brought up in a recent interview with Esquire, Snyder had different thoughts.
“I know that the studio doesn’t really have any interest, clearly, in doing another movie with me. I also know that it’s a product. And the market kind of decides in the end, you know what I’m saying? But I would be very surprised if that happened. Of course, I’m surprised that this happened so it’s hard to say.”
With this in mind, Snyder decided to put it all on the line and give fans all that he could, given it might be his last chance. With this once in a lifetime opportunity Snyder shot two scenes. And here’s why he made the absolute most of it.
KNIGHTMARE – RESTORE THE SNYDER VERSE
The first additional photography scene takes place in the end when Bruce has dream of the Knightmare world. On the run from Superman in a post apocalyptic earth, Batman’s band of rebels are on their way to a hideout. But along the way, Batman is confronted with his morality in a chilling conversation with the Joker, played by none other than Jared Leto.
Ignoring the context of this scene, it sets up so many things. Not only does it obviously set up the Justice League sequels, that would largely take place in this world. But it sets up numerous spin offs for the characters involved. Whether that’s an animated Flash and Joker series in which they venture out to steal a mother box. Or whether its the heavily sought after Batman film with Ben Affleck and Joe Manganiello. It’s ripe for storytelling. And that’s not even talking about what happens in the scene.
The scene is largely comprised of a conversation between Batman and Joker. And it’s great. So much so it’s being compared to The Dark Knight interrogation scene. That’s a tall order, but I’ll let history decide that one. But the great thing about exchange is that it confronts Batman’s morality within the context of a fallen world. Joker directly taunts Batman about the losses he encountered in his life. Most notably the one he himself was directly involved in, the death of Robin. And then Joker questions why Batman wont sacrifice himself to save them from the Knightmare world he directly caused by allowing Lois to die. Which, if you know Snyder’s original plan, foreshadows Batman’s ultimate sacrifice at the end. For some the scene may feel thrown in, but not only does it sow heavy interest in this mythos, but it directly influences Batman’s arc.
MARTAIN MANHUNTER – THE GUARDIAN ANGEL
And speaking of Batman’s arc, the key player that solidifies that is Martian Manhunter. After waking up from the knightmare vision, Bruce Wayne walks out onto the patio of his lake-house and is confronted by Martian Manhunter. In this scene, he warns Bruce that the fight against Darkseid is not over. Further teasing the yet to be sequels. But even more importantly, he tells Bruce that his parents would be proud of him.
There’s something about the way this scene came to be that fascinates me, because it works on all levels. Originally planned as a Green Lantern cameo. Zack had shot one side of this scene in 2016 with Ben Affleck. Then when he got signed back on to return to finish the Snyder Cut, he shot the other half with John Stewart Green Lantern. This was something the studio advised against, but Snyder did it anyways, filming the scene in his backyard. And when he showed the film to execs, they demanded that Green Lantern cameo be removed. So he did, but feeling bad for removing a POC from the film, he replaced it with Harry Lennix’s Martian Manhunter. But ironically, I think it works better.
In the beginning of the film we see Martian Manhunter inspire Lois, under the guise of Martha Kent. And while some may feel this takes away from a tender moment between mother and daughter in law. It depicts Manhunter as this guardian angel that watches over the heroes of the world inspiring them to become the best versions of themselves. And this is no better solidified when Manhunter tells Bruce that his parents would be proud. That the person he’s become in the wake of the immense tragedies and failures were not in vain, because he has finally become who he was meant to be. Not only does this play off the Knightmare scene prior, juxtaposing Bruce’s fears, but it completes his arc of Bruce finally being at peace and no longer being tied to the tragedies of his past.
The additional photography could’ve ended up being a cheap gimmick that led nowhere. But Snyder made sure to make the most out of a very rare opportunity. Sure we can nitpick the unpolished VFX, or the reused shots. But I think that does a disservice to what Snyder was able to accomplish. Not only did he thematically round out an entire character arc in a short 5 minute sequence, but he left the door open to more stories to be told. Which if HBOMAX and WB are smart, they’ll take advantage of that. And also seeing how Snyder fought tooth and nail to even do those scenes in the first place, it shows that he truly is a maverick when it comes to filmmaking…
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