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How Zack Snyder's Justice League Redeems Every Character

 Warning: Spoilers For Zack Snyder's Justice League
Zack Snyder's Justice League redeems every one of the core characters of the movie. With the Snyder Cut now out on HBO Max and international streaming platforms, comparisons with the version that came before in 2017 are now inevitable. Judging from the response, there's little doubt on what the popular consensus is on which is the better version of the two, with the theatrical cut now all but left in the dust by the overall positive reception the Snyder Cut has enjoyed.

At double the length of its two-hour theatrical counterpart, and with every excised story point and character now restored, analyzing the theatrical version of Justice League now no longer requires any speculation or theorizing. One thing that is now crystal clear is how much the film itself was hamstrung by Warner Bros.' last-minute decision to rework the story so drastically. Moreover, virtually all of the main characters of the movie were in some way harmed by what Justice League was turned into (as was the entire DCEU franchise), with some characters bearing the brunt of that more than others.
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How Long Was The Original Snyder Cut?
The Snyder Cut undoes all of that with the story now unfolding as Snyder intended it to, and each character's planned role now being returned do what it was meant to be. The story of the Snyder Cut has been one of countless surprises and frequently even outright shock at the baffling decisions made to alter the movie at the eleventh hour. With Snyder's version released, the Justice League now has an infinitely better cinematic debut than the stitched-together Frankenstein monster that the 2017 film was. Here's how the Snyder Cut redeems all of the core characters of the movie.
Cyborg Justice League
As the character whose story was the most undercut in the 2017 Justice League, Ray Fisher's Cyborg has been returned to being "the heart of the movie", as Snyder has long described him. In the theatrical cut, the flashback to Victor Stone's accident and transformation into Cyborg was completely removed, replaced with a reshot version of his cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, while his mother Elinor Stone, played by Karen Bryson, was also cut out of the movie altogether. Only a few (mostly reshot) scenes remained to give viewers the essence of Victor's powers and overall origin. In the Snyder Cut, Victor has been returned to being essentially the main character of the movie, and the film now operates as an origin story for his transformation into Cyborg that builds off of his earlier cameo.

In addition to Victor's football days, his car accident, and the loss of his mother now being restored, an entire section of the film is devoted to Victor getting the hang of his cybernetic abilities, which runs parallel to Doctor Manhattan's origin in Watchmen. The grudge Victor holds to his father Silas (Joe Morton) for his transformation now also has much more weight, as does their overall relationship. Morton's Silas is also now far more fleshed out from the generic government scientist he was in the theatrical version to a genuinely loving father, and his death scene (not present in the theatrical version) hits hard with Victor having come to gradually let go of his anger towards Silas. Victor proves essential in stopping the Mother Boxes from forming the Unity in the end, and when faced with the temptation to join forces with Apokolips, he brushes it aside, now realizing that "I'm not broken, and I'm not alone." By the end of the movie, Victor realizes the hero he can be alongside the Justice League, paying his respects to his parents at their gravestones and now at total peace with his new body.
The Flash
The Flash Zack Snyder's Justice League pic
Always intended to be the dorkiest member of the team, the injection of comedy into Justice League's reshoots went into serious overkill with Ezra Miller's Barry Allen. In the theatrical cut, Barry's dialogue frequently fell into complete non-sequiturs for the sake of adding more humor to his role, such as in Barry randomly asking "What is brunch?" in his first meeting with Bruce Wayne. In the Snyder Cut, Barry is still the source of much of the humor of the film, but it now feels far more organic due to his youth, his fanboy-level admiration for the heroes he's been asked to fight alongside, and his overly light-hearted personality. Barry's intro in the film also gives him a much better starting point now, showing him rescuing Kiersey Clemons' Iris West from a car crash in slow motion and setting them up as the couple they will eventually become.

Barry's relationship with his wrongfully imprisoned father Henry, played by Billy Crudup, now also hits completely differently. Due to the removal of the reshoots surrounding it, Barry's desperation to exonerate his father for his mother's murder now has real pathos for the young hero, fully displaying how tortured Barry feels in having to speak to his father from behind glass. This makes Barry's enthusiasm to join the League because "I need friends" hit differently too, the chance of joining forces with the heroes he so greatly admires now feeling like a dream come true for Barry. Like Cyborg, The Flash is also instrumental in stopping the Unity, Barry pushing himself to run faster than he ever has before in order to reverse time just far enough to give Victor another shot at interfacing with the Mother Boxes. With the League victorious, Barry remains determined to free his father, but now no longer shackled by the despair that weighed him down before, he is is freer than ever in his final run through Central City at the end of the movie. (The Flash's strange, arms akimbo running style from the theatrical cut is also now thankfully gone, too!)
How Steppenwolf's Portals Work: Snyder Cut's Boom Tubes Explained
batman talks to the justice league with a serious expression

Bruce Wayne's arc under Snyder's direction was intended to flow in a very specific way, with Bruce falling into violence and paranoia in Batman v Superman, and returning to being the hero he was before after being shown the light by Superman's sacrifice. The theatrical cut of Justice League portrayed Batman as simply becoming more irrational in a different way, overly assured in his plans while being a far worse planner than ever, and so guilt-ridden over his aggression toward Superman that he's unable to think clearly. In the Snyder Cut, Batman's newfound reverence for Superman is now a guide rather than a cudgel for himself and the League.

This time, the idea to bring Superman back is much more of a democratic process among the League, with Batman factoring in how the Mother Box operates and how long they'll have before Steppenwolf comes for it. Batman is now back to the keen strategist he's always been, with his solo Batmobile chase against the Parademons in the climactic battle now being a situation he simply has to adapt to until the rest of the League arrives rather than emerging from his attitude in the theatrical cut of simply diving headfirst into everything alone in a bid to redeem himself. Batman is now a leader in every way that he wasn't in the 2017 version, and his faith in Superman now emerges not from a need to self-flagellate, but from Batman truly seeing Superman as a hero from their past experience together. As the film concludes, Batman's leadership skills and strategic thinking (along with his rage against Jared Leto's Joker) are also on display in the tease of the Knightmare apocalypse, and his welcoming of Martian Manhunter into the League in the final scene brings him full circle from his former distrust of alien visitors to his belief in the heroism that all people can achieve.
Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman Talking To Young Girl - Zack Snyder's Justice League

Coming off of the success of Wonder Woman that summer, Gal Gadot's Diana was heavily sexualized in the theatrical cut, with provocative shots of her from behind, Aquaman hitting on her while sitting on her lasso, and The Flash falling onto her chest during the tunnel battle. With all of that now gone in the Snyder Cut, the focus is on Diana as a warrior and the one to reach out to Cyborg. Her first big action scene in the film is the bank rescue that was seen in the theatrical cut, but with proper color grading and all of the excised parts of it restored (along with Diana's weird line of being "a believer" now no longer there), it's now far better, capped off with Diana's heroism inspiring a girl among the hostages to ask "Can I be like you someday?" with Diana responding "You can be anything you want to be."
Diana is also as much an essential player in forming the League as Batman is. Recognizing Hippolyta's arrow fired to warn of a coming invasion, Diana brings Bruce up to speed on Darkseid's previous attack on Earth, and what the Mother Boxes are capable of. Diana is once more Cyborg's recruiter in the Snyder Cut, but their interactions now also carry more impact with the losses both have experienced. Additionally, Wonder Woman, being the Amazonian warrior of the team, is now the one to land the killing blow on Steppenwolf, severing his head as he is sent through the Boom Tube to Apokolips rather than simply chopping his axe to a million pieces after it was frozen in the theatrical cut by Superman. As the breakout character of the first few DCEU movies, Wonder Woman returns to the sword-wielding demi-goddess she was in World War I, and one who, like her fellow Amazons, has no fear.
Justice League: Why Darkseid Lost To Ares In The Snyder Cut
Aquaman snyder cut justice league character mistake

With the biggest DC movie ever to his name going into the Snyder Cut, Jason Momoa's Arthur Curry is once more a wandering loner with no affection for his Atlantean heritage. While the bones of this were still present in the theatrical cut, the movie zipped through his story in a very vague and general way. In the Snyder Cut, Arthur might not want anything to do with Atlantis, but the sea always calls to him, and he can at least enjoy a trip to the bottom of the ocean to see the abandoned ruins of an Atlantean outpost. Willem Dafoe's Vulko, now restored in the Snyder Cut, prods Arthur to carry the trident of his mother and venture to Atlantis, warning of a brewing conflict, and though Arthur maintains his disinterest in becoming king, Vulko's prodding now gives context to Arthur's intervention against Steppenwolf's attack on Mera to retrieve the Mother Box from an Atlantean stronghold, rather than his random arrival there at just the right moment in the theatrical cut.

Arthur's relationship with Diana also lays out more of the history between their two peoples and their past conflicts. Owing to Diana's long-ago departure from Themyscira and Arthur's lack of connection to Atlantis, the two find a common ground that their respective nations seem to have forgotten while retrieving Superman's body, the two sharing the saying "None are taken back from the darkness. Not without giving one up in return." Arthur is also once again the trident-wielding, no-nonsense warrior viewers knew him as, with his action scenes now more impactful and exhilarating, Arthur fervently annoyed at Barry tripping him up during the Heroes Park battle and initiating the three-way takedown of Steppenwolf between himself, Superman, and Wonder Woman in the final battle. At the film's end, Aquaman departs Mera and Vulko to visit his father, still the League's most rough-around-the-edges hero but now understanding what he can accomplish when he allows himself to fight alongside others.
Not only is the Man of the Steel portrayed vastly better in the Snyder Cut than in the theatrical version of the movie, he's also possibly the biggest highlight of how pointless the reshoots even were. At first, there's the obvious upgrade in the lack of a CGI upper lip to conceal Henry Cavill's Mission: Impossible - Fallout mustache, leaving the biggest punchline of Justice League to the theatrical cut. Once Superman comes to senses after his initial post-resurrection haze (following a greatly improved Heroes Park battle with the League trying to get snap him out of it), Clark, knowing he is needed by the Justice League, wastes no time in returning to his old, heroic self, grabbing his new black Superman suit from the Kryptonian scout ship and joining his fellow heroes to defeat Steppenwolf.

This is also where the theatrical cut looks more befuddling than ever. While intended to present a classically hopeful take on Superman after the split reception to Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, that's frankly exactly what he was in the Snyder Cut all along. From the moment he takes flight in the new suit, Superman is cheerful, upbeat, and confident, and even drops a one-liner with his "not impressed" entry into the final battle, while also making good on storyboard artist Jay Oliva's description of Superman going "unhinged" against Steppenwolf. The reshoots (which were nearly the entirety of Superman's footage in the theatrical cut) did little more than just plug in a few different one-liners and have Superman carry an apartment complex to safety, all while dealing with the headache of erasing Cavill's infamous Superman mustache. In the Snyder Cut, Superman is the hero both supporters and skeptics of Snyder's films have been waiting to see, with the flubs dealt to him by the theatrical cut now a distant memory.
Why Justice League Snyder Cut Opens On Superman's Death
Where Superman is helped by the CGI that isn't in the Snyder Cut, Steppenwolf is made a much better villain by that which is. After a redesign for the theatrical cut that softened his outward appearance considerably, Steppenwolf is back to being an evil, spiky knight in shining armor once more. Not only that, but his complete absence of empathy or remorse for anyone he chops down with his ax, and the sheer efficiency with which he does so, now makes him a far more fearsome villain than he was. Compared to the more humanoid design he was given in the theatrical version, Steppenwolf's appearance and blood lust now feel like a real pay-off for Lex Luthor's warning to Batman of "He's hungry, he's found us, and he's coming!" (though this line might also have been in reference to Darkseid).

Though Steppenwolf is a monstrous murder machine in the Snyder Cut, the movie also makes him into a somewhat tragic villain too. Where Steppenwolf simply boasted that "This world is my right!" in 2017, his viciousness now stems from Steppenwolf essentially being an indentured servant to Darkseid. Admonished by DeSaad that he must still conquer another 50,000 worlds before being allowed to return to Apokolips, Steppenwolf is now much more fleshed out beyond Wonder Woman's description that "He lived only to conquer" in the theatrical cut. Though viewers still aren't meant to fully empathize with his ferocity, his beheading by Wonder Woman, and his head winding up literally under Darkseid's boot, are a visceral end for him. Coupled with how genuinely scary he now is, everything Steppenwolf lacked in 2017 he has now regained in the Snyder Cut.
Lois Lane & Martha Kent
Amy Adams as Lois Lane in Justice League

Both Lois Lane and Martha Kent were seriously degraded in the theatrical cut of Justice League, particularly in the movie's break room meeting between the two, with Martha dropping the infamous "thirsty" line. The Snyder Cut returns them to both the strong characters they were before and the pillars of Clark's life that they've long been. Lois, who is now pregnant in the Snyder Cut, is still in her grieving period over Clark's death, magnified by Clark having sacrificed himself to save the world from Doomsday's rampage. Encouraged by Martha (later revealed to actually be Martian Manhunter in disguise) to move ahead with her life as Clark would have wanted her to, Lois now brings Superman back to his old self in a far more direct and personal way than simply being "the big gun" in the theatrical cut, arriving at Heroes Park to bring Clark down to Earth and literally saving the League all on her own.

Though Martha herself is in the movie much less than Lois, partly due to the aforementioned Martian Manhunter reveal, she's nonetheless shown in a much better light as a grieving mother evicted from her home. The absence of the reshoots now makes her embrace of Clark after his resurrection, and her regaining of the Kent farm after Bruce "bought the bank" now far more emotional moments than they once were. Like the heroes and villains themselves, Lois and Martha are also elevated greatly in the Snyder Cut.
Justice League: Where To Spot Darkseid Actor's Cameo In The Snyder Cut
The Joker
Snyder Cut Justice League Trailer Jared Leto Joker

Though only a recent addition to the movie after Snyder was able to do some additional filming in the fall of 2020, Jared Leto's Joker gets a chance at a comeback after his heavily trimmed down role in Suicide Squad, and the Snyder Cut takes full advantage of it. Described by Leto as an "evolution" of the character, the Joker has become the chilling psychopath that Leto's casting would have indicated. Shown in the tease of the Knightmare future at the end of the movie, Joker joins forces with Batman, Cyborg, the Flash, Mera, and Deathstroke to undo the events that led to Darkseid's conquest of Earth. He and Batman strike a truce, with the Joker presenting the Dark Knight with a joker card signifying their new alliance against Darkseid.
Still, the Clown Prince of Crime can't resist the chance to get under Batman's skin with jabs about Robin's murder, as if daring him to strangle him to death right then and there. Leto's new look as the Joker fits right in with the Knightmare aesthetic of the scene, and his performance in the movie's closing minutes are the most chilling he's ever been in the role. Just one year ago, Leto's time playing Joker seemed almost certain to be a thing of the past, but despite how truncated his Suicide Squad role ended up being, the Snyder Cut brings him back for a tense Batman-Joker alliance to undo Darkseid's invasion of Earth.

Everything about the Snyder Cut's arrival has been counterintuitive and radically atypical from how any other superhero movie has been released. As the first-ever Justice League movie, it can now be definitively said that the theatrical cut did great harm to both the DC brand and the cinematic portrayal of just about every character on its roster. Like Barry Allen running back into the past, Zack Snyder's Justice League undoes all of that, giving the movie and each character in it an incredibly rare second chance they might never have gotten otherwise, and one that the DCEU badly needed.

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