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Zack Snyder's Justice League
Zach Snyder's Justice League March Poster 02.jpg
Director: Zack Snyder
Producer: Charles Roven
Deborah Snyder
Writer(s): Chris Terrio
Release Date: March 18, 2021
Running Time: 241 minutes
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Zack Snyder's Justice League, also known informally as Justice League: The Snyder Cut, is a re-released form of the Justice League film released on HBO Max, based on what was originally intended by director Zack Snyder and screenwriter Chris Terrio before the film was heavily modified without their contribution for the 2017 theatrical version by Joss Whedon.

Plot

As Superman dies while sacrificing himself to stop Doomsday, he releases a death cry that reverberates throughout the world, awakening the Mother Boxes, three cubes of immense power - one in Atlantis, one in Themyscira, and the last in the closet of Victor Stone's bedroom.

Don’t Count on It, Batman

Bruce Wayne, making good on his vow to honor Superman's sacrifice, travels to a remote village in Iceland to get in touch with Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman, who helps bring the village food and save people lost out at sea. Bruce tries to recruit Arthur to his cause and invokes Superman's name, but Arthur rejects the offer, feeling he doesn't owe anyone anything. After Arthur leaves, swimming off into the sea, the village residents sing a song for their guardian. As Bruce and Alfred leave to go back to Gotham, Alfred wonders if Lex Luthor's warnings are just the ramblings of a madman, but Bruce can't shake off the bad feeling he has.

Around the rest of the world, Superman's passing still hangs a shadow, and those who knew Clark personally are hit the hardest. Lois still visits Superman's memorial every day while the Kent farm has been foreclosed on, as Martha was unable to keep up with the payments. Crime has also gone up in several parts of the world as well, as Superman is no longer around to stop them. In London, a small group of reactionary terrorists who wish to "turn the clock in Europe back one thousand years" take a museum full of people hostage, including a bunch of schoolchildren, and set up a bomb to explode. Diana Prince, back in action as Wonder Woman, subdues the terrorists, throws the bomb into the sky where it detonates without causing any casualties, and protects the hostages from getting massacred by the leader's assault rifle before taking him out with her gauntlet attack. Afterward, Diana checks on the hostages, as well as giving words of encouragement to an awestruck young girl.

In Themyscira, a portal opens. Steppenwolf, lieutenant of the forces of Apokolips, and his army of parademons appear, determined to steal the Amazons' Mother Box. The Amazons valiantly fight to protect it but are unable to stop Steppenwolf from stealing the Box and escaping with it. Hippolyta, knowing that Steppenwolf will go the Lands of Men next to steal the other two boxes, shoots the Arrow of Artemis into an ancient Greek temple that had been a shrine to the Amazons, sparking a signal fire for Diana to see.

The Age of Heroes

Steppenwolf sets up his base of operations in Pozharnov, an abandoned USSR town that had suffered a nuclear reactor meltdown. After reporting his progress to his superior DeSaad, he sends his parademons out to hunt for the other two Mother Boxes. A parademon tracks down one of the boxes to a S.T.A.R. Labs facility in Metropolis, kidnapping a late-night janitor who happens to stumble upon it. The next morning, Silas Stone, the head scientist, and his assistant Ryan Choi discuss the break-in with local law enforcement investigators. They're informed that eight employees have gone missing and realize that someone or something might be trying to steal the alien technology they've been studying at their facility, which has been built around the crashed Kryptonian scout ship Superman activated. Later that night, Silas informs Victor that some kind of monster broke into the lab and the box likely isn't safe in their home.

After catching a news report on a fire at the Shrine of the Amazons, Diana travels to the temple, finding a secret passageway underneath. She sees a series of paintings detailing a battle from long ago against an evil invader from a dark place.

After saving a sailor lost in a storm, Arthur encounters Nuidis Vulko, who tries to get Arthur to take up his mother's trident to protect the Mother Box of Atlantis as Arthur's half-brother Orm is ignoring the crisis to try sparking a war with the surface world. Arthur, however, feels no desire to do anything for the Atlanteans, nor does he want to take on the throne. Vulko warns Arthur that he can't turn his back on the world forever.

Diana goes to see Bruce in Gotham, telling him what she's found out. Five thousand years ago, the forces of Apokolips, led by the being named Darkseid, attempted to conquer Earth using the Mother Boxes, which, once they synchronized to form the Unity, cleansed a planet with fire and converted all living beings into more parademons. The attempt was foiled by a unified alliance of the Old Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, humans, and a Green Lantern, and the Mother Boxes were unintentionally left behind during their retreat. After the battle, the Boxes were hidden in different locations, guarded by the Amazons, Atlanteans, and humans, respectively. The boxes have awakened and called out to their masters, ready to resume destroying and subjugating. Bruce is now more determined to bring his dream team together, knowing that they have to be united to stand up against this returning threat.

Beloved Mother, Beloved Son

In Central City, Barry Allen is late to a job interview for a dog daycare. He shares glances with Iris West, whose car winds up crashing into a truck being driven by a man who dropped his burger. Using his super-speed, Barry saves Iris from certain death and then grabs some hotdogs to feed to the dogs, trying to smooth talk his way into getting the job.

While Steppenwolf tortures some Atlantean soldiers for the coordinates of their Mother Box, Bruce and Diana look over the files of the other two metahumans on Luthor's flashdrive, with Bruce going to Central City to find Barry and Diana looking for Victor. Victor was caught up in a horrible car accident that killed his mother Elinore and left Victor disfigured and on the verge of death himself. Silas, in a desperate attempt to save his son's life, used the Mother Box on Victor, turning him into a cyborg. Since then, Victor has been holed up in their apartment. Their relationship has been strained for years due to Silas' focus on his work, with Victor blaming Silas for Elinore's death. Silas leaves Victor a recorded message to listen to. In it, Silas explains that the Mother Box has given Victor complete access to all of the world's technological systems, in addition to enhanced strength and jets that allow him to fly. Using his ability to access and manipulate monetary systems, Victor hacks into the bank account of a struggling single mother he spotted in Gotham and gives her $100,000. However, when the recording gets to Silas trying to speak to Victor as a father, Victor spitefully crushes it.

Barry goes to visit his father Henry in prison. Henry has been in prison for most of Barry's life after he was falsely accused and convicted of murdering his wife/Barry's mother Nora. Barry has been working multiple jobs trying to earn the money necessary to get a degree in criminal forensics so he can prove his father's innocence and free him, but Henry feels like he's a drag on Barry's life and tells him to stop visiting him. Later, as Barry returns home, he sees Bruce is waiting for him. Barry denies that he's the man in the security footage Luthor acquired showing him foiling a robbery in a convenience store with his super-speed but dodging one of Bruce's batarangs gives him away. Barry is ecstatic to be meeting Batman and immediately accepts his offer to join the team he's putting together, much to Bruce's surprise.

While Alfred helps to design gauntlets that absorb energy with materials salvaged from the Kryptonian ship, Diana looks for Victor, who contacts her through the computers in the Batcave. When they meet, Diana tries to appeal to Victor's better nature but Victor feels no desire to help anyone and doesn't see his powers as a gift. Later, Victor buries the Mother Box in his grave. While he does this, Silas gets kidnapped by some parademons who traced the Mother Box to him.

Steppenwolf arrives in Atlantis to take away their Mother Box. The guardians there put up a tough fight of their own, with Mera almost sucking the blood out of Steppenwolf with her water manipulation powers, but even Arthur's intervention doesn't stop Steppenwolf from acquiring the box and escaping back to his base. Later, Mera then tells Arthur that he can't keep holding his mother leaving him against her, as she did this to save his life and moreover, Arthur has a responsibility to stop Steppenwolf from synchronizing the Mother Boxes and claiming Earth in Darkseid's name.

Change Machine

Victor sees a broken window in his home and his father's glasses on the floor. Realizing that something bad has happened, he sees the Bat-Signal in the sky. He joins Bruce, Diana, and Barry as they receive intel from Commissioner Jim Gordon, leading them to Steppenwolf's army in an abandoned facility under Gotham Harbor. Steppenwolf tries to torture the captives to get information about the last Mother Box's location, including threatening and interrogating Silas, driving Victor to attack Steppenwolf and rescue his father. Wonder Woman is able to hold Steppenwolf at bay, Batman engages with the parademons, and Victor and Barry escort the captives away from the action. Steppenwolf retreats but the battle has damaged the facility, almost flooding the place before Arthur appears and holds the water back to give everyone else time to escape.

After retreating back to his base, Steppenwolf receives a vision from the two Mother Boxes he has, which shows him that the Anti-Life Equation is on Earth. He informs DeSaad, who in turn informs Darkseid. Darkseid tells Steppenwolf to find the last Mother Box and synchronize the Unity on Earth, and then he'll personally come to Earth himself to take the Anti-Life Equation and Steppenwolf can be able to return back home to Apokolips.

The League regroups at the Batcave to discuss the situation. Steppenwolf is much stronger than expected and they can't find his base, even though the Boxes are awake. When Victor recounts how his father awakened the Mother Box to reconstruct his body following the car accident, but the Box didn't call out to Steppenwolf, the League realizes that Superman's death was the trigger that awakened them. Victor reveals the way the Mother Boxes work as "change machines" that can deconstruct or reconstruct the particles of an object depending on the situation it's being used in. The League comes to the conclusion that they could use the Mother Box they have to resurrect Superman, who could give them a fighting chance to defeat the forces of Apokolips.

Martha comes to visit Lois, who hasn't been to work since Clark died. Lois admits she's still hurting and misses Clark badly. Martha encourages her to "come back to the living". As she leaves, her form changes into that of an alien which then shifts to that of General Calvin Swanwick.

All the King’s Horses

While Barry and Victor bond as they dig up Clark's coffin, Diana and Arthur talk about their peoples' history and find common ground. The League goes in to infiltrate the S.T.A.R. Labs facility, with Victor hacking the systems to trigger an alarm and evacuate the building. They reach the Kryptonian ship and place Clark's body into the Genesis Chamber fluid, but Luthor's experimentation caused too much damage to the electrical systems so there isn't enough charge to awaken the Mother Box. Barry reveals he can generate massive electrical power with the Speed Force, so he runs to the back of the ship and gets ready to run close to lightspeed. However, as Cyborg plugs into the ship's systems, he receives a terrifying vision of a nightmarish apocalyptic future in which Darkseid has conquered Earth and killed Diana, Arthur, and Lois, the last of which rendered Superman vulnerable to being corrupted by the Anti-Life Equation. Victor whispers 'no' in horror, which Barry mishears as 'go' and runs, summoning the charge necessary to awaken the Box and revive Superman. In an explosion of electricity and fluid, Superman bolts up into the air, hovering over Metropolis. Lois, who was visiting the memorial for what she vowed would be the last time, sees him in the sky while the Mother Box lands on a car, which is spotted by Silas.

Clark flies to Heroes Park, where Arthur, Diana, Barry, and Victor approach him. His reawakened super senses start to go haywire as he scans everyone. Victor's defense systems then turn on by themselves, sensing Clark as a danger. His arm shifts into a beam cannon, firing off at Clark. Clark reflexively attacks back. Diana and Arthur try to restrain him, but Clark is too powerful, easily subduing everyone. When Barry tries to use his super-speed to attack from behind, he finds to his horror that Superman can catch up to him. The military intervenes, shooting at Clark and getting his attention away. Clark spots Batman in the distance and, upon recognizing him for the events that led to his death, starts walking towards him. Before Clark can burn Bruce to death with his heat vision, Lois arrives. Seeing her calms Clark down and he flies off with her.

As the League recovers from their bout, Silas has taken the Mother Box back to the lab, placing it in front of a laser. Steppenwolf attacks the facility to claim it, and Silas locks himself inside the room, activating the laser to shoot the Box. Victor can only helplessly watch as his father is vaporized and Steppenwolf takes the Box, returning to his base. Victor realizes that Silas used the laser to heat up the core of the Mother Box, making it easier for the League to find with a thermal scanner. They track Steppenwolf's base and get ready to launch their offensive, which involves Victor plugging into the Mother Boxes and Barry running to build up the charge necessary to help him undo the Unity.

Something Darker

Clark and Lois land in Smallville, where he is regaining his memories with her help on the Kent family farm. Clark notices Lois has been wearing the engagement ring he would've proposed to her with and is reunited with his mother. Clark knows the others brought him back for a reason and promises Lois and Martha he'll come back.

Bruce discusses his dream of the apocalyptic future with Diana, and how the vision of Barry he saw told him that "Lois is the key". He has a feeling that it's all part of something bigger. The League then gets ready to board the Flying Fox to reach Steppenwolf's base, where he begins activating the Unity.

Clark returns to the Kryptonian scout ship, where he reflects on the words of his two fathers. Knowing what he must do and finally at peace with himself, he dons a black recovery suit and flies up into space, basking in the light of the sun. After he's powered up, he visits Bruce's home, where Alfred fills Superman in on the details of what's going on.

The League arrives at Steppenwolf's base. Batman breaks down the defensive barrier surrounding the town and everyone gets to work fighting their way through parademons. Once they reach the Boxes, Victor plugs into the Unity while Barry is running to build up the charge, Batman holds off the parademons, and Wonder Woman and Aquaman occupy Steppenwolf. Superman joins in and easily overpowers Steppenwolf, giving Wonder Woman and Aquaman a moment to recover before they rejoin the fight, tossing Steppenwolf around like a ragdoll before Superman lasers off one of Steppenwolf's horns. Victor is ready to receive the charge, but Barry gets knocked down by a well-placed shot from a parademon sniper, allowing the Unity to synchronize, the resulting explosion vaporizing the team and surrounding area. Barry enters the Speed Force before the wave of destruction reaches him. Realizing that he must break his one rule, Barry begins running faster than the speed of light, rewinding time back just seconds before the Unity's synchronization, giving Victor the charge he needs.

Victor is plugged into the Mother Boxes. They try to tempt him with a vision of his parents and him regaining his original body back, promising him that if he lets the Unity do its work, he can be reunited with his family and made whole again. Victor rejects this, asserting that he's not broken or alone anymore, and successfully undoes the Unity, rendering the Mother Boxes useless. Steppenwolf flies into a rage and tries to attack, but Aquaman skewers him from behind, Superman punches him to the portal Darkseid has been watching the battle from, and Wonder Woman finishes the job by cutting Steppenwolf's head off, sending him back to Apokolips in pieces. The League and Darkseid stare each other down before the portal closes. Despite the setback, Darkseid vows that he will acquire the Anti-Life Equation by whatever means necessary and tells his generals to ready their armada to launch a full-scale invasion of Earth. Meanwhile, the League boards the Flying Fox and they all return home.

Epilogue: A Father Twice Over

Victor reconstructs the broken tape recorder Silas left him and listens to the last part of his father's message. In it, Silas reiterates how proud he is of Victor and encourages him to use his powers for a good cause. Later, Victor visits his parents' graves and has finally made peace with himself and his father, vowing to make the most of his second chance at life. Arthur says goodbye to Vulko and Mera, telling them he needs to go visit his father. Ryan is promoted to head of S.T.A.R. Labs. Bruce, Diana (who is contemplating returning to Themyscira), and Alfred look over the former Wayne Manor and decide to convert it into a base of operations for the league. Barry has gotten a job at the Central City PD's crime lab, which makes Henry proud. Bruce has also helped the Kents reclaim the family farm and Clark resumes his life as a reporter and as protector of Earth.

Lex Luthor, who escaped Arkham Asylum, is visited by Slade Wilson, to whom Luthor reveals Batman's secret identity and offers to make a "league of their own". However, in the future, this hasn't come to pass, as Darkseid has taken over the Earth and converted Superman with the Anti-Life Equation. Batman is leading a resistance with Barry, Victor, Mera, Slade, and the Joker. The two longtime arch-enemies argue about Batman's past failures, including the deaths of Robin (who the Joker personally killed) and Lois; Batman had failed to protect Lois from being killed by Darkseid and he aims to undo this "Knightmare" by utilizing Barry's time travel capabilities to save her. Batman responds by revealing that while Harley Quinn bled to death in his arms, she made him promise her to kill the Joker slowly and painfully, a vow Bruce promises to make good on when the time comes, which manages to catch the Clown Prince of Crime off his balance, if only for a moment. Superman then appears, eyes glowing red. Everyone gears up for battle...

And then Bruce wakes up in his bed, startled and frightened. After recovering, he walks outside to the patio, where he is greeted by the green-skinned alien who had previously disguised himself as Martha Kent. The being asks to join the League, as he's realized he also has a stake in this fight and Darkseid is not going to stop until he's acquired the Anti-Life Equation. Bruce accepts the new teammate, who is named the Martian Manhunter, into the League.

Cast

References to the broader DC Universe

Taglines

To be added

Production

The film was shot in London, Scotland, Los Angeles and in Djúpavík in the Westfjords of Iceland.

The Justice League film suffered a difficult production. Following the release of Man of Steel, director Zack Snyder outlined the basis of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), which centered around a five-film arc including Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and a Justice League trilogy. Snyder's original vision was to have Batman v Superman be the darkest in the franchise, and have subsequent films become lighter in tone, but after the movie received scathing reviews for its dark tone, Warner Bros. became much less trusting of Snyder to deliver on this promise. The script for Justice League underwent major changes before and during production between 2016 and 2017. Snyder was mandated to keep the film at two hours long to allow for more screenings despite his insistence that it would be almost impossible as the film would be introducing three new characters (Aquaman, Cyborg, and Flash) on top of needing to establish the villains.

In May 2017, shortly after post-production began, Snyder announced that he would be stepping down from directing the movie to properly grieve the death of his daughter Autumn, who had committed suicide after struggling with clinical depression for much of her life, stating that the tragedy left him with no energy to deal with the studio anymore. Co-writer Joss Whedon, who had previously directed Marvel's The Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014), was hired to finish the film, completing it as an uncredited director. Whedon oversaw reshoots and other changes that incorporated a brighter tone and more humor, and kept the runtime in accordance with the mandate from Warner Bros. The theatrical version of Justice League came out on November 2017 and received mixed-to-negative reviews and was a box office disappointment, with critics and viewers calling it a "Frankenstein's monster" of a film with an inconsistent tone, weak story, and underdeveloped characters. Deborah Snyder (wife of Zack Snyder and co-manager of their production company The Stone Quarry) and Christopher Nolan (an executive producer on the film) were especially vocally displeased with the final product to the point they told Zack to not watch the movie.

When details surfaced about the film's troubled production (including abusive behavior from Whedon towards the cast members) and the state of the film before Snyder stepped down, some expressed interest in the idea of an alternate cut closer to Snyder's original vision for the film. The circumstances have been compared to those of Superman II, whose initial director was also replaced by one who made substantial changes. (Richard Donner was able to complete his envisioned Superman II cut in 2006.) Some assumed an alternate cut of Justice League was inevitable because some of Snyder's films had been re-released in extended cuts for home media (such as Watchmen and Batman v Superman), which some critics considered superior to their theatrical versions. Thus, the hashtag "#ReleaseTheSnyderCut" was born.

Despite Warner Bros. stating they wouldn't release the film and were taking the DC Extended Universe into a different direction focused on individual franchises and standalone movies rather than a connected universe building up to an arc, fans drew up petitions and kept the hashtag trending on social media, engaging in acts of fan activism to promote the cause. These included fundraising campaigns to purchase billboards and airplane banner ads during the New York and San Diego Comic Cons in 2019 calling for the release of the "Snyder Cut", with half of the collected proceeds going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which has been supported by Zack and Deborah Snyder since Autumn's passing. Despite concerns of "toxic" elements within the campaign due to some members harassing WB executives online, the movement gained support from several cast and crew members, including stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, and Ciarán Hinds, cinematographer Fabian Wagner, original score producer Tom Holkenberg (who left the theatrical project out of respect for the Snyders), Affleck's stunt double Richard Cetrone, and Zack Snyder himself, who revealed he had five hours of footage filmed before his exit and whet fans' appetites with clips of unused footage and storyboards of plot points not included in the theatrical release on his Vero account. Ultimately, in February 2020, WarnerMedia decided to move forward with releasing Snyder's footage as a complete movie after chairman Toby Emmerich acknowledged the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement and reached out to Snyder. After refusing to air his footage unfinished, Snyder was granted $70 million by the studio to add in special effects and do extra reshoots, adding in about five minutes of new footage to the final product. The film was released on HBO Max on March 18, 2021.

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External links

DC Extended Universe
Released Films Man of Steel | Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | Suicide Squad | Wonder Woman | Justice League | Aquaman | Shazam! | Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey | Wonder Woman 1984 | Zack Snyder's Justice League
Upcoming Films The Suicide Squad | Black Adam | The Flash | Shazam! Fury of the Gods | Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom | Untitled Justice League sequel | Cyborg | Green Lantern Corps