Justice League in the eyes of Zack Snyder

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
Justice League in the eyes of Zack Snyder
For director Snyder with Ben Affl eck and Gal Gadot.‘Doing the movie has been a great, incredibly cathartic experience.’
STAR / File

There has rarely been a movie so highly anticipated as Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the result of several years of petitioning from passionate fans using #releasethesnydercut. Now, fans in the Philippines can finally catch the Snyder Cut with the rest of the world on HBO GO.

The movie’s running time is four hours and two minutes.

What could director Zack Snyder possibly add to this epic tale? Stayed tuned.

In Snyder’s version, fans get a deeper look into each member of the Justice League — Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), The Flash/Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher), their backstory and their past experiences that motivate them today.

A gathering of D.C Superheroes (at random): Ben Affl eck as Batman, Henry Cavill as Superman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Jason Momon as Aquaman and Ray Fisher as Cyborg

In this practically radical take on the well-loved tale, Snyder introduces viewers to Victor Stone’s mother Elinore (Karen Bryson) and Barry Allen’s love interest Iris West (Kiersey Clemons). This movie has a more emotional story arc for Lois Lane (Amy Adams), greater context for Aquaman’s past courtesy of Vulko (Willen Dafoe) and the full range of Silas Stone’s (Joe Morton) love for his son Cyborg.

The film is divided into six parts which fans can watch in one sitting or may ease into the viewing experience by watching it in its separate parts: Part 1 - Don’t Count On It, Batman; Part 2 - Age of Heroes; Part 3 - Beloved Mother, Beloved Son; Part 4 - Change Machine; Part 5 - All The King’s Horses; and Part 6 - Something Darker.

Justice League is rated 16 across Asia.

Said Snyder, “For a long time, the existence of a Zack Snyder cut of Justice League was considered a myth. Nobody was sure if it was real or not. Prior to the announcement, what existed was probably a close to four-hour cut — not quite four hours, but close to. It existed on my laptop as a QuickTime file. It sat on my desktop on my computer for two years. I would show it from time to time to my friends and say, ‘Here’s a movie you’ll never see!’ All the visual effects were pre-viz. And I had turned the movie into black-and-white. That was what this movie was for me for two years.”

Did you think you’d ever do anything with it?

“I thought that maybe in 10 years or so there might be interest in revitalizing it, or showing parts of it in a documentary.”

This release really came about because the fans wanted it. What did that fan campaign mean to you? And when did you think this release might become a reality?

“It was a slow burn realization. I’ll be honest. It didn’t just switch on. Except for finally, on Nov. 17, 2019, the second anniversary of the release of Justice League, the fans rallied together into this giant voice (via a Twitter campaign) to call for ‘The Snyder Cut.’ That was really the moment where I went, ‘Holy smokes!’ That’s where I thought, ‘Wow, this could happen’. It wasn’t long after that, that I got a call from Warner Bros., saying, ‘What would it take (to do this)?’”

Henry Cavill as Superman

How would you describe Zack Snyder’s Justice League? What was your vision?

“It’s in the name. It’s Justice League. It’s putting together all these incredibly iconic characters and building them into a team — or a league, if you will. I really wanted to make sure that we took a deep dive into every character, to understand psychologically and emotionally where they were, so that when they came together as a family we understand why the unification of that family is not an easy thing to do.

“And I wanted to make sure the villains they faced were not going to be easily tested. That was my hope for the movie. Thank God I had an amazing cast and an incredible writer in Chris Terrio, because I feel like they all were on board with that.”

In the four years between shooting and the release of the movie, was there much change in the cut? Did your view on the story change?

“This is the cut that I had finished in January of 2017. It was the first cut I did of the movie. Frankly, it was the purest, untouched version of the movie. In working on this release, it was nice to jump over the middle process of re-cutting and go right to finishing. Movies tend to crash into rocks (during post-production) and get mired in politics. This version, when we dusted it off and looked at it, we felt there was a purity of vision there. We put it up in the theater for everyone to watch. I hadn’t seen it in a while and we all thought, ‘Geez, that’s cool’.’’

In this movie, we really get to meet Cyborg properly for the first time. What is it you love about that character and what does he bring to the movie?

“Cyborg is really the heart of the movie in a lot of ways. I think he represents, on a really personal level, someone who’s struggled through a great loss and is now adrift in the world and really looking to find his place. What is he? I think that story also kind of mirrors all the other members of the Justice League. With them coming together as a family, we really use Cyborg as a detailed look at that experience of becoming whole again, as a member of a community.”

This movie is also the first time we’ve seen Darkseid. He’s a legendary comic book villain, so how was it bringing him to life?

“Darkseid is a brawler. He’s a conqueror and a destroyer of worlds. I really love the political world that he comes from and his relationship to his underlings and how they work together. I think that it’s really fun. I love our Steppenwolf in the movie. Ciaran Hinds is a genius and voices him with real sympathy and heart — if you can for a villain. I find him incredibly interesting and fun to explore.”

You also revealed a look at Jared Leto’s return as The Joker, Batman’s ultimate nemesis. It’s the first time you’ve put Joker in one of your films. Why did you want to bring him in?

“I hinted at the existence of Joker in my universe in Batman vs. Superman, in a couple of ways. There’s the dead Robin. His suit is in the Batcave in sort of a shrine. He’s memorialized by Batman to remind him of pain that was inflicted on him by Joker. Written on Robin’s suit is, ‘Haha, the joke’s on you.’ That suggests a larger relationship between those characters. I really wanted to add a scene between Joker and Batman. Their relationship is so important to this universe. The fact that I’d hinted at a Joker in my world and yet he and Batman hadn’t met up, that seemed like a bit of a crime. I wanted to try to remedy that.”

It was your first time directing Jared Leto. How was that experience?

“He’s an incredible actor who is really dedicated to the process. He and I got along incredibly well. He is just as obsessive as I am about this character and this world. He was a joy to work with. I would do something with him again in a heartbeat.”

The film was released on March 18 across the world. Why was it important to you that everybody got to see it at the same time?

“My fan community is so international and they’ve been so incredible in their dedication to not only the movie and the work I’ve been trying to accomplish, but also to the causes I support. Mental health awareness and suicide prevention are causes that are super close to me. Through this fandom we’ve been raising so much money and so much awareness, literally saving lives through the work that they do.”

This movie has been such a long journey for you. How do you feel now that journey is complete?

“I feel great. It’s been incredibly cathartic. I couldn’t imagine a year ago that this would be a thing we’d be talking about, but here we are. Miracles do happen. For all involved it’s been not only this mountain of a movie but also a real healing process and a joy. It’s been a joy to work on and to interact with the fans on this level.”

(E-mail reactions at rickylophilstar@gmail.com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)

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