Zack Snyder's Justice League is finally out and everyone can watch the 4-hour version to judge it for themselves. It's not so much the Snyder Cut as the Snyder Assembly – Zack Snyder put in virtually every scene he shot without having to stick to a shorter running time tailored for a theatrical release. He said this is his ideal version, everything he ever wanted in it and then some. But this is not the version he would have released in 2017 if he had a chance to put it together. He actually changed certain story elements in the 2020 4-hour version that were never planned back in 2017.
The Story was Originally a Mostly Steppenwolf Affair
Snyder actually changed story elements that opened up a bunch of plot holes that weren't there when he finished shooting back in 2017. In the flashback to the original epic battle where Apokalips invade Earth, it was actually Steppenwolf leading the invasion of Earth and not Darkseid. You can see that in the Joss Whedon version, which some now call "Joss-tice League", since he didn't change that. This would explain why Darkseid seemed to forget the Anti-Life Equation was on Earth after his humiliating defeat – in the original version, he wasn't there. It was Steppenwolf, and that would have been explained as his failure that caused him to fall out of Darkseid's favour. It makes more sense that Steppenwolf discovered the Anti-Life Equation Earth now when he missed it last time.
Snyder changed the CGI so that it's Darkseid instead of Steppenwolf, which ends up making Darkseid look weak in the final movie. He was defeated the first time he invaded Earth and once he sees the heroes brutally execute Steppenwolf before his eyes, he turns tail again at the end.
Zack Snyder's Justice League: A Rare Martian Manhunter Appears
All the Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix) scenes in the Snyder Assembly were not written or filmed or planned in the original 2017 version that was shot. Snyder stuck them in the new version that ending causing lots of story moments to not make sense when they did before.
Why would Martian Manhunter show up posing as Martha Kent to give Lois Lane a pep talk? Was that Martha or Martian Manhunter who drove all the way back to the farm to hug Clark? If it was Martian Manhunter, wouldn't that be kind of creepy?
The original 2017 version would have ended with the scene on the yacht with Luthor and Deathstroke, probably as an end credits scene. The Whedon version did that. Everything after that scene was scenes Snyder added in 2020, namely the future Knightmare scene with Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello) – who replaced Deadshot as Snyder planned in his original outline for the sequels) and Mera (Amber Heard) joining Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Flash (Ezra Miller) and Batman (Ben Affleck) having another of his talks with the Joker (Jared Leto), who was not in the outline for the planned sequels. Then there's the final scene after that.
The final scene with Bruce Wayne was supposed to be with the John Stewart Green Lantern instead of Martian Manhunter. WB and HBO Max wouldn't let Snyder use Green Lantern because they had other plans, which is the Green Lantern show for HBO Max currently in development. Snyder said he threatened to quit over that point and shot it secretly in his backyard with an unnamed actor. He reached a compromise with HBO Max to use Harry Lennix Martian Manhunter instead, which doesn't make much sense either. If nobody on Earth knows about Martian Manhunter, who actually calls him "Martian Manhunter"?
A newly director's cut of a movie often reflects the director's new intentions and desires. George Lucas tinkered with the Star Wars trilogy decades later. Francis Ford Coppola continued to recut the Godfather movies, Apocalypse Now and The Cotton Club to bring out new cuts. These new additions are indicative of Snyder's thinking. Another presence over the movie is his late daughter. This movie is, for him and his wife producer Deborah Snyder, a cathartic act and tribute to her, as evidenced in the cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah over the end credits. Whether or not the sequel gets made, Zack Snyder's Justice League feels like an act of closure in more ways than one.
Zack Snyder's Justice League is now streaming on HBO Max.