If you have four hours to spare, this weekend might be a good time to compare the original Justice League to Zack Snyder’s extended cut of the film that just premiered on HBO Max. There’s a lot to discuss about what changed and all the footage that was added, including some reshoots that early critics have said just doesn’t look right. But the first thing people have seemed to notice about Zack Snyder’s Justice League is that the R-rated film is considerably more violent than the original.
According to Snyder, though, that’s entirely the point. According to the extended cut’s director (spoilers ahead), the added blood and gore highlight the thematic differences about his sense that the film’s heroes are god-like saviors of mortal man. But there’s also an essence of his “creative freedom” in making an R-rated superhero movie that he felt he needed to explore.
Variety shared quotes from Snyder and highlighted a difference many saw in the two films: a scene where Wonder Woman foils a bank robbery now has the bad guys hitting a wall hard, with noticeable blood left on the wall and some more overt signs of serious injury to those involved.
Snyder wanted to push the envelope. “It’s a pure exercise in creative freedom,” the director told Variety this week about the Snyder cut of “Justice League.” Similar to the “Ultimate Edition” of Snyder’s 2016 film “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” which was also R-rated for a digital and home video release only, Snyder says knowing his film would be streaming on HBO Max freed him from having to make his “Justice League” work for a PG-13 rating.
“Let’s just do it the exact way we would if there was no ratings board,” he said of his team’s thinking. “Let’s not use any second guessing. Let’s just do it the way we think is the coolest. That was the philosophical approach.”
That scene in particular sparked a debate on social media about whether it was right for the character to have killed anyone in the first place, with its defenders saying Wonder Woman isn’t on the Batman character arc of not killing. In any event, it seems there are some serious reasons for Snyder to include more blood and gore beyond it just looking cooler in a movie.
“I always feel that the consequence is important to me, that there’s real stakes,” Snyder said. “It still is abstract, you know. These are gods fighting men. Which is also part of the point. We can’t really fight them. Humans can’t really fight them.”
Vanity Fair had a much longer analysis of the big differences with the two cuts, including a lengthy explanation of the film’s now-extended epilogue. Interestingly, there are some limitations that DC ended up putting on Snyder, not in the level of violence but who could appear in the film, especially in the epilogue. But as far as blood on the walls, it’s clear that Snyder got what he wanted in his four-hour epic.