What Makes Snyder’s Cut Different From ‘Justice League’?

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There are new cameos from, among others, Vulko (Willem Dafoe), the Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix) and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Some of the Whedon version’s less convincing visual effects shots have been redesigned or fine-tuned, and the aspect ratio in which the movie is presented has been altered from a conventional wide-screen format to a the boxier, eye-catching “academy” ratio, which, Snyder said in an interview last week, he had always wanted “from the start.”

Snyder is known for staging scenes to popular music, and his cut is littered with new needle drops. A moment in which Aquaman chugs a bottle of whisky and struts from a dock into the roiling sea strikes a forlorn note with a Nick Cave song, where it formerly had the trailer-friendly rock jam “Icky Thump.” Another moment is set to a plaintive cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren.”

The Snyder Cut’s four-hour running time greatly expands on a plot that in the theatrical version felt cursory and rushed. Much more context is provided to explain the origins of the Mother Boxes (all-powerful devices with distinctly Freudian undertones whose theft imperils the world and sets this story in motion), as well to clarify the motivations of Darkseid and his horned minion, Steppenwolf, whose efforts now have an added dimension of centuries-old vengeance. There’s also an in-depth flashback revealing former battles between the forces of good and evil, and two extended dream sequences showing the fate that might befall the world should the bad guys prevail.

The film now also has time to elaborate on character back stories that the Whedon cut was forced to sketch faintly, if at all. The greatest beneficiaries are Cyborg and the Flash: neither made much of an impression previously, but together they are the heart of the Snyder Cut. Fisher’s performance, as a broken young man trying to hold on to a glimpse of hope, is sensitive and surprisingly nuanced, and Cyborg in particular is compelling now that the character has room to breathe.

In the Whedon version, Victor is a teenager who transforms into a human-robot hybrid more or less spontaneously. We don’t learn all that much about him, and his powers are never well-defined and don’t make much sense. In the Snyder Cut, we see him in flashbacks losing his mother in fatal traffic accident. He’s estranged from his father (Joe Morton), a top scientist specializing in alien technology, who uses one of the Mother Boxes to turn Victor into Cyborg after the crash.

Even his father has been fleshed out and now feels fully three-dimensional — a change that pays off at the end of the second act, when he sacrifices himself to help his son. “The mothers played a big part in ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,’ and we had it in our mind that this one would be about fathers,” Snyder said in the interview. “The sacrifice of the father is the thing we wanted to come through.”

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