Only a week after Zack Snyder’s Justice League released on HBO Max, the streaming service debuted a black-and-white version under the title Justice is gray. This issue marked the end of Snyder’s involvement in the DC Universe, with the entire film series set to be rebooted in the future. Given that the Snyder clip presented an intriguingly different take on the events of the original 2017 theatrical version, questions from the audience were natural about the nature of the film, and whether the new grayscale version included new scenes not yet shown in the film. Justice League director’s cut. Director Snyder himself said that his “ideal version” from Justice League would be to show it in black and white in an IMAX format.
The Snyder Cut’s HBO Max format – in 4:3 aspect ratio – presents the film in such a way because Snyder shot the film with the more square frame and is already a break from current format norms. While monochrome cinematography is usually only found for films that are considered more arthouse than superhero films – think Alfonso Cuaròn’s intimate films Rome — this isn’t the first time a major Hollywood blockbuster has been given the noir treatment. Previous examples of genre films re-released in black and white include Mad Max: Fury Road and Logan and the trend continues in monochromatic re-releases of titles from Nightmare Alley to Werewolf at night, all meant to emulate classic film. However, are there any other changes in Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice Is Grey? Here’s everything you need to know.
Justice Is Grey: Any New Scenes?
Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice Is Grey does not actually contain additional footage. Snyder indicated that he tossed around the idea of including the infamous Joker “we live in a society” line, but the dialogue in the Snyder Cut in color ultimately remained the same. The only variation is the title card including the subtitle “Justice is Grey”. Still, an HDR television that emphasizes the contrast between light and dark hues can make visuals pop in a way that can satisfy the hardcore fan looking for the true Snyder Cut experience.
That Justice is gray however, the release is a further representation of the greater significance of the once-mythical Snyder Cut, as the version of the film that Snyder himself showed friends in his home theater was also in black and white. After years of fan hype, Warner Brothers completed reshoots to release a version closer to Snyder’s own vision as part of its efforts to bring theatrical-grade films to HBO Max during the coronavirus pandemic. Snyder himself was free to present ZSJL how he would (though that vision sets up Justice League sequels that may never come to fruition). The black-and-white version of the film is just another way he exercised his creative liberties. But given the new direction for the DCU and the emphasis on HBO Max originals following the Warner Bros-Discovery merger, it seems unlikely that anything like Justice is gray will happen again, which makes it even more of a curiosity now.
The Snyder Cut was a win for fandom, but DC can now move on
As Justice is gray illustrates, the movement to restore Zack Snyder’s original vision of Justice League was a thorough victory. Considering his hard work on Man of steel, wonder Woman, batman vs. Supermanand Justice League himself, Snyder more than deserved to see his vision of the ensemble film realized. Now, however, it’s time for DC and its loyal fanbase to move on. The fight over the Snyder Cut’s release haunted the DCU for a few years, leaving Warner turning to alternate universe stories like Matt Reeves’. Batman and ultimately the negative cloud surrounding the Snyder-influenced films and the awkwardness of the transition away from his unfinished five-film saga doomed the first attempt at a unified DC film universe.
The existence of the black and white Justice League cut shows the disconnect between the self-serious, deliberately stylized ambitions of Snyder and Warner Bros’ desire for a more widely accessible franchise that could bring them the same success as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With James Gunn stepping in to design a new DC Universe, superhero fans will have to move on and deal with the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League and it is Justice is gray cut as the final cornerstone of Snyder’s vision of the DC heroes rather than a stepping stone to a future “SnyderVerse”.
Snyder didn’t shoot Justice League to be black and white
Early in the development process, Zack Snyder had the idea to film Justice League in black and white, corresponding to Justice is gray edition. But he scrapped this idea before shooting, saying it would make the film seem “too militant”. The film was shot with color in mind and as a result there are some scenes in it Justice League gray version, where the black and white version lacks clarity and has a washed out look. The unusual 4:3 ratio further creates an unusual look which can be distracting Justice Leagueactual content. The color version of the Snyder Cut is still the definitive version and the best way to watch Zack Snyder’s Justice Leaguebut Justice is gray is an interesting experiment that gives an idea of what Snyder’s initial ideas for the film would have looked like.
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