The HoloFiles

What to Watch Before Zack Snyder’s Justice League

by George Bate for @DCMotherbox

After years of requests to see the fabled version of Justice League, it’s a matter of days before fans can finally see the Snyder Cut (it’s well worth the wait). So, what better way to spend the hours waiting for Zack Snyder’s Justice League than to immerse yourself in several key DC and Zack Snyder films. Here’s some films we recommend in preparation for the Snyder cut:

Man of Steel

The first movie in the DCEU, Man of Steel soared into theaters in 2013 and has been one of the closest things to a cult classic we’ve gotten in the superhero genre. Man of Steel is fantastic and largely got overlooked when it debuted. With an entirely new take on Superman, Zack Snyder gave the title character a breath of fresh air, rejuvenating Superman with Henry Cavill in the lead role. Man of Steel is vital viewing pre-Snyder Cut as it sets the groundwork for the DCEU we’ve seen unfold since. Superman is arguably the plot of the main storyline of the universe up until this point, with his presence setting up the conflict in Batman v Superman, the reaction of the U.S. government in Suicide Squad, and the universe level conflict in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. It’s definitely worth a rewatch before Thursday. 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition

Zack Snyder’s Justice League directly follows the events and storylines of Batman v Superman and, as such, going back and watching the 2016 film is more than a good choice. BvS was met with negative critical reviews and underperformed financially, but has (fortunately) been reappraised over the last few years. BvS is a criminally underrated film, especially when realized as the 3 hour R-rated Ultimate Edition. The film is a brilliant sequel to Man of Steel in directly exploring the implications of the battle in Metropolis and the arrival of Superman, rather than glossing over the importance of these events. Ben Affleck’s new iteration of Batman is dark and hardened, with his journey culminating in a reevaluation of his values that we see unfold in the Snyder Cut. More than any film on this list, BvS is necessary viewing before it’s true sequel is released. 

Suicide Squad

This will be a somewhat controversial inclusion on this list, but Suicide Squad is probably worth a reevaluation (hear us out). For as scattered and jumbled as it is, Task Force X’s live-action debut is entertaining and is unlikely to bore anyone. But perhaps more than any other reason, Suicide Squad warrants a rewatch, because we hope what happened with Zack Snyder’s true vision being realized happens with David Ayer. Ayer has been a vocal proponent of the #ReleasetheAyerCut movement and, after seeing what a mammoth improvement Snyder’s cut is over the theatrical cut, we can’t help but hope and pray that the real Suicide Squad is seen at some point. But, for the time being, we have the theatrical cut to watch. Similar to Justice League, the movie explores the aftermath of Superman’s death. And we also get our first look at Jared Leto’s Joker in this film. Given that the Academy Award winner is reprising his role as the Clown Prince of Crime in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Suicide Squad is a great movie to watch in preparation.

Watchmen – Ultimate Cut

What better way to prep for the release of a 4 hour Zack Snyder director’s cut than to watch another lengthy Zack Snyder director’s cut (this one only sits at 218 minutes). Like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, Watchmen was woefully underappreciated upon its theatrical release in 2009 (are you sensing a pattern here?). Snyder brilliantly captures the themes and emotions of the classic Alan Moore comic, while infusing it with his own signature style. The theatrical cut was improved with not one but two extended editions, the longest of which we’re recommended. This ultimate cut includes the 186 minute director’s cut of the film and, like the graphic novel on which the film is based, is integrated with Tales of the Black Freighter edited throughout. All in all, Watchmen is dark and beautiful and intimate, making it a perfect appetizer to Zack Snyder’s next venture in the superhero genre.

Justice League

We saved the worst for last on this list and, even more so than Suicide Squad, this will be a controversial inclusion. Prior to watching the Snyder Cut, I deliberated whether or not it was a good idea to watch the film’s spotty theatrical cut. On one hand, it would make for interesting viewing prior to the fully realized vision of the film’s original director is unleashed. But, on the other hand, it may negatively impact the viewing experience of the Snyder Cut. In the end, I bit the bullet and rewatched the theatrical cut of Justice League in preparation for Snyder’s film and I’m really grateful I did. From a purely filmmaking perspective, it’s fascinating to sit back and watch two different directors approach the same film with radically divergent directions. It’s so interesting to parse apart what Joss Whedon uniquely added, as opposed to what Snyder’s original vision entailed. Beyond that, though, watching the theatrical cut deepened my appreciation of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. We never truly got a sequel to Batman v Superman and, as such, have been waiting five years to get one. The 2017 cut had moments of brightness, most of which were scenes filmed by Snyder, but, ultimately, never really came together. Viewing the Snyder cut, therefore, provides a nice juxtaposition and truly highlights how brilliant this version of the film is relative to its predecessor.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League premieres this Thursday exclusively on HBO Max. Stay tuned to DC Motherbox and SW Holocron for continued coverage of the film.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros and HBO Max

The HoloFiles

The HoloFiles is a website and series of social media accounts, including Star Wars Holocron, Marvel Tesseract, DC Motherbox, Film Codex, and Horror Necronomicon. We love cinema and television, and aim to spread positivity across different fandoms. Come to us for news, reviews, interviews, trivia facts, quotes, behind the scenes photos, analytic features, and more!