Zack Snyder’s Justice League is set to release on HBO Max in 2021, and along with the other major changes made in the 2017 movie, the Snyder Cut will fix Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) in comparison to Joss Whedon’s theatrical version of the character. The collective disappointment in Whedon’s Justice League led fans to demand the original vision of the film that Snyder had promised before he left the project. The #ReleasetheSnyderCut campaign that went on for almost two and a half years finally made Warner Bros cave. While the exact release date of the movie has not been revealed yet, the estimated budget of $20-30 million is evidence that there is a lot of work to be done with respect to reshoots, visual effects, etc.
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Whedon’s Justice League was a reaction to the underwhelming performance of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was largely considered too dark; though the film did well at the box office, its 28% score on Rotten Tomatoes was not what Warner Bros. had hoped for. However, the drastic theatrics and the light humor of Whedon’s Justice League left audiences and critics disappointed with the finished product. Justice League delivered an unsatisfactory storyline, loose subplots like Batman’s Knightmare scene were left unexplained, characters like Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) were underdeveloped, and the final product was a tonal pastiche of two vastly different filmmakers. Most importantly, Justice League‘s villain, Steppenwolf, was underwhelming.
Given the fact that Snyder has confirmed that the Snyder Cut will be a whole new thing as compared to the 2017 movie, there is much to expect from it. It will not only remove Whedon’s content but will restore much of what was Snyder’s original plan for the DCEU and the storyline that he aimed to establish. This will include more information about Steppenwolf – the villain’s backstory, his appearance, and his connection to the DCEU’s most imposing villain, Darkseid.
Steppenwolf’s Backstory Was Cut From Justice League 2017
Justice League’s 2-hour time constraint, mandated by Warner Bros. once Whedon joined the project, led to extensive editing and reshoots, and this meant character backstories and important arcs would be cut. Characters like Cyborg, the Flash, and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) did not have established backstories in comparison to Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). Flash was reduced to a simple comic relief character and Cyborg, whose character arc Snyder called, “the heart of the movie,“ did not live up to that expectation at all. Whedon’s characters seemed to be hastily patched together, rushing towards a climax, without a proper depth in their background, which made them look superficial and one-dimensional on screen.
Steppenwolf was no exception. Throughout many of Justice League‘s Steppenwolf scenes, he spouts video game boss dialogue about “ultimate power” that comes across as vague and generic, but before the theatrical release, Steppenwolf actor Ciarán Hinds teased an “old, tired” villain who is “still trying to get out of his own enslavement to Darkseid.” Not only does this fit with the character’s comic book origins, but a backstory that paints Steppenwolf as a reluctant soldier in Darkseid’s army would add much more dimension to the character and the film as a whole.
Scarier Character Model
On Vero Snyder has teased the changes he would make to Steppenwolf, and if the budget allows for it, the changes in the character, as well as the direction of the story, could be drastic. While Steppenwolf was always intended to be the primary antagonist of Justice League 2017, Whedon removed various aspects of the character’s original design. Warner Bros. thought that Snyder’s version of the story, as well as the character, was too dark and scary. The Steppenwolf at the end of Batman v. Superman is dark and angular, almost inviting comparisons to the xenomorph from Alien. In Whedon’s Justice League, the villain’s appearance is more human, with discernible facial features and a less imposing physique. When fans get to see the Snyder Cut, they will find a much scarier villain, one that has an important connection to the DCEU’s most important antagonist.
Darkseid Changes Everything
While Darkseid was teased in Batman v Superman he was nowhere to be seen in Justice League. The history lesson scene in the film was meant to include Darkseid in order to establish him as a looming threat, as a DCEU equivalent of Sauron in The Fellowship of the Ring. This would not only then leave Darkseid in the minds of the audience as the ultimate villain and destroyer, but also add dimension to Steppenwolf’s character. Steppenwolf was originally meant to be Darkseid’s bidder, like Loki is to Thanos in The Avengers, before Whedon made alterations to the film. In the theatrical version, the only reference to Darkseid the audience got was one random scream from Steppenwolf, which explained neither his dynamic with Darkseid nor his drives. This was puzzling because Darkseid’s intended inclusion in the history lesson scene would lay the groundwork for not only his own character but also the background and motivation for Steppenwolf. Without these factors, Steppenwolf came across as a vaguely driven villain.
Snyder has teased Darkseid’s presence in the history lesson scene of Justice League through a tweet by posting an image of young Darkseid on the battlefield. Here Darkseid appears to be Uxas, that is Darkseid before he acquired godhood. Darkseid leading the battle in the history lesson as originally planned would have confirmed Steppenwolf’s dynamic with him and placed Darkseid as the original threat for the future, opening up different possibilities for the DCEU to explore in future films. Consequently, Steppenwolf would probably not come off as underwhelming as he seems in the film.
The Snyder Cut is then clearly rumored to not only bring back Darkseid but also change the fate and characterization of Steppenwolf drastically, perhaps even his death. The audience’s excitement about the Snyder Cut has no bounds, and only time will reveal what the original plan for Justice League and all its characters, in Snyder’s mind, has been.