Why Isn’t ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ on Netflix?

The Big Picture

  • Warner Bros. has licensed the DCEU collection to Netflix minus Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which remains a Max exclusive.
  • Fans campaigned for “The Snyder Cut” after Snyder parted ways with DC in 2017.
  • Snyder and Netflix have built a successful partnership, with both parties collaborating on Snyder’s Army of the Dead franchise and his new movie Rebel Moon.


The big ones have arrived. Following Warner Bros.’ success licensing their titles to Netflix (i.e., Godzilla vs Kong and Dune), almost every DCEU film — Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Batman, Wonder Woman, both Shazam movies, etc. — has a new home on Netflix. Conspicuously missing from this list are Zack Snyder’s Justice League and the Joss Whedon-directed Justice League from whence the “Snyder Cut” movement sprung. But the absence of both versions isn’t too surprising. Unlike its fellow DC properties, the Snyder Cut is an HBO Max original. Even with the rest of the catalog moving to Netflix — and Zack Snyder’s newest film, Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire, debuting on the platform — the chances of Max relinquishing streaming rights for the Snyder Cut are slim to nonexistent.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League

Determined to ensure that Superman’s ultimate sacrifice wasn’t in vain, Bruce Wayne recruits a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions.

Release Date
May 18, 2021

Director
Zack Snyder

Cast
Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Willem Dafoe, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J.K. Simmons

Rating
R

Runtime
242


How Did the Snyder Cut Happen?

The Snyder Cut originated after Zack Snyder, DC’s then-mastermind behind their growing cinematic universe, parted ways with the company in 2017. Joss Whedon assumed control over Snyder’s unfinished Justice League project and changed Snyder’s vision. Whedon’s Justice League, released in the summer of 2017, received a critical thrashing. Some fans were likewise disenchanted, launching an online #ReleasetheSynderCut campaign. For three years, they maintained that the director deserved a chance to finish the film as he intended. In 2021, Snyder released his completed four-hour cut, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, as an HBO Max exclusive. Aside from Snyder holding a fundraiser IMAX screening in April 2023, the Snyder Cut has remained on Max ever since.

Between the fan campaign’s devoted intensity and its surprising success with studio executives, the Snyder Cut made headlines. That same online activity, and sometimes controversial press, makes it likely Warner Bros. and Max will keep the Snyder Cut in-house. Certainly, Warner Bros. has spent this year making seemingly inexplicable business decisions. The Snyder Cut, however, was always a special case. Holding the complete rights to what’s considered a beloved fan property or a needless indulgence — or somewhere in between — means the attention, and any resulting profit, stays with Max.

Zack Snyder and Netflix Have a Successful Partnership

The DCEU jumping to Netflix is almost ironic, considering Zack Snyder’s creatively satisfying partnership with the streaming service. Netflix produced Army of the Dead in 2021, the sequel to Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, a critically acclaimed remake of George Romero‘s influential zombie classic. Army of the Dead spawned an ongoing franchise after trending in the Netflix Top 10. Snyder then overhauled his existing Star Wars concept into the sci-fi/action extravaganza Rebel Moon, part one of which debuts on Netflix on December 22.

During the press tour for Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire, Zack Snyder praised Netflix’s supportive leniency to Entertainment Weekly. For him, a collaborative studio was a new experience. Netflix’s producers suggested splitting Rebel Moon into two films to avoid compromising Snyder’s vision. They also approved both a PG-13 and an R-rated cut of Rebel Moon: the first for general audiences, the second to preserve Snyder’s ambitions. The director said, “This was the first time I had ever been able to make a movie and plan for that. The cut was not me fighting with them like, ‘Okay, you won’t do what I want. Can I at least release it on DVD?’ It was us going together.”

Related

‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ Review: A Longer Cut Causes New Problems

Given its lengthy runtime, the heralded ‘Snyder Cut’ never makes the case for its epic scope.

Snyder went on to say he’s pleased with Rebel Moon as a PG-13 experience. Snyder compares the R-rated director’s cut to Peter Jackson’s Extended Editions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which allowed Jackson to add more mythology, characterization, and violence. Snyder told Vanity Fair: “The first version of Rebel Moon to hit screens will be a fantasy adventure that anyone can enjoy and watch. The later cut will be strictly for adults. I think for fans of mine and people who are ready to take a deeper, harder dive, that’ll be fun for them.” Additionally, Deborah Snyder expressed happiness about her husband’s return to his early days as a hands-on director and cinematographer.

No Matter Where It’s Streaming, the Snyder Cut Lives On

Henry Cavill as Superman in Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Image via Warner Bros.

Zack Snyder enjoys long movies. Zack Snyder’s Justice League aside, he previously released director’s cuts for Watchmen and Batman v. Superman, and toyed with a re-cut of Sucker Punch that includes his preferred ending. His words indicate that bisecting Rebel Moon was the first time Snyder’s made an ambitious project with full studio support. Arguably, the Snyder Cut could reach more people through Netflix than Max. Presumably, Zack Snyder’s Justice League and the attention that comes with it won’t be leaving Max anytime soon.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is available to stream on MAX in the U.S.

Watch on MAX

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