Zack Snyder’s Justice League hit HBO Max last week and caused a considerable stir with the director’s vision finally playing out, over many hours, on the big screen. And fans might have noticed that the film is presented in a certain way with the title screen on HBO Max showing a black and white picture to promote the movie. Well, now it looks like, if you so choose, the full movie is available in black and white from start to finish. The newer version is called Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice is Gray and is available on the streaming platform now.
We all know that the original Justice League film differed greatly from Snyder’s original vision with Joss Whedon taking over the film and reshoots part way through when the former left because of a family tragedy. The Whedon version was such a mess that Snyder felt inclined to come back and finish what he had started. And apparently, part of Snyder’s original vision for the film was to put it out in black and white. He saw this as the better path but pivoted from the idea when he said the final product was going to look “too militant” if done in a monochromatic way.
Going black and white wasn’t the only stylistic choice that was a little, well, different when it comes to this updated version of Justice League. Snyder also chose to release it in 4:3 ratio formatting greatly diverging from how most televisions and screens display shows and movies at this point. In his defense on this one, Snyder did have pretty solid reasoning when it came to wanting to present the movie this way. In an interview on Film Junkee, Snyder says that originally, his intention was to have it play in a big way on IMAX and the 4:3 ratio is much better suited for that kind of theater. He thought it would be a better version when it came to fully capturing the superhero effect and that the black and white coloring would improve the experience as well.
This new black and white Justice League version is clearly an attempt to realize that original vision even if the results might end up seeing diminishing returns. The HBO Max trailers for his updated version of the film came in black and white leading some to suspect this would come into play for the actual movie when released. That didn’t end up being the case, thankfully, but considering how much extra dough went into getting the new one on the screen ($70 million-ish) I suppose the final piece was to make sure a version went out that played on what Snyder originally wanted for the film.
Because Snyder didn’t shoot Justice League with the full intention of finally being released in that style, the Justice is Gray version looks like it does leave something to be desired from a visual standpoint. This version appears to lack a significant amount of clarity and has washed-out lines in a number of different scenes. This is what happens, apparently, during the conversion process leading to a less than ideal final product.
For those wanting to see what Zack Snyder originally (mostly) intended for the film, Justice League: Justice is Gray is now available on HBO Max.