ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE: Check Out Some Cool Before And After VFX Images From The Snyder Cut

ZACK SNYDER'S JUSTICE LEAGUE: Check Out Some Cool Before And After VFX Images From The Snyder Cut

Some new VFX stills for Zack Snyder's Justice League have been released, and they showcase characters like Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), and Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix)...

Love it, hate it, or simply don't care, there's no denying that Zack Snyder's Justice League made an impact when it arrived on HBO Max last month. Visually, the movie was quite the spectacle, and Art of VFX recently caught up with VFX Supervisors Bryan Hirota and Julius Lechner (from Scanline VFX) to discuss their work on the Snyder Cut. 

Snyder is a filmmaker who incorporates a lot of visual effects into his movies, hence why the budgets often go higher than expected. His cut of Justice League cost $70 million to complete, with much of that money being spent on finishing off the many visual effects shots Snyder planned to use.

Here are some comments from both Hirota and Lechner about their work on Cyborg, Steppenwolf, and Martian Manhunter (a new addition to the movie who wasn't present before last year).

Cyborg:

"We received the model for Cyborg back in 2016/2017 from another vendor, so we were not directly involved in his creation. However, we did create some of his gadgets, like his quad arms for example. Since his geometry is intricate and, while staying rigid, still had to allow for a reasonable range of motion, his character rigging was definitely a challenge. For the shots where we had to use his model, it was crucial to have a tight lock on his head motion to fit his metal skull and face piece onto his performance. On close-up shots, where there was lots of dialogue, it could be quite tricky because of all the soft tissue moving around, that in reality would be pinned down by the metal."
 

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Steppenwolf:

"Steppenwolf’s current design can actually be seen in Batman v Superman, when Lex Luthor is in the genesis chamber at the end of the movie. So we did know about this design before. Weta Digital built his model and also shared their simulation setup for his spikes with us. The heavy geometry was definitely a challenge for our rigging and simulation departments initially, but we were eventually able to build very efficient rigs and setups for it."
 

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Martian Manhunter:

"Martian Manhunter was a new addition that did not exist at all in 2017. We based his model on a concept design that we received from Zack, but we were also able to incorporate our own ideas. Zack wanted to have his face look alien but still recognizable as Harry Lennix, who also plays General Swanwick in the movie. Because this character was a new addition, and due to the restrictions surrounding COVID, his creation was a bit unusual. As we could not use a character scan as a starting point like we usually would, we had to sculpt his face based on photo references. For his performance capture, we also had to get creative. Usually we would use footage from a head mounted camera but since that was not possible given the circumstances, we relied on regular cameras filming Harry’s head as he was recording his dialogue. We then used facial motion capture software to track his performance and apply it to Martian Manhunter’s face."
 

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Zack Snyder's Justice League sets up a sequel!

10. Lois Lane's Pregnancy

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There are several hints throughout the movie that Lois Lane is pregnant with Superman's child, and that's since been confirmed as being the case by Snyder himself.

Needless to say, that's a big deal, and is likely something the filmmaker planned to explore in detail over the next two chapters in his Justice League trilogy. This revelation makes that shot of the Man of Steel cradling Lois' charred remains even more horrifying, and better explains why the hero ultimately falls under the control of Darkseid. 

While we could make some predictions about where this pregnancy would ultimately lead, we know thanks to Snyder that Superman's powerless son would have one day become the new Batman.
 

9. Darkseid's Mission

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Steppenwolf is beaten by the League (badly!) as Darkseid watches on in this cut of Justice League, but now that he knows the Anti-Life Equation resides on Earth, nothing will stop him trying to acquire it. 

As the movie ends, he decides to rally the forces of Apokolips for another full-scale invasion of Earth, so it's clear now this battle against Steppenwolf and his Parademons was the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, it looks like Darkseid would have been victorious, hence the existence of that Knightmare timeline. 

However, there are quite a few nods to the Multiverse throughout the Snyder Cut, so we can't help but wonder if the filmmaker had ambitious plans to explore what that meant in his sequels as well.
 

8. Lex Luthor Reveals Batman's Identity

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The 2017 version of Lex Luthor's meeting with Deathstroke saw Warner Bros. tease the formation of the Injustice League (a group Snyder actually planned to utilise in one of his sequels). 

The original scene, however, was meant to lay the groundwork for The Batman. Looking for revenge after being locked up in Arkham Asylum, Lex tells Slade Wilson that Bruce Wayne is beneath the cowl. That certainly would have made Deathstroke's mission to take Batman out quite a bit more interesting, and is something we could still see become a reality in some form. 

Affleck not only returned for Snyder's reshoots, but also signed up to star in The Flash. Surely that long-rumoured HBO Max adaptation of his take on The Batman could now be made a reality? 
 

7. Tapping Into The Speed Force

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Joss Whedon's Barry Allen was a comedy doofus who couldn't break into a run without tripping over his own feet. This version, however, is taken on a very different journey in Snyder's Justice League.

After tapping into the Speed Force to reverse time and save the League, the Scarlet Speedster is far more confident when he's running through Central City than when we first met him. It's also worth noting that he's clearly able to more effectively tap into his extraordinary abilities now. That includes time-travel, a game-changer for any comic book universe. 

What Rick Famuyiwa had planned for this version of the Flash is unclear, but we can only hope Andy Muschietti is taking more inspiration from this iteration than the goofball racing around back in 2017. 
 

6. Clark Kent Returns

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Clark Kent was reported to have died during Doomsday attack, but it seems Kal-El has once again taken on that identity if this scene is any indication. We saw this in 2017, of course, but the colour of the suit has changed as Snyder decided the Man of Steel would continue to wear the black costume. 

That's noteworthy, and Superman could be seen wearing that outfit while cradling Lois' charred remains. However, it appears falling under Darkseid's control is what leads to the red and blue suit's return.

What we don't know is how Clark was able to be resurrected without compromising his secret identity as Superman, though it has, of course, been revealed that Snyder planned to explore the hero's struggles with getting back in touch with his human side in those planned sequels. So, while this seems like a cool, throwaway moment, there was clearly still more story left to be told. 
 

5. Last Heroes Standing

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Cyborg's vision gives us an idea of what happens after Zack Snyder's Justice League, but the Knightmare scene right at the end of the movie also leaves us with plenty to think about. 

Clearly, Batman needs The Joker's help to find something which will send the Flash back in time to save Lois Lane and make things right, but it was Bruce's inaction which seemingly caused her demise (something The Joker points out with great delight in a standout scene) in the first place. Deathstroke, Mera, and Cyborg are all on hand to help, but things go badly wrong when Superman arrives.

It's unclear whether this takes place before or after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice's Knightmare scene, but we can safely assume that not everyone makes it out of this confrontation alive. 
 

4. Cyborg's Power Upgrade

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Cyborg's arc in Zack Snyder's Justice League is easily the most interesting, and while he loses his father, the hero does ultimately accept his new status quo and moves past his grief and anger.

The original plan was for Victor Stone to factor heavily into The Flash movie, something we now know won't be happening. He was also supposed to get his own solo outing, but chances are this will be the last time we see Ray Fisher play the character unless Snyder does return to the DCEU. 

It's exciting to think about where this powered up Cyborg could go next, but Snyder envisioned his story ending with Victor mastering his powers to the extent he could once again appear human.
 

3. Wonder Woman's Return Home

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Wonder Woman 1984 didn't resonate with a lot of fans, and we still haven't seen Diana Prince brought into the present day. That's hopefully the plan with the threequel, but Snyder appeared to be teasing something different for his version of the character at the end of Justice League

As Wonder Woman looks out mournfully into the distance, it's clear she's thinking about Themyscira.

We know from that glimpse into the future that she's ultimately reunited with her bother, albeit as Darkseid burns her body in front of her fellow Amazons. Snyder once hoped to use Doctor Poison to wipe out Themyscira after Diana returned home, but it seems Darkseid kills her instead if this sequence - which was added along with the Knightmare scene - is any indication.
 

2. Hall Of Justice

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Bruce Wayne decided to convert Wayne Manor into the Hall of Justice in the theatrical cut as well, but it feels a little more meaningful here (especially as it shows Batman further stepping out of the shadows).

Thanks to a glimpse into the future, we know that the Dark Knight is ultimately successful in creating this base of operations for the team, but thanks to the mind-controlled Superman, that doesn't last long. He's shown at one point hovering over the remains of the Hall of Justice with a dead Kilowog at his feet and Batman's cowl in hand. It's a striking, memorable piece of imagery. 

Hopefully, it's an idea which can be elaborated on by Snyder in the not too distant future, eh? 
 

1. Martian Manhunter's Message

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Zack Snyder's plan was for this meeting to feature the John Stewart version of Green Lantern. However, due to their own plans for the hero, Warner Bros. asked that he not use the hero (which sucks, but makes sense, especially as it would have overshadowed whoever they cast in the role). 

Martian Manhunter isn't a bad substitute, though, and it's clear he'll be there to help the League.

That could go some way in making sure that desolate future doesn't come to pass, and the hero would likely be key in the battle against Darkseid. This is a brief, albeit very interesting conversation between the two heroes, and as Martian Manhunter didn't seemingly factor into Snyder's original plans, it would be fascinating to see how a sequel made use of both him and a Green Lantern.
 

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