You may have recently experienced Zack Snyder’s original vision for the Justice League in all its slow-motion 4:3 aspect ratio excess, but there’s a missing element to the film that will soon be available on HBO Max: black and white. To hew even closer to Snyder’s ideal version, WarnerMedia is bringing Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice is Gray to its streaming service, featuring the same new cut of the film in an even darker and more grim color palette.
It was only last week that years of fan organizing culminated in the release of the Snyder Cut, but there’s no online campaign necessary for this next version of the film. Justice is Gray was announced on the official Zack Snyder’s Justice League Twitter account with no announced release date. A black-and-white clip offers a taste of the new version.
The urge to go black and white might not be a huge surprise. Before the release of the film, several of the official character posters shared by Snyder were in black and white. Also, both SlashFilm and ScreenRant cite an interview with Snyder on The Film Junkee YouTube channel where he shared that his ideal version of the film would be black and white and shot for IMAX. Justice is Gray and the decision to release the original version of the cut in the slightly more IMAX-appropriate 4:3 aspect ratio are inching closer to what Snyder always wanted to make. But a better question might be, why?
To be frank, the clip above is not a great illustration of the supposed benefits of black and white. For all the dramatic beams of light shining into the Batcave, other parts of the clip are just plain hard to make out. It speaks to the challenge of coloring a film after the fact, especially when it seems like it was conceived for color.
Other popular movies have received post-release conversions to black and white like Mad Max: Fury Road, which got a separate Black and Chrome release, and the standalone Wolverine film Logan, with Logan Noir. The hope generally seems to be that black and white can better highlight cool action moments or communicate some of the moodier, morally gray internal struggles of the characters.
Calling this new Justice League release “Justice is Gray” speaks to some of that intention. But outside of Snyder’s desire to make a black-and-white film, it feels safe to say this is yet another way to get eyes on HBO Max, whenever it actually gets released.