Fans spent years clamoring for Warner Bros. to “#ReleaseTheSnyderCut” of Justice LeagueThey believed that before Zack Snyder quit the production of the massive DC Comics crossover, he had finished a cut of the movie, which Warner Bros. then suppressed while instead putting out the creatively compromised version that was rewritten and finished by writer/director Joss Whedon.

Die-hard Snyder heads will finally get their wish when Zack Snyder’s Justice League premieres on HBO Max. But is that movie really “The Snyder Cut”? After HBO Max announced the new cut of the film, Snyder spent months working on its special effects — and even directed reshoots for the project during the fall of 2020. So did that original Snyder Cut even exist? If it did, what did it look like?

Vanity Fair has a lengthy article about the movie, the controversy, and the kerfuffle over the “Snyder Cut.” It’s definitely worth a read from beginning to end, but we’ve singled out this tidbit, which describes what the “real” Snyder cut actually was. Yes, it did exist — but only in an extremely rough form that could never have been released without significant additional work:

When Snyder left Warner Bros., he took his laptop, which was emblazoned with a Justice League sticker. On the hard drive was his original, nearly four-hour version. It was devoid of visual effects, music, and all the fine-tuning that make a movie a movie. It was also in black and white. To him, it was a memento. He thought, ‘We would just show it to random people who stopped by, like our friends or whatever.’

The version coming to HBO Max is not simply that laptop cut with finished effects, either. For one thing, it includes characters that never even appeared in either of the previous cuts of Justice League, like Jared Leto’s Joker.

Initially, Snyder says, Warner Bros. just wanted to release that extremely rough laptop cut. Snyder refused, believing they simply wanted internet fans to leave them alone, and possibly even to show how rough and bad it was so that they could use it as evidence that they were right to release Whedon’s movie in the first place. Instead, he convinced Warner Bros. to spend roughly $70 million making what’s now called Zack Snyder’s Justice League. (For comparison’s sake, the entire Sonic the Hedgehog movie cost about $80 million.) According to Snyder, that budget doesn’t even include money for him, since he’s not being paid for this work.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League premieres on HBO Max on March 18. Why do we get the feeling if fans don’t like it, they’re going to start campaigning for the release of that original Snyder Cut next?

Gallery — Movies You Won’t Believe Were Rated G:

More From ScreenCrush