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Why is zack snyder’s justice league gray?

Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League, often referred to as the “Snyder Cut,” featured a distinctly darker, grayer color palette compared to the theatrical version released in 2017. This stylistic choice was quite noticeable and earned Snyder’s Justice League the nickname of being the “gray and dingy” version among fans and critics.

There are several reasons why Snyder chose to go with a bleak, washed-out color grading for his cut of Justice League. In this article, we’ll explore the main factors that contributed to the muted, grayish look of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Zack Snyder’s Signature Visual Style

One of the most obvious reasons is that a dark, desaturated visual style has been a trademark of Zack Snyder’s directorial films. He has exhibited a preference for gritty, high-contrast looks in movies like 300, Watchmen, Man of Steel, and Batman v Superman.

Snyder’s visual approach lends itself well to comic book adaptations and blockbusters; it adds a stylized, graphic novel-esque quality to the cinematography. The muted color palette and heavy use of shadows evoke the tone and mood of many influential comic books. Fans of his work have come to expect and embrace his artistic choice of bleak, grayish visuals.

So when Zack Snyder was brought back to helm the Justice League director’s cut, it was only natural that he would stick to his signature style. The grim, washed-out color grading helps maintain visual cohesion with his previous films in the DC Extended Universe. Staying consistent with his trademark look was an artistic choice by Snyder.

Tonal Consistency with Batman v Superman

Stylistic continuity with the previous DCEU films, especially Batman v Superman, was another reason why Snyder maintained the dark, muted color palette.

Batman v Superman, which precedes Justice League narratively, had already established a bleak visual tone. The climactic battle between Batman and Superman adopted a darkened, stormy aesthetic. Bruce Wayne’s nightmares and glimpses of the post-apocalyptic Knightmare timeline were tinted in black, white, and red. These creative choices set the foundation for Snyder’s preferred look for the shared DC cinematic universe.

Having Justice League suddenly shift to a brightly colored, vibrant palette would have clashed with the established moody style. Keeping the DCEU visual tone consistent meant carrying over the gray and shadowy color grading. It served as an artistic choice to maintain tonal alignment between the connected films.

Thematic Purpose

Beyond continuity with his previous DC films, Snyder’s desaturated color palette also serves important thematic and narrative purposes in Justice League.

The muted grays and browns evoke a feeling of gloom, dread, and hopelessness in the film. This aesthetic mirrors the dire situation unfolding in the movie’s plot. With Superman dead and Bruce Wayne growing more bitter, the heroes are fragmented and losing faith. Darkseid’s impending arrival threatens the entire planet.

The monochrome visuals and lack of vibrant colors reinforce the bleak circumstances facing the Justice League. It helps convey a world plunged into darkness, both literally and figuratively. Snyder uses his signature washed-out filter to mirror the thematic tones.

In contrast, the climax becomes more vibrant once Superman is resurrected and the League unites against Steppenwolf. The gray gives way to sunlight and clear blue skies as hope is restored. This makes the shift more uplifting and powerful. The visual arc from a dismal, muted world to one filled with color aligns with the thematic progression of the story itself.

Darkseid’s Influence

In Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it is revealed that Darkseid attempted to conquer Earth in the ancient past. He was opposed by an alliance between the Amazonians, Atlanteans, Olympian Gods, and even humans.

This primordial war is shown to have devastated the planet. Entire civilizations were brought to ruin, and the Earth did not recover fully for thousands of years. environmental scarring from this cataclysmic event persisted and is referenced multiple times.

The ravaged, scarred landscape of this history could have literally drained the color from the planet itself. Snyder shows present-day scenes where the ground is cracked and burned. This serves as visual evidence of Darkseid’s corrupting influence on the very geology and ecosystem of the Earth.

The muted, washed-out look of the environments suggests that color has not yet returned to the world after Darkseid’s invasion eons ago. The gray, lifeless tone could be Snyder’s way of showing how the planet has not healed fully from that ancient war. Setting the movie against this still-recovering backdrop provides context about why the visuals are so bleak and pale.

Parallel to Noir Comics

Zack Snyder has stated that his DC films pay homage to iconic comic book artist Frank Miller. Titles like The Dark Knight Returns clearly influenced Snyder’s interpretation of DC characters, especially Batman.

Miller’s gritty, noir-inspired graphic novels often feature high-contrast black and white visuals with heavy shadows. Snyder tries to evoke a similar look on film through desaturated colors and dim lighting. He wants to transport the dark, brooding tone and atmosphere of those comics onto the big screen.

This noir-esque style comes through in the grayish, dilapidated settings of Gotham City. It also translates via Batman’s pitch-black tactical suit and Snyder’s liberal use of silhouettes. Drawing inspiration from Miller’s seminal noir comics goes hand-in-hand with crafting a bleak, stylized version of the DC universe.

Increased Creative Control

Finally, having full creative control over Justice League’s visuals allowed Zack Snyder to fully realize his vision. The version released in 2017 had been heavily re-worked by Joss Whedon during reshoots. As a result, some of Snyder’s original directorial choices were changed or removed.

But with the Snyder Cut, he had complete freedom to impose his signature style this time. Having regained command over the cinematography and color grading process enabled Snyder to paint his definitive adaptation. No longer constrained by studio interference or directorial hand-off, Snyder was able to unify the visual aesthetic entirely according to his personal sensibilities.

This is clear in the remarkably consistent gray and brown filter applied throughout. The liberation to finally implement his trademark washed-out color palette resulted in one of the Snyder Cut’s most prominently discussed attributes.


Zack Snyder’s Justice League undeniably adopted a noticeably desaturated, pale color grading compared to other superhero films. But rather than a random stylistic choice, this trademark grayish look served important purposes. It maintained tonal cohesion with previous DCEU entries, aligned with narrative themes, and allowed Snyder to evoke a graphic novel aesthetic. The freedom to fully control visuals let Snyder stay true to his signature style. For these reasons, the Snyder Cut proudly introduced audiences to the grayer side of the DC cinematic universe.

Reason Description
Zack Snyder’s signature visual style Gritty, high-contrast look with muted colors is characteristic of Snyder’s films
Tonal consistency with Batman v Superman Matches the bleak tone established in the previous DCEU film
Thematic purpose Gray color grading reflects the gloomy narrative circumstances
Darkseid’s influence Scarring from his attack drained color from the planet
Parallel to noir comics Evokes the high-contrast lighting of graphic novels
Increased creative control Full freedom allowed Snyder to fully impose his visual style