Justice League: Zack Snyder Reveals Why Steppenwolf Is So Spiky in the Snyder Cut

One of the starkest differences between the theatrical cut of Justice League and Zack Snyder's [...]

One of the starkest differences between the theatrical cut of Justice League and Zack Snyder's original version is in regards to the movie's primary villain, Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf's original design was more akin to his look in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (in a cut scene from the theatrical version), but his look was changed for the theatrical cut of Justice League. When the Snyder Cut came around, Snyder and the folks at Weta Digital went back to his original look, with silver armor that featured a bevy of spikes that seemed to flow and move. Snyder, along with visual effects supervisors at Weta Digital Kevin Andrew Smith and Anders Langlands, explained why in a new interview with Yahoo Sports.

"He's a legit space knight," Snyder said, and Langlands was excited to get back to that original premise. "We essentially went back to the original design that you saw at the end of Batman v Superman, and worked from that same concept art" Langlands said. "Zack had the idea that his armor would react to his mood and be part of his performance, as if it was some kind of alien technology that's symbiotic with him. We built the armor as a bunch of interlocking scale pieces, with individual metal scales laid on top of his surfaces. Our animators were able to develop a system where they could go from a dormant state to an angry state."

The armor didn't just react to his mood, but also whatever he was doing, including combat, and would adjust accordingly to augment his attacks.

"When he's fighting in various scenes you can see how the ripples almost augment his strength, like he's boosting a punch or a jump," Langlands said. "We hit upon a kind of iridescent silver metal, and then played around with different ideas for how colorful it would be. Normally you'd show the director a calmed-down version and an extreme version and end up somewhere in the middle, but with Zack it was like, 'Let's go with the extreme one.' And that was great because it made him a really compelling character to work on. He was so much fun to light, because his armor reacts in this beautiful way with all sorts of color shifting over the surface and pinging off the shiny metal."

Snyder couldn't have been happier with the results, and that included Steppenwolf's penchant for slamming that axe in the ground.

"I'd get a shot back, and go, 'Holy s***, the horn shine is insane!' That was literally a thing I said almost everyday. The other conversation we always had was about his axe: He's always sticking his axe in the ground whenever he gets mad. We decided that's what he would do as part of his mood. Whenever he needed to emote, he'd just stick his axe in pretty much anything: steel, concrete, whatever. That was fun. He's a space knight in his weird armor just stomping heads," Snyder said.

As for Steppenwolf's ultimate fate, the head roll was always part of the plan, but the horns posed a problem that needed solving to make it work.

"We always knew that we wanted Steppenwolf's head to roll right under Darkseid's foot, and he was going to catch it like a soccer ball," Smith said. "But we realized his head wouldn't roll correctly because he had horns. So that was the birth of the idea that Superman would cut one of his horns off with his heat vision. Once we did that, people were like, 'You might as well break the other one as well just to add insult to injury.' Some people have expressed to me that they felt sad when his head gets crushed, but I'm like, 'He was trying to destroy the Earth with Parademons! He's hard to defend in a court of law.'"

Justice League is available to stream now on HBO Max.

What did you think of Steppenwolf's armor? Let us know in the comments!