scorecardHarry Lennix waited to watch 'Zack Snyder's Justice League' with his wife to see how he looked as a superhero for the 1st time
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Harry Lennix waited to watch 'Zack Snyder's Justice League' with his wife to see how he looked as a superhero for the 1st time

Kirsten Acuna   

Harry Lennix waited to watch 'Zack Snyder's Justice League' with his wife to see how he looked as a superhero for the 1st time
EntertainmentEntertainment8 min read
  • Warning: There are spoilers ahead for "Zack Snyder's Justice League."
  • Harry Lennix told Insider how he was originally cut from the original 2017 film.
  • Lennix said "it's a childhood dream come true" to play a superhero at this point in his career.

Harry Lennix first saw the completed version of Martian Manhunter in "Zack Snyder's Justice League" when he recently watched the final cut of the film alongside his wife.

Lennix, who plays one of the last Green Martians J'onn J'onzz, told Insider, "I wanted to be surprised. I wanted to take it in, in context."

What did he think?

"Dare I say, I wish I could look like that all the time?" Lennix said of his character's comic accurate design. "I think it's beautiful ... As the fan, I'm trying not to jump through my skin, to say, 'Man, look at this!' I thought it was stunning."

While taking a break from developing the Lillian Marcie Center for the Performing Arts, named after his mother and his mentor, Lennix spoke with Insider Tuesday to discuss returning to the DC Extended Universe, what it means to play a hero at this point of his career, and how he'd love to see Snyder get to complete his full vision for this film (#RestoretheSnyderVerse).

The 'Snyder Cut' never would have been possible if it wasn't for the failure of 2017's 'Justice League'

Kirsten Acuna: Have you watched the final four-hour-and-two-minute "Snyder Cut"?

Harry Lennix: I did. I even watched the last two minutes. I wanted to see all the credits. I had the pleasure last night.

Acuna: Is that the film that you thought you were going to make in 2017?

Lennix: No, I don't think anyone could have expected a four-hour movie. No studio in 2017 would have probably allowed it, but it all came together beautifully. I don't think it would have happened without the other movie coming out and the fans demanding it.

Lennix didn't know the 'Snyder Cut' existed until Jason Momoa said he saw it, nor that he was supposed to be Martian Manhunter.

Acuna: I want to rewind the clock back and ask how long did you know that there was some other version of the film? Did you know since 2017?

Lennix: No, I did not. It might've been Jason Momoa, but somebody said that they'd seen the Snyder Cut and that sort of started ... the ball rolling with regards to, "Hey, release that cut." That's the real true vision, if you will, of what [Snyder] had in mind all the time.

Acuna: Did you then go to someone and ask if this was a real thing?

Lennix: No, I didn't actually ... Because of the two-hour demand that the movie be cut down, my character got lost in the shuffle. So I wouldn't have been in it at all unless HBO Max had stepped in and Zack had stuck to his guns. So, I was extremely surprised by it. It was the happiest surprise - something I never expected in my career. So that's really great; to be a superhero at my time and career. I didn't even know at the time that ... I was going to be Martian Manhunter. So that was all a wonderful surprise to me.

He learned the 'Snyder Cut' was happening with the rest of us and then received a text from Snyder

Acuna: What was your reaction when you learned Zack was going to be able to complete his version of the film? Do you remember where you were and how you found out?

Lennix: I had no idea. I did not know anything beforehand. I found out when everybody else found out. I think my immediate reaction, and I put this on my social media, I said, "Things don't just happen, things happen just." And I believe that's the case of this. This was, in some way, even a surprise to Zack that somebody would have said, "Yes, you can make a movie."

Acuna: Take me through what the call was like when you found out the original vision for the film would be restored and that you would have a very important cameo in here as Martian Manhunter.

Lennix: Zack, from time to time, will send me a text and I think this one basically said, "Hey, do you want to come and play?" [Laughter] I said, "Man, anytime." Listen, I would to just be in the arena. I would have loved to have been just a spectator.

He doesn't realize what a big deal he is [going], "Hey man, I'm working on this thing. I want you to come in. Would you be willing to do this?" I said, "Man, with you, I would go to the Gates of Hell and back."

I like working with him a lot. It's always a very easy conversation, never takes a whole lot of time. It's never forced. It's never anything other than just a pleasure to talk to him. I like him as a guy and love him as a filmmaker.

Lennix welcomes Snyder completing his vision while carrying forth with studio films already in place

Acuna: Zack has spoken about how they had a three-part plan for "Justice League." The "Snyder Cut" ends with you on a cliff-hanger. There's apparently artwork down in Dallas, showcasing some of what this trilogy would have entailed. Do you know what your character story or future would have looked like?

Lennix: I do not. I heard him talking about this the other day on a podcast. He said something to the effect of he had it all worked out in his mind. It's evolved a bit because stories do. They evolve as things happen in real life, in real time. Sometimes you're going to incorporate the current with the thing that was already set. So I don't know what the plans may be for the character.

I have not gone down to Dallas to check it out, but maybe one day. My wife's family is down in that part of the country. I would love to know just because I'm a big fan of the character now and I'm a huge fan of Zack.

This is something that I hope gets some more momentum behind it, this idea that maybe he could even, dare we hope, finish his vision for this narrative that he's got in his head. It is worthy of the time and resource ... that this film, this version, will get the love that it deserves. It changes the game in many ways. Who knows? I don't think this is the end of the story. I'll put it that way.

Acuna: HBO Max has a dilemma on its hands. I don't see how fans watch this and don't want more. You also have the current continuation of whatever the DC films are, but I don't see why you can't have both. We have the "Arrowverse" on TV and probably 15 different versions of Batman in the comics. Fans are well aware that there can be differences and that they can co-exist.

Lennix: Yeah, that's right. This is our new, in many ways, our new myth. This is the narrative of a nation in many ways, not just the United States, but it does somehow represent the ethos of our culture ... There's some 45,000 denominations of Christianity. If that could be the case that people could actually form and do entire reformations based on a few words here and there in scripture, if people have radically different ideas to go to war over these things, then it should not surprise us, that our national sort of mythology would have differences of opinion and approach and that they could be sustained.

Acuna: What an argument! Have you seen the next hashtag fans are already starting to rally behind, #RestoretheSnyderVerse? Do you have any thoughts on that?

Lennix: I think the fans have proven that it is now QED [quod erat demonstrandum] that they have a lot of power and I think that a little bit more persuading is not something that will be difficult to find here. I think they can absolutely move mountains. And, why not this one? This one would actually would be a fairly easy lift, I think at this point.

Lennix admits he hasn't read any of the Martian Manhunter comics

Acuna: You mentioned that you didn't originally know a lot about the character. Have you since done a deep dive? Have you picked up any comics or are you doing some homework in case they do call you back?

Lennix: I haven't looked at any of the comics yet. I wouldn't even know where to find them. On the internet, I put some time into finding out who this person is, John Jones, and figuring out what his powers are. They vary as you suggest, from time to time. He's a very interesting person. I know there was a war on his planet. I know all kinds of stuff. I know he likes Oreo cookies that he was introduced to by Shazam. I've enjoyed getting to know more about him and hope I have cause to learn even more, frankly.

Acuna: I use Comixology, but I'm pretty sure you can just ask [chief creative officer of DC Comics] Jim Lee. I think he would send you all of the Martian Manhunter comics that you needed.

Lennix: Oh really?

Acuna: I mean, probably? You just got to send Zack the text and say, "I need the Martian Manhunter comics."

Lennix: I will. I would say that's a good thing. Now, you know, of course, I wouldn't want to do that in any premature way. I don't want to get all set up and then they go and take some other guy to play the -

Acuna: Oh my gosh. Why would they? Zack had to hear your voice and then be like, "Oh yeah, that makes sense for you to be J'onn J'onzz."

Lennix: Yeah. I can confirm that Zack likes my voice, for some reason [laughter].

Playing Martian Manhunter is a 'childhood dream come true' for Lennix

Acuna: You didn't originally know that you were going to play Martian Manhunter. What does it mean to you to play a superhero and what do you hope that the viewers get out of seeing Martian Manhunter on screen, finally?

Lennix: I think my immediate reaction was it's a childhood dream come true. Right? So, in some way, the little boy in me is over the moon that I'm in it at all and that I was even in "Man of Steel," to be honest with you. I always loved Superman. I remember seeing the Christopher Reeve versions ... Even being in it, looking across the camera at Superman, Henry's Superman, for example, is a wonderful sort of childhood dream come to life.

As an adult, however, I even have more value for it because I believe that we all need these characters, now.

We all have a need, a cause, an urgency to believe. I see that this can be restorative in some way. It could be a kind of cure for cynicism, a cure for a hopelessness in a very depressed time that we're coming out of ... Whatever the challenges are, we, as a people, can conquer anything if we can just come together. I think this movie does it in a beautiful way.

"Zack Snyder's Justice League" is currently streaming on HBO Max.

This interview has been condensed for clarity.