Justice League Snyder’s Cut Saga

On March 18th, the Snyder’s Cut got released on HBOmax, an astonishing outcome for a cursed movie.

The wait for the Snyder’s Cut finally ended on March 18th. If we, spectators, want to give it an honest look, we have to remember the fallout between Warner Bros and the Watchmen director started way before the 2017 release of Justice League. Sometime around Batman v Superman: Dawn of the Justice League, not exactly when the studio noticed Snyder was the only captain at the helm of a pretty big ship (The entire DCEU!) but when allegations of the company not liking Snyder’s work first appeared online.

What’s funny is: How do you want to drive flocks of people in theaters for your movie when the first thing they hear about it is that you are worried about the quality of said film? Neither should the Suicide Squad fiasco be forgotten. With David Ayer allegedly firing his agent through the production and heavy reshoots having been done to make the movie more humorous.

After every newspaper and online sources had puked on Batman v Superman, which still proved commercially successful, Warner decided two things. First someone else had to take the hold of the DCEU universe, most notably Geoff Johns. The company then decided their shortened copy of Batman v Superman was a failure for it hadn’t passed the billion dollars threshold. What’s interesting is that the slightly longer Ultimate Cut that got released latter on Blu-Ray turned out to be prefered by fans.

Let’s say putting someone else in charge other than a filmmaker embarked on a trilogy of blockbusters was a smart move. At least it seemed so.

Being a Snyder fan, I remember following closely this time period, when I linked every bad thing happening around the DC superheroes. I remember some saying Ben Affleck accepted to direct The Batman, solely so that Snyder could finish his peculiar vision. A rumor which, in light of what happened next, still rings true.

One Papers wrote during the production of Justice League were as alarmed as the first news about Batman v Superman had been. At the time it was current for journalists to write that Snyder had to rescue the DCEU. To me, it always seemed like a smear campaign. Whether you liked Snyder or not, it was not he who had chosen to reign over the entire DCEU, it was a place he was forced into when he accepted to direct Man of Steel. None of the executives at Warner thought that if the 300 director had accepted to release three full-length blockbusters, he might not have time to oversee the rest of the production they had set up.

Truth was, some found his vision of the DCEU too dark, what with him taking inspiration in comics such as The Death of Superman or basing his Batman on Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight. Those were choices you agreed or not with, but those were cleaving choices, one upon which a family-friendly DCEU could not be built upon. Hence why the first trailer for the Justice League contained at least a tiny bit of comedy. They were making the DCEU more friendly.

Alas, in March 2017, Autumn Snyder, Zack’s daughter, committed suicide. At the time, the shooting had wrapped for six months already. This would go on to become the excuse for the director stepping down from his position. There’s no debate over whether such a tragedy hit both the director and his wife — Deborah — would also worked on Justice League, still it could be noted that Snyder didn’t abandon his directorial effort before May.

At the time, Deborah Snyder had already stated that the movies reshoot only lasted three days. Hence why it came as a surprise when heavy reshoots were said to take place, putting Henry Calvill in an uncomfortable position. For, at the time, the Superman actor was contractually obliged to the new Mission Impossible sequel and had grown a moustache. This would go on to bite the whole production in the ass.

For what Warner didn’t tell anybody is that they asked Joss Whedon to almost entirely reshoot the entire. 15 to 20% they said. This official version never really sat well with me, for I was sure, the imbeciles who had ordered a lone filmmaker to take the helm of a multimedia franchise, despite him having to write and direct a trilogy of blockbusters, were dumb enough to ask the Avenger filmmaker to reshoot the entire movie on half the budget. Taking the entire production from a bad they didn’t like to a way worse situation. Because reasons…

As soon as the final trailer hit, amongst the rumours, eager fans were already pointing out the difference between what they already saw and what was offered to them. Please remember that at the time, few really knew what had happened. Aside from the people really involved in the production who could claim what had been done or redone or cut?

Still, there existed one glaring issue with the Justice League theatrical cut : Henry Calvill’s mouth. For the sake of Mission Impossible: Fallout, the Superman actor had to grow a moustache, a simple fact that rendered all the reshoots done with him almost useless. Warner Bros sunk millions in a CGI solution which rendered Calvill’s face weird and soon turned into a meme on social networks.

But the doubts had been cast, if Henry Calvill’s mouth seemed strange during the entirety of the movie. Did it mean all of his scenes had been reshot?

What’s interesting to me is that eventually Justice League was a failure far greater than Batman v Superman had been. Truth was, it was Warner Bros trying to step away from the plan they had sold to their fans. Yet, it made them look even more dumb for Wonder Woman was slated to be released as the first blockbuster directed by a woman, and there were talk of Aquaman, of The Batman!

Soon enough, Affleck stepped down as director on The Batman, and then as actor. Nowaday, we now know that the movie would have involved Deathstroke and took inspiration from the Arkham video game franchise. Still it led to a Se7en-esque movie directed by Matt Reeves — not before the fans already asked Snyder to direct this movie as well — and led by Robert Pattinson fighting against the Riddler. To me, the fleeing of Affleck always seemed like a confirmation nothing was going well in the entrails of the DCEU.

This is where social networks and fandom collides with the rise of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. See, while this all started with rumours of the movie being bad, there soon emerged rumour of an existing director’s cut. Of course, the filmmaker first stayed silent, maybe due to an NDA. But soon, action sequences began to pop online. Despite what Warner Bros had claimed there appeared to have been a Snyder Cut hidden somewhere. Their official version was that no such things existed, but what it seemed to fan was that they had scrapped Snyder’s entire vision when they asked Whedon to reshoot Justice League à la Avengers.

On her YouTube channel Curio, in an essay on how Zack Snyder subvert comic book adaptation through an objectivist prism, Sophie states that when comparing Justice League to previous Snyder’s movies, it becomes fairly obvious why this movie is not a Zack Snyder’s film. This seemed to be how every Snyder fan felt at the time.

But what separates the Snyder’s cut from every other movie that ever existed is that a private streaming network actually agreed to let Snyder try and finish his vision. It would be irrational to state that a streaming platform actually tried to iron a major cinema company’s mistake, yet this is what happens. And I don’t think HBOmax cared about art, they just knew there was money to be made out of it. Yet it remains of great interest. a sort of shift in power had happened.

With Ray Fisher’s allegations, the history of Snyder’s cut takes on a darker turn. As if incompetent executives hired abusive directors in order to correct a crash course they had not anticipated and then turned on one another when shit hit the fan.

What can be learned from it is that power dynamics have begun to change, they have not yet changed, they are just beginning to shift. In a world where executives never deal with consequences, a world that protects abusers, it’s better than nothing.

Even though money was the sole force behind this, I’ll take a director, a bunch of actors and an army of fans winning over anonymous executives everytime.

Next week is Fiction week and its title will be Hunt! Hope to see you there!

Releasing a paper every Friday.

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