Anghus Houvouras on Zack Snyder’s Justice League…
Pigs are flying. Hell has frozen over. Dogs and cats living together…. MASS HYSTERIA.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is actually going to happen.
The legendary ‘Snyder Cut‘ will be released in 2021 courtesy of HBO Max. Once thought to be nothing more than a fever dream fuelled by the most ardent Snyder supporters is becoming a reality. For some, it’s a moment of pride and excitement; the collective goal of dedicated fans is being realized. A filmmaker who suffered a tragic personal loss during production is getting a second chance to share his vision with the world. Surely this is reason to celebrate.
Unfortunately, Film Twitter has other ideas.
The overreaction to the eventual release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is as hyperbolic and over the top as the fans who started this crusade. I think most rational film fans can see #ReleasetheSnyderCut as an anomaly; the circumstances of Justice League’s troubled production were numerous and the failings of Warner Brothers executives obvious. They gave their most iconic characters to a filmmaker with a very specific vision. Then, when they stared into the dark, gritty abyss he was crafting, they blinked. This led to crazy reshoots with Joss Whedon and a lackluster, disappointing final product that almost no one was happy with.
It’s hard to look at Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League and David Ayer’s Suicide Squad without taking a moment to address poor choices made by executives at Warner Bros. which created this scenario. The theatrical cuts of Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad are awful. Both are rushed, disconnected and bereft of cohesion. In the years since their release, we have learned much about the original stories and design to connect these films into a shared universe. Something that was abandoned in post-production as Warner Bros. struggled to separate these projects and find versions that would have more four-quadrant appeal.
You could argue that the studios’ intervention ultimately damaged the films, though it’s difficult to prove. Snyder’s ‘Ultimate Cut’ of Batman v Superman is a superior experience to the dreadful theatrical cut, but until we see the original vision for Justice League in 2021 and David Ayer’s Suicide Squad (reportedly in the works as well), it will be impossible to determine if they were making improvements or bleeding the creators dry with a thousand unnecessary cuts.
The reaction to the announcement was an interesting dichotomy of elation and frustration. Those who had promoted the hashtag over the years were excited, while pop culture film sites were falling over each other trying to frame what this ‘means’ for the entertainment industry. Abraham Riesman from Vulture sees the release of the Snyder Cut as a move that empowers ‘online bullies’. In a recent column he said;
“If you attack a multibillion-dollar corporation often enough and make it clear that you’ll harass anyone who stands in your way, that corporation will eventually give up and throw you what you want. In fact, WB has, in its way, institutionalized this kind of behavior and dubbed it ‘enthusiasm’ rather than ‘abuse,’ whether they meant to or not. It’s hard to escape the feeling that WB has unleashed something beyond their control.”
Riesman’s overreaction feels even more hyperbolic than the fans who rallied for the Snyder Cut in the first place. His inability to understand the perfect storm of events that came together to finally make Zack Snyder’s Justice League a reality. Let’s be real honest; Warner Bros. deciding to go forward with this new cut of Justice League isn’t a David v. Goliath scenario where they corporate giant concedes to the will of vocal fans. Snyder’s cut of Justice League and Ayer’s cut of Suicide Squad are financial opportunities based on the need for streaming service content. The decision was, and always will be, a financial one. Something Riesman half-heartedly concedes later in the column;
“The Snyder Cut is the rare piece of content that can, in theory, be assembled and pushed as a major event without requiring new filming. With HBO Max on the way and in need of flashy initial offerings, such content is worth its weight in gold — even if the long-term price paid in the relationship between fans and creators is far more exorbitant.”
The idea that Warner Bros. executives were pushed to the brink by an incessant, endless stream of tweets before kowtowing to the will of enthusiastic/abusive fans is laughable. As is the idea that releasing the Snyder Cut is going to usher in a paradigm shift in the relationship between fans and movie studios. Even if fans feel empowered by this move, all the online clamoring in the world won’t make a studio initiate changes to a project (or re-release another version) unless they can justify the return on investment. It’s no different from giving filmmakers a director’s cut so the end result might be more fan sound & fury that ultimately signifies nothing.
Warner Bros. has two very big franchise movies torn to shreds in post-production, presumably maligned by poor management and have seen a financial opportunity to seize some streaming service zeitgeist while giving the appearance of genuinely caring what a small-but-outspoken community of fans want.
This is not the start of a trend. This is a unique situation with a number of interesting intangibles. The fact that there are people genuinely displeased that Snyder is getting this opportunity is as baffling as fans of the Snyder Cut harassing replacement director Joss Whedon on Twitter, which sums up my point nicely:
There will always be those who find the negative aspects of any given situation and present the worst possible take. At the end of the day, Zack Snyder is being given the chance to tell the version of the story he wanted. Something that a lot of fans were hoping for. To see this as a negative is to embrace the hyperbolic, histrionic, hypocritical mindset that so many accused the #ReleasetheSnyderCut community of representing.