Remember Justice League?
What was originally supposed to be a cinematic event for the DC Extended Universe that matched the hype and anticipation levels of The Avengers never fully reached the, ahem, marvel of its competitor. The team-up movie between Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg was released in the fall of 2017, losing an estimated $60 million and failing to break even on its production budget of $300 million.
In the years since its release, there have been numerous attempts to Monday Morning Quarterback the situation, with a number of potential different solutions. The most accurate of these is that Warner Bros. simply tried to do too much, too soon. While Marvel and Kevin Feige took their time—albeit with a few stumbles along the way—to build Avengers into something meaningful for its audience, Warner Bros. didn’t have the same luxury, as they had to try and play catchup to an already dominant force. In short, Justice League was reactionary, just like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was before it; each movie tried to respond to the criticisms of the film prior, spectacularly missing the point each time. The other main point is the film’s rocky production. For those unaware, director Zack Snyder was initially at the helm of the film, before dropping out due to a family tragedy; Warner Bros. then enlisted Avengers director Joss Whedon to come in and rework the script through a series of reshoots that involved a horribly removed mustache among other things.
After the film’s failure, the DCEU largely moved away from the dour, joyless tones Snyder had imbued into Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League opting for a full turn into a lighter, bouncer feel readily seen in films like Aquaman and especially Shazam!. But for a certain devoted group of fans, there was always a desire to see what Snyder’s vision of the film could be...and thus #ReleaseTheSnyderCut was born. What follows is a story about a lot of different things: fans who feel inherent ownership of a property and are therefore entitled to a certain outcome, how social media can be weaponized, and what means to ultimately be a “real fan.” It also discusses the allegations Ray Fisher (who portrayed Cyborg in Justice League) has made against Whedon about what happened during his time on the Justice League set, all of which culminated in the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max on March 19, 2021.
If this is somehow the first time you’re learning about what The Snyder Cut is and means, I envy your ability to live a happy and healthy life. The movement, if you want to call it such, is based on the idea that Warner is somehow sitting on a finished, pre-Whedon Snyder cut of the film, that they refuse to release in order to protect the version that was ultimately released in 2017. Most of this speculation initially hinged on shots from the first trailer that didn’t end up in the final version of the film, leading to a larger conspiracy that there was something afoot. The first salvo was a Change.org petition that asked Warner Bros. to include Snyder’s version with the film on a home release. From there, the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag became a rallying cry amongst certain groups within the DCEU fandom. But most interestingly, Snyder himself and some of his collaborators began fanning the flames, confirming that yes a cut exists, and going so far as to reveal the drastic differences in plot and tone that it would’ve contained.