By now, most every comic book fan is familiar with the words “Release the Snyder Cut”, it has become something of a cross between a meme and an actual demand. However, despite the (almost) universal critical and financial panning of Justice League, this cry was ignored for quite some time. Just recently, it has found renewed vigor, and quite possibly a plausible source of release. And fans are pretty ecstatic.
About a year or so back, Zack Snyder was working on Justice League, a sequel to his divisive take on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. While there were certainly detractors on both films, there was still a dedicated group of people that wanted to see Snyder’s signature blend of dark source material and mature themes in the guise of Justice League. Unfortunately, and tragically, Snyder’s family dealt with a huge emotional setback that required him to leave the project about two thirds of the way through it. Warner Bros controversial choice was to hire Joss Whedon, known for his work on Avengers and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was something of a polar contrast to Snyder’s filmography and style. However, at the time it seemed that there was nothing that Whedon and team could not improve on, unfortunately that was not the case and Justice League ultimately suffered from horrible editing, bizzare direction and tonal inconsistencies.
It is not a fair thing to say exactly who the blame for Justice League rests on, but there was one overarching thing that fans noticed about the end product; it felt so tonally separated from Dawn of Justice and looked so dramatically different from the initial batch of set photos and trailers that fans were wondering how much was changed from the Snyder cut to the Whedon cut. Well, it turns out that nearly all of it was. Almost the entire project was reshot from the ground up to form around Whedon’s sense of humor and tone. Which completely clashed with Snyder’s tone and writing. As this info started to trickle out, fans felt more than a little betrayed, feeling that they had been cut out of a notable entry in DC’s filmography by studio meddling and Whedon being given too much freedom. Well, it would culminate in a bit of a meme, as mentioned before, and it would cause a landslide in the form of just one simple hashtag; #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.
This hashtag came following a post from Snyder saying that there were multiple instances of footage being cut, changes being made to almost the entire set of dialogue and story etc. It spawned an uproar that fans demanded to see, especially as shows like Watchmen and Joker started gaining more and more traction as darker subject material in a sea of digestible all ages content like Wonder Woman and the MCU. Slowly the uproar died into more of a quiet but demanding desire from fans all over the spectrum to see the original Snyder cut, to see Justice League with the content that it was originally intended to have. There was not much of a movement for a while, just a vocal section of fans believing beyond hope that the cut was real and that there was a chance to get Warner Bros to release it. And then, hope actually started a real movement. Editors on webpages that worked on the film claimed the cut existed, Kevin Smith as one of the most influential and biggest celebrity nerds in the world claimed it was real, the movement was really picking up steam. And then, nothing. Nothing happened for a while, Zack Snyder continued dropping teases to what could have been in the form of never before seen set photos, artwork and concept screenplays. While he went back and forth on whether or not there was a palpable claim to the cut being anywhere near release, he was adamant that the public needed to see it and decide for themselves on the direction that they wanted to see the DCEU go.
Debates among the fans never quite settled down, they continued to bicker back and forth on whether or not the cut was real and whether or not it would make much of a difference on the quality of the film either way. As all things tend to do, it continued to spark arguments on forums like Reddit for months. No one could really decide, and while Snyder kept the flame alive with his consistent posts and tweets, it would continue to stagnate until about a month ago.
Jason Momoa is about one of the most vocal people on things he cares about on social media than most anyone. And just a few short weeks ago, he made it publicly known that he had seen the Snyder Cut, and he believes that the fans deserve to see it as well. So now, things really began to pick up some steam, and people started paying a little more attention, it did not stop the arguments that the cut did not exist, and some people believed it was just Momoa trying to be harmonious with the fans and having some fun at Warner Bros expense. However, this would change rather quickly, Momoa doubled down on it and said that it did exist, he was not just saying it for the sake of being on the side of fans. Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot joined on the dogpile and tweeted out their support for the cut to be released as well. Now there were multiple high A-List actors demanding for the cut to be released, the train was back on the tracks.
It is November 23rd, 2019. And it seems that the uproar, the demand, the desire and the support has won out. Data miners and sources who work for HBO and Warner Bros have leaked that the Snyder Cut will make a debut on HBO Max. While it is not 100% confirmed (since this is Warner Bros they’ll want to milk it as long as possible) it would seem that the fans have indeed out supported the naysayers and actually done the near impossible.
It is interesting to see a year chock full of fans winning out over studios and detractors. We first saw it with Sonic The Hedgehog, as fans demanded that the character get a rework more in line with the original. And despite several people saying what a dangerous decision that could be, to give fans that much power, it did end up happening. We see it still ongoing with the give/take demand for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars trilogy that keeps getting put back on hiatus as Johnson continues to pull for it. We saw it with No Mans Sky turning from a debacle to one of the best games of this generation. We saw it with Modern Warfare removing lootboxes to appease fan backlash. Certainly there is something to be said for giving into demands, and how it can give people a false sense of authority but there is also something to be said for making fans happy and helping them in a way that you have the power to do as a big studio.
There is definitely something to be learned from the Snyder Cut movement. So let’s briefly break down what exactly should be taken away from this momentous occasion for fans and critics alike.
Firstly, do not replace creative directors with their opposites. While it does not always lead to a bad project, it almost always leads to a non profitable project that sets off a lot of alarms for people that were following it. It should always be a rule of thumb that if someone is replacing someone else, they will either improve the work done or at the very least have a similar work ethic and drive as the person they are taking over for.
Secondly, do not overhype that project with material that no longer exists. Justice League committed this cardinal sin too many times. Multiple trailers, set photos and hype interviews that ultimately led to nothing since the majority of the content was reshot and cut out. When you promise one thing, and deliver another, well, that is false advertising and it really never leads anywhere good. Take it from Bethesda, they did a number on themselves with that.
Thirdly, never underestimate dedicated fans. DC has some of the most vocal and dedicated fans in the world, they will make themselves known through some form or another. Now it would be ignorant to say that you should always listen to fans, as much as I consider myself within certain fan communities I would readily admit that there are a fair amount of toxic fans both within and throughout the communities that I ascribe to. However, it would be equally ignorant to claim that the majority of those vocal fans are only toxic and provide no essential objective insight to problems. ReleaseTheSnyderCut is perhaps one of the best examples of this in recent history; whether or not you enjoyed Whedon’s cut of the movie, it is impossible to not admit that the movie did not have a host of issues with its debut and objective crafting of the filmmaking medium. Never support the outright toxic fans that threaten and insult, but do not discount the group that they are a part of. Whether or not that they accomplish anything is beside the point (usually) but criticism, even if it is not always constructive, should still be considered and analyzed.
Lastly, we should all learn that dedication and perseverance is not a dying trait. People will always be passionate about things that make them happy and they may feel entitled to. Entitlement has become something of a mean spirited insult these days, and it is truly unfortunate to see. However, in the case of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut it would seem that justice has finally found a way through. Until May of next year when HBO Max releases, we will not know for certain, but I believe that Snyder and crew have earned that entitlement to allow their dedicated fans to form their own opinion. We can only hope that it comes to fruition.