How the fans saved Justice League

At the time no one knew the full story of the trouble behind the scenes on 2017’s Justice League. The rumour mill ran wild with stories of the irresistible force of the director versing the immovable object of the micromanaging studio.

The Justice League, Cyborg,, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and the Flash

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It’s incredibly confusing seeing Zack Snyder credited as the director of that movie when we now know that he stepped away due to a family tragedy and was replaced by Joss Whedon. As time went by, more stories surfaced about how Whedon had rewrote and re-shot large chunks of the film and the studio having their way with the production with Snyder out of the picture. Whedon was tasked with lightening the tone of the movie after some pretty ordinary reviews of Snyder’s previous Batman v Superman movie. These days it’s referred to as Josstice League. 

Total bummer dudes…

The end result for Justice league was a $300 million lemon that turned Henry Cavill’s upper lip into a bigger joke than sad Ben Affleck… Fans were all a bit sad Affleck after that…

The disappointment grew and with it stories of another version of the film, almost complete, that was much closer to Zack Snyder’s original vision that had been locked away, never to see the light of day. 

The hashtag #releasethesnydercut became something fans were rallying around in spite of those allegedly in the know dispelling it as a myth.

It’s likely that a four hour superhero epic from a company that had been playing catch up with Marvel for the past few years was going to get a run anyways. There’s only so many hours in the day and the studio probably saw it as a pretty big risk running a four director’s cut of a movie that had previously flopped in any cinemas anywhere, a movie ticket is the same price regardless of whether you’re there for four hours or 90 minutes. Fan service is always going to come second to the bottom line, much less the actual art of filmmaking.

Dawn of justice

Whether the media or studios liked it or not, #ReleaseTheSnyderCut became a global movement. They crowdfunded to buy billboards and advertise at comic-con in Times Square and during the FA Cup football. They relentlessly petitioned the studio, and members of the cast and crew actually came out in support of the movement on their social media accounts. Stars Jason Momoa, Jessie Eisenberg, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher and Ben Affleck to name a few, in addition to a bunch of people from the production crew.

Snyder put all the rumours to rest in March 2019, confirming the cut existed and it was up to Warner Brothers to do something with it. A studio insider came out in November that year claiming that Warner’s were never going to release it. Snyder issues a counter punch inIn December he tweeting an image of film cannisters labelled “JL Directors cut” and the words “Is it real? Does it exist? Of course it does”.

In February 2020 Warner Brothers caved to the demands of the fans, Snyder broke the news in May that it was a happening thing and they were gonna stream it on HBO max.

Death of “Josstice”

Some said that this set a precedent for toxic fandom that moves into the realm of bullying and harassment, and yes, some fans behaved very poorly. Trolling studio execs, making death threats against anyone who stood in the way of the film’s release, Warner’s CEO Ann Sarnoff spoke out about it saying that “the behaviour is completely unacceptable” and yeah, who wouldn’t agree with that?

But there are fuckwits in every community and the fact is that the #releasethesnydercut movement raised well over half a million dollars for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which given the tragedy that director faced is just one of the beautiful things that has come out of this whole affair. 

Not fuckin’ sure how that can be labelled as toxic fandom, it’s actually working to prevent the one of the more severe consequences toxic fandom can create.

The verdict

The movie is a total triumph on so many levels. It is simply beautiful. While casual viewers may be put off by the four hour runtime, fans will absolutely wallow in the time taken to properly introduce characters like Aquaman, Cyborg and especially The Flash.

The film is beautifully shot and edited with Snyder’s trademark big action sequences that feel like being immersed in all the fine details of a comic book panel. Using slow motion to create the impression of speed for the flash was excellent. Also the newly rendered CGI in Unreal Engine mades everything look so much better.

Comparisons to Josstice League are unavoidable here and that is why the appreciation for this film is so great. Gone are the cheesy jokes and one liners from Ezra Miller’s Flash character, replaced by a much more grounded humour that doesn’t seem forced in any way. The audience gets so much more background into each new character and their roles are so much more important than they were in the alternative film. Cyborg’s backstory is a highlight, exploring the tragic consequences around his creation and the strained dynamic between him and his father.

The villains have been restored and with them their motivation, you get more of an understanding as to what makes Steppenwolf tick and you get introduced to the Desaad and DC’s big bad, Darkseid. 

Wonder Woman and the Amazons have a much stronger presence, Aquaman is infinitely cooler, Batfleck is wonderful. Finally fans will understand the dream sequence from Dawn of Justice and they’ll be rewarded for their investment in both that film and Man of Steel.

Speaking which Superman is so much more in this film than what fans could ever hope for. It’s really great to see Henry Cavill’s version of the Man of Steel redeemed from the laughing stock that was his CGI’d upper lip. He deserved better, the fans did too and we got it.

One can only hope that we get to more, #restorethesnyderverse is trending right now. Studios need to stop listening to the suits and put more trust in the creatives.


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