I’ve never been a part of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement. In fact, I had the hashtag muted on Twitter for a period of time just because the same thing being tweeted over and over can get annoying!
But I wasn’t part of the movement simply because I don’t care much overall for Zack Snyder’s DC Comics superhero films. Man of Steel was much better than I expected, but I liked it more when it stood alone. I was subsequently turned off to the idea of Batman v Superman once its subtitle became Dawn of Justice. Instead of following Marvel and taking their time to create an interconnected universe, DC seemed to be shoehorning everything into one movie at the detriment of story (this isn’t to say there is only one way of building a universe – BvS just did it poorly). And a trailer that gave away the third act of the film didn’t help.
I did see BvS though, so I could have an opinion on the actual movie and… I didn’t like it. The sequel, Justice League, was every bit as big of a mess as BvS and then some. But a lot of the blame can be placed on the fact that it wasn’t wholly Snyder’s movie. After a truly horrific family tragedy in March of 2017, he was forced to step away from the film altogether. Joss Whedon, director of The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron was brought on to oversee the rest of production and post-production.
Justice League still released on time in November of 2017, even with Snyder stepping down, but fans were displeased at the final product. It seemed as though its overall DNA had been changed in favor of something light and audience-pleasing (like a Marvel film) as opposed to a dark and introspective character study with big thematic ideas (like Snyder’s first two DC films). Almost immediately, the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement began. Fans were eager to see the original vision for the film before it was taken over by Whedon. They wanted an alternate version of the movie to be released – one where Zack Snyder was the sole director of the film and his vision was not tampered with.
Now, this movement could certainly be annoying and misguided. The idea that an enormous film studio like Warner Bros. would listen to incessant online petitioning for a movie that may or may not have even existed seemed out of the question. Yet the legions of loyal fans consistently persisted (hence my muting of the hashtag). But at a certain level, you can really see where these people are coming from.
Fighting for a single director’s vision against a massive studio seems noble. Large films such as Justice League are constantly reworked, workshopped, and edited in a way that will make them more accessible to wide audiences, which potentially takes away what a director wants to do. This is what famously led to Edgar Wright leaving Ant-Man and Phil Lord and Chris Miller leaving Solo. It was part of the reason Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four was so widely panned, and in another Warner Bros. example, David Ayer lost control of what he wanted Suicide Squad to be. And the list goes on.
Unfortunately, the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement hasn’t always gone smoothly. Whedon has been accused of being a Disney spy sent to sabotage DC’s cinematic universe (which is, of course, bogus) and former Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment Geoff Johns was given the moniker “The Snake.” But this is simply a vocal minority of the movement overall.
At its core, this movement is more justifiable than the petition to redo the final season of Game of Thrones, or the vitriolic reaction to the original Sonic trailer. Game of Thrones is never going to be remade because fans were upset, and the Sonic reaction was completely unjustified. These ideas are an attempt at taking away creativity. They instead seem like a movie being put in the hands of fans instead of filmmakers.
The Snyder Cut is different, though. It puts creativity back in the hands of the man who originally had the vision. Part of the reason that fans have supported it so vehemently is because they respect Snyder as a filmmaker so much. They love his ideas and how he puts a movie together visually. It’s pure support for a singular vision, instead of simply being angry with how a movie turned out. As much as I dislike BvS, I can respect such commitment to a creator and what he wants to do with his stories.
When Zack Snyder’s Justice League officially releases on HBO Max sometime next year, I don’t think it will change anyone’s mind. Snyder himself isn’t some heavenly being who only makes perfect movies, so it will still be divisive. Those who wanted this for so long will love it, those who are fundamentally opposed to it will hate watch it and then hate it, and those – like me – who are ultimately indifferent to the whole thing may or may not even watch it. It will bring about a whole new kind of tiresome discourse which will likely make me mute more hashtags.
But in the end, props to Warner Bros. for going through with this. The Snyder family went through something that no one should have to go through. It’s simply fitting to see his film carried out to completion. This is a unique circumstance that is making lots of people very happy. I hope it doesn’t set a precedent for more movies or series to redone, but I really don’t think it will. It’s too singular of a movement. A movement that ultimately yielded exactly what it wanted.