During a watch-along of his film Man of Steel, today — May 20th, 2020 — director Zack Snyder, alongside his wife and creative partner Deborah Snyder, announced that, in 2021, Warner Bros. will, finally, ‘release the Snyder cut’ of Justice League (2017) on HBO MAX. DC Comics’ vocal fan base has been heard. In this week’s edition of Special Features, I will answer some questions about this piece of news, and I will tell you exactly how I feel about Warner Bros.’ decision. Let’s get to it.
That’s all well and good, but… What is a ‘Snyder Cut?’
Oh. Well. Okay, stick with me. In April 2016, principal photography for the 2017 Warner Bros. superhero blockbuster Justice League began. The film was to be directed by filmmaker Zack Snyder (Man of Steel; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), but Snyder decided to step down from his position during post-production due to the sudden death of his daughter Autumn. Therefore, Warner Bros. hired filmmaker Joss Whedon (The Avengers) to complete the film and oversee post-production and extensive reshoots. These reshoots were not just expensive, they also reportedly changed the tone of the film. To add insult to injury, Superman-actor Henry Cavill was contractually obligated to keep his Mission: Impossible – Fallout facial hair during the Justice League-reshoots, which was, unfortunately, painfully obvious in the theatrical release of Justice League. It is not entirely clear how much of the theatrical version of the film lined up with Snyder’s original vision of the film.
In part due to the film being classified as a box office flop and the fact that the film was met with mixed reviews, DC Comics fans have since insisted that they need to see the movie Zack Snyder envisioned. Snyder has claimed that a ‘Snyder cut’ of the film exists, though it’s not entirely clear if this is the case or not. To me, it sounds more like Snyder has a rough assembly cut that he has affectionately dubbed the ‘Snyder cut’.
Okay, well, ‘director’s cuts’ can be interesting. This is a good thing, right?
I mean, that depends on how you look at it.
On the one hand, this sets a dangerous precedent. Let me explain. Look, while the vast majority of DC Comics fans have been patient, passionate, and polite, a vocal minority of the fanbase has been rapid and sometimes even unpleasant, rude, or much worse. I think it is nice that fans have supported the Snyder family through thick and thin. I think it is very cool that someone paid for a #ReleaseTheSnyderCut-billboard. But constant bad-tempered complaints from a vocal minority has frustrated both several film journalist and random Social Media-users. The negativity of the vocal minority has been frustrating. I do understand that the actions of a vocal minority do not speak for the entire fan base. But I think that a lot of people fear that some fans will now interpret this Warner Bros. decision as a sign that it helps to complain incessantly and make outrageous demands. With all of this having been said, I do think that the aforementioned patient, passionate, and polite part of the fan base should be commended for the fact that they raised a lot of money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. That is awesome, and I am very happy for those big-hearted fans.
On the other hand, this is a very good thing for filmmakers who want to be allowed to tell their stories. And, ultimately, this is the side that I land on. Yes, I think this is a good thing. Because, at the very least, the original director will now get the opportunity to finish his movie. I’m happy for Zack Snyder. I think he deserves the opportunity to complete his vision.
Alright, alright. When is this movie coming out? What are the release details?
Well, here’s the thing. I’m not even sure it’s going to be a movie. Borys Kit from The Hollywood Reporter claims that while it could be a massive four-hour superhero epic film, it could also end up being a mini-series with cliffhangers. In any case, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, as it is now being called, will be released in 2021 on the upcoming streaming service HBO MAX.
All things considered, should we look forward to this, or is this a waste of time and money?
I don’t think this is a waste of money. In any case, this is a great way to promote the HBO MAX streaming service. This will absolutely bring a lot of DC Comics fans to the upcoming streaming service. Whether or not it is a waste of time depends on your own interest in this project. While I do think the director’s cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was better than the theatrical release, it was not a huge improvement. But I am looking forward to the release of the infamous Snyder cut.
If you are at all interested in this, then I highly recommend that you hop on over to Borys Kit’s excellent write-up for The Hollywood Reporter, as he has a lot of really interesting tidbits about what happened and what we can expect to see next year.
– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.