HBO Max to release ‘The Snyder Cut’ of Justice League: A victory for fans?

In an internet-breaking move, the infamous ‘Snyder Cut’ of Justice League will officially see the light of day. Zack Snyder himself announced that the cut will be released on streaming service HBO Max next year. The theatrical release of 2017’s Justice League, a version that had undergone extensive re-shoots after Snyder left the project due to a family tragedy, disappointed fans and critics alike. The #releasethesnydercut campaign was born not long after, when it was indicated that the footage filmed by Snyder as well as his rough cut of the film still existed. 2 years on, those who called for the cut have surprisingly found success, and inevitably the internet is in furious debate.

There was a point when an official release of the ‘Snyder Cut’ looked nothing more than a wishful pipe dream from a small portion of fans. It was a matter of dispute whether the cut even existed. Despite the campaign’s success, technically it doesn’t. Not yet anyway. Early reports indicated that HBO Max had set aside a budget of $20-30 million so that it can be finished by the original production team intended. HBO Max and Warner Media chairman Bob Greenblatt have since said the process of doing so will prove “complicated and wildly expensive” and that even the suggested $30 million is extremely optimistic. The popular belief is that Snyder filmed around 4 hours worth of footage and he’s since stated that only a fraction of this was actually included in the theatrical release. Several storylines and concepts were left out when Warner Brothers insisted on reshoots that lightened Snyder’s dark tone, hiring Avengers director Joss Whedon to helm them. The studio performed a drastic u-turn on the DC universe that Snyder had been constructing since 2013 through Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, which is ultimately at the heart of #releasethesnydercut. Despite complaints from wider audiences, Snyder’s vision for DC films has plenty of admirers.

To quote Greenblatt again, this Snyder cut is supposed to be a “radical rethinking” of the one finished by Whedon and Warner Brothers. So much so that Snyder reportedly pitched the HBO Max release as more of a limited series earlier in the year, making a more streaming-friendly use of his 4 hours of footage. Initially left out storylines, such as cameos for a Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter, a more fleshed out Cyborg (Ray Fisher) as well as the inclusion DC big bad Darksied, are now all set to be included. The fact that all this is coming together is staggering. Never has a fan campaign been supported by so many, including the film’s cast themselves with Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Jason Mamoa having all tweeted the campaign’s signature hashtag. It’s a remarkable feat, one that has also sparked a degree of concern.

One of the greatest issues that faces any popular property, be it film or tv, is militant sections of fan bases. The toxic messages from these groups have birthed angry crusades such as the ones against The Last Jedi and the final season of Game of Thrones. The concern is that the success of the Snyder Cut movement will encourage a sense of entitlement among volatile ‘fan’ groups. While this is a very valid concern, there’s hope in the fact the Snyder Cut movement is different. For many, this wasn’t about demanding something be completely remade from scratch out of spite or anger. The reason this example gained so much traction is that ultimately, they were campaigning in support of something, not in anger against something. It was supporting Snyder.  If this were just another petty and angry reaction to a film then why would the likes of Affleck, Gadot and Mamoa risk tarnishing their name by associating with it?

The extent of the consequences of this saga is yet to be determined. There is a chance that, regardless of the fact that this campaign is different from a great deal of other hateful campaigns, it does increase a sense of entitlement. Yet, looking forward with such a pessimistic outlook takes away from the good parts of this story. This is also a victory for the creative vision of directors over studio interference. In the aftermath, there is a discussion of an ‘Ayer Cut’ for 2016’s Suicide Squad with director David Ayer indicating that the film release was not the one he worked on. Don’t get me wrong, this move won’t change big-budget moviemaking overnight but it’s a positive message for creatives that fans want to see what they have to offer. Snyder and the original production team will finally get to realise their initial vision. While their plan for the DC films beyond this still probably won’t come to fruition, the supportive fans and the crew will have their ending of sorts. For them, it is a victory. Unless they hate it even more than the theatrical release, that is.

Image Credit: IMDb