Pros and Cons of releasing “Justice League – The Snyder Cut”
Just a little over two and a half years ago things went wrong. Hearts were broken as the much anticipated/talked about/speculated upon/anxiety inducing movie “Justice League” opened worldwide. It opened soft. It opened to scathing reviews, movie attendee apathy and Warner Brothers holding a turd of a movie. The hopes for a shared universe tentpole and the subsequent license to print money lay on an ever growing graveyard of such attempts. The flaming wreckage of the DCEU snuffing out the smouldering remains of “The Dark Universe” which crashed and burned just six months before.
This one stung more, though. As beloved as Universal Studios characters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Creature from the Black Lagoon are, they can’t hold a cobweb covered candelabra to DC comic’s heavy hitters Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Even roaming the varied and ever growing halls of geek fandom for my entire adult life I’ve yet to meet anybody really, to the core, emotionally invested in “The Invisible Man”. The DC Comics universe, the characters and related media are a different story altogether. A lot of hope and dreams were pinned on the success of Justice League and I’m not talking about the year end performance bonuses for WB studio executives. Justice League meant a great deal to many. A lot of fans just wanted to see a worthwhile Justice League movie. Some saw Justice League as a contender to Marvel’s throne. A subsection of fanboys taking umbrage with Marvel being a division of evil corporate behemoth Disney and hoped that small scrappy underdog corporate behemoth Warner Brothers Corporation could snatch the crown. A different subsection of fanboys were sticking to an outmoded and regressive “Us v Them” binary; DC v Marvel essentially. As if you couldn’t possibly be a fan of one if you were a fan of the other. Still another subsection of fanboys were hoping that Justice League was a success because they were hoping for an extended cinematic universe. Holding out hope for… I don’t know… maybe a “Matter Eating Lad” movie somewhere round 2023?
Regardless of what the hopes or motivations were, it all face planted when Justice League opened in the US with the same amount as Marvel’s talking space racoon movie from a few years before.
It was a shock! All those hopes, justified or otherwise dashed on the rocks of reality! The cognitive dissonance engines started cranking up fiercer than a low income, homosexual, african american Trump supporter! Rotten Tomatoes was on the take from Disney! Critics don’t get superhero movies! Zack Snyder had a cut of the movie that was great!
Ohh, wait! That was one to hang the blame/hope on; a mythical version of the movie that, if ever brought to light, would vindicate all “Yeah but…” conversations with friends and “Yeah but… fuck you!” arguments on message boards. The Justice League movie, as it was in theatrical release, was a hideous patchwork of tones, story cobbled together in editing and digitally removed moustaches. Surely the original vision of the auteur who brought us a grudge match between an invincible, super strong objectivist proxy with a gadget laden, super rich objectivist proxy (both with mothers named Martha) would’ve been leagues better! Sure, compromises had to be made, deadlines had to be met, sacrifices had to happen! But that Snyder cut of Justice League was really what would produce a return on such a hefty emotional investment. The best part was that this legendary cut would solve all the problems incurred by family tragedy, studio meddling, premature backslapping, armchair quarterbacking, the reality that Warner Brothers assuming they had a slam dunk with the DCEU w/o even trying, another director making the best of a borked situation! The idea of what could’ve been gave something to the fans that the theatrical version of Justice League could only fumble at: HOPE.
Thus the #releasetheSnydercut movement was born.
I’ll be straight when I say that I found this movement kinda sad and pointless. Having worked in the motion picture business for decades, now, I knew better than most that what existed, a four plus hour cut of a movie that needed countless visual effects, a return of busy actors and post production work, was not going to come to light. Not in any finished, exploitable form at least. Why on earth would Warner Brothers pony up another (estimated) twenty to thirty MILLION dollars on a movie that had run its course, failed every expectation and made less globally than the GDP of St Vincent and the Grenadines? Warner had already lost a bundle of money, pride, Ben Affleck and a shared universe slate of films. At best maybe it would be the subject of a documentary a decade hence. Clips would leak on the internet from time to time. Best to wash their hands of the whole thing and do another Wonder Woman and Aquaman… reboot Batman again. The Snyder cut became a shibboleth of twitter and reddit. A symbol of dashed hopes that refused to die. A geek community in-joke.
But things had been changing. Theatrical release wasn’t the only game in town anymore. Giant streaming pipelines with names like “Netflix” and “Hulu” and, um… “CBS Now” needed a constant flow of content and the competition was getting fierce. Apple was throwing their hat in the ring, so was Disney. Amazon had already established a beachhead. All needed content, all were looking for that breakout hit! All wanted a “Game of Thrones” or “Stranger Things”. All had Scrooge McDuck amounts of money to spend to make shows that people would pay $7-$12 a month to watch on their smart TVs. The success of your new streaming service depended on a killer app, to use an old 90’s term. That app could be big names like Resse Witherspoon or Stephen King. It could be nostalgia or cult following like Twin Peaks or Arrested Development. It could be capitalizing on beloved IP’s like everything on Disney +. There were no rules, no time tested formats to work off of, no advertisers to answer to. Just endless hunger for entertainment in every conceivable niche market.
That little, persistent hunger of #releasetheSnydercut had kept its head above water for a few years. In fact it had grown! Gail Godot, Wonder Woman herself, or more likely Gail Godot’s social media rep, sent a tweet calling for the release of the Snyder Cut. This might have had more to do with the scheduled release of “Wonder Woman 84” than anything else but let’s not muddy the waters. Henry Cavil had come out in favor of the mythical release. The Change.org petition had started with over a hundred thousand distinct signatures. Momentum, despite common sense and brutal reality continued to grow. The architecture of chance helped out a lot too. The Snyders had already emerged from the family tragedy and were hard at work on postproduction of a new movie “Army of the dead”. Warner Brothers owned HBO which just so happened to be launching a new streaming service in 2020. Even with an upcoming “Lord of the Rings” show, new Loony Toons cartoons and their entire library of original content, HBO wanted more. Then in March of 2020 the world and the way we consume entertainment changed probably forever. Streaming service subscriptions ballooned! I don’t know exactly what that was but I hear a lot of people have been staying indoors. Two years after Justice League crashed and burned Zack Snyder got a call from Warner execs who’s subordinates must’ve noticed that this Snyder cut thing hadn’t gone away. HBO wanted something to grab attention in the rapidly crowded streaming landscape… maybe “The Snyder cut”of Justice League would be just the thing.
Yesterday, May 21st 2020, an announcement was made that will have long ranging repercussions on the entertainment industry and the industry covering entertainment for years to come. They’re not sure what the final form will be but the Snyder Cut will appear on HBO Max in 2021. Provided the world hasn’t ended due to overwhelming mismanagement, debilitating viruses or murder hornets.
I’ve made a quick list of pros and cons for this groundbreaking new chapter in IP management!
PRO – Proponents of #releasetheSnydercut probably feel validated! Finally the voice of the fan is being heard!
CON – Proponents of remaking “The Last Jedi” and those clamoring for a do-over of “Game of Thrones” final season probably have hope now.
PRO – Grassroots movements for entertainment have a huge win and may influence future executive decisions from now on.
CON – Is #releasetheSandlercut grassroots campaign I just started for Pixels going to catch Netflix’s attention?
PRO – Several post production and visual effect houses will have work in lean times!
CON – The company that digitally draws Mike Pence’s image over the real subterranean lizard man vice president will still be in business.
PRO – Due to CGI houses staying afloat; the odds of CGI tigers instead of real tigers used in the movie adaptation of “Tiger King” will make the set safer.
CON – Odds of Nic Cage being eaten by a tiger greatly reduced.
PRO – HBO Max has another feather in their streaming cap.
CON – This may negatively affect the chances of a new Sinbad comedy special.
PRO – Warner Brothers/HBO corporate synergy achieved something that was impossible just two years ago.
CON – New notes from executives included Bruce Wayne dating someone named “Carrie Bradshaw”, “Gandalf cameo?” and Aquaman getting a dire wolf sidekick.
PRO – Geek-centric websites like Fanboynation can attract clicks with keywords like Snyder cut, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.
CON – There is about a year worth of baseless speculation connected to those keywords.
PRO – The new paradigm creates plenty of cross promotional opportunities!
CON – Affleck already said he won’t talk about Batman if booked on the “Not too late show with Elmo”
PRO – This version will include new shots, recorded dialogue and other contributions from the cast completely reimagining Justice League.
CON – Jessie Eisenberg is somehow still Lex Luthor.
PRO – Snyder gets to show his vision of what the Justice League movie tone, themes and ideas are.
CON – Cyborg has a seven minute monologue about how “The Fountainhead” formed the basis for his whole personal philosophy.
PRO – New characters will show up!
CON – Word on set is that Darkseid keeps vaporizing grips.
PRO – The Snyder cut could be any and everything the fans wanted or dared to imagine.
CON – It can’t possibly live up to those expectations.
PRO – After years of hope, time, resources and energy the Snyder cut of Justice League will finally see light!
CON – It’ll be about as good as “Man of Steel” or “Batman V Superman”.
Things tangentially connected to the main column that I couldn’t fit in organically.
Some still insist that “The Dark Universe” is still a thing. Maybe it is in some reduced version. I just think Russell Crowe isn’t dropping his lifelong pub crawl to play Dr Jekyll again.
It might seem unimaginable that Universal could bork a shared universe of their monsters. It’s just that they made the same mistake as most; trying to establish a shared universe before you establish any good stories.
So far, to my opinion, the only other decently working cinematic shared universe (other than MCU) is the Warner Brothers Godzilla one. That one has been building a world instead of forcing one into existence.
Say what you want but I fucking loved “Godzilla: King of the monsters!”
The new “Invisible Man”, aside from the distinction of being the last movie I saw in theaters before the world became the darkest timeline, was pretty damn fantastic. See it on home streaming now!
I expect either Marvel or DC to announce “Invisible Man” director Leigh Whannell is helming something shortly after the world returns back to “normal”. Marvel has a lot of things already locked so how bout Leigh for the long gestating “Flash” movie, or “Hellblazer”.
Nobody is as emotionally invested in “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” as I am! Well, that may not be true, but I’ve been a huge fan since I was a kid.
I still think my Statham-verse concept is viable.
Guardians of the galaxy opened with $94 million and change. Stunning conventional wisdom that it would be Marvel’s first flop.
Justice League had a $94 million and change opening stunning conventional wisdom that the movie would flop but flop but with $110-120 million opening.
I talked about GotG opening in an early Cultural Junkdrawer.
A petition for the Snyder cut on change.org is funny for many reasons. Not the least of which is that a few years before there was a petition on there to keep Ben Affleck from playing Batman.
The noticeable thing is that the DCEU stand alone films that worked, Wonder Woman, Shazam and for some unexplained reason Aquaman have been fun and successful!
Quarantine has been a great way to catch up on shows I wouldn’t have time to watch otherwise. I’m now completely sold on “Killing Eve”. I have enjoyed the cringy but loveable comedy “Schitt’s Creek”. I understand why “Twin Peaks” is the cult TV that was hyped! Now I have just started on “Hannibal” and in one episode am already digging the creepy and disturbed vibe and Mads Mikkelsen chilling charisma.