It seems that whatever Warner Bros. try and do in the DCEU, they simply cannot get out from the shadow of Zack Snyder. After delivering Man Of Steel and Batman Vs Superman for the studio, Snyder was deep into production on Justice League when a family tragedy meant he had to step away from the movie.
Joss Whedon was bought in to replace him and extensive cuts and reshoots led to a poorly received movie limping into theatres in November 2017. Then the internet got involved. Rumors grew that there were hours of footage just sitting in the vault at Warner Bros. that would make a largely different film to what was released. This became known as The Snyder Cut and fans began to mobilise on digital channels.
Warner Bros. stayed quiet, but then Snyder himself blew the lid off the whole deal with a now infamous social media posting:
The internet went into meltdown as #ReleaseTheSnyderCut became a clarion call of fandom. Warner Bros. resisted, with studio leadership openly at war with their parent company, AT&T, who pulled rank and insisted the movie was finished and released on the fledgling HBO Max streaming service, all four hours of it!
$70million in reshoots and finished VFX, and the movie was a smash hit for the streamer, with fan feedback pointing to a grandiose scale and much more ambitious and coherent plot. It embarrassed Warner Bros. greatly and undermined their entire position. They have never really recovered and there is constant fevered speculation that Snyder will somehow return as the savior of the DCEU. It still smarts for some of the higher ups that are left at Warner Bros. According to a report in Variety:
“Privately, studio insiders have lamented that Zack Snyder’s Justice League never should’ve happened. Rather than quiet the unceasing online campaigning to #ReleasetheSnyderCut, the four-hour HBO Max feature only further entrenched the vocal and extremely online “Snyderverse” fanbase in opposition to the leadership at the studio in general and at DC in particular.”
Before everyone jumps onboard Team Snyder though, there is other news. Even before Whedon got his big scissors out, a report in Rolling Stone claims that Snyder’s original theatrical cut of Justice League had serious issues:
“On May 5, 2017, Snyder screened his final version of Justice League on the Burbank lot for all of the studio’s department heads. It clocked in at two hours and 18 minutes. One source familiar with that cut called it unwatchable and joyless.”
Let us not forget that one Warner Bros. executive, on seeing the Whedon cut of Justice League, said he and his colleagues were:
“…horrified, we knew it was total crap!”
Snyder or Whedon, theatrical or directors cut. It seems Justice League simply cannot catch a break. Maybe kill it all and start again?