The Snyder Cut of Justice League Is an Internet Fan Theory Come to Life
One way to look at the emergence of the so-called Snyder Cut—director Zack Snyder’s personally approved four-hour version of his superhero epic Justice League, which hit HBO Max last week—is as a victory for fans and fan culture.
The film, which initially hit theaters (remember those) in 2016, had reportedly been bogged down by production trouble, with studio executives apparently worried by the reported three-hour length and the grim, grandiose aesthetic of director Zack Snyder. Justice League was the first movie to feature a full-fledged team-up between five members of the DC Comics universe, and was, in theory, DC’s answer to the success of Marvel’s comic book–derived movies, in particular the studio’s Avengers franchise. But Marvel was scoring hit after hit with a light, quippy, almost sitcom-like approach to superheroes. So after Snyder departed the production due to a personal tragedy, it wasn’t much of a surprise when the studio brought on none other than Joss Whedon, the writer and director of the first two Avengers films, to rework the DC team-up film—with a mandate to make it lighter, more self-aware, and shorter.
What emerged was certainly shorter, coming in at just under two hours. But it was also derided—rightly, in my view—by fans and critics alike as slapdash and hectic, an aesthetic travesty marred by shoddy effects work and pedestrian production values. It was, in internet parlance, a dumpster fire.
Typically, the only response to this sort of blockbuster disaster would have been to move on and accept that the damage had been done. Once a movie has been made, it cannot be unmade, or remade.
But word spread that Snyder had saved a version of his own, far longer cut on his laptop—and over time, fans began to clamor to see what the director had intended, backing the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag on Twitter and elsewhere.
Snyder, it’s worth noting, is not exactly beloved by the film and culture writing establishment, and so there were social media clashes and think pieces and mean tweets and more think pieces and then even more tweets and probably some more think pieces, because that’s how this sort of flame war tends to
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