The long rumored “Snyder Cut” of director Zack Snyder’s Justice League is very much real, and it’ll be streaming on HBO Max as an exclusive in 2021.
“I want to thank HBO Max and Warner Brothers for this brave gesture of supporting artists and allowing their true visions to be realized. Also a special thank you to all of those involved in the SnyderCut movement for making this a reality,” said Snyder in a statement announcing the news.
The Snyder cut’s history is long and convoluted. Snyder originally stepped away from Justice League after the death of his daughter, and Warner Bros. brought in director Joss Whedon — who had already been recruited to help with script rewrites at an earlier stage — to oversee reshoots and shepherd the film through editing and post-production. Everything between the studio and Snyder seemed amicable at first. But once the movie was released in November 2017, fans took issue with Whedon’s lighter, more comedic contributions to the film. A campaign started not long after the film’s initial release for Warner Bros. to deliver a “Snyder cut.”
In the nearly three years since then, “Release the Snyder Cut” has developed into a full-force campaign from fans around the world. Online petitions were launched, public demonstrations were held outside the Warner Bros. studio in Burbank, and Time Square ads were taken out in New York City.
Some Snyder cut campaigning has been positive. The official Release the Snyder Cut campaign group has also raised money for suicide awareness (in tribute to Snyder’s daughter). People have made friends via the campaign, and fans bonded over their favorite Snyder DC movies, which also include Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Man of Steel. Actors like Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot have also participated in the campaign, tweeting out photos from Justice League with the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag.
Unfortunately, the Snyder cut campaign also saw some of the worst fandom toxicity bubble over the last few years. People who tweet negatively about the Snyder cut are inundated with attacks from fans on Twitter. DC Comics creative executive Geoff Johns and Whedon are referred to as “snakes” on social media by fans upset that Justice League didn’t live up to their own expectations or perform well at the box office (just under $658 million worldwide, not hitting the studio’s breakeven point for the film).
Other directors inside the DC Universe at Warner Bros. — like Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins and The Batman’s Matt Reeves — are tweeted at by fans angry over their films being made, as if the studio is prioritizing their film over producing a finished Snyder cut of Justice League.
There’s no question that interest in the Snyder cut is palpable, both from a fan’s and curious bystander’s perspective. From WarnerMedia’s perspective, it’s also the perfect time for the company to announce the project. HBO Max, AT&T and WarnerMedia’s crown jewel streaming service, is set to launch on May 27th. Bringing as many subscribers to the service from the get-go, helping to scale as quickly as possible, is crucial. The Snyder cut can drum up both the interest and signups that WarnerMedia executives are hoping to see.
The bigger conversation releasing the Snyder cut brings up, however, is about fan entitlement — one that’s similar to a situation the gaming industry saw in 2013 with Mass Effect 3 — in an age of growing toxicity.