The original “Justice League” only made a 40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. courtesy IMDb

The history of Zach Snyder’s “Justice League”

Since the release of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s flagship film “Iron Man” in 2008, it seems the majority of the movie industry’s blockbuster films fall under the superhero genre. Whether it’s the culmination of the 21 Marvel films spanning over 10 years to bring us “Avengers: Endgame,” which became the highest grossing film of all time, or Christopher Nolan’s critically acclaimed “The Dark Knight,” which saw monumental performances from greats like Heath Ledger and Christian Bale, there is no doubt of this genre’s gravitas.

Although Marvel’s superheroes might not have been as famous as DC’s Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman, they seem to have done a better job building excitement and developing films as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU, has drastically out performed DC since 2008. In fact, since the DC Extended Universe’s launch with “Man of Steel” in 2013, the critical reception has ultimately been underwhelming. From the box office bomb that was “The Suicide Squad” in 2016, to the absolute joke that was “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” the same year, fans of this franchise have come to expect disappointment from their favorite heroes.

The MCU brought their big names together on screen in 2012 with their first “Avengers” film and changed the superhero genre as we know it. Each of the heroes on screen had been given their own films, explaining their backstories and drawing in fans. By the time the first “Avengers” film launched, each character was known and the audience was both invested and excited to see how directors Anthony Russo, Joss Whedon and Joe Russo would play the dynamic given the backstories. Safe to say it was a massive success.

As DC sat back and watched, it was clear they felt as if they had fallen behind. Zach Snyder was given creative freedom in “Man of Steel” in 2013 and was promised a five film deal under which he would weave his own storyline. “Man of Steel” was a box office hit, but received mixed reviews as it had a dark undertone, which is uncharacteristic for Superman films as the Cryptonian is typically characterised as lighthearted and is a representation of hope for the audience, as seen by the symbol of hope that is the “S” on his chest.

Studio Warner Brothers seemed a bit concerned, but were willing to honor his contract as he had proved to be a beneficial return on investment in his first film. Unfortunately, that success was short lived.

2016’s “Suicide Squad” with its famous ensamble cast and “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” bombed hard. The DCEU was in disarray, and the audience was losing interest. The big names from the comics were not living up to expectations, and Warner Brothers were (allegedly) seriously considering other options.

2017’s “The Justice League” was set to be Snyder’s third of his five part deal with Warner Brothers. Its goal was to emerge as a formidable opponent for the MCU’s 2012 “Avengers” as a teaming up of the world’s most powerful heroes. Unfortunately, this movie was doomed from the start. As principal filming wrapped in December of 2016, Snyder debuted his first draft to the executives at Warner Brothers. Upon seeing the screening, they were disappointed with the outcome and hired Joss Whedon to do some rewrites.

In early 2017, a few months before scheduled release, a tragedy struck the Snyder household as Zack’s daughter committed suicide. Obviously this weighed heavily on the director, and within the next two months, he stepped down as director along with his wife, who had been producing the film, leaving the production in disarray. The studio was in trouble. With Snyder’s original production going through major rewrites and reshoots, and the direction of the film lost with the departure of its director, the studio was eager to salvage what they could with the film. They turned to Joss Whedon, whose success of the MCU spoke for itself, to finish this project and hopefully salvage some sort of final product.

However, the new director’s vision differed drastically from that of Synder’s. Over the next few weeks, the cast and crew were forced to hurry through reshoots and script changes to accommodate the new directors goal. This, along with casting conflicts, ultimately lead to unfortunate circumstances such as “Mustachegate,” where Superman actor Henry Cavil was unable to shave his mustache for his role in the “Mission Impossible” film, and the post production team were forced to CGI the facial hair out which ultimately lead to a very unfortunate and uncomfortable looking final product.

The film’s March 2017 release date proved a disaster. The highly anticipated film felt rushed and formless. The introduction of three new heroes in the film felt forced, and the CGI villain was anticlimactic. The general consensus was negative, and the DCEU had seemingly failed with their goal of rivaling the widely successful MCU. Fans were disappointed with the film, but thankfully a release of the stand alone “Wonder Woman” film that same year seemed to calm DC’s storms.

Since Snyder had stepped down, the news media began to circulate rumors of disagreement between Warner Brothers and their original director. Fans who felt hurt by the let down of the film began to wonder what the original vision for the Justice League was and if Snyder’s vision differed from Whedon’s. Within weeks, rumors of another version of “Justice League” began to circulate online, but with no confirmation from any party involved. Fans began to theorize, make videos and start a go fund me page to see what Snyder had dreamt about come to center stage. It wasn’t until late 2019 that this would get legs.

Snyder began to hint of the existence of another version, and actors like Jason Momoa and Gal Gadot started tweeting #releasetheSnyderCut. By mid 2020, the movement was in full swing and during a zoom Q&A with fans on another DC film, Snyder shared something DC fans had hoped for. He confirmed the existence of the separate cut and revealed his version of the film would be released in 2021 on HBO Max.

The release of the Snyder Cut is a display of the power of fandom. The people who united online and raised awareness are to thank for its upcoming release, although little else is known about it. From rumors of a potential four hour run time to a confirmed preview of Jared Leto reprising his role of Joker from “The Suicide Squad,” no one quite knows what to expect with the film. Regardless, whether you are a fan or not, the sheer hype around HBO Max’s release of “Justice League” and the opportunity for a second chance for DC should not be overlooked. Let’s just hope Snyder’s version can satisfy fans, and we can forget about the inadequacies of the original.

Post Author: Joseph Boehm