The road to the ‘Snyder Cut’

How a fan movement pushing for the release of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” changed the world

11 mins read

For decades, the Justice League has saved humanity from the worst threats it has ever faced, from alien warlords to ancient demons and powerful sorcerers, to the God of Evil himself, Darkseid. And every time, they have overcome the odds and saved the human race. One foe, however, altered their emergence onto the big screen time and time again, and this time it was humanity’s turn to rescue the world’s greatest heroes. 

When “Justice League” premiered in 2017, it was a critical flop. It’s creative direction, lax storyline and cheap styled special effects felt completely off. The film was starkly different from the stories expressed before in the movies leading up to its premiere. 

Recognizing this tonal shift, fans called for the release of the film’s original director’s cut. The Snyder Cut. In an effort to achieve such an endeavor, an enormous campaign was launched and the world of entertainment hasn’t been the same since. 

In an article published by the Wall Street Journal on April 27, 2014, Warner Bros. President of Worldwide Production Greg Silverman confirmed that Snyder will be directing Justice League, which was still in its early developmental stages. 

“It will be a further expansion of this universe,” Silverman told the Wall Street Journal. “‘Superman vs Batman’ will lead into ‘Justice League.'”

At the time, the conceptualized title for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was “Superman vs Batman” but received its official moniker on May 21, 2014. The film, which was originally planned to be a sequel to “Man of Steel,” was originally announced at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 20, 2013.

Following the official title announcement for “Batman v Superman,” Warner Bros. revealed their planned slate of universe building films to shareholders on Oct. 15, 2014. The DC films slate at the time included “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016), “Suicide Squad” (2016), “Wonder Woman” (2017), “Justice League: Part One” (2017), ‘“The Flash” (2018), “Aquaman” (2018), “Shazam” (2019), “Justice League: Part Two” (2019), “Cyborg” (2020), and “Green Lantern” (2020). Of course, we all know those plans changed. 

Henry Cavill as Superman. All photo’s courtesy of Warner Media. Alterations by DCFilmsUnited

From conceptualization to conception, 2016 truly was the dawn of the DCEU. When “Batman v Superman” premiered March 25, 2016, fans were introduced to live action versions of their favorite DC characters. In a universe building epic, we were introduced to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Ben Affleck’s Batman, Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, Ezra Miller’s Flash, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and more. 

All heroes introduced in “Batman v Superman” were slated to return to their respective roles for Zack Snyder’s upcoming project, “Justice League: Part One,” which was set to start filming in April, with Ben Affleck boosted to an Executive Producer role. 

As production on “Justice League” commenced, a new, critical cloud shrouded over the dusk of this bold new universe. After the destruction in “Man of Steel,” and the dark aftermath witnessed in “Batman v Superman,” some critics thought Zack Snyder’s take on the DC universe was too dark and surreal. 

It lacked the fanciful nature of superheroes. However incorrect they may have been, the proverbial damage was done and the studio started looking into creating a “lighter” cinematic experience. This new direction is spearheaded by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg who were announced as co-heads of the newly created DC Films division at Warner Bros. Pictures in May, 2016. 

Meanwhile, Zack Snyder is still hard at work on “Justice League,” sharing regular updates on Vero. He teases the film’s villains, Mother Boxes and the director even calls the film a “complete movie” while also stating a sequel is still on track. 

On Oct. 7, 2016, Snyder shared a behind-the-scenes production video with the caption “Last day filming in the UK. It has been an amazing shoot. Big thanks to everyone involved! #JusticeLeague” on Twitter. He also announced that production would be moving on to Iceland, where he later shared a photo of Aquaman actor Jason Momoa with the caption “One King.”

The following week, “Justice League’s” filming finally concluded as the cast and crew celebrated the event with a wrap party, where Momoa shared a shirtless picture of himself thanking all involved for the experience.

Although filming had finished, production was far from over and Zack Snyder would spend the following months perfecting his film. As 2016 drew to a close, the director shared a first look at the blockbuster while doing post-production work with the caption “Working in the dark” on Vero.

All photo’s courtesy of Warner Media. Alterations by DCFilmsUnited

As production continued, Snyder shared a photo of the coloring process with the caption “Down at CO3 with Stefan” on Vero. Cinematographer Larry Fong later tweeted a response to the Vero post. “Hey kids, this is how movies get their final look, in a digital intermediate suite, shot by shot, no ‘filters,” on Twitter.

Snyder continued to share photos of the work on Vero. In early March Zack shared two photos of Jason Momoa’s Aquaman on Vero, stressing the character isn’t strictly CGI in his underwater dialog.

“People are wondering if he was CG or not,” Snyder posted. “He’s not… Hair and environment CG otherwise all Jason.”

The Snyder’s, and their team, continued working diligently on the film, but an unexpected family tragedy resulted in their priorities shifting towards home.

On March 12, 2017, Zack Snyder’s daughter, Autumn Snyder, passed away at age 20. She had a passion for charities such as Write-A-Thon To End Homelessness For Mothers and Their Children and the Elizabeth House Shelter in Pasadena for pregnant women experiencing homelessness.

Soon after, both Zack and his wife Deborah, who has been working as a producer alongside her husband, announced that they would be stepping back from the “Justice League” film. In an interview with Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter, Toby Emmerich, Warner Bros. Pictures’ President at the time, announced that Marvel Cinematic Universe alum Joss Whedon, will finish the movie. 

“The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set,” Emmerich told the Hollywood Reporter. “We’re not introducing any new characters. It’s the same characters in some new scenes. He’s handing the baton to Joss, but the course has really been set by Zack. I still believe that despite this tragedy, we’ll still end up with a great movie.”

The truth, however, always comes out.

“I just was kind of done with it,” Snyder told writer Sean O’Connell years later. “I was in this place of [knowing] my family needs me more than this bullshit, and I just need to honor them and do the best I can to heal that world.”

When “Justice League” premiered in theaters Nov. 17, 2017, it revealed just how much the studio, and Whedon, had changed. The result was a botched cinematic experience that let a lot of fans down.

As a result, DC lovers launched an online petition titled “Zack Snyder’s Director’s Cut and Tom Holkenborg’s (Junkie XL) Score for Home Release” on The petition had 179,161 supporters.

Soon after a rippling effect began to wave through the world wide web. Fans campaigned for the release of Snyder’s full vision and pushed for Warner Bros. acknowledgement.

As 2018 rolled out, never before seen photos, clips and stills were being revealed by Snyder, and stars of the film, granting fans a simple glimpse of what could’ve been. Outraged by what they were missing, fans echoed their outcry for the Snyder Cut at volumes never seen before.

All photo’s courtesy of Warner Media. Alterations by DCFilmsUnited

A collective coursed forward with great momentum, raising awareness for countless charities along the way. Many reports have stated that the movement would be troublesome for Hollywood, but the reverse is actually true.

Fans recognized that studios produce these products due to demand, so they demanded change. They demanded creativity over all else, and later they demanded accountability over entertainment.

Throughout the remainder of 2018 Snyder followers were rewarded with more and more samplings of his original cut. The waves pushing against Warner Bros. began to call attention to the film and the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement grew exponentially.

A resulting onslaught brought on by nay sayers and studio heads attempted to push back against the tide. Hit pieces against the movement were published and articles commenting on the ”negative” effects the demand for the director’s cut would have on Hollywood.

But the negativity was flushed out by the positive outcry conducted by an army of Snyder supporters. They were determined to achieve the impossible. And they did.

Over the Summer of 2020, during a live interactive screening of his 2013 film “Man of Steel,” Director Zack Snyder announced that his cut of the film was finally being released to HBO Max.

But the fight wasn’t over. Fans continued to demand for the restoration of Snyder’s vision for the franchise. #RestoreTheSnyderVerse became the next rallying cry while fans awaited the highly anticipated “Zack Snyder’s Justice League.”

Finally, the movie that was promised premiered.

But the ride’s not over yet. Fans of DC films are pushing for the Release of the “Ayer Cut” and demanding for the powers that be to Restore the “Snyderverse” with spin-offs for “Batman Versus Deathstroke” and a solo “Cyborg” movie.

The world needs these mythic heroes to inspire us, and here’s to hoping we see more of them.

Restore the “Snyderverse” and bring back our heroes.

The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention’s mission

As an organization, we truly believe it is important to give back and support causes that help others. The fourth Annual Hollywood Critics Association Film Awards presented filmmaker Zack Snyder with the Valiant Award at the HCA Film Awards on Friday March 5, 2021 in recognition for mental health awareness activism. We want to use our platform to help raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We hope you can join us in supporting this important organization that helps save thousands of lives on a daily basis by contributing to the Autumn Snyder Tribute Fund.

To donate, click here.

The League

Henry Cavill as Superman

Henry gained international stardom for his dual role as Clark Kent and Superman in Warner Bros. “Man of Steel,” “Justice League” and “Batman v Superman.” He is currently in production on the second season of the hit Netflix drama series, “The Witcher.”

The first season, anchored by Cavill’s performance as Geralt of Rivia, was the streamer’s second most watched premiere series of all time. Most recently, he starred as Sherlock Holmes in Netflix’s “Enola Holmes,” opposite Millie Bobby Brown and Sam Claflin. The film was the biggest first day opening Netflix title in 2020 and was watched by over 76 million households in its first four weeks of release. Cavill’s other film credits include “Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” opposite Tom Cruise. Henry is considered one of the best Superman’s to date. 

Ben Affleck as Batman

Ben has been recognized for his long-standing career as a director, actor, writer, and producer as a recipient of two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTA Awards, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. 

Affleck’s upcoming projects include Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel” alongside Matt Damon, Jodie Comer and Adam Driver in October 2021, Adrian Lyne’s “Deep Water”, and Robert Rodriguez’s Action Thriller “Hypnotic.” Affleck recently received critical acclaim along with a Best Actor Critics Choice nomination for his work in Gavin O’Connor’s “The Way Back.” In addition to producing Season 2 of Showtime’s popular Boston- based drama series “City on a Hill” with Matt Damon (returning in March 2021), Affleck is currently in Boston filming George Clooney’s “The Tender Bar.”

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Gal is rapidly emerging as one of Hollywood’s most engaging and sought-after talents.  She debuted as Diana/Wonder Woman in the blockbuster “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and in 2017, she starred again in the role in the first-ever “Wonder Woman” feature, which was the highest grossing film of the season, taking in more than $820 million worldwide. 

For her role as Diana/Wonder Woman, she won the Rising Star Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the 2018 #SeeHer Award at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards. She also won the 2018 MTV Movie + TV Award for Best Fight and the 2017 Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress: Action.  “Wonder Woman” was honored with the spotlight award at the 2017 National Board of Review.

Jason Momoa as Aquaman

Jason is one of Hollywood’s leading men, most recently starring in the title role of the billion dollar blockbuster “Aquaman.”  He also voiced the character in the animated feature “The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part.”  Next for Momoa is this fall’s epic action adventure “Dune.”  He was recently seen in “See,” Apple TV’s drama series in which he plays the lead character of Baba Voss, the warrior leader, where 600 years in the future all humanity has lost the sense of sight and have adapted to new ways to survive. 

Momoa starred as the lead in Netflix’s action/adventure series “Frontier,” and played an integral role in launching HBO’s Emmy-winning “Game of Thrones” with his performance as Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo.  Momoa also appeared in “The Bad Batch” and co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in “Road to Paloma,” a road-tale, character-driven thriller shot throughout the American Southwest.

Ray Fisher as Cyborg

Ray is best known for his breakout role as ‘Victor Stone/Cyborg’ in Warner Bros.’ DC Cinematic Universe. ‘Cyborg’ is first introduced in “Batman v Superman” and was last seen in “Justice League,” where Fisher starred alongside Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, and Ezra Miller. On the small screen, Fisher recently starred in the third installment of HBO’s Emmy Award winning series “True Detective” opposite Mahershala Ali, Carmen Ejogo and Stephen Dorff. A seasoned theater actor as well, Ray made his mark on stage earning rave reviews for his portrayal of Muhammed Ali in the Off-Broadway production, “Fetch Clay, Make Man” from Tony-Award winning director, Des McAnuff.  

Currently, Ray is shooting one of the leads of the highly anticipated ABC limited Series, “Women of the Movement” for Jay-Z and Will Smith, while also calling for Warner Media’s “accountability over entertainment.” 

Ezra Miller as The Flash

Ezra is an artist, actor, musician, songwriter, and creator.  Since his breakthrough in 2012, his name has become synonymous with the ability to bring rich, eclectic, multi-faceted characters to life. He is currently cast as Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash in the DC Universe.  As The Flash, Miller starred in the “Justice League” film alongside Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher, and Jason Momoa, following his character’s surprise appearances in “Batman v Superman” and “Suicide Squad.” Additionally, Miller currently stars in the Harry Potter spin-off franchise “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” as Credence for Warner Bros., alongside Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and more.

When he is not acting, Ezra is a passionate musician and tours with his band Sons of An Illustrious Father.

“In ZACK SNYDER’S JUSTICE LEAGUE, determined to ensure Superman’s (Henry Cavill) ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) aligns forces with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions. The task proves more difficult than Bruce imagined, as each of the recruits must face the demons of their own pasts to transcend that which has held them back, allowing them to come together, finally forming an unprecedented league of heroes. Now united, Batman (Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) may be too late to save the planet from Steppenwolf, DeSaad and Darkseid and their dreadful intentions.”

This article was originally published in the Daily Planet Magazine Spring 2021 issue.

Zack Benz

Zack Benz has been a fan of the Daily Planet since he was eight years old. The Daily Planet has always been a beacon of hope for him and it’s his life’s mission to make it shine in a similar light to so many around the world. Zack graduated with a degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2019.

Leave a Reply

Previous Story

Pierce Brosnan joins the cast of ‘Black Adam’ as Doctor Fate

Next Story

Oprah Winfrey speaks with poet laureate Amanda Gorman for ‘The Oprah Conversation’

Latest from Entertainment