We know what happens when you give a mouse a cookie, but what happens when you give the DC fanbase the Snyder Cut? In the wake of the Zack Snyder’s Justice League release, the same ardent fans responsible for making WarnerMedia drop roughly $70 million to complete an unfinished film have new demands for the DC Extended Universe, even thoughWarnerMedia Studios CEO Ann Sarnoff and her peers are swearing that this was a one-time thing. The endless demands are encouraged by the DCEU’s lack of creative cohesion, studio interference that directors like Snyder and Suicide Squad David Ayer end up being frank online about, and the knowledge that the overall universe Snyder was shepherding was truncated.
These fans should savor Justice League as the win, because they probably won’t get another, but let’s break down what they’re asking for next.
Restoring the Snyderverse. The original plan for Justice League was for the movie to split into two parts. Under Snyder’s guidance, the first film would have played out as it does in ZSJL; our intrepid heroes — Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman — come together against Darkseid’s henchman Steppenwolf. Not everything is as happy as it seems, as the final moments of the HBO Max movie tease what would have come in the future: Darkseid invades, enslaves Superman and turns Earth into Mad Max: Fury Road. Through perseverance and some nifty time-travel, all is righted and the series would end with Superman and Lois Lane’s son (!) becoming the next Batman (!!).
The push for DC to course-correct and make Snyder’s plan a reality is the logical next step of a fanbase who already got their way once. So much of the discussion around wanting to see the Snyder Cut in the first place hinged upon fans insisting that Snyder’s unique vision should be realized, and they were, strangely enough, right?! The positive critical and audience reception has validated those feelings, with the consensus being that Snyder’s voice made Justice League feel more coherent throughout.
Still, it’s one thing to allow a man to re-work a film which already had the bones and structure in place. Continuing Snyder’s grand Justice League vision would mean reconfiguring the company’s entire superhero factory line, which has already moved on to a new Batman and solo adventures that suggest no interest in building an interconnected, Marvel-esque universe. There are just too many pieces on the board that have since left the field–Snyder sharing, at length, what he would have done, should be proof enough that this is never happening.
A consistent vision is the logic behind the #ReleasetheAyerCut movement, too. Before the release of 2016’s Suicide Squad, director David Ayer’s Dirty Dozen-esque film was subject to a series of reshoots to accommodate shifting executive needs. In a series of tweets in 2018, Ayer claimed a handful of story beats directly related to ZSLJ were ultimately stripped out of the final film, including a direct tie to Steppenwolf and the Mother Boxes. With the Snyder Cut painting a larger picture of the DCEU, fans want to see how the two would have aligned. Plus, Ayer claims finishing his version would “be easy to complete,” indicating his film was radically reworked in the editing bay.
However, given that Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn is moving forward with a Suicide Squad sequel and HBO Max spin-off, the idea of an Ayer Cut seems pretty DOA.
More Men of Steel
Henry Cavill’s future as the Man of Steel looks to be up in the air after the announcement that Ta-Nehisi Coates will write a new Superman movie. As exciting as that news is to most, the reveal also reignited the feeling that Cavill got a raw deal. After Man of Steel, his next turn as Supes ended up being a two-hander in which he inevitably gets overshadowed by Ben Affleck’s introduction as a brand new onscreen version of Batman. Cut to Justice League, for which he’s in the ground for the majority of. Still, Snyder told this publication that in his three-film Justice League plan, Superman would’ve had the most dynamic character arc and ostensibly been the main character for the last two films.
Even if the Snyderverse isn’t restored, there’s tons to do with Cavill’s take on Superman, which was pretty solid even though if you didn’t like Man of Steel overall. He only got one solo adventure–there are tons of other Superman villains beyond Darkseid that could make for interesting one-off films. Still: exciting writer working on an entirely new take sounds like a death knell for Cavill’s Superman. The same goes for Ben Affleck, whose performance some of Snyder’s more extreme fans have hailed as the best big screen Batman of all time. Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves are coming with their spin in less than a year–whatever DC’s plan is, having multiple creators and actors riffing on one character at the same time is chaos they won’t want to court.
But the Flash movie and Warner’s multiverse plans could change everything.
There is a situation in which another Snyder version of Justice League could work. In the wake of the initial version of Justice League, DC and Warner have pivoted to setting up a multiverse. Similar to what audiences saw in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Warner is reworking their narrative to say that every DC movie ever released exists alongside each other albeit within different realities. The upcoming Flash movie will take the DC multiverse head-on, seeing Ben Affleck’s Batman and Ezra Miller’s Flash interact alongside Michael Keaton’s Batman. With the multiverse in play, Warner Bros. could decide to move forward with Snyder’s Justice League plans, saying it just exists in a different reality.
Given that Cyborg actor Ray Fisher announced he was done with the DCEU, new versions of the more iconin characters are underway and other actors have moved on, fans were always going to be facing an uphill battle. But the idea of the multiverse is probably enough to cling onto even as the DCEU moves forward. And it is moving forward, as WarnerMedia CEO Ann Sarnoff made it clear to Variety that Snyder had come to the “completion of his trilogy,” and there’d be no release of the Ayer Cut. In response, some fans are already talking about boycotting future Warner releases to make a point. For as silly as we all once thought the Snyder Cut was, the dream (eventually) became real. Who knows what could happen next?