How Zack Snyder pulled off a once impossible task
While that title may seem dramatic it's hard to deny that Zack Snyder has pulled off what might have once seemed unreachable.
Over the years many projects have resurfaced from the dead much to fans delight, but few have done so against the interests of the company...
Immediately after the release of Justice League in 2017 fans were calling for the release of a "Snyder cut" after DC's disappointing response to Marvel's Avengers. The film not only looked vastly different from what we had seen in trailers, but was also missing big plot elements Snyder had teased when filming the superhero epic.
Hardcore fans have a reputation for making it clear when they don't like an adaptation of their favourite story or character. Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand saw studios take drastic changes after their backlash, often rebooting the franchise altogether.
But few cases are like Zack Snyder and Justice League in which he was essentially forced to leave the project.
Though many reacted negatively to Batman V Superman, just like Star Wars, the film still had a legion of devoted fans. Zack Snyder has always been great at interacting with his followers, teasing big plot elements or fan favourite characters with photos, comments and teases. It all prepared him for galvanizing the fan base to loudly demand a Snyder cut, which could be treated as a lost treasure like the famous directors' cuts to the likes of Blade Runner and Apocalypse Now.
In the past fans have demanded films such as The Last Jedi or 2016's Ghostbusters be remade, unhappy with how the film turned out. But the difference with those projects is they came from directors satisfied with the end result.
Here Zack Snyder was forced away by family tragedy and studio politics, his vision was largely changed due to DC's worries over the franchise's dark tone and lack of wide appeal.
As much as you may dislike Batman V Superman, the decision was undoubtedly an injustice (sorry), especially when replaced with the man largely responsible for the success of the rival studio's comic book team-up.
Snyder fed social media with photos of film reels and screenshots, eventually leading to his successful deal with Warner Bros.
Previously a Snyder Cut seemed almost impossible with many cynics like myself quick to palm it off, not only because of the irritating noise it would make on social media but how counter-productive it would be to Warner Bros and DC in establishing a singular vision for the future.
But what should come along to give fans and Snyder the perfect olive branch?
We often talk about the importance and influence streaming has on the industry today, but here it's hard to imagine this development taking place without this brand new streaming service just debuting.
What better way for HBO Max, which till now had a pretty slow start in regards to subscribers, to lure in an entire legion of fans? Keeping what is now officially titled Zack Snyder's Justice League on streaming allows it to be separate from the cinematic DC films, with Warner Bros even having the prospect of continuing the "Snyder Universe" exclusively on HBO Max.
Multiple timelines, universes, and corners of DC are nothing new for the comic book company, especially on-screen. While Marvel has kept everything within their cinematic universe, with a bit of leniency for television programmes not involving Fiege, DC has always embraced its creative freedom to tell different stories not restricted by one timeline.
The TV or "arrow-verse" has proven vastly popular for TV channel The CW as they are able to tell their own massive crossover stories with multiple characters (including their own version of The Flash).
The animated movies have continued to entertain fans with their own animated universe, all on top of DC films like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam! All of which have been generally and critically praised, with easy room for those latter films to take on their own timelines away from 2017's Justice League.
The cinematic universe has never been as restricted as Marvel has (and trust me the perfectionist in me aligns far more with their clean organised approach). Even the title of the film series has changed over time, often dubbed "The DCEU" or then "Worlds of DC".
But if there is one experiment that helped DC separate itself from its one vision mentality; its Joker. The film that stayed true to their original message by putting creative control in the hands of the director. Joker isn't limited by lore, or what has come before or after, it's free to be its own story, even reflected by Joker gleeful dancing down the now-famous city staircase. The film brought in over one billion dollars, demonstrating fans will come, even if it isn't connected to a wider story.
Media outlets scratched their heads and begged for larger connections to a bigger universe to feed their easter egg trained brains. But it was all to no avail.
While rumours have circulated around where the upcoming The Batman, or The Suicide Squad will take place, they are clearly passion projects for Matt Reeves and James Gunn. While Joker may show up again in the future or be a part of a larger universe, that notion seems especially anti-Joaquin Phoenix or Todd Phillips, who were both more concerned with the bigger message of the film, leading to Phoenix's Oscar win. Snyder is much like Patty Jenkins, Reeves, Gunn, and Phillips, a storyteller first, and employee to the studio second.
Now given the go-ahead to add and enhance his original vision, Snyder is once more able to thrive by exciting fans with artwork, behind the scenes shots, and support from the original cast who are largely behind him.
With more coming out to the detriment of Whedon and his version, Snyder continues to come out as the underdog, which has worked in securing him up to $30 million dollars to complete his edit.
Regardless of your opinion of the polarizing director, and his outlook on historic characters, DC will always be divisive for the stories and characters that are ingrained in our culture. We all like an underdog, and DC's course correction and treatment of Justice League ultimately led to a financial and critical disappointment.
Much like fans who herald George Lucas and demand his return to Star Wars after years of abuse, Zack Snyder can come back and at the very least please a loyal and powerful fanbase, who've made it very clear they enjoy his take on the DC universe. Maybe it will suck? But you know what they say-
It's not the destination its the journey.
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