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A quick history lesson (as much as possible): in 2017, as he faced the sudden death of his daughter, Zack Snyder moved away to lead Justice League. The film was intended to unite the main DC Comics superheroes Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman with newcomers like Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash. Avengers Director Joss Whedon came on to complete the film, which came out later that same year with lukewarm reviews. But among Snyder’s adherents, rumors persisted that the director of Guardians and Batman vs. Superman had actually finished his own version of the film before leaving. That elusive ‘Snyder cut’ of Justice League has acquired the status of a myth – and turns out, we now know, to have been somehow true. One version survived on the filmmaker’s laptop and a four-hour iteration was reborn entirely fell yesterday on HBO Max.
For a while, die-hard Snyder fans demanded, often through aggressive and toxic tactics, to see this version of the film, as if water was being kept from their parched lips. There were #ReleaseTheSnyderCut Twitter campaigns, airplanes flew over Comic-Con International with the “Release the Snyder Cut” banners. Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Ben Affleck (Batman) tweeted theirs Support. This continued for years– as long as the conversation almost ceased to question whether Snyder’s version was superior and no longer to whether or not fans were allowed to see her.
Streaming changes everything. In 2018, WarnerMedia, the company that operates both HBO and Justice League Warner Bros. studio, has announced plans for the streaming service that would become HBO Max, and these things require content to attract subscribers. A four hour film with an integrated, uncompromising and infallible audience? Yes please. “Since I arrived here 14 months ago, the song of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut has been a daily drumbeat in our offices and inboxes,” Warner Media Entertainment President Robert Greenblatt said in a statement. announcing its release last May. “Well the fans have asked, and we’re so excited to finally be able to deliver.”
It couldn’t have been delivered at a more different time than when the #TheSnyderCut was originally born. In 2017-18, the Trump presidency was still young; the effects of campaigns organized on social networks were just starting to appear. Now, not only is the power of the Internet even greater, but the value of a single movie is even smaller. Covid-related theater closures have been crushed box office receipts, and while home orders have helped bring streaming subscriptions to more than a billion in the world, the significance of a movie release can only be a distraction from the global pandemic, racial injustice, and the senseless, gruesome death that is filling the news feeds. In 2018, fans were losing their minds because of the very idea from a Snyder cut – doing things that seem hugely out of proportion now that the movie is finally out.
In other words: it’s just a fucking movie.
Yes, I realize that by devoting this column to the said film, it somewhat cancels out the argument I have just made, but I only raise it because, while I click on play on Justice League by Zack Snyder Thursday the only question I was really asking myself was, “Is this going to be worth it?” Because it is the he this has changed. I don’t mean, was it worth the extra $ 70 million Warner Bros would have poured into the new version? (The one that existed on Snyder’s laptop isn’t the one currently on HBO Max.) But was it worth the energy to keep a social media campaign going for three years? Worth harass critics? What if these fans had devoted their time to something else? Has WB now taught fans that bad behavior reward?