If you thought that Marvel directors and actors getting upset about Martin Scorsese disliking their content was the pinnacle of dumb superhero-movie discourse, then clearly it’s been a while since you thought about the Snyder Cut. After spearheading the early efforts of the DC Extended Universe, Zack Snyder left the production of Justice League before the project was completed due to a family tragedy. Avengers director Joss Whedon steered the Justice League ship from there, reshooting and rewriting parts of the film to adhere to a tone best described as “Discount MCU” (i.e., it felt like Aquaman’s only lines of dialogue were various interjections of “MY MAN!”). By now, you know how that went: Henry Cavill’s CGI’d upper lip haunted our psyches, Justice League flopped, and the DCEU pivoted away from its early, dreary Snyder-imposed ethos to make things like Aquaman and Shazam!.
But while most superhero movie enthusiasts moved on from the Justice League mess, perhaps with a faint interest in knowing what the film would’ve been like with the full Snyder treatment, the director’s most ardent fans have continued to campaign for Warner Bros. to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.
What is “the Snyder Cut?” It is the mythological Snyder-created director’s cut of Justice League that some fans are convinced Warners is keeping hidden. The quixotic quest of committed Snyder zealots is really strange, fascinating, and not the least bit silly—these Snyder fans have afforded it the same gravitas and conspiracy-laden paranoia that political junkies apply to discussing the death of Jeffrey Epstein. But you’d figure this online Snyder movement would eventually die down with the inevitable passage of time—and oh dear God, now they’ve Released the Snyder Tweets.
On Sunday, the two-year anniversary of Justice League’s release, stars Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, and Ray Fisher tweeted their own hashtags supporting the Snyder Cut—which Snyder himself began quote-tweeting to stoke the Twitter flames even further. This probably marks the most significant breakthrough in the quest for the Snyder Cut in quite some time. And that says a lot about how little actual progress has been made.
For anyone who hasn’t kept track of the Snyder Cut news cycle, first off, congrats on your emotional well-being. The online petitions and campaigns for the Snyder Cut all have been made by people who enjoyed the Snyder-directed Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, two bleak, overlong films with biblical undertones that scream “we take superheroes very seriously.” (Don’t even get me started on the infamous Martha moment.) For what it’s worth, I think Snyder did a good-enough job with the Watchmen movie, and I’m always down to get sauced and watch Sucker Punch on an international flight—but the idea of his Justice League having a similar vibe to Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice is exhausting. However, for the passionate fans who bought into the Snyder era of the DCEU, the Snyder Cut represents a franchise swan song for a director whose vision was, in their mind, underappreciated and undervalued by audiences and critics.
Caring enough to sign a petition is one thing, but the wildest corners of the Snyder Cut discourse have devolved into complete absurdity—looking for meaning and hidden clues in absurd places. (Or as I like to call it, going full Rust Cohle.) A very real, Pulitzer-worthy blog from ComicBook.com last year posited that Snyder was trolling Warners on Thanksgiving by giving away the Snyder Cut Justice League running time via his oven. Hear me out: Maybe he’s just … cooking a Thanksgiving turkey with no ulterior motives?
But such is the life of a Snyder obsessive. In the fans’ defense, Snyder and Co. have offered more breadcrumbs hinting at the Snyder Cut being a real thing—and none other than Jason Momoa has repeatedly claimed he’s seen the cut for himself. In reality, since the director had to leave production early, the Snyder Cut probably isn’t a finalized film as much as a workprint with unfinished visual effects and audio that hasn’t been mixed. (Sometimes screeners for TV shows are sent to critics with unmixed audio, and it is really jarring.) It’s hard to imagine Warners wanting to spend a lot of extra money to finish a Snyder Cut of Justice League—especially when you consider how much the #WhedonCut underwhelmed at the box office.
Still, that Snyder and the film’s top actors are willing to tweet about the Snyder Cut two years after the film’s release probably means our enigmatic auteur is hoping his Justice League will really see the light of day. And if the Snyder Cut were to come out, it might have a natural home on a streamer, courtesy of HBO Max. The streaming service is due to arrive in 2020, and with it a digital catalog featuring popular IP like Friends, Game of Thrones, and the rest of the DCEU. Just as Disney+ was able to flex by putting shows like The Mandalorian out on its launch, maybe HBO Max can claim to be the exclusive streaming home of the Justice League Snyder Cut. And considering that enough fans were pissed about Sonic the Hedgehog’s appearance in the trailer for his live-action film that Paramount straight-up changed his appearance, then fan fervor turning the Snyder Cut into a real thing wouldn’t be the most absurd turn of events in recent years.
As it stands, The Hollywood Reporter notes that “no announcement of a release of any such cut is imminent,” per anonymous HBO Max sources. But the fact a major Hollywood trade publication even has to ask for a comment regarding the Snyder Cut is a weird bit of progress in and of itself. The Snyder Cut was and still remains a perpetually silly footnote for Warners—a story line built to foster dank memes and rampant fan speculation. But perhaps it’s in everyone’s best interest for the studio to just release the Snyder Cut, so that we never have to think about Justice League again.