Nearly 2 years after the release of 2017’s “Justice League,” which debuted to stinging reviews and lackluster box office returns, a controversy surrounding the movie — and its original director — refuses to fade to black.
As legions of comic book fans descend on San Diego Comic Con this weekend, a vocal group of die-hards are insisting Warner Bros. (T) release the so-called “Snyder Cut,” Zack Snyder’s original version of the DC Universe’s premiere super-hero team.
During the film’s production, a family tragedy forced Snyder to step down. That left “Avengers” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron” director Joss Whedon in charge to finish the movie.
However, the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator re-shot much of Snyder’s original work, creating a movie that deviated from Snyder’s own controversial, dark-themed style. Ultimately, “Justice League” grossed a solid yet disappointing $657 million globally.
The original “Justice League” footage has been the subject of intense speculation and lack of clarity. Some observers have argued there wasn’t enough material for a full “directors cut” to be released.
Yet in March, Synder confirmed that enough unreleased “Justice League” scenes do exist, but it was up to the studio to make it public. On a few occasions, Snyder has taken to social media to selectively drop images from his original vision.
Warner Brothers representatives declined Yahoo Finance’s request for comment.
Meanwhile, the Snyder faithful have taken up the rallying cry of “Release the Snyder Cut” — and they’re kicking up their campaign a few notches. They’ve placed advertisements with the Twitter hashtag they created, created an online petition, and have raised north of $20,000 for the effort.
In a recent (non-scientific) Twitter poll with nearly 4,000 participants, 78% voted in favor of its release.
It underscores how the impassioned the fan base is, and how willing they are to keep stirring the pot — even as Warner and DC move in a different direction with their universe of big screen super-beings.
With that said, “another cut of Justice League just doesn't seem to be something many outside the die-hard fan base are clamoring to see,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst for Boxoffice.com.
Amid the successes of “Aquaman,” which grossed over $1 billion worldwide in 2018, and this year’s “Shazam!,” experts say it doesn’t make much sense for the “Snyder Cut” to be released. Expectations are already high for the next phase of DC hero movies, like October’s “Joker” origin movie and Matt Reeves 2021 “Batman” movie.
It suggests hardcore fans might not want to hold their breath waiting for a “Snyder Cut” that got left on the “Justice League” cutting-room floor.
“I don't think they [Warner Bros. and DC] care for it honestly, and they moved on from Snyder and are rebooting his universe to make a new one,” said Daniel Richtman, a pop culture writer and influencer.
Where it all went wrong
Snyder was once looked at by Warner Bros. as the answer to what Disney (DIS) and Marvel Studios were doing with the “Avengers.”
But it all went downhill with 2016’s “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.” Despite earning nearly $900 million worldwide, the film was critically panned, scoring a grim 27% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer.
“Justice League,” expected to gross over $1 billion, did not even cross the $700 million mark — facing heavy criticism from fans and critics alike. The final cut discarded much of the set up from “Batman V Superman,” and presented a stark contrast in Whedon and Snyder’s directing styles.
With Disney’s (DIS) Marvel Cinematic Universe having set the bar high, “Justice League’s” box office gross fell well short of superhero ensemble standards. “Avengers: Infinity War,” which debuted 5 months later, went on to earn well over $2 billion.
Even “Aquaman” actor Jason Momoa has expressed support for a “Snyder Cut” release, yet Warner and DC appear firmly committed to a slate of future movies that don’t adhere to Snyder’s original concept.
“We all feel like we've turned a corner now... We are far less focused on a shared universe. We take it one movie at a time,” said Toby Emmerich, chairman of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, told The Hollywood Reporter in a January interview.
Yet at Comic Con, the “Snyder Cut” protesters may be enough to catch the studio’s attention at least.
“A grassroots campaign like this cannot go unnoticed, especially at a high profile confab like Comic-Con,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
“Nonetheless, it’s pretty cool that they (the fans) are interested and engaged enough to put all this effort into trying to make this particular cinematic dream come true,” he added.
Donovan Russo is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him @Donovanxrusso.