The years-long campaign to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut is coming to an end in a month. In March, thanks to HBO Max, Zack Snyder is expected to debut his 4-hour director’s cut of “Justice League,” after years of behind-the-scenes drama dating back to 2017, after the filmmaker was rumored to have been fired from the set of the superhero film. Or wait, maybe he quit because of a family tragedy, as was originally reported? Well, according to a new Vanity Fair profile, the truth is somewhere in between.
In an incredibly thorough retelling of the entire “Justice League” saga (which one could argue would make for a more interesting 4-hour film than watching a group of superheroes fight a CGI baddie), Vanity Fair has pulled the curtain back and revealed what went down during the dark ages of DC Films, where Snyder was given free rein to create his version of the superhero team-up flick only to see it all taken away from him.
The short version is this: Zack Snyder, coming off of the negative response from fans and critics for “Batman v. Superman” was given the role of director for “Justice League.” However, Warner Bros. kept a close eye on the filmmaker. Then, after Snyder’s daughter died by suicide, the filmmaker left the project and was replaced by Joss Whedon, who did extensive reshoots and completely changed the overall vision of “Justice League.” The film was released in 2017 and people hated it.
The longer version, as told in the profile, is a bit more complicated than that.
After “Batman v. Superman,” WB decided that Snyder needed some “babysitters” (as the director put it). The studio made sure that every day during shooting, Geoff Johns and/or Jon Berg were on set to help try to steer Snyder into a more “crowd-pleasing” angle. Initially, the filmmaker was okay with this.
“You could say babysit,” Snyder said. “It didn’t bother me too much because they weren’t that threatening. I just felt the ideas they did have, where they were trying to inject humor and stuff like that, it wasn’t anything that was too outrageous.”
Then, after the filming was complete, Snyder showed the cut to WB. The filmmaker said it didn’t go well. WB wanted him to cut the film down to two hours and then decided that maybe Joss Whedon would help make some rewrites for some new scenes to help lighten the tone a bit.
“I thought maybe he could write some cool scenes. I thought that would be fun,” he explained.
But as the reshoots drew closer, it became clear that WB wanted Whedon to do more. And the breaking point came when the studio wanted Whedon to do some of the directing during the reshoots. After only one conversation with Whedon, Snyder decided to walk away.
“We just lost the will to fight that fight in a lot of ways,” said Snyder about deciding to leave the production. “All of us, the whole family, we’re just so broken by [losing Autumn] that having those conversations in the middle of it really became…I was like, ‘Really?’ Frankly I think we did the right thing because I think it would’ve been either incredibly belligerent or we just rolled over.”
From there, Whedon was given the reins and reportedly reshot “three-quarters” of the film during those hasty reshoots. And yes, the decision was made to digitally remove Cavill’s mustache. The rest, as they say, is history.
But now, four years later, we’re getting “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” which spares no expense and actually is longer than the original version of the film, clocking in at four hours. That version will debut on HBO Max on March 18.