After years of fan campaigns to #ReleasetheSnyderCut of Justice League, it is remarkably happening. On Wednesday, director Zack Snyder announced on a live commentary of 2013’s Man of Steel that his long-rumored extended cut of Justice League will be headed to the HBO Max sometime next year. As if this year hadn’t already reached its delirious breaking point, here comes a surreal development that doesn’t feel so bad.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. chairman Toby Emmerich reached out to Snyder last November about reviving his four-hour rough cut of the film. He noticed Justice League fans’ efforts to push #ReleasetheSnyderCut to a trending topic two years after the film’s release, and saw the potential for more. Snyder, who’s previously said that the 2017 release contained about a fourth of his original work, said yes to the project. It will release on the forthcoming HBO Max either as one huge four-hour block, or broken up into six TV-sized episodes.
DC’s big, universe-solidifying film was a major flop for Warner Bros. in 2017, grossing less worldwide than any other film in the expanded franchise. After the tragic death of his daughter, Snyder stepped away from Justice League in post-production, leaving Joss Whedon to take his place for the finishing touches. The result was jumbled, formless, and incoherent, even by DC universe standards, with enough unexplained changes from previews to the finished product to give Honest Trailer types a conniption.
Snyder’s not a particularly great director, but it’s nevertheless a hilarious coup for fans that latched onto a once-annoying, then kind of charming campaign to free his original effort. Whatever your misgivings, there’s no denying that Snyder has a distinct auteurism that cracks through big studio influence. There’s also something cool about vocal fans pushing a major studio and streaming service to drastic action. In the worst case, this leads to something like Disney’s cowardice in responding to bad faith attacks on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But here, whether the movie’s good or not, a lot of people, including Snyder feel validated. Posting is power, friends.
You immediately think of other big blockbuster misfires and the appetite for a do-over. There was the fascination with Colin Trevorrow’s abandoned The Rise of Skywalker screenplay, Josh Trank’s alleged “fantastic version” of the dreadful Fantastic Four movie, and Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s unfinished crack at Solo. Let it be a lesson for other studios sitting on this sort of footage in the vaults: now is the time. Get it out there and let us feast.