Zack Snyder's Justice League

Zack Snyder's Justice League ★★★★★

What a gift. This is such an amazing film.
Part 1 of Snyder's JL Trilogy - "The Fellowship of the League"
People weren't kidding when they compared to LotR.
I've already seen it twice and can't wait for my next viewing.
This truly was like a graphic novel come to life. I was surprised by all the cameos and Easter eggs.
Zack truly loves these characters.
That ending was perfect. Part 2 has to be made!

But how did we get here?
Let's review Snyder's history with DC films.
This is important.


Imagine that if in 1980, 20th Century Fox had only released Empire Strikes Back, they had Return of the Jedi fully shot and residing in the archives, but refused to release the film.

What is "Zack Snyder's Justice League" (or the "SnyderCut" as it was referred to)? To understand we need to start at the beginning, behind the scenes.


Warner Brothers had wanted to make a new Superman film for some time. This was after a long time of different writers and directors had been pitching story ideas for a new Superman film. After Superman Returns, Bryan Singer wanted to make a sequel with Brainiac though it didn’t happen. There were even a bunch of comic book writers who were also pitching scripts, prominently Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and Geoff Johns. At the end of the day, WB chose who they knew would be safe to score them a homerun and they went with Chris Nolan’s pitch. Christopher Nolan did not have time to make this film, though he wanted to be involved. When he pitched his Superman story to Warner Brothers, he had Zack Snyder in mind. Nolan got Snyder involved and went to bat for him, and got him the job. Christopher Nolan was the producer on the film and during the entire duration of the project, whenever a creative decision was made Nolan would back Snyder up, even the ideas he didn’t agree with. Through Nolan securing Snyder the job, it essentially painted a target on him from the people who got burned by the situation. Particularly Geoff Johns had a grudge against Snyder.

Geoff Johns especially wanted the pitch for the new Superman film. (SIDE NOTE it’s also important to remember that Johns was behind the Green Lantern (2011). The film had an outline, though amateurishly began shooting without a script, ad-libbed a lot of the dialogue as well as writing dialogue on the day that it was shot. Likely the producers had confidence with this method was because Geoff Johns was spearheading the project and he was the big Green Lantern comic book writer at the time. It was shocking that the man who wrote Green Lantern: Secret Origin couldn’t carry over half of that to the film. While understandable that he was working in a different medium, ultimately it’s a different skill set to captivate a mass audience and not just the small base of comic book readers. Johns should have prepared better and worked to understand the new medium that he was taking on.)

Moving forward, Geoff Johns kept shoehorning himself into the spotlight at DC Films until he had it, and then it backfired because he wasn’t ready for it. Starting with Man of Steel, he began a long history of mistakes and undermining Zack Snyder in particular. Johns also commissioned negative press about Snyder.


Before Batman V Superman was released, there were hordes of bloggers and youtubers writing hateful prophesies about the film, painting it as “having trouble” and that “WB were cutting parts of the film out”. People were already hating on the film before it even had a chance to breathe at the theaters, then when audiences went to see the film, those who listened to the bloggers were primed with negative expectations.

It didn’t help either that the theatrical film was an edited version of the director’s intended film. WB cut 35 minutes of footage out of the film, though it wasn’t even full scenes that were removed: it was a couple minutes at the beginnings and endings of different scenes, which ended up sapping some crucial motivations and character arcs. While the core themes were still fully present in the theatrical, Snyder’s film, dubbed the Ultimate Edition on home video, was starkly different.

When the film was released, there was a large portion of critics who unfairly tore the film down with petty grievances. Furthermore, the “reactions” from audiences that BvS received showed an inattention to detail and a tendency to react rather than to think, a tendency to project onto the film rather than to take a moment and ask “what does it mean?” Thus (some of) the reactions personified the film’s themes of projection by using cherry-picked elements as an overall criticism, such as “Batman killing is wrong” (something the character did in the previous iterations, especially when he was in his right mind, whereas in BvS he is suffering from PTSD and the collateral is intentional to the story arc), thus these “critics” ignored the central tenants of criticism and dialogue and Batman’s redemption arc, for example.

While BvS is a complex film, all of the information is there to understand and rewards multiple viewings and time spent studying. For example, even obvious clues like the homage to Citizen Kane in the opening, where Thomas Wayne’s final words (Martha) mirror the identical shot of Wallace Foster Kane’s final words (Rosebud). For the attentive audience, this telegraphed that this motif of his father’s final words would be important to Bruce and to pay attention to the use of the motif and the meaning that this holds for Bruce.

It was obvious that Snyder and Terrio were drawing from the comic book (the source material) for the film (and not just The Dark Knight Returns and the Death of Superman, as surface reads would proclaim), Snyder is a passionate fan of DC’s comic books and knows the 75 year history of the medium better than most people. Snyder’s DC films should have been widely embraced, especially by comic book fans.

Unfortunately, there was a concentrated effort from paid critics and verified check marks on twitter to hurt the reputation of the film, who often just wrote slander and libel about the film, but went further to actually write hateful things about Snyder’s character, and even his family. Unwarranted, unprovoked and unnecessary. Incredibly unfair and tragic.

Back to the executives, ultimately the theatrical release “didn’t meet expectations”. People said that it was a “failure”, which is not true: it made a ton of money. However it didn’t make a billion dollars, which was the goal that the executives set for themselves.


The DC films had only released two films at this point, Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, which together grossed over a billion dollars. There was a lot of talk about “DC being a failure”, which again wasn’t true and didn’t make sense. Even comparing against the first 5 Marvel films and the first 5 DC films: DC was already more financially successful. However when DC started their films in 2013, Marvel was already averaging a billion dollars at the box office, thus people were simply comparing each company's films to what was out at the time, which wasn’t a fair or accurate comparison. At the time, DC was comparable to what Marvel was in 2008. Marvel had built a brand of a “universe” for itself, it built a uniform television serial on the big screen.
To directly compare the earnings: Man of Steel: $668 million, Batman V Superman: $873 million. Already a billion.
WB was very ambitions with the compacted filming schedule at the time. A lot of people don't know that after Snyder had finished filming BvS, he almost immediately transitioned into filming Justice League. David Ayer was still filming Suicide Squad at the time. Gal Gadot had also gone straight from filming Wonder Woman to the set of Justice League. It was a very busy time and there were a lot of balls in the air. It was at this time that the executives at WB decided to make DC Entertainment a separate division and Silverman and Tsujihara put Geoff Johns and Jon Berg in charge, specifically making Geoff Johns the President and Chief Creative Officer (the same title that Kevin Fiege holds at Marvel). Geoff Johns thought that he could do the films better than what Snyder was doing, and every time there was a perceived “misstep”, he would interject “it would have been different, it would have been better if I did it this way”. And he surrounded himself with a bunch of passive “yes” men who supported his decisions.

David Ayer’s SS was intended to directly tie-in to Snyder’s established world. The film would essentially show the “world without Superman”: the impact on humanity in the absence of the first Super-hero and the response to his loss. It was intended to be a prequel to Justice League, which would more directly address these themes. Steppenwolf was originally in this film. The original idea for Enchantress, the antagonist, was that she was trying to appease the old gods and she was being manipulated by the Mother Boxes. The “light in the sky” originally was a makeshift boom-tube made with magic to bring Steppenwolf through. Steppenwolf alone was brought to Earth by Enchantress, then he stayed in hiding and began the long process of capturing humans and converting them into parademons to create an army for Darkseid.
David Ayer had shot the film and put out the first trailer in 1/19/16, which was set to a Queen song. Ayer said that the trailer’s tone did not personify the film, it was not a “fun” movie. The initial test screenings that Ayer had showed the executives were dark, pushing PG-13 to R; the Joker was incredibly abusive, and there was nothing redeemable about the relationship between Joker and Harley Quinn.

However the WB executives thought that they needed to still adjust things with Suicide Squad, and since the trailer reception was so high, Geoff Johns decided to change the film in the 11th hour and make the film like the trailer.
Geoff Johns desired for the film to be more light-hearted (really, for a film called “Suicide Squad”?) and stand-alone. He ordered reshoots to add Incubus and repurposed the CGI they had for Steppenwolf into Incubus, completely changing the film in a few months. Then they sent the film off to the company who edited the trailer, TrailerPark, to make the film more like the trailer. Ayer’s original film was very different, and the people who saw Ayer’s test screening said it was amazing, though Geoff Johns released the “TrailerPark cut” of the film theatrically.
David Ayer was new to blockbuster filmmaking and he played it safe with the studio executives. At the time, Ayer publicly said the movie released theatrically was his final cut. He didn't even know they were going to release an "extended cut", which they did. And it was only a few minutes added to the "TrailerPark cut".
When Suicide Squad was released it made $746 million. Because of Johns’s alterations, the theatrical film’s success affirmed the other executive’s faith in Geoff Johns: it appeared that the alterations he made to Suicide Squad were the reason for the film’s success; a property that (while having the Joker) had much less popular characters and made almost as much as BvS.


It’s even less known that Geoff Johns altered the ending of Wonder Woman. This was the film perhaps least tampered with under his reign. Johns wanted to remove the “No Man’s Land” scene, though director Patty Jenkins fought to keep it in and won. However Johns was able to alter the intensity of the third act. The design of Ares was changed (perhaps being deemed to be too scary or violent) because originally he was wearing a skull on his head and appeared a lot more bloody: an appearance that could have been described as satanic, but definitely consistent with Greek mythology, which Wonder Woman is based on. In any case, because this was a last-minute alteration, the CGI for this scene in the finished film appears as unfinished.

Because the final theatrical films of Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman were a success, Johns was then asked “what would you change about Justice League”. It was now a full corporate, “films-by-committee” production line, lead by Geoff Johns.


There were other factors that hindered the smooth transition that Johns wanted. They couldn’t find anyone to write or direct the Cyborg film. Snyder had shot multiple Green Lanterns in his JL film that were intended to carry over into the Green Lantern solo film.
Notably there was director, Rick Famuyiwa (who was hired before Johns was promoted), who was committed and writing a script for the Flash. Johns didn’t like what Famuyiwa was doing (which was writing Barry Allen as a serious CSI detective investigating a murder, trying to be “faster than the murders”, like the comics), Johns wanted the film to be more light hearted, like the television show on The CW, which Johns produces.
Before Johns had this position, Snyder had talked about how he wanted the DC films to be like a “sandbox”, where artists (the director and the writer) could have complete creative freedom while still being tethered to the foundations already established, ie as long as they’re playing in the same sandbox. Johns had closed the sandbox, wanted to limit the creativity of the other artists and have everything pass through his corporate approval. Shortly after, Famuyiwa left the project only citing “creative differences”. The Flash film has been in limbo ever since.
Whenever a director would leave a project they would simply cite “creative differences”. All the other artists involved wanted to work with Zack, but no one wanted to work with Geoff.


As Justice League was being shot, Geoff Johns had already hired Joss Whedon for a Batgirl film. Johns was passing lots of notes to Zack to continually revise the film while he was shooting. Zack shot two movies at the same time: his original vision and the watered down, compromised version at the same time. He would shoot the scene that the executives wanted, then he would shoot his scene as a “camera test”. Ray Fisher said that Zack “shot enough for two films” and this is why.
Zack wraps filming on 10/14/16, the cast and crew celebrated and Jason Mamoa shared pictures on social media celebrating. Henry Cavil teased pictures of Superman’s black suit on instagram. Post production officially started. Zack had a 214 minute picture-locked cut of the film, JunkieXL had a finished score, and they were working on post production and special effects.
On 2/22/17, Zack posts a picture of Rorschach on his Vero with the caption “never compromise, not even in the face of Armageddon”. This is likely when the Execs were pressuring him to do reshoots and further change the film than he already had. Some of the compromises that Zack accepted were the redesign of Steppenwolf and keeping Superman in the red/blue suit (though he had shot Henry Cavil in a modified suit, that would be easier to modify to black in post).
Six months into post production, Zack’s daughter dies, on 3/20/17. There was a 6-8 week period where he was still working, Zack said that he had just thrown himself back into work because it was cathartic for him. However, during this time, Johns was putting a lot of pressure on Zack, telling him his assembly cut is too long and giving him a plethora of demands to change the film he already shot. With all this unnecessary pressure to change his film amidst his mourning, Zack walked away from the post production on 5/22/17.
What should have happened, Kevin Tsujihara should have made the respectful decision to put the film on hold and wait to release it the following year (even in March, when Zack typically prefers to release films). Though when Johns was hearing that Zack wasn’t able to finish post-production on Justice League, specifically that he wasn’t going to make the changes that he wanted him to change (making it shorter, lighter tone), Johns decided to have someone else make the changes. Since he already had Whedon on board for a different film, he decided to have Whedon revise Justice League first.
So on 7/21/17, four months later, the cast are filming new scenes, which were deceivingly referred to as “reshoots” in the press, with Joss Whedon, this is a highly unusual turnaround for a big budget Hollywood film. Reshoots are typically one or two months after shooting, primarily for pick-up shots or to correct minor errors that occurred during shooting, and the editor is cutting in the meantime. In this case, Joss Whedon was making an entirely new film. This entirely new film that they made required so much manpower and special effects. Half a year later many of the actors looked different as well, notably Ben Affleck was not the same weight he was before. Joss Whedon made a new film is 6 months. This was already set in motion: Geoff Johns already had the script changes made, and he took advantage of Zack’s situation to take full control.
The press statements that the WB Execs put out said that Zack chose Joss to finish the film and that these would be small reshoots. This was a lie and also didn’t make sense, Zack who had (made Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, produced and wrote the story for Wonder Woman and produced Suicide Squad) shepherded these films up until this point would chose to walk away from his film that everything led up to and chose someone else to finish his film? It didn’t make sense. Also the “reshoots” were never planned, because as Ray Fisher said, Zack had “shot everything he wanted to shoot (and enough for two films)” of the compromised 214 version.
All the actors were required to return for these reshoots, but there was a notable problem with Henry Cavil: he was filming Mission Impossible: Fallout and he was not able to film the moustache that he had grown for that role, so Johns/Whedon decided to remove the moustache digitally.
Joss Whedon also fired Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) and brought on Danny Elfman as composer.
*At the time, the media narrative was that WB was finishing Snyder’s vision, that came from Toby Emmerich. He represents part of WB but HE cannot be trusted. They cannot do post production without Zack. They can with a new director but not without one at all. Read the DGA rules. Zack didn't want to do reshoots at all. That was Geoff Johns and Jon Berg.
Toby Emmerich on his comments about Joss taking over for Zack
He was definitely put in between a rock and a hard place. He either didn't know what was going on at all, (which makes him incompetent) or he knew what they were doing and let it happen then blatantly lied about it instead of saying something neutral. Either way, under Kevin Tsujihara things were much better for WB than under Emmerich. The numbers don't lie.

Ben Affleck still had an Executive Producer credit on Johns’s version of Justice League, he was supposed to jump on board with Johns, but he wanted to stay close to Zack. The executives believed that having Ben in a producing role would hone Johns’s process. But Ben’s loyalty to Zack backfired on them, Ben says in interviews that he would “jump through fire for Zack”. Also Ben is passionate about the character of Batman, he always wanted to play the character and he created a batcave at his house. He signed on to these films for a specific iteration of Batman: Zack Snyder’s Batman. He was also committed to writing, directing and acting in a Batman film. Ben had no interest in what Johns was doing, but he was contractually obligated to shoot the revised scenes with Joss Whedon and then he left the Batman project because it could no longer be what he wanted it to be. Ben’s disdain was later apparent in interviews for the film in the press.

“DC Films” was started in May 2016, right after Batman V Superman, and directly after the failure of their Frankenstein Justice League film: Geoff Johns, Jon Berg and the rest of the leadership team were fired.
Shortly after, Geoff Johns started his own production house: “Mad Ghost Productions”, where he produced content for DC Universe, the DC streaming service app. Particularly Johns made a (Teen) Titans show for the app, which was especially strange because the seriousness of the show resembled Snyder’s depictions of DC.


After the release of Whedon’s Justice League in November, fans were devastated. It was a hollow film, devoid of the depth, artistry and themes from the previous films.
Sean Maher, knowing all the footage that was in the trailers was not in the film, coined the hashtag: #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.
More and more people began to communicate and collaborate, coordinating events on twitter to spread awareness and gain attention for #ReleaseTheSnyderCut (from here referred to as RTSC) were beginning to gain traction. The need to give back was apparent from the fandom and they were all feeling for Zack and the loss of his daughter. When Whedon’s Justice League blu-ray was being released on home video, the fans announced that instead of purchasing the blu-ray that they would donate the cost of that blu-ray to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (from here referred to as AFSP). Soon the fans moved beyond twitter: creating hand-written letter campaigns to different Executives at Warner Brothers, phone campaigns to call WB, campaigns at both San Diego (with bus stops and billboards) and New York comic-con (with a times square billboard) and flying a plane with a message over Warner Brothers studios. What really makes the RTSC movement stand out is that half of the funds for each awareness campaign that they raised went to AFSP.

At this time, there was a disinformation campaign (presumably commissioned by Johns) publicly undermine Zack in articles while he was acting CCO, and even after he was removed from the position. There was a Wall Street Journal article hit-piece by Ben Fritz, a clearly bias article that had the aim of killing the movement, with a quote from an unnamed WB Exec saying “who are these people who won’t stop talking about the magical Snyder cut that doesn’t exist?”. Presumably this was Geoff continuing the trend of public hate on Zack, commissioning disinformation campaign behind the scenes. Also in January he screened the 214 to them and Johns had told the trades that “it’s unwatchable”.
Though the Wall Street Journal article only fueled the fire behind the people in the movement. Though because a big journalist made an article with unnamed quotes from the studio saying it doesn’t exist, the general public were beginning to doubt the film’s existence (although that doubt was always there).

It was also extremely instrumental that actors spoke about the film’s existence as well, notably Jason Mamoa, who on the press for Aquaman (2018) said that his film picks up right after “Zack’s cut” and that he’s “obsessed with [the Snyder Cut] too”.
Also Jay Oliva, Zack’s storyboard artist and DC animation director, continually spoke about the film’s existence on twitter, as he had worked on the film himself.

Then in November of 2019, Jason Mamoa told Josh Horowitz for MTV News that it is a “totally different movie” and strongly implied that Zack had finished the VFX for his cut. Mamoa also posted to instagram a still from Zack’s cut of Aquaman impaling (the compromised) Steppenwolf, with finished effects.
Then later that month, on 11/17/19, the two year anniversary of when Zack Snyder’s Justice League would have been released, the movement made history. The RTSC movement had the goal of reaching 214k tweets, within hours they had reached the goal.
Later in the day, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher and Ben Affleck tweeted out #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. Zack retweeted each of their posts with the hashtag, and other artists and actors joined in support: including Jerry Ordway, Ray Porter, Dave Bautista, Rob Liefeld, Josh Trank, Joe Manganiello, Jeremy Irons, Christina Wren, David Ayer, Dean Cain, Clay Enos, Greg Draven, Jay Burachel, Damon Lindelof, Simu Liu, Yahya Abdul-Mateen 2, Kevin Smith, Stefan Kapicic and Jackie Earle Haley. With their help, the hashtag received over 800k tweets on a single day, the single largest hashtag for a movie that DC or WB have ever had, and all for a movie that people are saying doesn’t even exist.

Imagine how this would feel for Zack Snyder: he has been publicly and internally criticized for years, then the company that he has worked for and trusted for years destroys his film and left his name on it, and two years later after prominent people, such as Scott Mendelson at Forbes claiming his movie doesn’t exist and it shows that he has 800k people supporting him and asking for his film.

Shortly after, companies astonishingly joined the campaign including: Subway, Wendy's, A&W, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Schlotzsky’s, Penn Station Subs, and McAlister’s Deli. Notably with Subway donated 15,000 sandwiches for hungry families during the holiday period in conjunction with the movement.

On 12/4/19, Zack closed the debates about the film’s existence when he posted a picture of film canisters in the WB archives with the label “Z.S. JL DIRECTORS CUT RUNNING TIME 214”.
It is done, and it would just require a few million to finish the VFX, that is chump change to a major motion picture studio. And on 11/17, the movement showed WB the demand for the film.

ATT&T bought Warner Brothers in 2018. This deal was underway since 2016, and they got full acquisition by June 2018, thus no more TimeWarner Stock and it is now under ATT stock. In 2019 they released a new logo.

Finally, on 5/28/20, Zack announced that HBOMAX will release his film, titled "Zack Snyder’s Justice League". This is not a director’s cut, this is not even an Ultimate Edition - this is an entirely different film. This is the next part in the story arc following Man of Steel and Batman V Superman. Part 3 in Zack Snyder’s 5 Part Story Arc.

At last, creators are finally being given creative control.
DC is back and better than ever.
DCFandome would have never been a thing, unless they decided to release the Snyder Cut.


Nothing like this has ever happened before. There have always been director’s cuts of films, but as this essay outlined, this is an entirely different film with no relation to the 2017 film that was released.
"Zack Snyder's Justice League" is a director being given carte blanche. Zack Snyder was denied the ability to tell his story and now he is being given the full creative freedom, or as Zack said on Vero: “[ZSJL is] no compromise.” The release of ZSJL also matters for artistic integrity and will pave the way for the freedom of other filmmaker’s visions as well, a symbol against studio’s butchering director’s visions.

Zack suffered continuous pressure from the studio, critics and audience. And after putting years of passionate work into these films, he had to leave the film they were all building up to because of the most horrible thing that can happen to a parent. While it’s common for actors and artists to receive hate on social media, the extreme amount Snyder received was highly unusual and simply unjust.

The amount of things Zack does for his fans is unprecedented. He regularly communicates with them, he has contests where the winners receive props from the films and he even has zoom calls just to have a beer with the fans.
Everyone who works with Zack has nothing but great things to say about the man. When he makes a film or partners with someone on a project, he creates an incredible familial relationship and fosters the strongest of respect and loyalty.
So many characters were cut out of the film. Actors who were not credited, and didn’t get fully paid because they wouldn’t have gotten the residuals

The #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement has changed Hollywood on how to view a director's influence in a movie.
On 12/20/2020, the RTSC fund in honor of Autumn Snyder reached $500,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Each one of us who have been involved in this movement have been a part of history.

"Remember, it costs nothing to encourage an artist. And the potential benefits are staggering, a pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film or the cartoon you love or the song that saves your life: so it could result in something amazing. But discourage an artist, and you get absolutely nothing in return."
Kevin Smith


My friend Thomas who works for ATT&T.

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