The Snyder Cut is being released — and toxic fans are scoring yet another win.
HBO and Warner Bros. announced Wednesday that the infamous and mythical version of the superhero blockbuster Justice League as originally conceived by Zack Snyder not only exists but will soon be released on streaming site HBO Max.
In their announcement, the companies even acknowledged the ever-present demands from the vocal fanatics who for years have demanded that the studio release what they say is the true version of the much-maligned flick.
“Since I got here 14 months ago, the chant to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut has been a daily drumbeat in our offices and inboxes,” said Warner Bros. exec Robert Greenblat. “Well, the fans have asked, and we are thrilled to finally deliver.”
“At the end of the day, it really is all about them,” he added.
It really is.
Like other studios before it, Warner Bros. has caved in to the loudest and most toxic of its fans, proving once more that harassment and targeted social media swarms have the biggest sway in Hollywood.
The story of the “Snyder Cut” began, as so many things do now, on social media.
Snyder — who had directed the two previous films in the DC Extended Universe, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — was tapped to direct the Avengers-like team-up DC fans had been waiting for: Justice League. But Snyder was forced to step down from the film just six months before its release after his daughter tragically passed away.
Joss Whedon, the man behind Marvel’s smash hit, stepped in to handle post-production duties and ultimately helmed numerous reshoots and tweaks to the film’s script.
Justice League released in 2017 with an ominous thud. Critics were mixed at best on the film and the box office results were disappointing, with some reports claiming Warner Bros would lose money.
The conspiracy spreads
In the face of commercial and critical mediocrity, a vocal part of the DC fan base was poised to offer a retort. A subset of the DC fanbase had long defended Snyder after he was criticized for his previous two DC films. Some paranoid fans claimed that critics had a personal vendetta against him, or even that Disney had influenced critics to destroy its competitor’s reputation.
Snyder’s films — dark and brooding and joyless — were “mature,” these vocal fans claimed. If Snyder’s true vision for Justice League was revealed, it would prove that he was the visionary they all knew he was.
This kind of hero worship isn’t anything new with fanbases. But Snyder himself stoked the fires, coyly posting deleted scenes from the movie. Some of the movie’s stars, including Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck, soon joined the call to release Snyder’s original plan for the film, amplifying the vocal fans’ outcry.
Many of those who pushed for the cut to be released used the attention to promote noble, charitable causes. Fans, for example, raised a staggering $150,000 for suicide prevention services earlier this year.
But the toxic fans were emboldened too. For years, they bombarded social media accounts with threats and insults. And now Warner Bros. is caving in.
The fandom menace
This isn’t the first time a studio has capitulated to its loudest, most toxic fans. Disney’s confused Star Wars sequel trilogy was capped off with Rise of Skywalker, a movie that seemed intent on ret-conning everything its loudest fans had condemned. Rey’s backstory was abruptly switched, Snoke finally got his reveal, and the Emperor was back out of nowhere.
But most damningly, new character Rose was sidelined. A Rebel mechanic who debuted in The Last Jedi, Rose was despised by some in the Star Wars fanbase. As some railed that the movie had ruined their childhood, a sizable chunk of critics framed her inclusion as evidence of what they deemed “forced diversity” in the film, a term fraught with racist undertones. They harassed Asian-American actor Kelly Marie Tran on social media constantly, ultimately driving her off Instagram.
How did Disney respond? They threw her character under the bus and all-but-erased her from the franchise.
Toxic fans are unfortunately an inevitability in a digital world where threats and harassment can be tossed out with the touch of a few buttons on social media and just as easily forgotten. Studios don’t have to give those voices power.
But they have been. Like Disney before it, Warner Bros. has made the calculation that the publicity and potential revenue is worth selling out to the nastiest few.
Those who campaigned loudest for the Snyder Cut to be released, who threatened and insulted those who dared oppose them, now know they’re being listened to. Time and time again, studios are proving that the tactics they use work.
After all, at the end of the day, it really is all about them.
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