DC Fans’ #ReleaseTheSnyderCut Movement Won Because of Fan Dedication

Fans of Zack Snyder’s Justice League will get their wish in 2021, yet what does this #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement mean for Christian fans?
on May 26, 2020 · 4 comments

By now my friends, enemies, and anyone in between know that I’m a big supporter of DC fans’ #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement.

Since November 2017, these fans have called for producers to release director Zack Snyder’s original filmed super-epic Justice League.

Last Wednesday, May 20, we got our wish.

#ReleaseTheSnyderCut: a timeline

  1. Badfan v Superman, article series, July 2015
  2. Why Are Batman and Superman Fighting?, March 10, 2016
  3. ‘Batman v Superman’: Justice Dawns in a World Gone Meta, March 31, 2016
  4. Badfan V Superman: Top Ten Movie Myths, Part 1, March 31, 2016
  5. Batman v Superman: An Exquisite Superhero Theodicy, March 28, 2016
  6. Badfan v Superman: Top Ten Movie Myths, Part 2, April 1, 2016
  7. ‘Batman v Superman’ v Wonder Woman?, June 22, 2017
  8. ‘Justice League’ Unites Its Heroes to Save an Erratic, Uneven World, Nov. 22, 2o17
  9. Why We Want Warner Brothers to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut of ‘Justice League’, Nov. 12, 2019
  10. How Does #ReleaseTheSnyderCut Reveal Fandom’s Grace and Idolatry?, Jan. 14, 2020

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

First, director Zack Snyder and his producer/wife Deborah Snyder, along with Henry “Superman” Cavill and specially chosen fans, announced the plans on a livestream. Soon after, The Hollywood Reporter released the details and backstory:

HBO Max will debut the project in 2021 — possibly in a four-hour director’s cut or in six TV-style “chapters” — as the helmer gets the gang back together with the original postproduction crew to score, cut and finish visual effects. . . .

“It will be an entirely new thing, and, especially talking to those who have seen the released movie, a new experience apart from that movie,” Snyder tells The Hollywood Reporter, noting that, to this day, he has not watched the version released in theaters.

“You probably saw one-fourth of what I did,” the director notes, basing his judgment on what has been shared with him of Whedon’s version.

Now, of course, we have to talk about this on the podcast:

What this means for Christian fans

But we’re not just geeking out over superheroes, Snyder, or even such an unprecedented victory by fans.

(Trust me, though, I love writing these words. For other fans and myself, this is a beautifully crazy victory to enjoy.)

Rather, we’re exploring how this fan movement can actually help Christian fans in at least three big ways:

  • The “inevitable” isn’t actually inevitable, and real heroes can resist these boasts.
  • It’s okay to look crazy, and in fact even fandom “craziness” is great practice for Christians!
  • We need to reject the “binary rating” system for movies a la Rotten Tomatoes.

Get the complete show notes here, along with plenty of quotes from my own three years’ worth of writing on this fandom project.

Want to share your thoughts to be read on future podcast episodes?

  1. Did you have strong feelings about DC’s Snyder-directed films?
  2. Did you call any of these films objectively “good” or “bad”?
  3. How do personal experiences and expectations shape our preferences?
  4. Are you curious to see the now-inevitable 2021 release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League?
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of Lorehaven.com and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.
  1. Travis Perry says:

    All right, you asked!

    1. Did you have strong feelings about DC’s Snyder-directed films?

    Let’s broaden this a bit to do I have strong feelings about DC’s films in which Snyder had a major role? Because in my opinion, Snyder’s track record is mixed and we can’t be sure what we’ll get.

    So which did he direct? Man of Steel, Batman and Superman
    Which was he an executive producer for? Suicide Squad, Aquaman
    Which did he co-write? Wonder Woman

    My “strong feelings” peg Man of Steel, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman as “quite good.” Batman and Superman had great moments, but overall was not great. And Suicide Squad was easily the worst superhero film I have ever seen. (In every possible meaning of “worst,” except the art department.)

    2. Did you call any of these films objectively “good” or “bad”?

    Objectively good? That’s maybe a slippery term. But let’s say I saw some deliberate Christ analogies in Man of Steel, which I found good. And Batman and Superman asked a few philosophical questions of value that were good.

    Aquaman and Wonder Woman were generally morally good in my opinion though not in a way all that special. Though each had moments I found mildly troubling. Let’s call them neutral on the scale of moral good.

    But Suicide Squad was morally wrong in all kinds of ways–yuck.

    3. How do personal experiences and expectations shape our preferences?

    This question call for a thesis, which I’m not writing right now, but of course not every person experiences the same thing in the same way.

    4. Are you curious to see the now-inevitable 2021 release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League?

    Yes, quite curious, but not as enthused as you are. It could be great, meh, or awful, based on my view of Snyder’s past track record. Though overall, he does hit more than he misses–but when he misses, he tends to miss big (not just Suicide Squad, also Sucker Punch).

    • We are so agreed on the lackluster day-glow neo-nihilistic nonsense that was the theatrical edition of Suicide Squad. Here’s what I wrote in my original review:

      I don’t mind a film centered around supervillains. I wouldn’t even mind a film that in a sense “exalted” villainy if it also challenged us to consider whether or not a villain’s life is really all that exalted. But on first watch, Suicide Squad isn’t interested in using its potentially fascinating antiheroes as anything more than props for an often vexingly short show.

      Interestingly, even in that review I recognized that director David Ayer said the film was edited beyond his original intent. It’s only been in the last few weeks that he has also stepped up his social-media comments to make revelations like this:

      This is a good question. My cut would be easy to complete. It would be incredibly cathartic for me. It’s exhausting getting your ass kicked for a film that got the Edward Scissorhands treatment. The film I made has never been seen.

      So it sounds like Suicide Squad was actually the first victim of DC executive meddling.

      Mind you, I’m not convinced I would enjoy the very idea of Suicide Squad. That’s because, as I’ve often remarked, villain stories only interest me insofar as there are heroes around to stop them. Still, from the vantage of creative respect, I’d much rather see David Ayer’s original vision for the story rather than the hacked-to-bits (by a trailer editing company, no less) version of Suicide Squad that we got in theaters.

      (New comments section seems to be working well so far.)

      • Travis Perry says:

        I don’t think edits would fix a film devoid of a moral compass, though maybe it could. Haley Quinn’s gyrating devotion to Jay Leto’s joker? I don’t see that as an editing thing. And other specific issues that I won’t detail.

        Overall, yeah, it might have been a better film if better edited, but I don’t find it very likely that Suicide Squad suffered from poor editing alone.

  2. Autumn Grayson says:

    I made another post that answered all your questions, but it says it’s waiting for approval or something. In the mean time I’m going to go more in depth on question 3 with a more specific example I saw recently.

    One of the youtubers I occasionally listen to is very passionate about childless couples being represented in media, partly because she herself doesn’t want kids. Growing up she spent a lot of time hating how society seemed to expect everyone to have/want kids, and consequently latched on to Inuyasha as one of the few things that represented childless couples positively(Inuyasha and Kagome are shown together at the end, but not with kids). So, in reaction to the recent announcement that there’s going to be an Inuyasha sequel with Inuyasha x Kagome kids…this youtuber made a post to vent how angry and betrayed she felt.

    Her experiences and expectations certainly influenced her reaction to the sequel announcement and even her interpretation of the original Inuyasha anime. Something else we can discuss here is fan toxicity, too, though. If she or anyone else feels angry about the Inuyasha sequel announcement that’s fine. There’s generally nothing wrong with feeling disappointed or bringing up a problem one has with a story. But there are several aspects of her argument that are worth considering when thinking about fan reactions to things.

    Firstly…this person doesn’t seem to like Inuyasha. Maybe she actually does and is just harsh when criticizing its flaws, but in this recent post I’m referring to, she basically made it sound like she thinks Inuyasha was lame, but that she still latched onto it because she felt like it was all she had in terms of childless couples representation.

    If she mostly dislikes Inuyasha and doesn’t think it’s worth taking seriously, then should she have as much say as fans that actually love the story/want a sequel/feel curious to see what the main chars’ kids would be like?

    Furthermore…it’s been ages since I’ve seen Inuyasha, but from what I recall there was no clear or direct promise that Inuyasha and Kagome would remain childless or disliked the idea of parenthood in the first place. If that’s the case, the youtuber projected her own desires onto the show, and there’s no reason a show should have to adhere to such projections. Especially since, for all we know, the author may have never been opposed to Inuyasha and Kagome having kids.

    Even if there was a slight indication that those chars wanted to be childless, it would be perfectly legitimate for them to change their mind or end up with an accidental pregnancy. Like it or not, that does happen in real life. If this youtuber had a best friend that voiced a desire to live a childless life, and the youtuber looked up to this friend because of this…would it be right for the youtuber to get angry at this friend for deciding to be a parent later on? No. And the same goes for authors and characters.

    Regardless, if Inuyasha and Kagome not having kids at the end of the story qualifies as childless couple representation…there’s not much reason for this youtuber to feel unrepresented. There are other childless couples in media. And in a lot of mainstream movies it’s reasonably common. The main one that comes to mind is Bourne Identity. So it’s not actually an emergency.

    Don’t get me wrong, portraying childless people and couples in media is great. I have quite a few childless chars and couples myself. And as someone that is quite content to be single and childless, I’d be annoyed with anyone that acts like there’s something wrong with me for not having a family of my own. But I would be just as irritated, if not even more so, if someone acted like I’m obligated to write my chars a certain way. The ultimate choice of whether or not chars have kids is up to the author…and they have the right to change their minds about their decision later. Writers grow and change over time and it shouldn’t be surprising that their chars would follow suit. If people want to write fanfictions where things turned out differently, that’s awesome, but they shouldn’t act like that fan interpretation is somehow more ‘canon’ than the actual author’s work.

    The reason I spent so much time nitpicking this issue is to show that fans often aren’t as justified as they think they are, and should therefore be more mindful of how they treat authors and their work.

    Another thing is that anyone posting commentary, videos and blog posts do so to vent, discuss important issues, or escape from every day life. Most people will admit that, on some level, they should speak from their own perspective, rather than someone else’s. They aren’t obligated to be the puppet or spokesperson for any group, so why should it be any different for authors? Authors often write to vent, discuss issues they care about or escape from every day life, so why should they have any less freedom than those leaving comments on Youtube or writing cruddy fanfiction?

    So that’s something we have to think about as fans. It’s perfectly fine to criticize shows, give the authors feedback or hope certain things happen in the story. But as much as we may love a story, it doesn’t belong to us. Calling authors or copyright holders bad, stupid, etc for not being the mouthpiece for whatever social issues we care about is unhealthy and controlling. So that’s something we should think about going forward…how to engage in useful discussion without being toxic to each other or to writers. At the same time, though, writers should be willing to at least take their fans’ feedback under advisement. Sometimes fans/critics do raise good points that can help the writer improve, or help a film studio make a show that actually sells. Listening to fan criticisms when it came to the recent Sonic design was a reasonable move, for example.

What do you think?