I know I’m not the first person to try something like this. But I can’t get this off my mind and need to take the time to air this out. Because whenever this topic comes up, I just get frustrated - as I’m sure a lot of other people do. Heads up - this will most likely be a LONG post. But my hope is that I get someone, anyone, to listen to reason.
Speaking for myself, I find Zack Snyder one of the most interesting directors right now. I can’t say I like all of his movies. There have been times when I think some of the decisions he’s made were clearly the wrong ones. But he is one of the few directors that isn’t afraid to follow through on his choices and vision. After you watch one of his movies, you will remember it for a while. For better or for worse. I’ll even go so far as to admit that his adaptation of “Watchmen” is one of my favorite superhero movies. It holds a special place with me in regards to my exposure and understanding of the superhero genre, as well as helping develop my love for storytelling in all forms (movies, comics, TV, etc.) Having someone like Snyder try his hand in a superhero franchise probably seemed like an intriguing idea and a natural counterbalance to the tone and style of the then-new MCU. Having said that…Snyder never planned on creating a cinematic universe. Or at least, one that was meant to keep going on and on.
Snyder’s plan had a concrete beginning, middle, and end. A Superman movie, the Batman & Superman crossover, and a three-part Justice League story. We aren’t going to get into all the details of that plan right now. Short version - some ideas I think are really cool and exciting, others I think are wrong and go against the fundamental basics of the characters involved in his vision. But the main thing about his vision that mattered is how it measured up to WB’s expectations. They wanted one more like the MCU, a franchise that would always be pumping out installments. Initially, a compromise would be made. Snyder cuts it down to 4 movies while leaving some room for other movies to be made. This is where other directors could make movies like Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, etc.
While Snyder’s “Man of Steel” got some polarizing reviews, it wasn’t until the release of “Dawn of Justice” that WB decided to make major changes in a hurry. The studio ordered reshoots of “Suicide Squad” to make it lighter because a lot of criticism of BvS was centered on the dark tone. They even threw out the possibility of a second Justice League movie and told Snyder it will be just the one and put a limit on how long it could be. Now…while Snyder was working on “Justice League”, a family tragedy occurred. His initial reaction was to try and keep himself busy. However, he decided it was best to step away when post-production came around. He was NOT fired like what some rumors claimed. Having said that, I bet some studio executives were happy they got the chance to try and make a lighter superhero movie. What they got was a tonally jarring movie that even executives admitted they were unsatisfied with but ended up pushing to release in order to hold onto their bonuses. In the wake of that 2017 movie’s release, the Release the Snyder Cut movie was born. People trying to get WB to bring back Snyder to complete his story.
And THIS is where the actual letter I want to make begins. This fan-driven movement was one that I could actually admire. Snyder was not the first director to get a passion project shelved or have his movie ruined by studio interference. But this was probably the first time it got so much coverage as the struggles between the director and studio unfolded. I’m someone who is always curious to see a director’s intended version of their movie. And I won’t deny that this fan movement did some good, the main example being that they sold t-shirts where the proceeds would go to a suicide prevention program. I ended up buying one of those shirts myself. As I said, while I might not have agreed with a lot of the details of Snyder’s DC vision, I do admire the passion. Which is why I hate that I have to say this…
The fan movement was NOT the deciding factor to release the Snyder Cut. The decision to finish and release it was made due to the pandemic drastically limiting what projects WB could work on and finding ways to get people to subscribe to the newly launched HBO Max streaming service. The studio never intended to go all the way and create more movies with Snyder. While I’m not sure their comments calling it a “creative cul-de-sac” is completely accurate, there is some truth to that. The best-case scenario following the Snyder Cut was we would get one more movie - that’s it! His vision always had a concrete ending.
Finally - yes, finally! - we come to the current state of the Snyder fan base. People are now trying everything they can to get WB to notice their calls to let other companies finish off the “Snyder-verse”. It’s centered around getting WB to let Netflix do the job, but I think they expanded it to a number of different companies. Really any studio to do it on WB’s behalf. This alone is frustrating for a number of reasons. But to do this while always explicitly insulting people who are now finally getting the chance to PROPERLY launch a DC cinematic universe and calling for their termination is ugly.
First of all, there is no legal way this would work. WB is not going to let another company use its IP to make movies. Some people might point out a similar situation was able to happen between Disney and Sony regarding Spider-Man. But I should point out that following “Far From Home”'s release, the deal between the studios almost fell through entirely. There was scrambling to settle on a new deal prior to the release of “No Way Home”. There are a lot of details involving what can and can’t be done regarding the rights of Spider-Man, as well as how much profit each studio would get. This idea of having Netflix or whoever finishes off the Snyder-verse would require renting out basically DC’s entire lore and mythology - or a specific version which would make rights issues even more confusing to sort out.
Putting that aside though, it just doesn’t make any business or practical sense to do it. WB established DC Studios, which is focused on adapting DC characters and lore in all forms - movies, TV, games, etc. The co-chairs of that studio have fleshed out a plan on how they want to do it. To have a competitor have access to a lot of those same characters to have their own separate universe would confuse audiences and ultimately lose viewers for both parties. Not to mention that this kind of plan would be a massive investment for Netflix. This would eclipse the budgets of every other past Netflix original programming in existence. And keep in mind…Netflix originals don’t have a great reputation. Some are genuinely good, even great. But those are getting few and far in between in recent years.
And I can’t believe I have to ask this - but to those who are part of this movement to restore the Snyder-verse…do you even care if Snyder himself WANTS to finish it off? Even before the DCEU, he has a history of fighting WB when it comes to his other projects. Keep in mind that there are 3 different cuts of “Watchmen”. Even when he was allowed to finish the Snyder Cut, there were still a few rules the studio placed on him. Now Snyder is over at Netflix where he is involved with several projects where he virtually has full creative control. He has a new cinematic universe he’s building that began with “Army of the Dead”, he’s involved with an animated show about Norse mythology, and he’s re-purposing his old Star Wars movie pitch and turning it into a two-part movie. Objectively speaking, he has a MUCH better deal with Netflix than he ever had with WB. And let’s consider this…he probably has feelings and moments associated with making Justice League while he was trying to deal with a family tragedy. He probably doesn’t want to go back to that because it would just bring those feelings back up. Even if that’s not the case, he’s already stated that while he isn’t going to say never to the chance of making comic book movies, he has no current interest to go back to those movies. His passion is being channeled into his original ideas.
Look - WB seems to finally have their crap together and is approaching a cinematic universe with an actual plan. Snyder has found a new home to explore a variety of ideas. The people involved have moved on. But there are so many people still angrily demanding to go back to a cinematic universe that technically has already found closure in the Snyder Cut. True, the Snyder Cut includes teases, but the deal was to finish what Snyder intended in one movie, warts and all. Just because there are loose threads doesn’t mean they are obligated to follow through at this point.
Look, I can’t speak to why you guys are so attached to these Snyder movies and why you want more so badly. Maybe you still feel cheated that the studio interfered so much to begin with. Maybe you somehow feel recognized and vindicated that someone like Snyder tried to make your heroes that were larger than life on the page feel that same way on the big screen. That’s a much larger conversation that we can’t squeeze in right now. But you can still appreciate what you did get while finding a way to move on.
It sucks that things between WB and Snyder unfolded as they did. And it sucks that another director’s vision will never be fully realized. But the story of how we got as much as we did is still a far better ending than what most can expect. And the movies that we got inspired other people in their effort to actually create a cinematic universe the right way. They saw what worked and what didn’t and it seems like they are finally taking those lessons and applying them to all the future projects they have lined up. I’m not asking the Snyder fan base to just forget. I’m just asking you to take a step back, take a breath, and look to the future with optimism instead of holding onto the past with resentment. I think that’s a lesson every superhero from DC would want us to listen to.