DC’s Justice League, merely carrying the name of Zack Snyder as it had been heavily edited and majorly reshot by Joss Whedon, crashed and burned at the box office with everyone from critics to viewers criticizing the unimpressive CGI, the bad pace of the film, and how it was just a dank snooze fest. At the time, Warner Bros. announced that Snyder had willingly stepped down from directing the film, but now when the director’s true vision for the film is finally going to see the light of day, he shared the true story of what really happened in 2017.
Warner Bros. had not been happy with Zack Snyder for a long time
Warner Bros. wanted Zack Snyder to make movies about DC characters that would earn billions at the box office, just like the Marvel superhero flicks. But while Snyder’s Man of Steel was well received, it failed to be a mega-hit and soon after, Batman v Superman released, dividing viewers and critics with a heavy mash-up of mixed emotions, something that did not please the production house.
So, Warner Bros.’ then chairman and CEO, Kevin Tsujihara, started with making DC Entertainment’s creative chief Geoff Johns and then Warner Bros. co-production head Jon Berg, Zack Snyder’s babysitters on the sets of Justice League.
Now, this is something that would piss off even a budding filmmaker, but Zack Snyder decided to be polite about it. “It didn’t bother me too much because they weren’t that threatening. I just felt the ideas they did have, where they were trying to inject humour and stuff like that, it wasn’t anything that was too outrageous,” he shared.
Things only went downhill from there as Snyder’s first cut of Justice League was not well-received by Tsujihara, especially because of its long run-time. “There was a mandate from Tsujihara that the movie be two hours long,” shared Snyder.
“How am I supposed to introduce six characters and an alien with potential for world domination in two hours? I mean, I can do it, it can be done. Clearly, it was done,” he added, hinting at how Joss Whedon has shortened his film. And we already know how that turned out.
Zack Snyder was not the one who asked Joss Whedon to help
Whedon was brought in by Geoff Johns to do rewrites for Justice League. Even then, Snyder decided to be gracious about it, hoping that Whedon may “write some cool scenes. I thought that would be fun.”
But then Zack and his wife, Deborah Snyder (who also co-produced the film) received the most tragic news of their life– their 20-year-old daughter, Autumn, who had been suffering from depression for years committed suicide. The couple was in mourning and tried to find solace in their creative space for a while but by then the situation had spiralled out of control.
Whedon wasn’t just there to rewrite the scenes but also had the freedom to redirect already shot scenes. As their association with Justice League only served to amplify their pain, the couple decided to call it quits with the film.
“We just lost the will to fight that fight in a lot of ways,” shared Zack Snyder. “All of us, the whole family, we’re just so broken by [losing Autumn] that having those conversations in the middle of it really became…I was like, ‘Really?’ Frankly I think we did the right thing because I think it would’ve been either incredibly belligerent or we just rolled over.”
As it’s widely known, Whedon didn’t just wrap up Snyder’s pending work on the film but reshot 3/4th of the Justice League and omitted many scenes crucial to the story. But even though Warner Bros. brought in Whedon to amp up what they saw as Snyder’s failed attempt, their decision wasn’t at all wise. Not only was the film criticized for its awful storyline but the subsequent allegation by the cast against Whedon for his toxic and abusive behaviour didn’t really help its future at the box office.
The botched attempt by Whedon gave way to a new wave on social media i.e., #ReleaseTheSnyderCut and while many expected it to die down with time, it only gained more momentum. And as they say, the rest is history.