The release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League brings to light the problem of studios bowing to fan demands, some of which are rooted in toxicity.
When the original cut of the DC superhero team-up film came out in November 2017, it collapsed under the weight of critic reviews, audience reviews and being plagued by production horror stories. Four years on and what plagues the film now is the reputation the fanbase has for being toxic.
John Kirk, who hosts comic book and celebrity panels at Toronto FanExpo, says fandoms can be split, which causes rivalry and toxicity to brew among themselves.
“You’ve got people who have recently discovered franchises like Justice League, Superman, Spider-Man and X-Men within the last 10 to 15 years. I think there’s one camp that’s viewed as sort of pretentious upstarts and then you have the other extreme, who are like invested gatekeepers,” Kirk said.
He said being able to accept what is not liked or appreciated in a franchise is important.
“I don’t own it and a lot of fans don’t have that perspective. They think that they own it, they think that it’s theirs and that’s why they have so much ownership and in stating what they think should happen or why something is bad,” Kirk said.
The original edit of Justice League had Snyder step away from the project after he and his wife Deborah Snyder, who is also his production partner, lost their 20-year-old daughter to suicide.
The end result was the studio bringing in Marvel alumni Joss Whedon to complete the project.
The film saw a rewrite and reshoot of the existing edit. Cinematographer Fabian Wagner confirmed only 10 per cent of Snyder’s footage was used in Whedon’s iteration.
The #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement was riddled in controversy due to a select group of fans harassing Warner Entertainment and DC executives for a Snyder-directed cut of the film.
Diane Nelson, former president of DC Entertainment, deleted her Twitter account in September 2018 due to the online requests she received about the film with many of those messages being aggressive and harassing.
Humber grad Dylan van den Berge says the movement is a signal to studios.
“If ReleaseTheSnyderCut has shown us anything it’s that audience want to see the movie’s directors promise to us and that there’s a demand for it. If audience voices can be heard somewhere it’ll be in WB’s wallet,” van den Berge said.
“I think the ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement was a very necessary movement that sets a really good precedent,” he said.
Jim Slotek, a former film critic for the Toronto Sun and member of the Toronto Film Critic Association, agrees allowing the film’s release comes down to money.
“Warners wouldn’t ‘cave’ unless there was money in it, and that’s what this comes down to,” he said.
The better side of the Snyder Cut movement then went on to raise more than US$500,000 to date for suicide prevention charities in honour of Snyder’s daughter.
Humber graduate and DC comics fan Erik Dudley says Warner Bros. is wasting its time in trying to please a small group of fans.
“It’s nothing special, I didn’t mind the original cut of Justice League. It was fun, and the most important thing was it felt focused,” he said.
Snyder’s Justice League debuts on HBO Max in the U.S. and on Crave in Canada on March 18.