A demoralizing battle with Warner Bros. A devastating personal tragedy. A fan base he couldn’t control. Zack Snyder tells V.F. why he quit ‘Justice League,’ and why he’s returned to complete a cut that’s reached near-mythical status.
But harsh reviews for Batman v Superman demolished Warner Bros.’ confidence in Snyder. Even the director’s champions, like production head Greg Silverman, were worried. “When Batman v Superman came out and we did get a negative reaction from the fans, it was disheartening for all of us,” says Silverman, now the founder and head of independent content company Stampede Ventures. “Zack had made these movies, like 300, that were such crowd-pleasers. And that was our job—to make crowd-pleasers. And here, we have made a movie together, and it didn’t really please the audience.”
Snyder knew why Johns and Berg were on the set. “You could say babysit,” he says. Many filmmakers would have bristled at the intrusion, but he was gracious. “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 humor and stuff like that, it wasn’t anything that was too outrageous.”
Snyder just nuked the "Geoff Johns is a snake" toxic narrative from orbit.
Snyder wanted a Bruce Wayne/Lois romance:
But Warner Bros. did nix some of his more sweeping notions for Justice League, like adding a romance between Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Amy Adams’s Lois Lane, who was mourning Superman’s death in the previous film. “The intention was that Bruce fell in love with Lois and then realized that the only way to save the world was to bring Superman back to life,” says Snyder. “So he had this insane conflict, because Lois, of course, was still in love with Superman. We had this beautiful speech where [Bruce] said to Alfred: ‘I never had a life outside the cave. I never imagined a world for me beyond this. But this woman makes me think that if I can get this group of gods together, then my job is done. I can quit. I can stop.’ And of course that doesn’t work out for him.”
WB nukes Whedon:
Whedon rewrote and reshot about three quarters of Justice League, from what Snyder can gather. When fans ask him about details of the movie that bears his name, he usually has no idea what they are talking about. Worst of all, for Warner Bros., Whedon didn’t exactly save the movie. “When we got to see what Joss actually did, it was stupefying,” says a studio executive, who requested anonymity. “The robber on the rooftop—so goofy and awful. The Russian family—so useless and pointless. Everyone knew it. It was so awkward because nobody wanted to admit what a piece of shit it was.”
A noxious contingent of followers, though, didn’t just advocate for the movie, but also used social media to attack people who were critical of Snyder or their cause. Maybe they hoped to silence dissenters, or maybe they were just trolls being trolls. In any case, film journalists with negative takes reported getting swarmed with insults and even threats. “Unfortunately, I think a lot of online fandom and fandom culture is headed in this very toxic direction,” says Kayleigh Donaldson, who writes for Pajiba.com. It is especially strong from Snyder cut acolytes, she adds, perhaps because they respond misguidedly to the director’s tales of loner heroes in a hostile world. “I don’t get this from the Birds of Prey fans or the Shazam fans,” says Donaldson. “I got a little bit from Joker fans but nowhere near the same level.” Nonetheless, she’s looking forward to Snyder’s movie: “I think 300 is great fun. I think the first 10 minutes of Watchmen are some of the best things any superhero movie has ever done.” Even if she doesn’t end up liking the Snyder cut, she says, “I would rather watch one person’s chaos than a committee’s snooze-fest.”
ZACK SNYDER FINALLY DENOUNCES THE SNYDERCUT MOVEMENT TOXICITY!
The trolls may have actually held back the movement, like looters at an otherwise peaceful demonstration. Snyder cringes at descriptions of the abusive tactics. “I 100 percent think it’s wrong,” he says. “I don’t think that anyone should be calling anyone anything. I’ve always tried to give people in the fandom attention who do good things.”