It is almost here. Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the not-black-and-white film where the director’s name is bigger than the film’s in the movie’s logo, is finally about to land — and that means the tell-all stories of its creation are too. Variety dropped a big story on the film and Snyder himself today, and it reveals a lot of details about how the entire saga unraveled. It ranges from Warner Bros.’ souring on Snyder’s vision to his daughter’s suicide to the resuscitation of the “Snyder Cut” for HBO Max to Joss Whedon coming on board for the theatrical version at Snyder’s request. Well, actually, it turns out that last one was a total lie.
Apparently Geoff Johns, who was on set “babysitting” Snyder at the behest of WB for Justice League, brought Whedon in after the pair started working on a Batgirl movie. Though Snyder was gracious to Whedon when he came on board, it became obvious that the new director was not just there to assist. Whedon began directing some of the reshoots and became increasingly involved with the film. Snyder, who had just lost his daughter to suicide, was no longer willing to put up a fight for his vision as creative control was wrested from him.
“We just lost the will to fight that fight in a lot of ways,” said 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.”
That creative control is also why the director isn’t being paid for his work on Zack Snyder’s Justice League, despite doing extensive reshoots, editing, and directing to the tune of $70 million. (Though to be clear, he was paid for the original film.) The director didn’t want to be beholden at all so that he could make his own decisions, such as releasing the film in an IMAX-friendly 4:3 aspect ratio, bringing on Jared Leto as Joker (who sometimes looks like Jesus now?), or inserting a surprise cameo into the end of the film that will “blow” hardcore fans’ minds.
The ultimate irony here is that the end result of all the studio meddling was the theatrical cut of Justice League turned out terribly. The film cratered the entire DCEU and basically put the entire thing on ice until recently, with one WB exec admitting in the Variety article that it was a “piece of shit” and that they knew it was one from the moment they saw it.
“When we got to see what Joss actually did, it was stupefying,” said the exec who spoke anonymously. “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.”
Zack Snyder’s Justice League will release on March 18 on HBO Max.