The conversation around the Justice League Snyder Cut has had a number of implications for Zack Snyder himself and his career as a filmmaker. Snyder stepped down from the film in the aftermath of a family tragedy, with Warner Bros. hiring Joss Whedon to handle reshoots. Upon the film's release in November 2017, it soon became clear to fans that the reshoots had taken the film sharply off-course from what Snyder had originally intended, in contrast to Warner Bros. previous assurances that they were simply intended to finish the film as Snyder had envisioned it.
Over the past two years, since the theatrical release of Justice League, DC fans have relentlessly lobbied Warner Bros. to release the Snyder Cut of the film, a goal that has begun to receive an increasing amount of support from the movie's cast and crew. Snyder himself has heavily teased the Justice League Snyder Cut on social media, while Aquaman star Jason Momoa in particular has loudly beaten the drum for the Snyder Cut's release himself, giving it a glowing endorsement on Instagram where he also confirmed to have been shown the cut by Snyder.
At this point, the campaign for the Snyder Cut is sure to continue until Warner Bros. gives it their approval, but it has already had an impact on Snyder's career. And if it does ever release, one of the most interesting questions it raises is what further impact it would have on Snyder's future as a filmmaker. As with all things relating to the Snyder Cut, it's a question that, at least at the moment, doesn't yet have a definitive answer.
Where Snyder's Career Was Before Justice League
Zack Snyder made his directorial debut with his 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, which proved well-received among fans of the original and lovers of zombie movies. However, it was with his 2007 adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel 300 that the idea of what a Zack Snyder movie entailed was embedded in the minds of moviegoers. The film was Snyder's first for Warner Bros., and proved to be a major hit, especially in relation to its $65 million budget. Snyder's next films, 2009's adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel Watchmen and his 2011 film Sucker Punch would prove to be polarizing, with the latter in particular being hit with charges of sexism. However, it was when Snyder finally tackled the Superman mythos with 2013's Man of Steel that lines would truly begin to be drawn in the sand between his fans and his detractors.
Snyder's new take on Superman had the backing of Christopher Nolan, who executive produced the film on the heels of completing his Dark Knight trilogy. While Man of Steel took in $668 million upon its release in June 2013, the film saw a divide of both praise and criticism rarely seen in such equal measure for a summer blockbuster. The ending in particular, in which Superman is forced to snap General Zod's neck, remains hotly debated by the film's fans and detractors to this day. Snyder followed up with 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which would prove to be arguably the most polarizing comic book movie ever made. Amid the film's critical thrashing, Snyder's fans and his critics were more entrenched than ever in their perspective on his vision for the DCEU. Ultimately, the response to the film surprised both Snyder and Warner Bros. enough for the director and screenwriter Chris Terrio to do a rewrite of the Justice League script, removing such elements as Darkseid killing Lois Lane in the Batcave.
The Impact Of Justice League On Snyder's Career
Snyder and Terrio's reworking of the Justice League script aside, the film was always intended to carry a lighter tone than that of Batman v Superman. Additionally, Snyder had always believed that rather than emulating the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DCEU should follow its own distinct path, and originally intended for Justice League to serve as part of a five-movie arc. However, despite the lighter tone of Justice League, Warner Bros. was still unhappy with the final product, allegedly calling his cut of the film "unwatchable" and ordering massive reshoots. Although Snyder had stepped away from the film in the aftermath of the tragic loss of his daughter, the studio's insistence that it was still his vision would leave Snyder to take the brunt of Justice League's critical and financial failure.
Meanwhile, reports began to emerge that Snyder's departure from the film may not have been entirely of his own accord. Several of Snyder's upcoming projects, such as The Last Photograph and The Foundtainhead were effectively in a state of limbo following the Justice League situation. Additionally, the rise of the Snyder Cut campaign, which kicked off with a robust Change.org petition, would further compound things for Warner Bros. and the DCEU, with Snyder stirring the pot that much more with his ongoing teases of his cut of Justice League on social media. Though Snyder had directed the short film Snow Steam Iron after his departure from Justice League, it wouldn't be until the announcement of Army of the Dead that Snyder's next feature film project was lined up. Ultimately, it is here where the picture of Zack Snyder's future filmmaking career becomes much more clear.
Zack Snyder Is Now Working With Netflix
In early 2019, Snyder began to make his future career plans public by rebranding his production company, Cruel and Unusual Films, under the new logo of "The Stone Quarry", with the goal of expanding the company's projects into television and animation. One such example is the long in-development adaptation of The Fountainhead, which Snyder clarified to be a television adaptation. With Army of the Dead, Zack Snyder's career has come full circle, in a sense, with the film marking his return to the zombie genre. That affords his directing career much more value than might be visible to the naked eye for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the creative freedom he's been granted on the film.
In fact, Snyder has expressed very open enthusiasm on that aspect of Army of the Dead, stating that no one was holding him back this time. Netflix had acquired the rights to Army of the Dead from Warner Bros., which came not long after WB sold off Andy Serkis' Mowgli to the streaming service. What's more, Snyder is seemingly already mapping out quite the future relationship with Netflix, given that he and Justice League storyboard artist Jay Oliva also have a Norse Viking anime series in the works for the streaming giant.
The benefit to Netflix in working with Snyder lies in his background as an A-list director of theatrically released films. Netflix has made a concerted effort to expand it's business model into movies that see some kind of theatrical release. Snyder's career has seen him direct some of the most expensive movies ever made, and his skill set in that arena is something that Netflix will surely want to exploit. Ultimately, working with Netflix is mutually beneficial to both the streaming platform and Snyder, in that Netflix can partner with a filmmaker capable of helping facilitate the company's theatrical ambitions, while Snyder is granted the greatest degree of creative control he's ever seen in his career.
The Effect Of If/When The Snyder Cut Is Released
The biggest impact the Snyder Cut's release would have, as far as Zack Snyder himself is concerned, is that it would offer a sense of closure towards his work on the film and the DCEU overall. The debate surrounding the cut's very existence has been the biggest hurdle for the campaign to overcome, until Snyder himself confirmed it in early 2019. However, his version of Justice League actually being seen by the world is another matter entirely. Should Warner Bros. approve its release, it will provide Snyder some vindication in the public eye, especially if it is well-received (or, at least, better received than the theatrical cut), with the director's original cut of Justice League finally being available for the world to see and be judged on its own terms.
Where that leaves his future in studio filmmaking is more of an open question, but Snyder is surely leery by this point of studio interference, especially when contrasted with how much free reign his work with Netflix has already afforded him. By the same token, the perceived baggage of the whole Snyder Cut situation itself may also make the feeling mutual as far as major Hollywood studios are concerned. However, the reception of Army of the Dead is likely to be the determining factor in where Snyder's career goes next. Indeed, the film may even be perceived as a statement of sorts on Snyder's part. Regardless of whether Snyder himself intends it to be taken as such, Army of the Dead is likely to be seen as Snyder's way of communicating his capabilities as filmmaker when he's granted full control.
As with the entire discussion around the Snyder Cut, its ultimate impact on Zack Snyder's career is purely hypothetical until and unless Warner Bros. officially sanctions its release. However, the fan campaign for the Snyder Cut is only likely to continue, and Snyder has no shortage of material from his cut to keep teasing on social media. The full scope of the Snyder Cut's impact will only be truly known in the event that the world finally sees the version of the film that is legitimately Zack Snyder's Justice League, but its unusually long road to seeing the light of day will sure mark a major chapter in Snyder's own career as a filmmaker.
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