Warner Bros. announcement of the new HBO Max streaming service reaffirms the studio's position regarding the theatrical cut of Justice League. Released in 2017, Justice League was not positively received by fans or critics and what was intended as the pinnacle of the DCEU franchise ultimately became a box office failure.
Many have speculated that Justice League's poor performance can be traced back to the sweeping changes made to the vision of director, Zack Snyder, with both Warner Bros. and Joss Whedon (who had taken over the project's post-production) said to have made significant alterations to the original cut. Given that the eventual finished movie failed to meet expectations, DC fans have been heavily campaigning for Justice League's Snyder cut to be released by Warner Bros., to no avail thus far.
Currently undergoing a period of restructuring to a model more geared towards the streaming market, Warner Bros. recently revealed their brand new streaming platform, HBO Max, which is designed to compete with the format's current undisputed champion, Netflix. The HBO Max promotional trailer naturally showcases all of the hottest properties the studio has to offer, including Friends, Game of Thrones and Shazam, however it also incorporates plenty of footage from Justice League. Cyborg and Bat-fleck both feature, and there's even a close-up shot of Henry Cavill's face, complete with infamously CGI-erased mustache.
By making Justice League one of the foremost franchises spearheading the launch of HBO Max, Warner Bros. are seemingly confirmimg their faith in the theatrical cut and it now seems even more unlikely that the Snyder cut will ever see the light of day. It absolutely makes sense to utilize the bankable forms of DC's most popular characters to promote this new venture, but to do so in the face of overwhelming support for an alternate cut of Justice League to be released deliberately ignores the negative reaction towards the film.
Even those who enjoyed Justice League have been critical of Henry Cavill's Superman mustache-gate incident, so the inclusion of a shot specifically highlighting that very mistake seems especially strange, and suggests that Warner Bros. prioritize the brand of the character more than fan opinion.
The prominence of theatrical Justice League footage in the HBO Max trailer is not promising with regards to the potential release of a Snyder cut. With the recent appointment of a brand new Warner Bros. CEO and the launch of a major new streaming service, there is unlikely to be a more opportune moment to release an alternate version of Justice League than right now and the studio could even save face by billing the Snyder cut as a HBO Max exclusive. By doubling-down on the theatrical cut of Justice League, however, Warner Bros. are making their position clear: that cashing in on the huge Snyder cut demand is not as important as protecting the status of the DCEU as a franchise.
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