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DC Cinematic Universe’s biggest conspiracy involves Zack Snyder and Justice League (update)

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Fans are calling for a director’s cut

Warner Bros.

The most talented of internet sleuths and DC Cinematic Universe diehards are working in tandem to work on one of the biggest mysteries plaguing the fandom: the existence of a Zack Snyder Justice League director’s cut.

The investigation has turned into a full-fledged campaign, called Release the Snyder Cut, with fans demanding that Warner Bros. release an alternative version of the movie that has more of Snyder’s original work prevalent. Fans believe the theatrical version of the movie featured more of director Joss Whedon’s voice than it did Snyder’s. Whedon took over for Snyder as director on Justice League in May 2017 after Snyder stepped away to be with his family following the death of his daughter.

In the wake of negative reviews and underwhelming box office performance, fans say that could have been avoided if Warner Bros.’ released a different, Snyder-heavy cut. There’s one problem amid all of this discussion, however, causing theorists to band together and try to solve the greatest mystery of all.

There’s no confirmation that a so-called Snyder cut exists.

Let’s dig in

Speculation about an alternate Snyder cut of Justice League started mid-November, just two days after the movie was released. A Change.org petition launched by a man named Roberto Mata demanded that Warner Bros.’ release a new cut; a version of the movie Mata believed existed thanks to a few cut scenes, characters and a statement from former Warner Bros. president Toby Emmerich regarding Whedon’s handling of Justice League.

The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set. We’re not introducing any new characters. It’s the same characters in some new scenes. He’s handing the baton to Joss, but the course has really been set by Zack.

Mata suggested that if Emmerich was telling the truth, the final Justice League result would be much different.

“What fans were treated to in Justice League was a Zack Snyder film only in name and not in quality,” Mata wrote. “Much of the thematic thread of the previous entries was severed and Whedon’s influence on the script seemed to hold a greater impact than [original script writer Chris] Terrio.”

Mata’s Change.org petition listed a number of changes between the perceived version of the film DC fans believed they were promised with Snyder’s Justice League and the movie they got. Examples include:

  • Whedon’s alleged firing of composer Junkie XL and hiring of Danny Elfman
  • Warner Bros. confirming that Justice League would run less than two hours concerned fans who pointed to Snyder’s longer director’s cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as evidence that his movies were better with fewer cuts
  • Whedon’s influence on the script was too apparent and “disrespectful,” with Mata pointing to, “ill-fitting innuendos between Wonder Woman and The Flash as well as a disrespectful use of Lois Lane, both characters who would have never been treated in such a fashion in Snyder’s original cut.”
  • Willem Dafoe’s Vulko and Kiersey Clemons’ Iris West being cut from the film suggest there is alternative footage.

Mata’s petition caught the attention of other Snyder believers, who started collecting more evidence supporting the Snyder cut theory. People pointed to producer Charles Roven telling the Associated Press that Whedon altered about 20 percent of the movie. Interviews with actors, including Mindhunter’s Holt McCallany (who played a burglar in the movie), said the opening Batman scene was supposed to be much different, and it seemed to suggest that Whedon tried to alter even more.

As the search for evidence grew, so did the movement. It would take exactly one week for the conspiracy to really kick into gear. Like all good internet theories, the moment everything changed happened in the bowels of a subreddit.

And so it grew

On Nov. 24, the community seemed to receive the worst news yet. A VFX artist who said they worked on the movie (and was supposedly verified by the moderators), said in an AMA on DC_Cinematic that an alternate version of the movie does not exist. The comment has since been deleted, but Slash Film has a copy of what was said.

1000% bullshit. As I’ve said, of course there is an assembly cut Zack had going before he left, but that was 9 months ago.

He himself said he hasn’t touched or interfered or been a part of the process since March. There is no cut. People like this guy are the worst, perpetuating rumours of processes they don’t understand.

But a healthy conspiracy doesn’t just give up on first loss. Around the same time, another thread appeared on the same subreddit from a moderator that suggested an alternate cut was still out there, somewhere in the depths of Warner Bros. studios.

There has been a lot of debate over the existence of a viable “Snyder cut” of Justice League. After some digging, I have come across convincing proof that the Snyder cut of Justice League exists in an unfinished but relevant form. This was not simply an assembly cut derived from principal photography, but a rough version that had a lot of finished FX and music. Details concerning the sourcing of this information will be held in total confidence.

This didn’t detract fans from trying to track down evidence to support their theory. Like all good internet sleuths, fans began paying attention to every movement Snyder made on social media. When the director liked a post on Vero, his go-to social media network, of the campaign to get Warner Bros. to release the final cut, fans took that as a sign that Warner Bros. was up to no good. Bleeding Cool wrote:

Snyder, it seems, liked a Vero post promoting a petition demanding that Warner Bros release a director’s cut of the film with Snyder’s vision restored. Snyder’s social media activity follows a recent scandal wherein the traitorous Whedon liked a tweet critical of Justice League before its release. Taken together, this is near irrefutable evidence that the Ultimate Cut of Justice League really is possible, despite it being completely economically infeasible for Warner Bros to make one!

A few days later, a Kevin Smith podcast seemed to give fans a moment of retribution. Around the one hour and fifty five minute mark, Smith reads off a list of reported deleted scenes that didn’t make it into the theatrical cut of Justice League, adding fuel to the burning fire of conspiracy.

DC fans became increasingly convinced that an alternate, longer director’s cut that featured Snyder’s vision existed. This week, an alleged conversation with Batman stunt double, Richard Cetrone appeared on Reddit that seemed to affirm, once more, Snyder’s cut existed.

As Justice League continued to flail at the box office, fans tried to figure out new ways to get Warner Bros.’ attention, eventually bringing the campaign into the real world.

Taking the campaign IRL

On Jan. 6, YouTube cosplayer Itzmoe organized a “peaceful photo op” rally in front of Warner Bros.’ headquarters in Burbank. The intention was to have people show up in costumes, stand behind a sign that said “Release the Snyder cut,” and bring more attention to the cause.

Itzmoe told Polygon before the rally that “many of us would just be happy if at least some of the awesome scenes that women saw were released as part of the ‘Deleted/ Extended Scenes’ section of the Blu-ray/DVD release.” Itzmoe said the community isn’t expecting Warner Bros.’ to release an entirely different cut — like the studio did for Batman v Superman — but added that fans want to see more of Snyder’s work; a way to celebrate the director.

Itzmoe said she wholeheartedly believed there were more scenes left on the cutting room floor (which happens to nearly every movie in editing) and wasn’t going to stop until she saw those scenes.

I first heard about the deleted/extended scenes from Snyder’s version from Kevin Smith’s podcast, where he reads off a list of deleted/extended scenes from Snyder’s cut that were shown to executives. Others and a woman in the audience confirmed that she had actually seen most of those scenes when she saw that cut of the film, and that she liked Zack’s version better than the one that ended up being released.

There’s no clear answer as to whether an alternate version of the movie exists, but that isn’t stopping diehard fans from asking for it. In Mata’s original Change.org petition, he wrote that not releasing the deleted scenes or alternate cut is a disservice to those who have stuck by the studio, and calls it unfair to Snyder.

Fans were assured by Executives and Producers alike that Whedon’s addition will only be to service and complete Snyder’s vision and it ended up being a disrespectful overhaul in an attempt to pander to the widest audience. As the Box Office and critical reception has shown, pandering to the masses is not a sound strategy and the greatest stories are the ones told with conviction. Tens of thousands of fans have already signed and that number continues to grow. We implore WB to right this wrong and release Zack Snyder’s Director’s Cut.

Warner Bros. had no comment on the status of a Snyder Justice League cut when contacted by Polygon.

Update: Richard Cetrone told Polygon that the message on Reddit and Twitter was doctored. Cetrone said he did talk to the person who posted the photo, but he did not say the words that appeared in the screenshot.