Today marks a huge day for DC movie fans: Zack Snyder's extended director's cut of Justice League will get an official release in 2021, following some additional photography and post-production work to make it a completed film. The revelation brings to an end two and a half years of demands to "Release the Snyder Cut," which became so pervasive that fans were holding signs at WWE matches and D23 -- mass gatherings that had nothing at all to do with Justice League. It also begs a question: if there's a four-hour director's cut of Justice League coming, was the released version ever anything resembling Snyder's cut?
It seems likely that the theatrical cut of the film will inevitably become, colloquially, the Whedon Cut or the studio cut. But should Snyder have ever been credited as the sole director on a film that he never saw the completed version of, and that saw his take cut in half, then stuffed with additional footage shot by another filmmaker?
There are Director's Guild rules to consider, which can be tricky to navigate. The restirctions around having a second director attached to a movie are likely why Snyder ended up with the sole director's credit, as he and Whedon weren't a dedicated "team" before tragedy struck. It also likely explains why Whedon's name wasn't the one that got picked -- making those kinds of changes are a HUGE deal, and it woudl have been nearly impossible to do without both Snyder and Whedon being fully on board for it.
Also -- and this might explain why Snyder didn't just take his name off of it -- there's the messaging to consider. If the perception became that Snyder was forced out, that would be bad for the movie's box office..and it would also be a huge black eye for Warner, since it would appear they were taking advantage of his daughter's death to pressure him out of the job. It may also read poorly for Snyder, suggesting that a major studio had lost faith in him halfway through a project. None of those were results that anybody wanted, and so even though Snyder's movie was chopped up, cut down, and ultimately not something he even saw in the end, the prospect of saying it was directed by Ed Wood was not something that would have helped anybody, and certainly not the cast and crew that genuinely seemed to have a mutual affection shared with Snyder.
That being the case, calling the new movie Zack Snyder's Justice League is a huge leap for Warner Bros. Excepting the "Donner Cut" of Superman II, the studio has rarely leaned that hard on a filmmaker's name to promote a DC superhero movie, especially since it's generally understood that those movies are sold as much by the characters themselves as by anything else. But it's also enormously helpful in that it will differentiate Zack Snyder's Justice League, an epic film that hews much closer to his original vision for the story, from Justice League, a movie directed by Zack Snyder.
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