Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a perfectly passable, unquestionably long comic book movie whose existence can be attributed to a number of factors beyond its director’s firm belief in his vision of what DC’s superheroes should look and act like on the silver screen.
Following the initial release of Justice League’s theatrical cut—a bit of a frankenmovie, cobbled together from things Snyder shot before he left the project and was replaced by Joss Whedon—a vocal contingent of Snyder’s fans wasted little time calling for Warner Bros. to release a director’s cut closer to Snyder’s vision. At the time, the footage that would eventually become Zack Snyder’s Justice League couldn’t be considered a workable, completed movie, but that did not quiet calls for the “Snyder Cut” release or lessen how the fandom around Snyder was becoming more solidified as a group.
A major part of the reason that Snyder’s fans grew more insistent with their demands for the director’s Justice League was the way he frequently interacted with them on social media, especially on Vero, his preferred outlet. By working fans into frenzies by sharing “secret” looks at things related to the Snyder Cut, the director gave people reason not only to hope, but to double down on their belief in the movie’s existence.
In a recent interview with the Sunday Times, Snyder opened up about his approach to interacting with his fans and explained that while he’s very proud of the charity work that’s come out of the group, he recognizes how he played on their emotions for clicks and hype.
“They’ve saved lives,” he said, referring to money raised for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “That’s a fact. But on the other hand, was it fun to provoke them? For a clickable thing? Yes. And they were an easy target. But they continue to raise money.”
When the AFSP thanked the “#ReleaseTheSnyderCut Movement” back in February for raising $500,000, it stood out as an example of how a fandom’s collective energies can be put toward a solid cause. But the donation existed alongside the Snyder fandom’s well-documented history of bullying and harassing people who expressed any sort of negativity toward Snyder or the idea of him making another Justice League film.
Like most online movements, there was no way for well-meaning Snyder fans to police their more vitriolic peers who felt compelled to tell people to kill themselves (among other wild, troll-y things). But these are the sorts of things that individuals like Snyder, who are in unique positions of power in regards to these massive fandoms, have to take into consideration when they decide to capitalize on the fandoms’ energy for any given purpose.
Though Snyder stoking his fandom’s flames led to charity, it’s important to keep in mind that it was also a drawn-out advertising stunt meant to help will an unfinished film into existence years after its original incarnation bombed at the box office. As is usually the case with stunts, there were unintended consequences—in this case, ugly harassment—that Snyder has to own also if he wants to take credit for the good that’s come out of his work.
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