With the release of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” now under one month away from streaming on HBO Max, one Warner Bros. executive is holding nothing back about his thoughts on the theatrical release of the film that bombed with critics in November 2017. Snyder left “Justice League” in post-production due to a family tragedy, and Warner Bros. brought in Joss Whedon to oversee the film’s completion and to direct reshoots that lightened up Snyder’s bleak tone. The resulting “Justice League” theatrical cut was a critical and commercial failure for Warner Bros. Speaking anonymously to Vanity Fair, one studio executive said everyone at Warner Bros. knew Whedon’s “Justice League” was a bomb.
“When we got to see what Joss actually did, it was stupefying,” the Warner Bros. executive said. “Everyone knew it. It was so awkward because nobody wanted to admit what a piece of shit it was.”
Even before Snyder walked away from “Justice League,” the director was forced to battle Warner Bros. for creative control of the project. The studio dispatched DC Entertainment creative chief Geoff Johns and Warner Bros. co-production head Jon Berg to the production, where one of them would need to be on set every day monitoring Snyder and making sure the film wasn’t becoming too dark for Warner Bros.’ liking.
“You could say babysit,” Snyder said to Vanity Fair about Johns and Berg’s role on the film. “It didn’t bother me too much because they weren’t that threatening. I just felt the ideas they did have, where they were trying to inject humor and stuff like that, it wasn’t anything that was too outrageous.”
The studio also forced Snyder to cut out certain plot threads, including a proposed romance between Ben Affleck’s Batman and Amy Adams’ Lois Lane, and forbid him to make a version of the movie longer than two hours.
“How am I supposed to introduce six characters and an alien with potential for world domination in two hours?” Snyder said. “I mean, I can do it, it can be done. Clearly it was done. But I didn’t see it.”
To this day, Snyder has never seen Whedon’s “Justice League cut. Deborah Snyder, Snyder’s producing partner and wife, saw a private screening of Whedon’s cut before the film’s release and advised Zack to stay away from Whedon’s version. Deborah told Vanity Fair, ““It was just…it’s a weird experience. I don’t know how many people have that experience. You’ve worked on something for a long time, and then you leave, and then you see what happened to it.”
Deborah Snyder watched Whedon’s “Justice League” cut with Christopher Nolan, Warner Bros.’ “Dark Knight” trilogy director and one of the executive producers of Snyder’s DC films. After the screening, Nolan and Deborah went to Zack with a clear message.
“They came and they just said, ‘You can never see that movie,’” Zack Snyder said.
Warner Bros. is set to stream Snyder’s four-hour “Justice League” on HBO Max starting on March 18. Head over to Vanity Fair’s website to read Snyder’s interview in its entirety.