Growing Uncertainty Around Zack Snyder’s Involvement in Justice League

The true launch point of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, recently hit the $850 million mark worldwide. That’s a lot of dough. However, in the eyes of the film industry, and when taking into account the high hopes the film possessed, it becomes a difficult figure to assign success or failure to.

And this is the uncomfortable seat Warner Bros. execs are now finding themselves in when trying to determine where to take the DCEU—especially when there are a number of DC film properties to scheduled to come out over the next few years—including Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, Shazam, The Green Lantern Corps, a solo Batman movie and two Justice League films. And with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director, Zack Snyder, at the help for the two Justice League films—films that are supposed to rival the box office figures of Marvel’s Avengers films, Warner Bros. now has an uncomfortable decision to make.

Snyder, who also directed the polarizing Man of Steel film that launched Henry Cavill as this generation’s Superman, has now failed twice to win over critics. And while that didn’t stop Man of Steel from grossing over $650 million worldwide, or ‘Dawn of Justice’ from getting its $850 million worldwide, most industry experts note that it is nearly impossible to get to the sacred $billion mark without positive critical and social media buzz. The Hollywood Reporter further illustrates this notion:

“Another insider says to become a member of the billion dollar club requires “a great release date, great reviews and solid social media buzz,” a trifecta BvS failed to achieve.”

While BvS certainly had the favorably release date with no competition for weeks, reviews and social media buzz was not what they needed to be. With a 27 percent review score on movie review titan, Rotten Tomatoes, the buzz for the film quickly turned negative just days before its release and that buzz permeated the social media scene—transforming the space for arguments about the film’s quality.

Now reports have already surfaced indicating that Warner Bros. is peaking of Snyder’s shoulder as production for Justice League part one has started. Sources at Birth.Death.Movies outlined the strife:

“Sources at WB tell me that this is just one part of what’s going on behind the scenes at the DC movieverse. Zack Snyder and Geoff Johns were taken aback at critical and audience reaction to Batman v Superman, I’m told, and WB execs have found themselves at odds with Snyder over his vision for Justice League and the DC movieverse going forward. Of course Justice League was scheduled to start shooting mere days after BvS was released, which meant WB couldn’t take any definitive action – like removing Snyder or delaying the movie to make changes – without poisoning the box office for BvS. The result? Lots of fights between Snyder and the WB execs, and lots of pressure from Burbank on Snyder, who is shooting in London.”

But with production on Justice League already under way, what can Warner Bros. do if they want a new leader for what is supposed to be their highest grossing comic book movie of all time?

Enter George Miller.

The cinema legend who brought us the Mad Max franchise and who nearly directed his own Justice League film has been closely connected to the DCEU for months—albeit in a frustratingly mysterious capacity. However, we do know that Miller is a producer on Justice League. Could he become Warner Bros. escape plan should they minimize Snyder’s creative control?

Time will tell. But right now things do not look good for Snyder.

Written by | Omar Hussain

Omar Hussain serves as the Publisher and Managing Editor of the Heroic Universe.

  • Shiva

    Very interesting. Dawn of Justice was a very long movie that was a great promotion for Batman but arguably did Superman a disservice and the embarrassingly small scenes involving other members of the Justice League were anything but a Dawn of Justice. Heck, it was more akin to a flicker from a candle.
    Also, the movie spent waaaaaaay too much time establishing the reasons for Batman fighting Superman. I am very disappointed with Geoff Johns if he was the one who encouraged approval of the script. And the whole “Martha” things that ended the ‘epic’ battle was downright painful to watch.
    I also believe that as cool as the special effect were, we actually saw very little actual sequential fight scenes. What Snyder actually gave the viewer was vignettes of cool looking comic book pictures in movie form. For example, there is an awesome moment in the movie where Wonder Woman has her magic lasso wrapped around Doomsday, but we never actually get to witness ‘HOW’ Wonder Woman managed to ensnare Doomsday in the first place. It was spectacle and bright blurs and effects but no actually cool utilization or creative use of teamwork and powers by the Trinity. In other words, it was adequate, not spectacular.
    And as viewers already know from watching pretty much every Marvel Studio movie, action scenes are an absolute MUST for superhero movies to resonate with fans. Let me tell you when people see CA: Civil War, they will see just how hollow the action in Dawn of Justice is by comparison.
    In fairness, the Batman sequence was fantastic but the entire Doomsday battle ought to have had a real person as doomsday and not a cgi character. You could actually see the shortcuts in fight sequencing Snyder took as referenced above. When you spend 300 million making a movie, there is absolutely no excuse for a failure of fight scenes to resonate. The ONLY truly memorable sequence in Dawn of Justice was the Batman scene rescuing Martha Kent. The abject failure to justify the Batman and Superman fight impaired the viewers enjoyment of the spectacle. The lack of intelligence displayed by the world’s greatest detective and the failure of Superman to use his super-intelligent brain (when even a first grader was wondering why Superman would not simply tell Batman they were being manipulated) did harm to the creative integrity of the film as a whole.
    And frankly all of the above could easily had been addressed and STILL cut down on the length of the movie. The cliché of good guys fighting each other (and then teaming up afterwards) has been written a billion times in umpteen billions of comic books over the years. And Snyder and Johns STILL could not develop an intelligent justification.
    And don’t even get me started on Lex Luthor. He wasn’t really Lex. He was portrayed more like the Riddler or a Mad Hatter. Moreover, the idea that Lex is perhaps being manipulated by Darkseid throughout the movie will likely be proven accurate (by future JLA movies) but that only insults the potential of Lex Luthor. The real Lex Luthor would overcome such possession rendering it powerless. The Lex in Dawn of Justice is a pussy and easily controlled. He is more of a pawn and does not stand on his own.
    Also, Darkseid’s name and reference ought to have been made numerous times in the movie. Hints of his existence should have been made specifically by more than one character. As for other members of the League, their appearances ought to have encompassed at least 20 minutes of the movie and the mother boxes ought to have been identified and referenced and hinted as to what they are. In other words, substantial hints of a larger villain ought to have been portrayed. Snyder treated the audience like mushrooms, keeping them in the dark and feeding us bullshit (i.e. no motivations, stupid ‘Martha’ dialogue, unclear Africa sequence, horrendous idiocy of Superman in failing to prevent the Congress explosion etc etc).
    There was waaaaay to much muddled character set up that went absolutely nowhere and was completely unnecessary. For a 2.7 hour movie, how is it that we learned so little about Superman? Or Wonder Woman? Or Lex’s background? Why is Superman so infuriatingly stupid and incompetent? Bah.
    Bottom line is that I can totally see why (assuming this article is accurate) why Warner Brothers is concerned. Dawn of Justice tells me that Geoff Johns failure with Green Lantern was not a fluke. He does not seem to truly understand the nuances of filmmaking and translating scenes from his comic writing to the big screen. Having said this, I can’t even imagine that stupid “He has Martha” scene working in any medium let alone comic books or movies.
    Hopefully George Miller will be given some power to make decisions on both character development AND fight sequences