New Report Says Zack Snyder Not A Part Of DC Films’ ‘Future’
Many fans know the fun fact that the “DC” in DC Comics comes from the company’s Detective Comics title, but on the film side it might as well stand for “divisive cinema.” The latest release from the company, Wonder Woman 1984 is drawing mixed reviews (even here at Comic Years). And with the trend toward a “multiverse” of characters and continuity, fans are expecting to have their cake and Zack Snyder’s grimdark DC universe, too. However, a new report on DC Films indicates that the Zack Snyder corner of the multiverse is not a big part of DC Films’ future. Of course, as the drama around the Snyder Cut itself shows, nothing is ever off of the table.
Still, the plan for DC films is to unleash a deluge of content on the world. From feature films to more live-action series to more animated projects, DC will be a big part of the 2020s. And with the attitude of the multiverse embraced by the TV side’s Crisis On Infinite Earths event, it means that whatever DC heroes you loved, they all “happened!” From the Flash of the 1990s to the Birds of Prey of the early 2000s, it’s all “canon’ in the multiverse. So, it may come as a surprise and even seem rude to the Snyder Brigade that their favorite DC creator’s stories are being dismissed.
Ultimately, anyone in the entertainment industry prediction business right now is operating from a place of pure speculation. The reports in 2019 of no hope for the Snyder Cut’s release weren’t lies but an accurate report of the state of the business then. In 2020, with HBO Max struggling in the streaming wars and the pandemic, that calculus changed for WB. Let’s examine why, and how it can change again.
Why Zack Sndyer and His Future with DC Films Is Even ‘News’
Image via Warner Bros.
First, this has been the company line from Warner Media and Warner Bros. since they announced the Snyder Cut was happening. This was a chance for the director to finish his film and a way to get his legion of passionate fans to sign up for HBO Max. So, that we’re not getting a full Snyder-verse of sequels makes sense. The Snyder Cut being released at all was always a longshot, and things are constantly changing. For example, there originally weren’t going to be reshoots, but now there are. It seems that the relationship between Warner Bros., DC Films, and Zack Snyder are continually subject to change in the future.
Second, there is the return of Snyder’s Batman, Ben Affleck, for the Flash movie introducing the multiverse. Affleck stopped being the Batman for very personal reasons, to hear him tell it, and not because of Snyder stepping away. So, the timing of his return coinciding with work on the Snyder Cut at least feels like something more is in the works. Say what you will about Snyder’s fans, they are deeply passionate about the director and his vision for the DC Universe. As a certified Enjoy-er of All Things Comics™, I like his work but don’t think it is the only path WB could take.
If anything, what sparked the ire of the Snyder faithful is an unattributed statement rephrased by reporter Brooks Barnes.
From The New York Times (emphasis mine):
“Mr. Snyder and Warner Bros. had clashed over his original vision, which the studio deemed overly grim, resulting in reshoots handled by a different director, Joss Whedon… Zack Snyder’s Justice League, now four hours long, will arrive in segments on HBO Max in March.
“At least for now, Mr. Snyder is not part of the new DC Films blueprint, with studio executives describing his HBO Max project as a storytelling cul-de-sac — a street that leads nowhere.”
Earlier in the piece, Barnes qualified the original Justice League and Batman v. Superman as movies “deemed unwatchable” by critics. This is, at best, an uncharitable oversimplification, and doesn’t match with the audience reactions to these films. Even the much-maligned Whedon-directed Justice League has a majority-positive rating from audience members who chose to go to various sites to review it.
Give that DC Films chose a future without Zack Snyder way back in 2017, it should come as no surprise that some in the company see that as their past. Clearly the director/producer still has a relationship with the company, and that means that nothing is set in stone.
How Things Could Change at DC Films Again
Image via Warner Bros.
The future of DC Films has far less to do with Zack Snyder than it does with movie theaters. 2020 was a devastating year for a lot of people, but one industry that might simply disappear is movie theaters. They surely won’t go away completely, but it could be some lean years for an industry that both owners and studios saw as their prime source of income. Warner Bros. has a unique strategy for dealing with this uncertainty in 2021, offering their new releases both to theaters and (for one month) HBO Max simultaneously. So, that state of superhero movies, especially $200-$300 million features, is as uncertain as anything else.
So, while DC Films executives don’t see a big future with Zach Snyder and his take on their universe right now, that could change. If Zack Snyder’s Justice League does big numbers for HBO Max, WarnerMedia may change their tune again. They could throw money at directors like Snyder to tell sprawling DC stories that appear on the service in multiple installments. Huge franchise films like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and WW84 have lengthy runtimes and still feel too small to contain all the story they want to tell. Give Snyder five hours and a collection of DC characters, and who knows what he’d come up with?
A year ago, the Snyder Cut was a longshot dream fans and the filmmaker clung to despite all evidence to the contrary. When circumstances changed, they felt vindicated. Circumstances could change yet again, and the future of DC Films could heavily depend on Zack Snyder and his fans. Still, like before, it’s a longshot.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image via Warner Media.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.