Enough! It’s Time For Zack Snyder To Break His Silence
Look, this wasn’t what I had planned for today. Originally, I was going to publish a piece about David Ayer’s cut of Suicide Squad and why I think it’d be wise of Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment to release it as a Collector’s Edition Director’s Cut for hardcore fans. But now that’ll have to wait because of something far more urgent and pressing: There is a toxic strain of Zack Snyder fans that needs a wake up call, and they need it from the only person they’ll listen to, Snyder himself.
Please note what I’ve said. I didn’t say “all Snyder fans are toxic.” I said there’s a subgroup within them that has made that fandom look like a bunch of aggressive, entitled lunatics. But while there’s some in-fighting within the group, as several major members of that community have denounced the ones who have taken things too far, this has gone on for too long and there’s really only one way to stop it.
And before we get fully into this, it should be noted that I’ve gone on record several times as a supporter of their cause. I’ve called out bloggers for their immature, unfair antics. I’ve posted an in-depth breakdown of the frustrating lack of clear communication from both sides of the Snyder Cut debate, following a direct conversation with storyboard artist and all-around accomplished filmmaker Jay Oliva. I’ve even gone out of my way to explain where I, personally, stand when it comes to Snyder– a filmmaker I’ve had a rollercoaster relationship with as a diehard Superman fan.
So I am, by no means, unsympathetic to what’s gone on here. What happened last year was ugly with a capital “UGH.” More or less forcing a guy out the door while he’s grieving the loss of his daughter, then hijacking Justice League to the point where it feels nothing like a Snyder movie while still keeping his name handcuffed to it is an absolute injustice. That whole situation’s a mess, with plenty of blame to go around, and practically none of it belongs to Zack Snyder.
The Snyder fandom that’s risen up in reaction to this injustice needs some serious policing.
Last year, I was the one who broke the story that the studio was about to majorly overhaul Justice League. As a result of that report last May, which was bolstered two weeks later by THR revealing that Joss Whedon was about to step in to take over post-production from Snyder, his fans went ballistic. And rightfully so. I expected them to be upset. What I didn’t expect was for them to start personally attacking anyone who was simply pointing out what was happening like an angry horde.
I, and others, began getting ridiculed and bullied any time we’d simply point out the truth. While Snyder’s more reasonable fans kept to themselves and decided to take a wait and see approach as they anticipated Justice League‘s arrival on November 17, there was an angry hive that was in total denial. And the only way they knew how to deal with that denial was by swarming anyone who attempted to warn them that the theatrical cut was going to be vastly different than the film Zack Snyder had wanted to make.
I endured these belittling, demeaning attacks for weeks and months between May and November. And, while I would often try to start by being patient, reasonable, and approachable, I’d sometimes succumb to my anger over the vitriol being hurled at me. As anyone who follows me on twitter can attest, I love engaging with readers. It’s one of my favorite parts of this side project of mine as a reporter, commentator, and podcaster. So there were several times last year where I’d engage with Snyder fans who were in denial about what Warner Bros. was doing to his film, and basically say, “I know this sucks. But it’s the truth. I’m the guy who published the story that brought to light the way the film was being remade, so feel free to ask me anything you’d like about it.”
Then I’d live to regret that.
I eventually got so fed up with how irrational the worst of the bunch were that I’d lash out. I’d observe how they vindictively ganged up on anyone who was simply stating the truth, it would make my stomach turn, and I’d vent my frustration. On one particular morning, I was so incensed by the way people venomously attacked and ridiculed Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld for simply saying “I hear they’re going to be testing Whedon’s Justice League this week“- an assertion I simply read as “They’re going to test the version of the film with all of Whedon’s changes in it, since they already tested the one that was all Snyder earlier this year”- that I even said that these Snyder fans are “the ISIS of DC fandom.”
It was a harsh and inarticulate thing to say. While many people totally understood what I meant, which was that they had become a hateful fringe that attacked anyone who disagreed with them within an otherwise peaceful fandom, some conveniently decided to take things literally and say, “He’s comparing us to murderers and rapists!”
So I explained myself, and I took the tweet down, since a cooler head prevailed and I didn’t want to risk anyone else thinking I was equating them to an actual terrorist organization.
But now let’s fast forward a year, because- if anything- that subgroup of Snyder fans have only continued to prove that they are a hostile, maniacal fringe. One that needs to be eradicated.
Once Justice League came out, and it became clear to fans around the world that those of us who warned you about the drastic changes were 100% spot on, you’d think they would’ve put their weapons down for a bit. You’d think they’d say, “Darn. I was really cruel to the people who told me the studio had taken Justice League away from Snyder, so maybe I should cool it on all the hateful rhetoric.” While that was certainly the case for some, as I’m happy to report that I’ve had wonderfully civil conversations with people who were once very venomous towards me because they realized I was just telling the truth, the others took this situation as a reason to double down on their aggressive behavior.
There are many examples I could cite, but since there’s no time like the present, let’s talk about what happened with former DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson over the weekend. And, mind you, this is someone who isn’t even with the company anymore.
As I’ve outlined before, Nelson was one of the heads of DC Entertainment these last few years. In a somewhat confusing hierarchy, the way things broke down these last two years was that Geoff Johns and Jon Berg were put in charge of all film decisions, while Nelson functioned as more of a middle person between DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. In other words, she wasn’t directly involved with any moviemaking decisions, and was merely there to support the folks who were, and to make sure their parent studio was in the loop. That’s it. And as part of a shakeup of the power structure over there that’s gone on since Justice League, she’s now out of a job because they’ve streamlined things so that there’s less bureaucracy.
On Saturday, she posted a tweet sharing her excitement about Todd Phillips’s Joker movie, pointing out how great it looks, and expressing regret that DC didn’t stay on a course to produce more films like that since the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy in 2012. She expressed that “Great movies are great movies,” implying that the focus should’ve remained making one excellent film at a time, instead of going into the “shared universe,” “world-building” business DC went into after Nolan was done.
I’m not here to say whether or not her opinion is a valid one. Personally, I think they were right to finally start building a shared universe, as I think DC has a robust roster of characters and I’ve been dreaming of seeing them interact together on-screen for years. But, again, these are just opinions. Nelson is of the mind that creating great standalone experiences is a better way to go, since it gives the filmmakers more freedom because their films aren’t tethered to the works or plans of others.
Here are her actual words, for the sake of context:
“LOVE IT! Great story, great actor, specific and [strong] vision from talented director. What DC should have been doing since Nolan. Even if die hard fans struggle with his vision.”
And she’s entitled to that opinion.
But what followed was truly hideous.
While some tried to engage her in a reasonable discussion about “Well, if you’re so in favor of the filmmaker-driven approach, why didn’t you support Zack Snyder? Why did you take his movie away from him last year?” Others began inundating her with insults, accusations of being a snake, a hypocrite, and some kind of vile person. For her part, she was quick to add that she felt Snyder should’ve been granted the freedom to make the films he wanted. As she reiterated to me in a direct conversation, she didn’t have a hand in what happened to Snyder. That wasn’t her role in the company. Her role was simply to support those who were responsible for moviemaking decisions and make sure they had what they needed.
Still, even despite her additional tweets outlining what her role really was and clarifying that Snyder was included in her wishes for great, filmmaker-driven movies, the attacks continued. The irony, of course, is that Nelson has always been very careful to avoid throwing Snyder under the bus. Last September, in a profile by Vulture, she even requested that a quote of hers be removed because she thought it could be construed as a dig at Snyder- and she wanted no part of that. It was a quote about how they’d supported his vision, even if it wasn’t what they’d had in mind for Superman. She saw how that could come off, so she respectfully asked to have it cut because she did not want to give the impression she was against him.
Her office even contacted other sites that misconstrued her words as an attack on Snyder, and we all know how rarely DC comments on anything people report about them. So that’s very telling, just how important it was to her to keep the peace.
See, some within the Snyder fandom had tunnel vision on Saturday, and it’s the exact thing she was trying to avoid last year. They didn’t care that their read on the situation- which was that she was praising Nolan and throwing shade at Snyder, who inherited the reins to the DC kingdom after Nolan left- was only one of several possible takes on her remarks. They didn’t care that she later pointed out that Snyder should’ve had the freedom to do what he wanted. They just blindly went after her based on the most incendiary hot take about her initial tweet.
She ended up making her account protected for a bit, before ultimately deleting it entirely.
This was just the latest in a long line of run-ins between the toxic subgroup of the Snyder fandom and folks involved with what happened to Justice League.
And yet, while he always seems to find the time to hop onto Vero and throw tidbits to his fans about what his original plans were for Justice League and DC films, Snyder has never once stepped up to denounce the way this group of fans treats others.
And that’s a shame.
At this point, the cyber-bullying tactics of this particular subset of his supporters has become notorious. Everyone knows about it, talks about it, and rails against it- including fellow Snyder fans. Yet these people, so devout in their love for him, choose to purposefully ignore the way they’re poisoning the way the entire group looks by doing things like what they did to Nelson this weekend.
That’s why I’m calling on Mr. Snyder to break his silence.
No, he’s not responsible for their actions. No, I don’t think he eggs these toxic avengers on. But he’s the only one they’d actually listen to, and if he’s got the time to tell us last week that Ryan Choi (aka the second Atom) was in his cut of Justice League or to confirm that his vision for the DCEU was to tell a multi-tiered, yet self-contained story as opposed to launching an everlasting shared universe, then he can definitely take a second to say:
“Hey! I appreciate all of the support, but you can’t go around attacking anyone you think might be insulting me. I appreciate that you love my work, but if you were truly inspired by it, then that means you need to be a better example. Be Superman. Don’t be Wallace Keefe.”
It’d be the right thing to do, both for his rational fans and for everyone else who has to look over their shoulders anytime they want to openly discuss his DC movies. No one should have to live in fear that if they share an opinion that’s anything less than glowing about Man of Steel or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, or share their excitement over DC’s cinematic future, that they’re going to be attacked, ridiculed, and demeaned for doing so.
That’s not what fandom is about.
So come on, Mr. Snyder, do the right thing.