Who knew Zack Snyder was actually Lex Luthor with hair. At least Rolling Stone thinks so. It’s been over a year since Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice is Gray was released in all its 4 hours and two-minute glory and yet the drama isn’t quite over.
Rolling Stone just shared a report where the outlet had access to a Warner Bros’ report which alleges that many of the members of the “Release the Snyder cut” army were bots or fake accounts.
Brainiac at work?
No. But apparently, the director himself may have played a role.
According to Rolling Stone, at least 13% of the accounts that took part in the conversation about the Snyder Cut were deemed fake, well above the 3-5% that cyber experts say they typically see on any trending topic.
It seems that the identity authentication firms Q5id and Graphika have concluded that a portion of the social media movement was “inauthentic” and sources told Rolling Stone that Snyder was behind it. The timeline fans have been presented with how things went down between Snyder and Warner Bros isn’t exactly “authentic” either.
Let’s take a look at how the timeline really went down.
Snyder allegedly hired a digital marketing firm to juice fan engagement, possibly the consultant named Xavier Lannes who was CEO of a Los Angeles-based (now defunct) digital ad firm called MyAdGency, when his $250 million film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was savagely panned by critics, earning an embarrassing 29% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Geoff Johns and Jon Berg found themselves in Snyder’s crosshairs because Snyder believes that they are the ones responsible for him losing control of the DC Universe when they replaced him to run the portfolio of superhero films in that same year.
In mid-March of 2017, Snyder, a father of eight, endured an unimaginable, heartbreaking tragedy when his 20-year-old daughter died by suicide. He continued to work on the film, however, Joss Whedon was already in the mix attempting to lighten the heavy and dark tone of the film with his juvenile humor.
On May 5, 2017, Snyder screened his final version of Justice League on the Warner Brothers lot for all of the studio’s department heads. The total running time was two hours and 18 minutes. One source familiar with that cut called it “unwatchable” and “joyless.”
Whedon was already waiting in the wings to do reshoots in order to make the “unwatchable” film “watchable” and the public was unaware of the regime change at that time. Whedon was under the gun to polish the “joyless” film to make it to its November release date on time.
Two and a half weeks later, on May 22, 2017, Snyder announced the news of his daughter’s passing and his exit from Justice League. Sharing the loss and the heartache, his wife Deborah also announced that she was exiting the film.
On Nov. 17, 2017, Justice League hit theaters and was a complete disaster. Around the same time, sources say, Snyder sent one of his editors to the studio to retrieve hard drives that contained files for Justice League. Snyder was allegedly asked to return them, considering they were studio property, however, Snyder denies that he was asked to return them and maintains that they were his files and that he wanted them for his own “personal use.”
In December 2017, the SnyderVerse army, specifically “Forsnydercut.com,” one of the loudest and most influential voices in online Snyder fandom, made its debut. Lannes was listed as the registrant of forsnydercut.com. While it’s unclear who, exactly, is behind the site, there were four participants listed as its developers, including a self-identified fan and site founder who purports to be from China named Fiona Zheng who was active on Twitter in support of Snyder from 2016 to 2021. Of course, Snyder denies knowing or ever hiring Lannes, nor any personal connection to Zheng.
According to both Forsnydercut.com and the main report commissioned by WarnerMedia, the website played an influential role in making the Twitter hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut go viral.
In May of 2018, the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut hashtag went viral and became the main source of power for efforts to bring Snyder back to the helm of the DC Universe.
In June 2018, AT&T closed an $85 billion deal to acquire the Time Warner media empire, which includes CNN and HBO.
Snyder fandom continued to call for the studio to greenlight a Snyder version of Justice League, launching a Change.org petition and mobilizing the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut.
In September 2018, former DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson was forced to delete her Twitter account after SnyderVerse fanboys mercilessly and viscously targeted her for merely praising Todd Phillips’ Joker, a film that exists outside the Snyder canon.
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In July 2019, an airplane commissioned by a private citizen to fly over the San Diego Comic-Con pulled a banner that read, “WB #ReleasetheSnyderCut ofJustice League,” to the tune of $1,170 for two hours.
In October 2019 “someone” spent upwards of $50k a day for a towering “Release the Snyder cut” Times Square ad.
Near the end of 2019, Snyder sent his fans into a tizzy when he posted a picture of a set of film canisters labeled “JL Director’s Cut Running Time 214 (minutes).” Running over the picture were the words: “Is it real? Does it exist? Of course, it does.”
In January 2020 Snyder began negotiations with Warner Bros. on a Justice League “do over.”
According to Snyder, Warner Bros decided to move forward with the Snyder Cut in February 2020, after chairman Toby Emmerich acknowledged the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement and reached out to Snyder personally.
Throughout that spring, Snyder repeatedly demanded that the names of two producers, Geoff Johns and Jon Berg, be removed from his upcoming re-cut of Justice League and began a campaign, along with his wife, to have the two removed from the credits.
On May 20, 2020, the company officially announced the film and credited the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement for “encouraging” them to do so.
On June 26, 2020, Snyder reportedly had reached his breaking point and according to multiple sources familiar with the matter, he confronted an executive in the studio’s post-production department and issued a threat vowing, “Now, I will destroy them on social media.”
After Snyder’s army targeted Johns and Berg for 4 months on social media, they were quietly removed from the credits.
In what now seems like a coordinated attack, also in June 2020, Ray Fisher, who played Cyborg, fired off a tweet that said, “Joss Wheadon’s on-set treatment of the cast and crew of Justice League was gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable. He was enabled, in many ways, by Geoff Johns and Jon Berg. Accountability>Entertainment.”
In December 2020 an external investigation which was conducted by Katherine Forrest of the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore concluded and found “no credible support” that there was racial animus at Warner Bros. and cleared Berg, Johns, and Emmerich of such charges.
Also in December of 2020, Snyder fought with Warner Bros over Martian Manhunter. DC Films president Walter Hamada was blindsided by the addition of the cast since he was not anywhere in any original scripts and Snyder allegedly threatened to delete other footage if he wasn’t permitted to keep the Martian Manhunter footage, although he claims he never had the ability to do so.
Around the same time, Fisher referred to Hamada as “the most dangerous kind of enabler.”
The “Release the Snyder cut” army also attacked Hamada by posting images of Hamada and Ann Sarnoff, who had also been fighting for the removal of the unauthorized footage, photoshopped wearing Ku Klux Klan robes.
On March 18, 2021, Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice is Gray was released on HBO Max.
In August 2021 Snyder finally returned the Justice League harddrives he’d taken from the studio following a settlement reached.
Zack Snyder and Warner Bros have officially parted ways and Snyder is developing new projects with Netflix such as the sci-fi film Rebel Moon, which is an upcoming American epic space opera film directed by Zack Snyder from a screenplay he co-wrote with Shay Hatten and Kurt Johnstad, based on a story he also created with Johnstad.
Is it possible that the entire “Release the Snyder cut” movement was completely orchestrated by none other than Zack Snyder himself?
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For the full Rolling Stone article click here.