Zack Snyder's resurrection is nearly complete.
With his four-hour, R-rated Justice League set to premiere on HBO Max on March 18 –– thrilling legions of fans who demanded Warner Bros. "release the Snyder Cut!" –– the 54-year-old filmmaker sat down with Vanity Fair recently to give the definitive chronicle of how his vision of the superhero team up finally came to be.
Sadly, Snyder's journey toward cinematic redemption started with a tragedy — the 2017 suicide of his 20-year-old daughter, Autumn. Her death left the architect of the DC Extended Universe and his wife, co-producer Deborah Snyder, grief-stricken, to the point where they opted to leave the production to give their family time to heal.
But that wasn't the entire story, as Snyder says the couple was also locked in bitter internal battles with Warner execs over his increasingly dark direction and long running time.
Concern over Snyder's direction heated up, he says, when Warner Bros.' then-boss, Kevin Tsujihara, viewed an early cut in January 2017, complained JL was overly long, and mandated a two-hour running time.
"How am I supposed to introduce six characters and an alien with potential for world domination in two hours? I mean, I can do it, it can be done. Clearly it was done,” Snyder told the publication, alluding to Whedon’s version. "But I didn’t see it."
Snyder dismissed the official line that he invited Whedon to take over Justice League. Rather, he said it was DC Entertainment creative chief, Geoff Johns, one of two execs assigned by the studio to "babysit" the production, who recruited Whedon to do rewrites for Justice League after the two had worked together developing a Batgirl movie.
"I thought maybe he could write some cool scenes. I thought that would be fun," said Snyder, whose reported popularity among the cast and crew was only exceeded by his nice guy reputation.
But after the Snyders lost Autumn in March 2017, Whedon's role expanded while the bereaved couple mourned her death. He began not only advising during reshoots but directing them as well. Finding it too difficult to carry on, the Snyders bowed out, but partly as Snyder tells it, because Warner lost faith in him and they were tired of fighting.
"All of us, the whole family, we’re just so broken by [losing Autumn] that having those conversations in the middle of it really became…I was like, ‘Really?’ Frankly I think we did the right thing because I think it would’ve been either incredibly belligerent or we just rolled over," added the auteur, who said he only had one conversation with Whedon over studio notes.
With Snyder out, Whedon was apparently given the greenlight by the studio to push ahead with his vision, though not before his allegedly abusive behavior on set sparked complaints from cast members Ray Fisher and Gal Godot, leading to an internal investigation.
Another revelation from Snyder's interview was the daring vision he had for one of JL's biggest superheroes, Batman. According to the filmmaker, he pitched Warner execs on a plan to have Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne romance Superman's widow, intrepid reporter Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams.
"The intention was that Bruce fell in love with Lois and then realized that the only way to save the world was to bring Superman back to life," revealed Snyder. "So he had this insane conflict, because Lois, of course, was still in love with Superman. We had this beautiful speech where [Bruce] said to Alfred: 'I never had a life outside the cave. I never imagined a world for me beyond this. But this woman makes me think that if I can get this group of gods together, then my job is done. I can quit. I can stop.' And of course that doesn’t work out for him."
Unfortunately for Snyder, it didn't pan out for him either.
But now that the Snyder Cut is close to a reality, if there's one good thing to come out of the helmer's comeback, he now has full creative control to make the Justice League of his dreams, partly thanks to his decision to forego a fee for the new cut (since he was already paid on the original).
Not only does Snyder have carte blanche to veer off of the official DC time line now, he's also making some pretty bold statements –– like putting Superman in a sleek black suit; bringing in Jared Leto's Joker; and presenting the film in the square 4:3 format as opposed to widescreen in the hopes of one day blowing it up to IMAX screens.
But Snyder also teased that fans can expect a hero cameo to end all cameos too.
No word on who that'll be, but one star who's already weighing in on the hijinks is Ryan Reynolds, who is denying rumors his DC alter ego, Hal Jordan, will be reemerging as fan favorite Green Lantern. Taking to Twitter, the actor wrote: "It’s not me. But what a cool pirate flag to cameo as Hal. Maybe it’s another GL? But for me, the suit stays in the closet. I mean, computer."
Whoever it is, we can't wait!
Zack Snyder's Justice League debuts March 18 on HBO Max.