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Zack Snyder Talks Marvel, DC, and Justice League

"Let’s be frank, there’s no cult of Aquaman.”

An Alternative View Of The "Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice" New York Premiere NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: (Editors Note: This image was altertered using digital filters) Director Zack Snyder attends The "Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice" New York Premiere at Radio City Music Hall on March 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

On Thursday, fans will finally experience Justice League the way director Zack Snyder intended, as the long fabled Snyder Cut premieres on HBO Max. In anticipation of the film’s release, Snyder sat down for a candid interview with the New York Times, where he discussed his relationship with Warner Bros., Joss Whedon, and what he hopes to accomplish with his cut of the film.

When Snyder was hired in 2010 to direct Man of Steel, he was tasked not only with rebooting Superman, but with setting the tone for the entire DC cinematic universe. His following film, 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice earned $873 million worldwide, and underperformed both with critics and the box office. By the time Justice League rolled around, Snyder was contending with an antsy studio eager to copy Marvel’s playbook. He would also soon contend with a family tragedy that caused him to leave the production entirely.

Snyder described the studio’s loss of faith in him, saying “There was a definitely a shift in confidence that they had, and I think that kept multiplying as we went along. They had this giant I.P. [intellectual property] and their confidence in my point of view had eroded.” That loss of faith was further hampered by the studio’s decision to hire Joss Whedon to rewrite the Justice League script.

Snyder said, “It was a bit of a red flag. They were like, We think punching up the humor and doing some more fun stuff will be great. I was like, Hmm, I’m happy to shoot a scene if you guys have a good idea. We kicked around a bunch of different writers and they had come in with Joss. He’s a talented writer, no two ways about it. But I really didn’t see the point. And then when I was like, I’m done, I can’t do this, I feel like they were volunteering Joss as the de facto finisher.”

As for allegations of Whedon’s toxic behavior on set, Snyder said he was unaware, and that the cast didn’t want to burden him. “The last thing they wanted to do was call me, complaining about them having a hard time shooting. But in retrospect, do I feel bad that they had to go through that? I do. These guys are my friends, and they’re amazing actors, and they’re strong people. I want them to be taken care of and in a healthy situation. I wasn’t there, so your opinion on it is probably is as good as mine.”

Snyder describes his frustration with Warner Bros. and DC’s attempts to lighten up the tone of the DCEU. From before Man of Steel, Snyder expressed his aim to create a darker, more dramatic superhero world. He also called out Warner Bros. for trying to copy Marvel’s style, saying “Marvel is doing something else. They’re doing, at the highest level, this popular action-comedy with a heart. And they have that nailed. An effort to duplicate that is insanity because they’re so good at it. What DC had was mythology at an epic level, and we were going to take them on this amazing journey. Frankly, I was the only one saying that.”

As for the success of more upbeat superhero films like Shazam! and Aquaman, Snyder didn’t mince words.

“Those movies are cool, and they’re really well-made and excellent. But “BvS,” love it or hate it, it’s probably the most mentioned movie in hashtags and references. It’s the closest thing to a cult film that could exist at this level of pop culture. Am I a provocateur? A little bit. Is my job to make some pop-culture piece of candy that you eat and forget about the next day? Nah. I would rather [expletive] you up in a movie than make it nice and pretty for everybody. Let’s be frank, there’s no cult of “Aquaman.” Jason is a force of nature, and by all means, I want there to be 100 “Aquaman” movies because he’s an awesome guy. But it’s not controversial. And I have purposely, because I love it, made the movies difficult.”

I mean … is BvS a cult superhero film? Depends on who you ask. As someone who was never a fan of Snyder’s DCEU (or Snyder himself that matter), his superhero films have often left me cold. But he does have a clear point of view, and knows the superhero stories he wants to tell. Whether or not you’re a fan of Snyder’s, it’s clear that he’s passionate about his work. And now he finally gets to show his fans the version of Justice League he always envisioned.

(via New York Times, featured image: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.