‘The Snyder Cut’ ushers in a new breed of director-led marketing

Lucien WD
Lucien WD
Mar 6 · 3 min read

Call it cult of personality. Call it a sob story. But Zack Snyder has gotten a few million nerds salivating as much over a director’s cut of a 2017 semi-flop, going straight to a premium streaming service, as they have over most theatrical comic-book movies of recent times. Yes, Zack Snyder’s Justice League as it will be officially known is but a week away from release after an almost four-year campaign for this longer, darker, Snyderer cut of the superhero crossover movie to see the light of day. There will be no red carpet premiere. No standard global press tour. No, at least initial, IMAX mega-release. ZS’s JL will be dropped on HBO Max on a Thursday morning following a hype campaign managed almost entirely by the film’s director himself on his social media, and subsequently by the film’s high profile actors. Warner Bros and HBO have helped, but their marketing contributions have been in the background. Snyder has grabbed a moment, like one of the Christ metaphors he so loves to include in his work, and made himself the centre of a hero’s narrative for which next week’s release will be the comeback story.

The story of Justice League, and how Snyder came to begin but never finish its original cut, and how Joss Whedon came on board and ruined it — and, in the intermittent four years, be exposed as a horrible creep — is at this point infamous and if you need a catch-up I’d recommend the Vanity Fair story on Snyder published a few weeks ago. Snyder’s fans, insisting there must be a superior cut of Justice League to Whedon’s one hidden somewhere, begged Warner Bros to release it. When, last Spring, Warner and Snyder announced that the project was forthcoming, it soon became clear that in fact, no such cut had been buried finished but unreleased, but rather they were willing to give Snyder a lot of money to spend the latter half of 2020 finishing his version, including shooting new footage with stars like Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck (who have better things to be doing, one expects). Thus, the Snyder Cut became less of a buried mystery, and more of a bizarre random payment by a studio sick of dealing with #ReleaseTheSnyderCut spam under every trailer for an unrelated film. But, all things considered, Warner allowing Snyder — emergent as a folk hero unvarnished by cheap gags in his films, burdened with the tragic death of his daughter the year Justice League was being completed — to drive his own advertising for this vanity-cum-passion project has been smart.

Snyder’s Twitter, Instagram and Vero (a really bad social network he uses for posting black and white images and very little else) have been the primary source of official ZN’s JL content, including a trailer that dropped on Valentine’s Day and ended with Jared Leto saying the words “We live in a society”. Snyder isn’t dumb, and he’s using this opportunity — to release a blockbuster film for the second time, without any theatrical box office to worry about, to an audience of already-devotees — to throw the kitchen sink at the screen and indulge a breed of comic-book fans it would probably be better not to indulge. But, alas. At least Willem Dafoe is going to be in this version…

Luwd Media

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