James Gunn has only been co-CEO of DC Studios for a few days, but he’s already showing how Warner Bros. Discovery learned an important lesson from the Snyder Cut of Justice League. In his response to recent online fan campaigns for the release of the Ayer Cut of suicide squad and bring back the canceled CWs Legends of tomorrow, Gunn has shown a very different approach to former WB and DC execs, proving why he’s a perfect fit for the job.
In the past, Warner Bros. publicly ignored fan campaigns and executives posted anonymous quotes disparaging fans, stoking animosity and creating a toxic environment. While Gunn’s response to Ayer Cut doesn’t promise to give fans what they’re asking for, his acknowledgment and explanation is a big step toward healing a fractured relationship with fans and finally building the future of the DCU.
The response from Warner Bros. to the Snyder cut made it all worse
Warner Bros. made all the wrong decisions when it came to the Snyder Cut. First, the decision to get rid of Zack Snyder and rewrite and reshoot Justice League starring Joss Whedon in the first place was a huge mistake, as the final product shows, but they also marketed the film using Snyder’s name and insisted it was true to Snyder’s vision for the film. when that was clearly not the case. Then, once demand for the Snyder Cut release started to gain traction, a report was released by the the wall street journal citing employees of Warner Bros. who bashed fans for asking “Snyder’s magic cup that doesn’t exist,” although it was obviously obvious that Snyder had completed principal photography and a significant portion of post-production.
Warner Bros. has never released official statements about the Snyder Cut, but whenever the topic has been trending on social media, an anonymous quote from someone at Warner Bros. was posted suggesting that the movie didn’t exist, that the theatrical cut was similar enough to Snyder’s version, that there was no real demand, or that the fans asking for it were toxic and shouldn’t be validated. All of these claims about the film have long been proven wrong, and while toxic fandoms could certainly be an issue, that toxicity was also fueled by campaign backlash, with fans naturally feeling gassed. By releasing these quotes to the media instead of responding directly, fans and the press took issue, which only reinforced the toxicity narrative.
Warner Bros. did not come up with a viable alternate DC movie plan
Outside of the bad message of WB’s response to the Snyder Cut campaigns, no viable alternative plan was presented to fans. After spending hundreds of millions of dollars in marketing to get fans excited for Henry Cavill’s Superman, Ben Affleck’s Batman, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, Ezra Miller’s Flash and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg on big screen with other DC heroes and villains, WB’s new message was that it was wrong to want to see this version of the universe without offering an alternative. There was no Henry Cavill Superman movie on the horizon (Superman’s cameo in Shazam! didn’t even include a face), Ben Affleck had publicly distanced himself from Batman, and every new DC movie announced seemed to be for an obscure character unrelated to the larger franchise, and it wasn’t even clear if Warner Bros. any project to deliver any type of Justice League teams in the near future.
So to all the fans who were sold on these characters and excited for Snyder’s version of the universe after hundreds of millions of marketing dollars were spent and contributed to the $3 billion in box revenue- office had been brought in for the first of the four-movie franchise, the only way to get more seemed to be to join the Snyder Cut campaign. In the end, the Snyder Cut campaign wasn’t just about Snyder himself, but about Henry Cavill fans wanting more of him as Superman, Ben Affleck fans wanting more of him as Batman, etc
The campaign finally hit a crescendo in November 2019 and the film was finally greenlit, but even then the studio didn’t learn. The movie hadn’t even aired on HBO Max for a full week before former WB CEO Ann Sarnoff said in an interview that there would be no more Snyder DC movies and fans who had campaigned for it were toxic, despite the fact that the film ultimately won. on some of its biggest detractors and finally building a sense of excitement around the franchise’s potential future. In the interview, Sarnoff again suggested there was a plan in the works, but the Snyder Cut teases for Darkseid, the future of Knightmare, and the formation of the Justice League were far more exciting than any alternate wave that Warner Bros. teased at the time. .
Indeed, with the release of black adam and Henry Cavill’s Superman Returns, it was also revealed that Warner Bros. not only lacked a plan for Superman, but that former DC Films president Walter Hamada actively shut down multiple attempts to bring Henry Cavill back as Superman, despite a clear appreciation. and asks for his version of the character. The cumulative effect of those decisions was not just a dead franchise, but a studio that had stoked hostility and division from its own audience.
Why James Gunn’s Ayer Cut Answer Is Perfect
James Gunn has only been a DC Studios CEO for a few days, but his response to the campaign to release David Ayer’s cut suicide squad already avoids all the problems created by previous Warner Bros. executives. First, he not only acknowledged the campaign for the Ayer Cut of suicide squadbut also backup Legends of tomorrow campaign and “fan support for other DC projects over the years,” treat all fans equally instead of tainting a particular segment. Furthermore, it expressly declares “the majority of these requests were enthusiastic and respectful,” which sets a much better tone for the fan relationship than previous WB responses, especially since he tweeted it himself from his personal account instead of giving it as an anonymous quote to trades.
As with previous World Bank administrations, Gunn does not reveal any details about the plan he is developing for the DCU, but he offers more transparency in the process, saying “we listen and are open to anything… But our whole initial focus is on the story ahead, shaping the new DCU, and telling the greatest story ever told across multiple movies, TV shows, and projects animated.” It is quite clear that the Ayer Cut of suicide squad not currently part of “the story goes on” but Gunn wisely says he and co-CEO Peter Safran are open to any ideas, leaving room to revisit the Ayer Cut later.
With Cavill’s Superman Return and Ben Affleck’s Batman Return and Gunn clearly embracing some of DCU’s past stories by bringing back the original Suicide Squad cast and using Snyder’s version of Justice League for their Peacemaker cameo, it’s clear that his plan for the future will serve some of the characters and stories that fans invest in in the early DCU movies, which means his answer doesn’t seem to say “you’re bad for liking it” as previous responses from Warner Bros. suggested.
Warner Bros. Discovery is going through immense changes, and the formation of DC Studios and the hiring of James Gunn and Peter Safran as co-CEOs are a big part of that. Fortunately, these changes seem to suggest that they learned important lessons from the Snyder Cut that former WB executives failed to understand. Having James Gunn, a filmmaker, as head of studio shows a commitment to respecting the directors, and Gunn shows a commitment to respecting the fans. The DCEU, now DCU, saga has been a wild ride, but more and more the studio is showing it is recovering from years of mismanagement and learning important lessons from past mistakes.
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