Comic book fans around the world finally got their wish on March 18: the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The first version of the DCEU film, released in 2017, was directed by Joss Whedon who took control over filming because Synder had to step away from production after the tragic loss of his daughter.
Whedon’s Justice League was critically panned and abhorred by fans, not to mention a box office flop, never to be spoken about again until rumours started brewing about the existence of Synder’s own version. Which was, to an extent, largely done.
Enter #ReleaseTheSynderCut, a years-spanning social media crusade pushing by fans asking Warner Bros and other players to allow them see this mythical Synder film. Even stars from the film like Jason Momoa and Ray Risher later joined in on the campaign, emboldening it. Sometime last year, Snyder announced that his Justice League film would be coming to streaming platform HBO Max this year, and it was then that fans started to believe.
From posters, teasers, and trailers released over time, it was clear that Synder’s Justice League was different from Whedon’s. With $70 million gotten from Warner Bros, the director added more footage, visual effects and retooled character design (Superman in a black suit!). It was darker, bolder, apocalyptic, and introduced mighty, world-devouring DC villain Darkseid. Fans would later discover that the film would be 4 hours long, which they didn’t mind at all.
Can this happen in Nollywood? At the moment, this is only a pipe dream. #ReleaseTheSynderCut might be a hashtag, but it encompassed how Hollywood is much more advanced.
Bigger movies, bigger studios, bigger fanbases, bigger directors. Granted, Hollywood as an industry can’t be divorced from American hegemony, which positions America as the center of things politically and also through media and entertainment. Till today, there are more Hollywood films in cinemas elsewhere than you would find non-American films in American cinemas.
Superhero movies is the next frontier of Hollywood filmmaking, made popular by Marvel as they continue to launch phases of movies rooted in comic canon. What Nollywood predominantly makes today are comedies, and there’s much doubt that fans will suddenly want to see a director’s cut if the director were in similar circumstances like Synder’s.
While what happened to Snyder was quite peculiar, Nollywood isn’t used to releasing a director’s cut or extended version after a theatrical release. Nollywood movies are often funded by filmmakers themselves, and this monopoly affords them the chance to get the vision for the films right.
Or they partner with mid-tier studios whose footprint of films have the same tone with the director’s catalogue, and hence quite unlikely that both parties would disagree on style or direction. With sequels and remakes becoming commonplace in Nollywood, and as streaming takes more foothold on the terrain, a director’s cut could be on the horizon.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.