Who knew what, and when did they know it? These are two lingering questions that members of the Release the Snyder Cut movement always wanted to know when it came down to the theatrical cut of Justice League, the one that was directed predominantly by Joss Whedon. That version was a complete disaster, and it betrayed the promise made by studio executives at the time that Whedon was hired to continue Snyder’s vision on the movie. Instead, Whedon reshot close to 85% of the film, and produced a version that was so dreadful, it inspired a three-year battle in the trenches to get the Snyder Cut of Justice League secured.
In a recent feature by Vanity Fair, though, it is made clear that Warner Bros. knew exactly how bad the theatrical cut of Justice League was, and for the first time, we get a quote from a studio executive (who asks to be left anonymous) throwing Whedon’s work on the movie under the bus. As quoted in the Vanity Fair article, this studio executive claims:
When we got to see what Joss actually did, it was stupefying. The robber on the rooftop—so goofy and awful. The Russian family—so useless and pointless. Everyone knew it. It was so awkward because nobody wanted to admit what a piece of shit it was.
Now, this is one opinion, credited to an anonymous studio rep who is speaking out long after the dust has settled. Not exactly a profile in courage. But it speaks to the fact that at least some behind the scenes at Warner Bros. at the time could admit that the Justice League movie they peddled to DC fans was (checks notes) a piece of shit.
And it truly was. The examples singled out, especially the superfluous Russian family, are egregious decisions that damaged the overall impact of Justice League, and seemed to exist only for comedic value. The studio, at the time, wanted to go lighter and chase that Marvel Studios audience. That’s not what Zack Snyder delivers, and hiring Whedon to complete a Snyder movie made no sense on any level.
That’s why things went so poorly.
From this point on, it’s time to stop mentioning Josstice League. It’s an abomination, and while it’s generally important to remember the mistakes of the past (so as not to relive them), the Snyder Cut that is arriving on HBO Max on March 18 should forever be the real Justice League, in all of its four-hour glory.