Zack Snyder's 'Inner Circle' Wanted Him To Leak His Justice League

Ideas of creative freedom, auteur theory, and the debate over which artist should receive the lion's share of credit for a movie or show — whether it be the director, the writer(s), the producers, or all the below-the-line talent who make these productions possible in the first place — is almost a tale as old as time. Indeed, contrary to what some directors may claim, "auteur theory" as a general concept has remained applicable for an unimaginably long period of time, far beyond the period in which the medium of moving pictures has been in existence. Nothing about this topic of conversation is new or surprising, no matter how much filmmakers or their fans may protest otherwise.

This phenomenon entered center stage in the most public display conceivable in recent years, thanks to the disastrous theatrical cut of "Justice League" in 2017. The cavalcade of bad decisions and, on director Zack Snyder's part, personal tragedies that factored into those set of circumstances have been well-publicized by now. With no shortage of controversy, the vocal fandom and cult of personality that sprung up around the DC filmmaker eventually influenced WarnerMedia and HBO Max to do the unthinkable and give the greenlight to Snyder to recover the deleted and unfinished material left out of the theatrical cut, dedicate resources into completing many of the unfinished visual effects while adding brand-new scenes, and release the newly-christened "Zack Snyder's Justice League" for the masses to compare to the studio-mandated version.

But this wildly different cut of the same superhero team-up movie almost never happened at all. And if some of Snyder's closest associates got their way, we could've received his preferred cut not through a streaming service, but a purposeful leak.

'I think it's better if it just lives as this thing that no one will ever see'

This entire sordid affair surrounding "Zack Snyder's Justice League" found itself in the news once again recently with the release of an explosive new report. In it, Rolling Stone details allegations by Warner Bros. that the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement was bolstered by an abnormal amount of fake accounts, essentially duping WarnerMedia (then under the ownership of AT&T) into pouring an addition $100 million into a troubled production that had already run up a costly tab with extensive reshoots under the direction of Joss Whedon (who, it must be noted, is currently surrounded by a cloud of disturbing allegations).

In the lead-up to the release of "Zack Snyder's Justice League" in March of 2021, The New York Times published an extensive profile on Snyder about his perspective of the behind-the-scenes events that made such an unprecedented development possible in the first place. When asked how this came to be, Snyder responded:

"A bunch of my inner-circle buddies who worked on the movie always talked about, 'Oh, maybe we just drop a thumb drive somewhere and let a 'fan' find it.' And I was like, 'That's funny but I think it's better if it just lives as this thing that no one will ever see. I've lost my appetite for the fight."

A similar development occurred during Ryan Reynolds' lengthy journey to star in "Deadpool," when test footage conveniently leaked and provoked an overwhelmingly positive reaction among fans. But needless to say, leaking an entire movie would've been on another level entirely.

'I thought maybe in 10 years, there might be a DVD version'

Obviously, the "Watchmen," "Man of Steel," and "Batman v Superman" director didn't have to resort to such extreme measures as leaking his own movie to the world. The reveal that "Zack Snyder's Justice League" would actually become a reality remains one of the biggest bombshell surprises in the world of superheroes, delighting his voracious fanbase that endlessly campaigned for years to make that happen. (Although it also bears noting that the fan-driven fantasy of some fully-finished movie just sitting in the Warner Bros. archives, waiting to be unleashed, was just that: A fantasy. "Zack Snyder's Justice League" required some hefty fine-tuning in order to be released in its final form.)

But in light of the recent story regarding Snyder's obsessive online fandom, one particular Snyder quote in The New York Times story can't help but stand out in retrospect, given the report that he had a hand in egging them on and essentially weaponizing them in order to get his complete and unadulterated vision for "Justice League" out there. When asked about his frequent teases of his so-called "Snyder Cut" on the social media platform Vero, Snyder responded:

"It was more just me having fun on Vero with my fans. Did I think there would ever be a version of this where the fans' rallying cry got so loud that a big company like WarnerMedia would consider this as an option? Absolutely not. I thought maybe in 10 years, there might be a DVD version where they might go, 'Hey, maybe it's worth a couple dollars if we spruce up the Snyder cut.'"

Whatever the case may be, it's clear that the unique circumstances of this one superhero movie will continue to be felt for years to come.