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Zack Snyder Is Reverse Engineering The Press Cycle In 2020



How Things Started

Do you remember how Comic Book Movie news came out back when The Dark Knight was announced? I do. There were only a few blogs back in that time that even covered things and most of the time, they were unknown geek sites. So, finding out every detail about a film was scarce, or was written about in a magazine. I remember finding out about Heath Ledger being cast as Joker and only knew about it because of someone telling me they heard it. That was how news and information spread: HearSay.

Fast-forward to 2012 when The Dark Knight Rises came out, and the landscape was COMPLETELY different. Most of the blogs were small back in 2008 (relatively speaking to 2020). But now? They were the defacto Head Honchos of “The Cool Kids” club-equivalent of Comic Book Movie news. It was commonplace that most of the sites that had huge followings were granted set visit access. They were meant to spread all sorts of information about the upcoming Blockbuster films and it was great press. The only problem that arose? Some of these major sites began to choose sides in how they reported the news or talked about certain studios and their films. This created a “Divide” among readers and ultimately shifted things into tribalism of DC v Marvel, which was only the beginning.

How Bloggers Became Press

2012 was a game-changing year and not because the Mayans said so. From 2008 to 2012, Marvel released 5 films leading up to their 6th. That film would be the culmination of those previous 5 in the biggest Team-Up event ever. But each one of those films, starting in 2008, was heavily analyzed. It was one of the main components to how these relatively smaller blog sites became such juggernauts of the social platform with huge followings. People wanted these films explained and their theories written out to feel like they were apart of the entire experience.

So, that year, The Avengers was released. And, in essence, it did what Superman The Movie did to viewers back in 1978. It created a template for future films. And by doing so, it made people realize a way to have more than just one superhero in a film at a time and make it a success. All the fan speculation and build up over the years was deeply rooted in the explosion of the articles written about the MCU. So imagine, in the following year that was 2013, a solo film coming out about Superman. And remember that “Divide” I talked about? Where sites started choosing sides of what movies were made ‘right’ and which were made ‘wrong’? Enter Man Of Steel.

Man Of Steel

Fans of the DC films were accustomed to having their Heroes staying in their own worlds. That’s why The Dark Knight Trilogy came out at the perfect time. Because no one was asking “Where is Superman or Wonder Woman?”. It was clear from the very beginning that they didn’t exist in that timeline. But that also meant that Warner Bros. couldn’t capitalize on the multi-Billion Dollar possibilities that their rival, Marvel, was venturing towards. The past two Batman films grossed over a billion dollars. So what could happen if you brought in MORE Heroes than just Batman?

Well, Zack Snyder was working on Man Of Steel BEFORE anyone knew Avengers would be a success. But also, he was on record saying that to add the Pantheon of Great Heroes that would be The Justice League, you needed to get Superman’s house in order. And so, he delivered a story about Superman that made me, a huge fan of Batman, change my mind about the character. It was told on this Grand Scale that made other Superhero Films look simple in comparison. At least, that’s how I saw it when I watched it for the first time. Because leading up to it, I wasn’t aware of sites breaking down Marvel films to their simplest forms to contextualize everything. So I had zero bias about what should or shouldn’t be in a Comic Book Film.

How The Media Treated Fans Of Zack Snyder

It wasn’t until Man Of Steel that I realized this “Attack” on Zack Snyder had stemmed long before 2013. Going back to 300, every Zack Snyder Film I ever watched changed me. Action was never the same. And once I saw Watchmen, I became a fan of the Graphic Novel overnight. So, it happened again with Superman. Only this time, there were a lot of people on film sites telling me I was wrong, somehow, for liking a film. That it meant I wasn’t a true ‘DC Fan’ or that I preferred my stories ‘Dark and Humorless’. Or that I had no sympathy for the ‘Destruction Porn’ happening at the end of the film.

And now, because I enjoyed an aesthetic, I was wrong in my choice of Superhero Films. Or at least that’s how I viewed my anticipation for Batman v Superman, Zack’s follow-up to Man Of Steel. And looking at Snyder’s Filmography AND being a massive Batman fan, I was ALL IN for this film. I remember watching the trailers and never being as excited about a film as I was with BvS. But I started to notice VERY few people would write anything positive leading up to the release. In fact, it wasn’t until much later that I discovered that Press and Film Sites were denied a Set Visit to BvS (I’ll bring that up later). Something they had grown accustomed to very much over the past 8 years.

How Zack Was Treated After BvS

March 24th, 2016. The day I had waited for had finally arrived and I was mesmerized. At the time, My 8-Year-Old Daughter and I witnessed one of the greatest films we had seen together. It was an experience I’ll cherish forever. And it was because of BvS that I began to collect Comics again after I stopped years before that. But I remember right after the release, sites began to criticize the film in the most overzealous and hyperbolic ways I had ever witnessed. I was perplexed because I couldn’t grasp their disdain for what I considered the greatest Comic Book Film ever (full bias included).

Why were all these sites and blogs continually talking about their hatred for a film? All I remember was there was only ONE site that I ever saw writing positive articles about Batman v Superman. It got to the point that even the comments sections would highlight “This must be an (insert name) article because it’s positive.” That’s actually how I realized that Andrew Dyce and Stephen Colbert were the writers of those Screen Rant articles. But finally, I found a connection through all of the noise. I could finally read about my favorite film from a few people who saw what I saw and appreciated Zack’s work. Because if you were around back then, you’d understand how DIFFICULT it was to even be online, much less read ANY article regarding Batman v Superman.

The Schism With Justice League

We all remember where we were when we first witnessed the theatrical version of Justice League. But, November 17th, 2017 was an important day. We just didn’t know it yet. I’ve told this story a few times but on that darkest day birthed a new era. Do you remember those set visit denials from BvS? Well, the studio MADE Zack implement that for Justice League and had them release their articles shortly after. Set Visit articles are usually released in the lead-up to the film, not during the making of it. But that’s how bad things had gotten. This once, All-Powerful Studio, had succumbed to the fear they had by bloggers whining about something they weren’t fans of in the first place. So everyone that DIDN’T like BvS was invited to visit Justice League. I laugh every time I think about that, but I digress.

The Studio got what they wanted out of it. The press was now in Full Belief that Zack Snyder had changed his film to be lighter in tone and match that of the Marvel films. And the anticipation of Justice League was a difficult affair. We know what happened and as someone that loved the previous outings of DC Films, I was nervous it wouldn’t be something I enjoyed. But witnessing the catastrophe of that debacle sparked a fire in a lot of people like myself. I began writing on Reddit and looking at editing a version of the film that removed all of Joss Whedon’s scenes I could stomach.

The Spark

A few months after the release, I applied to start writing for this site because I couldn’t stand all the nonsense being written about Batman v Superman and Justice League. Someone needed to speak the truth. And thus, little by little, the narrative began to shift. And as I began notoriously digging up any and all information I could about Justice League, others were carving their own area. Dave Pena & Chris Wong-Swenson were known within the Snyder community for their takes and approach in video form. The DC Films SquadCast spoke to my heart in a podcast form. They described their thoughts immediately following their showing of Justice League.

And it was BECAUSE of what happened to Zack’s film that we started to become more than individuals. We became a united front to make sure this never happened again and people started to relate to us as I did back in 2016 to others that understood me. We were the only ones talking positively about Zack’s films and others enjoyed the content. With Stephen Colbert leading the charge on Screen Rant (the biggest influence at that point), we started working toward a common goal. To see Zack’s True Vision of Justice League.

The Light

None of us knew that 3 years ago, almost to the day, we would be the one bringing fans the Exclusive news that those OTHER sites would have to now source. It was as if BECAUSE of those sites, all those years ago, taking advantage of their privilege, it now gave us THEIR opportunity. And deservedly so. After all, we were fans from the very beginning and appreciated having the opportunity to speak with Zack. But even with that admiration, it was Zack giving back to his fans for showing their support in helping get Zack Snyder’s Justice League released in the first place.

Zack Giving Back

So now, in 2020, when it came time to announce Zack Snyder’s Justice League, who broke the news? That’s right, it was Zack himself, talking to fans on a Live Stream. When Zack wanted to talk about all things Snyder Cut, he chose Grace Randolph. A longtime supporter of his films. She was able to interview him twice. Then came DCFandome and a fan-centric initiative aimed at giving back to fans. And where does Zack chose to celebrate the newly released trailer of his film? Our Reel In Motion Podcast.

But that wasn’t the last time he would talk with some of the people that were there from the beginning. He then showed up for an interview on Dave Pena’s channel to discuss Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Even after that, Zack gave a one-on-one interview to Chris Wong-Swenson to discuss all manner of topics. Every single time he appeared on these outlets, the news was written about what was said and discussed. And he’s not done making the rounds just yet.

But rather than allow that level of access other sites took advantage of, Zack is making them use other people, whom Zack trusts are on his side, to write their articles now. Which is more brilliant than ever. He knows that anything he says will be taken and used by these sites. So why give them access he never wanted to give them in the first place? The answer: He doesn’t have to. He’ll make the news with or without them. So instead of the hierarchy of geek sites taking advantage of readers, he’s taking back control of how information is delivered.

The Warner Media Approach

Following in Zack Snyder’s footsteps is the newly formed HBOMax Streaming service. I have never seen a company be as actively engaged with its fans as I have with the social media accounts under the Warner Media Brand. It’s like they saw how appreciative and accepting Zack was treated with his fans that they replicated that style in other areas. It’s no longer an odd thing to see TNT boast about Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel. Or ATT tweet out a Ben Affleck Gif in response to a fan inquiry about a future Batman Series on HBOMax. It’s almost as if all the ATT Brands wanted to utilize the very thing Warner Bros. was trying to hid and shun this entire time. That Zack Snyder is a household commodity.

And now, more people are involved with Live Streams and Podcasts than ever before due to COVID-19. While others are barely trying to get started with their interviews and video quality, the rest of us have been preparing for all of this for 3 plus years. In light of how bad the media treated Zack Snyder all these years, they were the very reason for a lot of us doing what we do now. And it’s the reason we’re the ones getting the opportunity to sit down with Zack and talk with him. So I want the other blogs and film sites to remember. In all the years to come, in your most private moments. I want you to remember our hand at your site’s throat. I want you to remember the men and women who beat you.

Father // Senior Editor // Co-Host for The Reel in Motion Podcast @TheReelinMotion // Male Feminist // Unapologetic Snyder Enthusiast // Xbox X