More than a year and a half after "Justice League" debuted, the film shepherded by Zack Snyder and replacement Joss Whedon continues to fuel a longer-running tale laced with myth and intrigue.
Boosted anew on social media, it's the ongoing narrative of fans who want Warner Bros. and DC to release an alternative edit of the fantasy adventure that starred Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Gal Gadot.
Not long after the November 2017 release of the movie, which was considered a critical misfire and commercial underperformer, the spark of hope to see a "director's cut" of it was stoked by fans determined to believe a better version — one helmed solely by Snyder — not only was possible but likely already exists.
That campaign, which has continued to attract a cultish following of die-hards, eventually became known by a simple rallying cry: #ReleaseTheSnyderCut. Now it's been kicked up a gear as organizers try to capitalize on the latest change at Warner Bros.
On June 24, the studio announced that Ann Sarnoff, president of BBC Studios Americas, is becoming its new chair and chief executive. The first woman to head Warner Bros. in its nearly century-old history, Sarnoff succeeds Kevin Tsujihara, who was forced to resign amid reports that he was using his influence to get roles for his girlfriend, actress Charlotte Kirk.
Like students testing the new teacher who arrives midsemester, the movement immediately started imploring Sarnoff to release the would-be Snyder cut. After all, why not cannily step into the frame while the red-carpet flash bulbs trained on Sarnoff are freshly popping?
When Snyder left "Justice League" in May 2017, the official word was that he and his wife, producer Deborah Snyder, were exiting the film to deal with the suicide of their 20-year-old daughter. But the rumor mill now is buzzing with reports that he had turned in a rough cut of the movie and was fired because the studio heads didn't like what they saw.
What the Snyder cut movement appears to revolve around most is a belief in Snyder ("Man of Steel," "300") as superhero director and visual auteur, and that whatever sort of rough cut he delivered to Warner Bros. likely is more satisfying than the stitched-together product that made it to the screen.
This passion has spawned accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as GoFundMe campaigns and even the site For Snyder Cut, which explores such questions as "Does the Snyder Cut Exist?" and "How Can You Help Get the Snyder Cut Released?"
Obviously, the whole situation hangs on whether the Snyder cut even exists. There is evidence that it might.
"Snyder, after screening a rough cut of 'Justice League' for fellow filmmakers and friends, wanted to add additional scenes, so he brought Whedon on board to write them," the Hollywood Reporter wrote at the time.
The Hollywood trade paper also quoted now-Warner Bros. Pictures Group chair Toby Emmerich as saying: "The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set. We're not introducing any new characters. It's the same characters in some new scenes. He's handing the baton to Joss, but the course has really been set by Zack."
Whedon received a writing credit on "Justice League," with Snyder getting the sole directing credit, but the movie released that fall felt very much like a mishmash of directing styles and sensibilities — a patchwork that left many fans frustrated with the result.
Warner Bros. has had more recent success with solo films featuring two Justice League members, with Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman" and James Wan's "Aquaman" fueling hopes among some fans that a rough three- or four-hour "Justice League" movie, with more eloquent depictions of Wonder Woman/Diana and sea god Arthur Curry, might reside in the Warner Bros. vaults.
This past spring, Snyder spurred further interest in his auteur editing when he tweeted news of an event featuring his director's cuts of "Dawn of the Dead," "Watchmen" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" — that last one being another DC movie that, not unlike "Justice League," was hotly debated by viewers.
The key difference with those three previous movies, however, is that Snyder retained creative control en route to delivering a finished theatrical release.
Yet, in whatever condition a Snyder cut of "Justice League" might exist, a tight band of fans will continue their cause. And somewhere, Snyder must be smiling. As long as his supposed version goes unseen, then in fans' minds, it can forever remain a cut above.