Ann Sarnoff Doubles Down on End of Snyderverse; What Chance Does It Really Have to Come Back?

Many of us are still riding the high from Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and though there is no doubt the film was a success for HBOMax, as we look ahead the question becomes; will the Snyderverse be restored?

This morning Warnermedia CEO, Ann Sarnoff, spoke with Variety to politely stand her ground on the fact that Warner has no plans at all to restore the Snyderverse. Justice League is to be seen as the end of Snyder’s trilogy.

Now, despite this coming from the very top, we have to say that there is still a glimmer of hope. HBOMax, though under the umbrella of Warnermedia, has some independence and functions as its own branch of the company. In other words, there is some (though not complete) freedom regarding what they will produce.

Our favorite entertainment journalist, Grace Randolph, reported that Jason Kilar, head of HBOMax, is actually very pleased with the performance of Snyder’s Justice League. Meaning, the most realistic chance this universe has to continue is if it is done so through the streaming service. Let’s break down the pieces here.

Cast Negotiation: First thing’s first; Snyder has to once again unite the seven. It has been a considerable amount of time since the cast was supposed to produce the other films in Snyder’s epic. From an outside view it would appear most of the cast would be happy to return! Ray Fisher (Cyborg) has mentioned he would only return to Warner if Snyder were leading the mentioned project. All good there.

Ezra Miller is reprising his role as the Flash for his solo movie set to begin shooting next month. Miller is also a huge comic fan, and I would like to believe he would be on board to return for the JL follow-ups. Aside from a project focusing around Salvador Dali, he would seem available in 2022 for production.

Jason Mamoa was a big lead in getting the Snyder Cut movement going when he admitted he had seen some variation of the project. He is a close friend of Snyder and a huge supporter, so it would be safe to assume his involvement. His Aquaman follow-up is also slated to begin production this year. Afterwards, he will be voicing Frosty the Snowman but besides that, 2022 could have time for his involvement.

Henry Cavill is a curious one. We know he tried to have a staring contest with the studio regarding a pay increase as the man of steel. This standill lead him to pass on the Shazam cameo and ultimately lead to his dismissal from the JJ Abrams Superman project now in development. Aside from finishing up work on the second season of Netflix’s The Witcher, it would seem Cavill could certainly return. Hopefully he doesn’t try and do the raise debate again…

Gal Gadot is a wee bit busy.. she will be shooting the Cleopatra film sometime in the near future with Patty Jenkins and has some other projects on deck. The big elephant in the room is that she is greenlit for a Wonder Woman 3 which will likely take priority whenever the studio decides to set it into motion. Therefore, this could be a bit of a wrench in her involvement, or, at least her timing of availability.

Lastly, Batfleck. He is working on a considerable amount of projects. The ‘Restore the Snyderverse’ movement is also pushing for his solo Batman project. However, Snyder himself has voiced doubts if he would even be interested in returning for it! If made, such a project would obviously be an HBOMax exclusive as Pattinson’s Batman will move forward for theaters.

Should JL2 move forward there could be a real collaborative opportunity for Affleck and Snyder to incorporate the Deathstroke and Batman conflict into that script. Batman in JL struggled at times to keep up with his powered team, so giving him a specific rival and plotline with Deathstroke could be an excellent focus. Of course, this would just be in the case that the solo project doesn’t find legs.

Affleck is set to take his final bow in the upcoming Flash film. This movie could be the official erasing of the Snyderverse so it’s an important movie to keep an eye on.

Budget: This is tricky. Should HBOMax revive the Snyderverse it is important to take note of the budget for such a project. Justice League had a (initial) budget of about $300 million that resulted in a four hour epic.

The Green Lantern series is reported to have a $100 million budget that mirrors the investment of the Disney+ Mandalorian series. The only project to come anywhere close to the Justice League investment would be WandaVision which reportedly had a $225 million budget; $25 million per episode which in total resulted in about five hours of content.

For a project that will have the original six, Martian Manhunter, and other characters requiring heavy CGI, the investment from HBOMax would need to be a minimum of this amount. The question left to answer is how much has Zack Snyder’s Justice League produced for the streaming service and the company over all? Despite positive feedback for the film, from a business standpoint, is it possible to create the same quality for streaming with that theatrical investment and make gains on it as well?

Character Use: Zack Snyder has confirmed that the final scene in his cut of the film featuring Martian Manhunter was truly supposed to be John Stewart’s Green Lantern. In fact, he shot the scene with the character! Meaning, somewhere out there, on a computer, lies footage of a hollywood actor cast as the Emerald Knight. I would personally like to push for #releasethegreenlanterncut, but we know the studio created massive pushback on Snyder from attempting to use him. The reason for this being they claimed to already have plans in motion for Stewart. We can assume these plans are tied to the Green Lantern series, but this conflict presents other concerns.

Should Snyder get the permission to move forward with his vision, will he be allowed to include other characters from DC or will he be boxed in by the big wigs to only use those he has introduced thus far? I don’t think there is a Justice League without Green Lantern or Hawkwoman, so the idea that HBOMax might allow him to move forward but cripple him to who he can use would be a bummer for sure.

Straying from future DCEU: Again, Sarnoff has made it clear that this is the end of Snyder’s work within the theatrical DCEU. Whatever. What is key to remember is that Sarnoff does not have oversight over HBOMax. That lies completely with Jason Kilar who, allegedly, was very pleased with JL’s performance. The tricky thing is how would the HBOMax content live alongside the cinematic? So many of the actors portraying the characters are Snyder’s casting! If and when there is a JL followup it will be curious to see how much of it takes from what happens in Aquaman 2, the Flash, WW84, Shazam 2, and Black Adam. If the Snyderverse is expelled from the theatrical projects then, alongside not being able to introduce new characters, does this mean characters brought in with these future projects aren’t allowed to be used in Snyder’s sequels either (Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah for example)?! This is something I find to be VERY disrespectful considering so many of the characters that Warner is continuing to use, and profit from, are the casting choices made by Snyder himself. Yet, there is a chance the studio won’t allow him to use any characters introduced in those solo projects. Yikes.

Should HBOMax move forward, one wonders if it is possible for the Green Lantern series to serve as an inclusive peice to Snyder’s Justice League work as both will have the streaming platform as their home base. This could also ease the Lantern introduction into the future installment.

Format: There is no doubt this will likely be a series instead of a movie. A couple reasons for this; the four hour Snyder Cut works because it is as long as it is. It gives all the characters time to breath and develop. A show that totals another four hours of content, or even five hours of content (40-45 minute installments), will allow this benefit to continue.

On the other hand, weekly episodic releases will allow HBOMax to continue to benefit from the JL buzz for more than just a week or two but rather months.

For now, yes, this is the end of the Snyderverse, but we will need to wait for the complete analytics to arrive and for HBOMax to make a decision on what they wish to do.


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