Rolling Stone has dropped a planet-sized chunk of kryptonite into the lap of Zack Snyder’s triumphant release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League (also known as the “Snyder Cut”) on HBO Max last year. The magazine claims that, according to multiple sources and two reports put together by WarnerMedia, much of the online fervor for the Justice League Snyder Cut and support to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut was supported by fake social media accounts (“bots”) and what appears to be “weaponizing a movement.”
The reports claim that as much as 13% of the accounts involved in the conversation around the re-release of the Snyder Cut were fake, a whopping increase from the average of about 3-5% on most Twitter trends. While that doesn’t mean there weren’t any real fans wanting Snyder’s version of Justice League released, (I was admittedly curious myself.) it does mean that those fans’ voices were being propelled to far greater heights than they would have normally reached. The subject has been the talk of marketers around Hollywood for months, and those that tracked the campaign say it shows telltale signs of being juiced up by fake accounts. For instance, the #ReleasetheSnyderCut hashtag saw rapid growth and decline by millions on specific dates, a phenomenon experts say just doesn’t occur naturally.
Additionally, one of the most prominent websites promoting the release of a Justice League Snyder Cut, Forsnydercutcom, was found at one point to be registered to a digital marketing consultant named Xavier Lannes, who runs or ran a digital ad agency that claimed to be able to deliver “cheap, instant Avatar traffic to your website.” Combined with expensive publicity stunts like a Times Square ad and a plane flying over San Diego Comic-Con, it raises speculation that the hype machine (and all the toxicity and threats that came with it) to release the Justice League Snyder Cut was fueled by an entity with real financial backing.
Several sources point the finger at Zack Snyder himself, but he has resolutely denied any involvement in any such campaign. Although, one source claimed, despite another denial from Snyder, that Snyder had used a marketing firm as early as 2016 to salvage the negative response to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Whoever was in control probably didn’t want the movement and fanbase to turn into what it did, though. The two WarnerMedia reports were originally commissioned when it became concerned at violent rhetoric and hateful imagery spreading throughout the fandom. Much of this was, surprisingly, after Zack Snyder’s Justice League was actually released as the “fans” turned to trying to get Snyder’s entire cinematic universe back on track and, in so doing, began issuing death threats to producers and others in the studio.
The full article is a deep dive into how someone or ones basically manipulated the internet into a fervor all so we could get Jared Leto telling us, “We live in a society.” It’s depressing, really, and while the eventual release of the four-hour-long Zack Snyder’s Justice League was a fun diversion, its release is now even more tainted than it was before.