As you probably know, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is real and will be released on HBO Max next year. What’s as real as the film is the fact that fans are near-entirely why “The Snyder Cut” is coming out.

Fans put up a billboard in Times Square reading #ReleasetheSnyderCut. Enthusiasts had a plane flown with a banner of #ReleasetheSnyderCut over Comic-Con International: San Diego. Fans would populate social media with #ReleasetheSnyderCut whenever Warner Bros. announced new HBO Max content. And there was a Release the Snyder Cut website. And more.

Justice League; Snyder Cut

Yes, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and others were among the supporters of #ReleasetheSnyder cut. Still, pat yourselves on the back, #ReleasetheSnyderCut proponents. You essentially made Zack Snyder’s Justice League happen.

Warner Bros. Chairman Toby Emmerich knew of the action and realized there was demand, asking Snyder if he would respond accordingly.

This speaks to a larger conversation about the influence of fandom over franchises, the future of HBO Max and AT&T/Warner Bros.’ streaming outlook and has implications for the DC Extended Universe.

You have to ask yourself, in this age of social media and the internet, how many more fans will influence the work of artists and the products put out by executives?

Will it bleed straight into virtual reality taking over the theatrical experience? Will fans no longer be passive consumers of a film, but actual influencers over what content they interact with? The VR experience could be a choose-your-own adventure type of experience, as a designer who worked on Man of Steel offered. (He moved from Hollywood to Provo, Utah to work full-time on designing VR, confident that VR would replace movies as we know them.)

HBO Max is now using Zack Snyder’s Justice League as a device to grow its subscriber base – there isn’t such a great product as that on the streaming service right now and won’t be until it comes out sometime in 2021. And fans steered the outcome of AT&T/Warner Bros.’ HBO Max strategy.

Of course, how the DCEU is viewed will forever change.

Instead of having the initial Justice League as the Joss Whedon film and the sole conclusion of a trilogy that includes Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we now have the Zack Snyder film and a second conclusion to the series. Debates will rage over which trilogy-capper is better. Because it’s similar to if there had been two versions of Return of the Jedi or two incarnations of The Dark Knight Rises.

As I am happy that Zack Snyder’s Justice League is going to happen (especially if the Man of Steel Snyder, not the Batman v Superman Snyder, comes to the plate), I am happy that fans brought it about. However, I am a little concerned about the dissolving of world-class art if it got to the point that VR would replace theatrical films.

AT&T/Warner Bros. was a little desperate in their strategy to grow HBO Max by giving into the fans. However, that’s not a bad thing especially for this individual case.

I feel slightly bad for Whedon. His work will now be forever rivaled because of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. (Not to mention that Whedon went from Marvel Cinematic Universe hero to the guy who could not deliver a satisfying DC superhero team-up film.)

Grassroots movements are beautiful. Still, #ReleasetheSnyderCut activists, what have you done?