Among the many questions currently surrounding Zack Snyder’s career—where will he find another spot to fit in his next “Hallelujah” needle drop, huh?—few are likely to make for bigger business moves than the status of his relationship with Warner Bros. Things are ostensibly cool, what with the studio giving him hundreds of millions of dollars to finally finish his Justice League, after a combination of personal tragedy, studio second-guessing, and just general movie-making politicking took the original film out of his hands. But Snyder has given plenty of indications in recent months that he’s still not happy about how the whole situation went down, from his continued support of vocal studio critic Ray Fisher, to his and his spouse Deborah Snyder’s heavy praise for new partners Netflix for allowing them to follow their muse on Army Of The Dead, after facing heavy controls when the film was originally developed at Warner.
We can now add, as a data point, tonight’s big Zack Snyder Late Show sketch, which saw him re-imagine Stephen Colbert’s show in a series of jokes about his particular movie-making peccadillos. Most of the goofs are pretty easy to predict: Over-use of CGI, abundant zombies, directions to deliver every line like a murdered spouse is lingering just-off-camera. But the moment from The Late Show: The Snyder Cut that’s likely to ascend to instant-meme status amongst Snyder’s fans comes right at the end, after Colbert issues a hearty “Suck it, Warner Bros.,” re: his plans to continue working with Snyder’s vision for the Late Show cinematic universe. We then cut to Snyder, who demurs briefly, before looking straight into the camera and adding a “Suck it, Warner Bros.” of his own.
Like the rest of the sketch, it’s all very tongue in cheek—but that doesn’t make it any harder to read into as a real statement of annoyance from a high-profile filmmaker to the studio he spent the vast majority of his career working at. Certainly it makes those calls to “restore the Snyder-verse”—i.e., Snyder’s whole elaborate plan for Justice League sequels, etc.—feel a little less likely, even as Snyder himself has probably never been a more visible or well-known creator. How does one come back from a “suck it” in front of millions of people?