It was the summer of 2017, around this time, actually at exactly this time, on 13th of February, when I made my last suicide attempt. Ever since the 14th of February 2017, I have been working towards becoming a better person and trying to help those around me when it comes to mental health but there is an aspect in this time that has gone a bit under the radar for a while.
There is a reason why I call myself the Knight of Steel, why my blog goes at the domain address it does and why my usernames on almost all social media platforms include Knight of Steel in some way. In the summer of 2017, right when I had started my recovery from clinical depression, there was one particular movie that I was looking forward to seeing since the last year, Justice League by Zack Snyder. The details of why I was so excited about this movie, can be found on the following links, but for now I want to tell a different story.
Around the same time as I was on this long road to recovery from suicidality and clinical depression, a tragedy struck in the Snyder family.
Zack had been working on the idea of bringing a live action Justice League movie since years and it was close to its fruition in November 2017 but in March, 2017, Zack’s daughter, Autumn died by suicide. The family was understandably grief stricken. There were questions of delaying the movie but it was decided that Zack would step down temporarily to attend to the matters in his family and Joss Whedon (of Avengers fame) would come in and just add the finishing touches.
The shoots that were supposed to be just the finishing touches on a movie that had already been made ended up becoming large scale changes in the plot, character development and much more. Many cameos were completely axed and the film that had been rumoured to have a 3-hour run time was limited to 2 hours by orders of the higher-ups. After the movie came out, Ray Fisher, who plays Cyborg in the movie shared details of how toxic the environment had become during the re-shoots and how actors were made to feel uncomfortable intentionally on set.
In November 2017, the movie came out. I was excited so excited about it that I watched the same movie thrice on the same day. (Kindly excuse my over-enthusiasm, this movie was special for me) Yet, something just felt missing. It felt underwhelming, as if something was missing. The Box office collection was miserable and it seemed like the DC universe was about go out with a whimper but then, something happened on Twitter.
A user, a fellow fan of the franchise, tweeted out 4 simple words, “Release the Snyder Cut” and on these 4 words, we saw an organic online movement that came to fruition in 2021. Fans rallied around the demand and signed petitions, ran online campaigns and tried to convince the people at Warner Bros to release the movie they had been promised in the trailers.
I know what you are thinking; so much outcry over a movie? Wouldn’t these people have spent their times better, by campaigning for something more productive? Well, they kind of did.
By 21 December 2020, fans of the Snyder Cut had raised $500,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (eq. to 36.3 Million INR)
The demand by this movement was simple. There is a Snyder Cut and we want to see it. The existence of this movie was confirmed by the actors in the movie and by Zack Snyder himself. After years of constant campaigning, donation drives and publicity campaigns, in May 2020, it was finally announced that we will be getting the Snyder Cut on HBO Max in 2021.
Remember, this was all completely organic. This fandom wasn’t limited to one country, one continent or one ethnicity. It was a global campaign by dedicated fans to see a movie that they knew they were supposed to get.
As someone who has been working in the field of mental health since 2017, it was delightful to see a superhero fandom, something so widespread, come together to contribute half-a-million dollars for preventing suicide.
The story of the relationship between mental health and works of Zack Snyder, was for a long time a personal story for me. My story of watching Batman vs Superman in 2016, when I was at the peak of my depression, and getting the tiniest slivers of hope from it is what has led to everything that I have achieved today. My two books, this blog, my friends, my research work, my articles and so much more would not exist if it wasn’t for that one movie.
You can guess how surprised I was when this personal relationship ended up becoming a global organic campaign which brought people from completely different walks of life, together for a movie.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League comes out on 18th March 2021 and for something that exists only because of organic online support, it shouldn’t be surprising that the marketing for the whole movie is online as well.
Art, cinema and life have a truly unique way of bringing people together. Just like that, a superhero fandom, a movie, ended up becoming one of the most unlikely allies for mental health and suicide prevention.