“AFSP’s mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. We fund research to improve interventions, train clinicians in suicide prevention, and advocate for policy that will save lives. We work to find better ways to reach those who suffer, and encourage schools, workplaces, and communities to make mental health a priority. Whether you’ve lost someone or are struggling with suicidal thinking, you are not alone. We bring people who have been affected by suicide out of the darkness, and give them opportunities to help others.”
Director Zack Snyder tragically lost his daughter, Autumn, during the post production of his Justice League film back in 2017. After Warner Bros. had him step away from the project, they brought in Avenger’s director Joss Whedon to do extensive rewrites and reshoots, keeping the cast and crew in London for another few months. The film was completely changed from Snyder’s vision and turned into something campy and colorful to appease those who critiqued Snyder’s DCEU for being “too dark” and “not funny enough”. They removed the majority of Cyborg actor Ray Fisher’s storyline and Fisher suffered verbal abuse in the form of unprofessionalism and racism from those who took over the production. He wasn’t alone in voicing his opinion about the reshoots, as Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot have gone on record to discuss their horrible experience at the hands of new leadership. Ray Fisher was the most vocal about the abuse and stood his ground in the face of hit pieces and executives who trashed his name in the trades. He was removed from The Flash movie and has since been a champion for Accountability > Entertainment(A>E on socials). The film was a colossal failure at the box office given its inflated budget and critics and fans alike panned it, noting that it felt like two completely different projects. Warner Bros. executives took this as a chance to keep Snyder out and focus their efforts on more family-friendly releases that never got too dark or real (or have people of color featured).
The first time I’d heard about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention was in 2019, back when the first real rumbling of the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut campaigns took hold on social media. A group called Ink To The People had teamed up with Zack Snyder to release Zack Snyder’s Justice League custom merchandise, with 100% of proceeds going to AFSP. I started browsing campaigns and was amazed to see so many people from all over the world uploading amazing designs for something that didn’t even fully exist yet. Either way, it supports a phenomenal cause and Zack deserved the justice of having his version shown. I ordered multiple hoodies and shirts with incredible artwork that I still wear today (some that I am trying to track down too). The fan campaigns grew into flying banners over Comic-Con and other WB events, demanding that leadership listen to the fans and show Snyder the good faith he deserves. When Covid hit, AT&T and WB finally listened and gave Snyder the opportunity to release his version on HBO MAX. After becoming a smash hit on streaming and on DVD/Blu-Ray, AFSP and Zack Snyder did something awesome. They created an opportunity for fans to see this Justice Is Grey version of ZSJL in IMAX in a few select cities across the country. You had to donate to AFSP to have a chance to be selected and all proceeds went right to AFSP. They also created an event this year (2023), where Zack Snyder showed his Snyderverse Trilogy of Man of Steel, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition, and Zack Snyder’s Justice League in IMAX and color for the first time. Snyder would also attend and moderate a Q&A with guests after each screening.
I had the great fortune of being able to attend both Zack Snyder’s Justice League screenings, as well as the full Snyderverse weekend down in Pasadena at his old school, Arts Center School College of Design. My best friend Preston joined me on the trip, as we both watched the Snyder Cut the day it released and were completely captivated by it. We were able to meet fans from all over the world who had supported both movements for years and it was such an incredible experience to feel all the love in the rooms. Some online demonize Snyder fans, as there are some who are rabid and vicious with people on Twitter and other social media platforms. Those fans don’t represent the movement and I know that, speaking as a true fan who met other true fans. Being able to witness these films with Zack and his producer/wife Deborah was a cathartic experience for all, as they finally got to witness the product they created with the people who helped support it. The whole movement was started to raise awareness and money for AFSP in hopes of helping contribute to the mental health conversation. Over the weekend of the Snyderverse screenings, Deborah announced that the fans had helped push the $1,000,000 mark and went into great detail as to how the money was being used. Just four years earlier she was discussing how the fands had helped raise $100,000 for the movement and that had seemed like a huge achievement (which it was), and now she got to stand alongside her husband, Ray Fisher, Ben Affleck, and the other collaborators who came out to show their support for Zack. To see Ray Fisher embraced and celebrated by the fans was a beautiful moment, as he’s been put through the ringer for fighting for what’s right! It felt empowering and unbelievable that this movement made enough noise and raised enough awareness to make that weekend possible and there are no signs of slowing down. There’s always work to be done and awareness to spread, as well as fighting for Zack Snyder to complete his Justice League trilogy that the fans continue to call for!
I ask that you consider exploring the AFSP website and understanding how you can help lead the conversations about mental health with the loved ones in your life. It’s a cause that is near and dear both for Zack’s family and family/friends I know who were personally affected by suicide. No one should feel alone and like they don’t have an outlet for how they’re feeling and it’s important that we continue to grow more comfortable with reaching out to one another. Us United was a large theme of ZSJL because we won’t ever make it anywhere on our one. United, however, we are a greater force for good than anything else on this world. People have the power to be heroes and create a kind of change that causes ripples around the world. That’s the message from Zack Snyder’s films and Justice League and it’s why I’ll never shy away from criticism from supporting him and this movement so much. When the credits rolled at the end of ZSJL in IMAX and the title card “FOR AUTMUN” appeared, the full theater erupted in cheers and tears as Zack and Deborah took it all in. This is what it truly was all about.