With the last vestiges of the Snyderverse due to hit theaters next year prior to whatever DCU reset James Gunn has planned, a promotional special that aired in prime time on the CW six scant years ago stands as a choice artifact of the Snyderverse era. On January 19th, 2016, ahead of the March release of BvS that year, the CW aired DC Films Presents The Dawn of the Justice League. Hosted by comic book/pop culture guru Kevin Smith with Geoff Johns, DC comic writer and Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment, joining him to share the latest inside info, the mission of this special was to hype the hell out of the Snyderverse, which at the time only consisted of Man of Steel.
In his role as host, Kevin Smith delivers the best acting of his career, reacting to every bit of info from Johns with rapturous surprise as though he's learning about all this stuff in real time right before our eyes. Why anyone decided this was the angle they wanted Smith to play here, I don't know but for what it's worth he does his best to convince viewers that he somehow knows less about DC's upcoming films than any fan on the internet.
Some might roll their eyes at Smith's relentless hucksterism on behalf of Warners' corporate product but I actually find his deep dedication to this infomercial endearing. Even if the surprise that he greets every announcement with is feigned, I don't feel like the enthusiasm he's expressing is a total put on. The fact is, all this stuff looked legitimately cool and you know that past being a paid shill, Smith is first and foremost a fanboy at heart and like every other fan weaned on the exploits of these characters, he truly hoped that all of these movies would be incredible.
While some might think that viewing this special today is an opportunity to snicker at an enormous face plant (it is crazy to see so much laid out here that never came to anything - I forgot Cyborg was supposed to get a movie, for instance) it doesn't hit me like that at all. I actually find it to be more of a bittersweet thing. All involved here are, one assumes, good people (well, save for Ezra Miller) who set out to do their best and make some cool movies. It genuinely sucks that the whole thing fell apart. Is the tale of the failure of the Snyderverse a story of a short sighted corporation undermining an artist at every turn or is it that of a visionary director put in charge of a universe of characters that he didn't truly have a feel for? Depends on who you ask. A little of both, I say. But whatever your take may be, watching this special is like a rush of nostalgia for a future that never was.
No matter what lies ahead for the DC universe, even if everything James Gunn does is a rousing success, the Snyderverse will remain the preferred live action rendition of the DC Universe for some fans (and not all of them internet trolls). There's a loyal fanbase who will always see the Snyderverse as their DCU. Watching this special is a reminder that DC Films once believed it was theirs as well.