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Superhero Movie Petitions That Proved That Fans Meant Business

Embarking on a superhero movie can be fraught with many challenges, from figuring out all the stunt work and special effects to developing a story that doesn't make the material look too silly. But one of the most difficult challenges faced by the filmmakers behind superhero epics is pleasing the fans. Studios, directors, writers, and actors are all caught between trying to do right by what the fans want and making necessary changes to adapt a hero to the big screen.

As you might imagine, when controversial decisions are made, diehard fans can react quickly and fiercely. Some have even been known to rise up and use the collective power of their voices to make their feelings known. In some high profile cases, this meant gathering signatures — to show their support for a filmmaker who was axed by the movie studio, or demand a sequel to their favorite film — and proving that fans weren't happy and were willing to make noise about it. But while you may suspect that these fan-driven petitions are little more than the ramblings of sad fanboys, don't be fooled: they may have more of an impact than you might think.

Zack Snyder's Justice League sparked an online onslaught

Easily the most famous fan campaign, the petition to get Zack Snyder's version of "Justice League" released started an online movement. It began when Snyder stepped away from the film during production, citing a family tragedy, with Warner Bros. bringing in "Avengers" helmer Joss Whedon to wrap things up. But quickly word came out that Whedon was spearheading massive reshoots, with the studio reportedly unhappy with Snyder's work on the film.

Almost immediately after the movie hit theaters, a petition was launched demanding the studio release Snyder's original version. Within days there were 100,000 signatures, as noted by The Wrap, and fans around the globe amassed a wave of support propelled by social media, where the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut swept through the zeitgeist. Sadly, some fans took the campaign a little too far, with studio executives blasting some of Snyder's toxic fans for overly aggressive behavior, including physical threats (per Variety).

This is one petition that against all odds found success, garnering 178,000 signatories, and in 2020 Warner Bros. announced that Snyder would be given tens of millions of dollars to complete his version of the film with newly shot scenes and VFX (disproving his claim that a cut was completed). But in a stunning turn of events, Rolling Stone released a bombshell report in 2022 alleging that Snyder himself had fueled much of the campaign to get his cut released, even employing a marketing firm that used bots to prop up the social media frenzy.

Spider-Man, stay put!

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe first launched in 2008, some of Marvel's most popular characters were already licensed by competing studios. As a result, their flagship superhero Spider-Man would seemingly never be part of the Marvel Studios canon. However, an unprecedented deal was struck between Sony and the Disney-owned Marvel in 2015 that saw Spider-Man shared by both studios, allowing the webslinger to finally enter the MCU. But when their deal expired in 2019, the two studios decided to part ways (via The Hollywood Reporter), and fans were left reeling.

Immediately after the news broke, a fan petition was launched to keep Spider-Man in the MCU. The fan responsible, Nate Phillips, kept his message brief. "I cannot in good faith stand by while Spider-Man and his fans around the world become collateral damage," he wrote. "[Sony] you must let go of this property or renegotiate with Disney to keep all of the fans happy."

Phillips wasn't alone, and signatures quickly ballooned to nearly 160,000. While it likely wasn't the result of the petition, Sony and Marvel ultimately struck a new deal, reportedly spearheaded by "Spider-Man" star Tom Holland. But in an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (per EW), Disney CEO Bob Iger mentioned that fan support for the deal did help drive the two studios back together: "It was clear that the fans wanted this to happen." 

DC's Batgirl fiasco had fans in an uproar

The race to compete with the MCU has led to plenty of turmoil at Warner Bros, which has shuffled (via THR) and reshuffled (per Deadline) its executive teams in an attempt to course-correct. Following a major merger with Discovery, Inc. in 2022, incoming CEO David Zaslav struggled to find someone to oversee DC movies (per THR), making some tough decisions on his own in the meantime. Controversially, the film "Batgirl," starring Leslie Grace and Brendan Fraser, was scrapped despite being nearly completed, sending shockwaves through Hollywood.

As the studio's reasons for canceling "Batgirl" rang hollow, one fan started a petition — titled "Release Batgirl" — to urge the company to reconsider its decision. The petitioner was more than simply indignant that the film wouldn't be released, or upset that his favorite DC character's new film would never see the light of day. He also expressed dismay that the cast and crew's hard work was being flushed down the drain.

While the petition earned thousands of signatures, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Not long after the film was canceled, WB continued making cuts, removing beloved movies and shows from its HBO Max streaming service — including several DC animated series such as "Justice League Unlimited," as noted by Yahoo!. With James Gunn and Peter Safran newly installed as DC bosses, fans still have hopes of saving "Batgirl" (via MovieWeb), but it may take more than a mere online petition to make it happen.

Ron Perlman had help for a Hellboy sequel

In the early 2000s, a sudden boom in superhero movies saw "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" movies raking in big bucks. Looking for another franchise, Sony found "Hellboy," a cult favorite comic book by creator Mike Mignola, and turned it into a surprise 2004 hit from "Blade II" director Guillermo del Toro. A sequel followed in 2008, this time produced through Universal, but mediocre box office made the studio's commitment to a third installment troublesome.

By 2014, efforts to assemble another sequel stalled out, frustrating star Ron Perlman, who'd played the eponymous hero in the first two films. When asked about his interest in a third movie, Perlman was blunt about his desire to make it happen: "It's so deserved by the fans who hung in there for the first two that I really feel as though it's essential that we make it." Perhaps hearing this as a call to action, a petition was launched on Change. org to help jumpstart the project. The petition stated that a signature was a promise by fans to watch a potential third film in theaters multiple times, and a pledge to purchase a Blu-Ray release, to show the studio what kind of fan support they would have.

Unfortunately, no third film from Perlman and del Toro ever arrived, and a reboot starring David Harbour was instead released in 2019. The fact that the reboot bombed makes one wonder if Hollywood should have listened to the fans.

Zack Snyder fans still weren't satisfied

Fans who petition major movie studios are almost never rewarded. But the petition to get Zack Snyder's "original" cut of "Justice League" actually did have a tangible affect, unleashing a tidal wave of support that led to the studio ultimately releasing the so-called "Snyder Cut" on HBO Max in 2021. But if you think fans were grateful and stopped there, think again. Once "Zack Snyder's Justice League" was released, it immediately sparked a second campaign for Snyder's millions of fans: a petition to #RestoreTheSnyderverse.

Launched not long after the release of the director's cut, the petition strikes a frustrated tone despite fans getting what they wanted with "Justice League." It claims that "Studio Execs continue to disrespect Zack Snyder and his vision" before declaring that "Warner Bros could care less about what audiences enjoy and that is why the DCEU is failing." Comparing their cause to a campaign for social justice, the petition demands that WB produce sequels to "Justice League" with Snyder at the helm, and pleads with fellow fans to "not let them silence our voices." 

Like the previous petition to release the "Snyder Cut," this one ignited a new social media movement. This time however, WB wasn't budging, and instead of greenlighting more films in Snyder's saga, they appointing James Gunn and Peter Safran as co-heads of the studio, who promptly announced (via THR) major changes for the future of the DCU.

An alternate ending for Endgame?

While the death of fan favorite characters can offer up some the most powerful and emotionally impactful moments in a franchise, that doesn't mean fans want to see them go. So you can imagine how fans of the MCU felt in 2019 when, after a decade following the trials and tribulations of Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark, they watched their hero succumb to his wounds in the final moments of "Avengers: Endgame." In fact, despite the character's demise being expected by many, some fans weren't ready to say goodbye, and a petition was put together urging Marvel to bring him back.

"Bring Tony Stark Back to Life" was started almost the moment "Endgame" was released. But rather than appeal on behalf of actor Robert Downey Jr. or even the fans who want to see Iron Man back on the big screen, the petition makes a plea for the sake of Stark himself. "Tony Stark was always ready to risk his life, suffer, and sacrifice himself for anyone, without ever receiving anything in return," the petition announced. "He didn't deserve this ... he deserves to live and see his daughter grow up." 

The campaign garnered an impressive number of signatures that totaled nearly 70,000, making it clear that fans want to see Stark back in action. With unconfirmed reports that Downey could return for the epic multiverse adventure "Avengers: Secret Wars" in 2026, this might be one wish that fans may see granted.

DC diehards want Cavill in the cape

Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" arrived in 2013 with the promise of an entire shared universe of top-notch films. But the movies that came after that were uneven and sparse, and nearly a decade after the first film in the saga, Superman still hadn't received a proper sequel. In fact, there were even reports that actor Henry Cavill seemed to be on the outs with the studio (via The Hollywood Reporter). So when he made a triumphant return in a post-credits scene in "Black Adam," with a promise of more appearances, it was met with thunderous applause from audiences.

As a result, fans were shocked when just two months later it was announced that he was no longer going to be part of the franchise. Outrage among fans was practically palpable, so it should come as no surprise that a new petition was started to get the actor back into the role. A fan named Albert Nash took it upon himself to post an appeal to Warner Bros. titled "Rehire Henry Cavill as Superman," generating thousands of signatures in a matter of days.

While it's unlikely that the petition will affect Gunn's plans for his new DCU, it shows that fans aren't to be trifled with. Audiences clearly loved Cavill's portrayal of the Big Blue Boy Scout, and DC may face a tall task in getting fans back into theaters after his unceremonious dismissal.

Fans want more Charlie Cox

If the strength of a fan petition can be measured by its number of signatures, its fair to say that the campaign to bring back "Daredevil" was one of the most powerful. In November 2018, it was announced that Netflix would be ending its relationship with Marvel and canceling "Daredevil" after three seasons (per Deadline). Within days, a petition was launched to bring the character back to the screen.

Publicity for the campaign helped it reach 200,000 supporters in just two months. A website was launched, and a campaign backed by the hashtag #SaveDaredevil raced across social media. Four years later, after series star Charlie Cox made his return as Daredevil's alter ego Matt Murdock in the movie "Spider-Man: No Way Home," it was announced that Daredevil would indeed return in a new Disney+ series titled "Daredevil: Born Again." While we can't say that the petition played a part in the character's revival, we can say that it helped buoy the spirits of Charlie Cox when he thought the role was gone for good.

"Whatever happens to my career going forward from this point on, I owe most of it to the 'Save Daredevil' campaign," Cox told Marvel.com. "Even when I had lost hope years ago, they did not, and they continued to campaign and support. And over the years, I've met many of them, and they're such an enthusiastic, passionate crowd." At press time, the petition on Change.Org has totaled a whopping 432,717 signatures.

From a good place to Krypton

Henry Cavill isn't the only actor who fans passionately want to inhabit the role of the Man of Steel. In 2021, it was announced that writer Ta-Nehisi Coates was working on a script for a new "Superman" film outside of the shared DC cinematic universe, to be produced by J.J. Abrams. Industry insiders told The Hollywood Reporter that the project was being "set up as a Black Superman story" and that a new actor would be sought for the lead role of Superman. Fans quickly made their pick: "The Good Place" star William Jackson Harper.

There's precedent for such a story in the comics, and some have speculated (via Newsweek) that the film could based on the character of Calvin Ellis, a Superman from a parallel reality. Harper became the consensus choice among the fandom on Twitter not just because he physically fits the part — his surprisingly muscled physique on "The Good Place" proved he could believably play a superhero — but because he was set to voice the character in an animated series. A tweet expressing support for Harper's casting garnered more than 50,000 likes, which was enough to get the attention of Harper himself, per the Daily Mail.

"It definitely blindsided me," Harper told Jimmy Kimmel in an appearance on the latter's late night talk show. "I was doing another interview and this guy was like yeah, this [tweet] got 55,000 likes. Like, 'What, why?! Who knows me?'" 

James Gunn had more support than he ever imagined

There have been many controversial changes made behind the scenes of your favorite comic book movies. At Marvel, directors like Edgar Wright, Scott Derrickson, and Patty Jenkins left the likes of "Ant-Man," "Doctor Strange 2" and "Thor: The Dark World" after conflicts with the studio, but no departure created as much fan backlash as when Disney axed James Gunn following the brouhaha over some years-old tweets. Reaction was instant and angry, and a petition was jumpstarted to get Gunn back on board the third "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie.

While the petitioner acknowledged the problematic nature of Gunn's past social media behavior, they also felt that the reaction was too extreme and, given Gunn's previous contrition, should not have resulted in his firing. Support for the petition was immediate, as was public backing for the beleaguered director. In less than a year, Disney backtracked, and Gunn was back behind the wheel for a pair of "Guardians of the Galaxy" projects, by which time the petition sat at more than 429,000 signatures. Given the nature of Disney's grievance with Gunn, it's entirely possible that the outpouring of fan support helped sway them into bringing the filmmaker back into the fold.

Ironically, however, it was Gunn's firing that led directly to his eventual hiring as DC's big boss. During the year he was on the outs at Disney, rival studio Warner Bros. snatched him up to direct "The Suicide Squad," sparking a collaboration that has seen him elevated to Co-Chairman and CEO of DC Studios.

A Deathstroke series is on the hit list

It often seemed like there wasn't much of a plan to the DCEU films, a belief reinforced by a left-field cameo in the post-credits tag of 2017's "Justice League" film. The scene, directed by Zack Snyder (per Slashfilm), saw Joe Manganiello donning an eyepatch to play the villain Deathstroke. At the time it was believed to be a tease for an upcoming "Batman" solo movie that would have starred Ben Affleck and been directed by Matt Reeves. But when Affleck abandoned the role, Reeves overhauled the film into a story set outside of DCEU continuity without Deathstroke, and Manganiello was left out to dry. That's when fans got involved. 

The hashtag #DeathstrokeHBOMax spread like wildfire on Twitter, with fans urging Warner Bros. to give Manganiello a chance in the role. Fans got behind the online campaign to resurrect the one-time villain, originally planned for a big-budget Batman movie, and give him his own streaming series on HBO Max. "If Warner Media truly wants to use DC to its full potential on HBO Max, then #DeathstrokeHBOMax is an easy win," said one tweet that carried the hashtag. 

The actor himself even got in on the campaign, posting a behind-the-scenes image of himself in the Deathstroke costume from the making of "Justice League." Eventually an entire Twitter account was started, @DeathstrokeHBO, that by 2022 had nearly 3,500 followers, making it clear that there's an audience craving the villain's return.

Fans demand a sequel to Dredd

It took almost 20 years to recover from the disaster that was 1995's "Judge Dredd" film, but in 2012 Hollywood finally delivered a faithful adaptation of the hero. "Dredd" starred Karl Urban as the scowling law-bringer, but while reviews were strong, the box office bucks weren't enough to get it a sequel. Nevertheless, Urban was determined to force a follow-up, saying (per Variety), "We're working very, very hard to bring you Dredd 2." In the same remarks, Urban thanked the film's devoted fan following, who had started a campaign to get a sequel made.

As noted by Broken Frontier in 2013, the petition was created by a pair of fans and had received more than 80,000 signatures at the time of their report. Rallying around the campaign, Dredd's comic book publisher, 2000AD, even endorsed it, and the petitioners declared a worldwide "Dredd Sequel Day of Action," which encouraged fans to show support by purchasing copies of the first film on home media or as a digital download. Their hope was to make it clear to the studio's financial backers that there was money in a sequel.

Unfortunately, more than a decade on, no follow-up has materialized. A TV series, "Judge Dredd: Mega City One," was in development in 2018 (per THR), with unconfirmed gossip suggesting that Urban could return in a shared universe of film and TV projects, but there's been no movement since.