Josh’s View | How the new ‘Justice League’ trailer played into meme culture

“Justice League” was a box office flop three years ago. With a month until Zack Snyder’s recut, fans are beyond excited for its release. And it’s all thanks to the trailer.


Courtesy of the WarnerMedia Press Room.

Joshua LeBerte, Contributing Writer

The trailer for the fifth DC Extended Universe film, titled “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” was released on Feb. 14 and fans were both laughing and raving at its release.

Director Zack Snyder not only answered fan requests but implemented them in its release. And he did so through online slang.

Shortly after the film’s title screen, Ben Affleck’s Batman meets the sitting Joker on what appears to be a ledge. Then, Jared Leto, as the Joker, relays a beloved internet catchphrase. 

“We live in a society, where honor is a distant memory,” Leto said. “Isn’t that right, Batman?”

Fans were beyond ecstatic to see the edgelord humor featured in the film’s dialogue.

Leto retweeted the trailer with his newest punchline center stage.

So, what exactly did Leto say that had fans laughing out loud?

We Live in a Society” memes are a subset of captioned images related to the Joker, though the character has never said the line in any film or comic. Internet forums like Reddit and 4Chan began to post satire of the Joker and captions laden with the Impact font as early as 2015.

The earliest image showed an animated Joker with the caption, “When the nice guy loses his patience, the devil shivers.” This image was uploaded to 9Gag in April 2015.

Jared Leto’s version of the Joker soon became the meme’s new face over the next two years, particularly in 2017 when it graced multiple so-called “cringe threads.”

Fans have begged for the inclusion of the meme in the Joker’s dialogue for nearly three years.

In September 2018, one user posted a petition calling for Joaquin Phoenix to recite the line in the 2019 film, “Joker.” The petition reached more than 23,000 signatures in less than a week. It still gathers signatures despite the film’s release. It sits at nearly 60,000 signatures.

The petition creator, named Bill Wilson, even had a scene in mind for when Phoenix could relay the punchline.

“The Joker sees a kid in a restaurant playing Fortnite on his phone, while his grandfather is reading a book,” the user said. “He looks at them and says, ‘Damn, we live in a society.’”

Aside from the hilarious dialogue insert, the film will double its original runtime, with a total runtime of 240 minutes.

It is simply the moment fans had been waiting for. And they had been waiting for nearly four years.

Fans have petitioned for Snyder’s fully-realized adaptation since 2017. The release of the original film, “Justice League” was informally known as “Josstice League” due to the sudden departure of Snyder and employment of producer Joss Whedon. Snyder left the film abruptly following the death of his daughter.

Fans had mixed feelings toward the film, and Warner Bros. lost roughly $60 million due to box office reception. It would be known as a box office flop among film critics and DC lovers alike, with an opening weekend retrieving less than $100 million, making it the DC universe’s lowest grossing film.

From that point on, fans were adamant in the release of Snyder’s version of the film. A petition from fans reached over 180,000 signatures and made headlines across multiple news sources including The Latin Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Warner Bros. agreed to take on Snyder’s cut of the film in February 2020, and Snyder officially announced the project in May of that year.

Production restoration began in October. It cost roughly $70 million for added recorded material, revised visuals, a new score and other editing touch ups.

Director Zack Snyder again teased his recut of the film as the due date approached nearer in late 2020.

On Jan. 29, Snyder began posting posters of the film along with the hashtag, “SnyderCut,” indicating a release date of March 18 on streaming platform HBOMax.

Joshua LeBerte is a sophomore studying news media. His column, “Josh’s View,” covers national pop culture items and runs regularly.