Comics on Film: Breaking Down the Issues Surrounding 'Justice League'

Comics on Film: Breaking Down the Issues Surrounding 'Justice League'

Jul 28, 2017

 
After the positive box office and critical performance of Warner Bros. Pictures' Wonder Woman, fans the world over are looking ahead to this November's Justice League as, perhaps, the first true test as to whether the so-called DC Extended Universe can truly become a critical force to be reckoned with in the superhero genre on film.
 
Unfortunately, it appears that there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the DC Comics-based ensemble film, with some of the issues that have made it into the public conversation ranging in severity from minor to, well, seemingly pretty big. So, are these potential obstacles surmountable by the team of the World's Greatest Heroes, or do they have enough force to knock the train of production off its track?
 
Let's take a look.
 
 
 
A New Director, Reshoots
 
Perhaps the single biggest change-up to Justice League is the fact that director Zack Snyder bowed out of the project late in the game to correctly deal with a personal crisis that no one should ever wish upon anyone. The news surrounding Snyder's departure from postproduction, reshooting and final editing was met with an immediate response of support for the director and his family, a good showing from fandom in its desire to lift up the filmmaker in the face of personal tragedy.
 
Now standing in Snyder's stead is writer-director Joss Whedon, the man who singlehandedly cracked the potential of big crossover superhero films by directing both released efforts starring the Marvel Cinematic Universe's heaviest hitters: 2012's The Avengers and 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron. While Whedon was brought into the fold to complete the film, the truth is that he was already hired by the film's producers and Zack Snyder to write additional scenes to be incorporated into Justice League via the previously scheduled reshoots.
 
While the change from one director to another is always going to be jarring, the truth is that Whedon was already on board in a creative capacity before Snyder stepped aside. While his share of responsibilities on the film has certainly increased at an exponential rate, his previous works in the genre — as well as his command of ensemble, as seen in his work in both television and comics  stand as good illustrations of his capability (even if Age of Ultron is generally polarizing among some fans), and the fact that he was already a component of the creative team behind this film specifically should make for an easier transition than would likely be the case with a fully external hire.
 
While the reshoots' budgetary allotment is very high ($25 million according to Variety, $10-15 million more than is typical), it also seems reasonable to conclude that the special circumstances surrounding the "changing of the guard" would necessitate some stronger connective tissue between Snyder's work and Whedon's work to make the movie more seamless. In addition to the cost of shooting the movie, you also must pay all the cast members, some of whom are highly prominent personalities in Hollywood. Yes, this looks kind of bad on its face, but when examined deeper, it seems to make a little more sense than one might think.
 
 
 
Scheduling, Crediting
 
People all over the Internet have already made a ton of memes regarding one of the more comical details to emerge from Variety's news rundown, which is that Superman actor Henry Cavill's commitment to the latest Mission: Impossible film from Paramount means that he has been disallowed from shaving his new mustache while he works on Justice League reshoots as Superman, necessitating the postproduction visual effects crew to digitally remove the facial hair for the film's final cut (likely also adding an unanticipated cost to the reshoots).
 
Cavill's scheduling issues, though, seem to be the most pronounced when compared with the rest of the cast. Ben Affleck (Batman) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) have no other commitments during the reshooting period, which makes their availability far more open. Cavill and Ezra Miller (The Flash) are not so fortunate, with Miller having to shoot around his role reprisal in the now-shooting sequel to Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. What makes Miller's issue less pressing than Cavill's, though, is that the Potter franchise is also a Warner Bros. property. The studio will be glad to accommodate him working both projects, though it'll likely cause some headaches for his Fantastic Beasts castmates.
 
No specific mention was made in Variety's piece about scheduling for remaining principal cast members Jason Momoa (Aquaman) or Ray Fisher (Cyborg), or members of the supporting cast like J.K. Simmons (Commissioner Gordon), Jeremy Irons (Alfred), Willem Dafoe (Vulko) or Amy Adams (Lois Lane), or if the reshoots even require any of the supporting cast.
 
The final major hurdle is in regard to the directorial credit: will Whedon become the film's credited co-director, or will Snyder remain the sole director listed under the director title? In this regard, we can likely look to the Star Wars franchise for some guidance: director Tony Gilroy was brought in late in production for spin-off film Rogue One to more closely align the vision of the film with the studio, and the ultimate compromise resulted in Gilroy receiving a screenwriter credit. If we were to guess, something similar will transpire regarding crediting Whedon on Justice League, perhaps made simpler by the fact that Whedon was already hired to write new material for the film.
 
 
 
November is Coming
 
So, do these issues cause worry? Practically, yes. Is it a foregone conclusion that the film will somehow "fail?" No, and I think the critical and commercial success of Rogue One can help to illustrate that Justice League has the potential to turn out just fine. Yes, the issues plaguing Rogue One were different, and the issues with Justice League are far more extenuating than the mandated approach taken by Disney/Lucasfilm.
 
At the end of the day, though, it's fair to assume that Warner Bros. is doing everything in its considerable power to ensure that Justice League turns out as best as it possibly can considering the rather unique circumstances surrounding it. Of course, there's always potential for a big film to crash and burn, but if you had to choose anyone to try and stick the landing as best as possible, then the director of The Avengers likely makes for a good choice.
 
Here's hoping.

Chris Clow is a comic book expert and former retailer, and a writer with work having appeared in the Huffington Post, Fandango and others. He also hosts the podcasts GeekPulse Radio and Comics on Consoles. You can find his weekly Comics on Film column every week here at Movies.com, and you can follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

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