The Dark and Weird History of Justice League

So, I think we are all aware of the production history of what was meant to be DC Comics big Avengers-style movie, Justice League. But if you forgot a few things’s I’ll quickly get you back up to speed with the story.

In 2016, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice open to a “vocal minority” of disappointed fans leaving the film with a saddening review rating on Rotten Tomatoes along with a bad taste in the mouth of Warner Brother’s who had already given the go-ahead on around seven future DC Films. One of these films was Justice League Part One.

Justice League (2017)

Batman v Superman writer Chris Terrio and at the time head of the DC film series Zack Snyder were called into the Warner Brother’s office. Bad news. They had to throw out the script for their original Justice League movie and forced to re-write the film to fix what fans disliked about Batman v Superman. One of those key features was the darkness of the movie. Some fans claimed Batman v Superman was too dark and should be lighter in tone. Snyder and Terrio re-wrote the film’s screenplay and set to work on directing their second version of the movie.

In May 2017 Zach Snyder had to leave the project due to the tragic and sudden death of his daughter. With the film already being around 80% complete, Warner Brothers brought Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon on board to finish the remaining 20% which were reported to be reshot and pick-up shots only. Something very common with all movies including Rogue One and Suicide Squad. But Whedon didn’t do that at all. According to reports Whedon reshoot around 70% to 90% that had already been filmed, re-writing the script himself and removing the original story that Snyder and Terrio had already filmed. Joss was given a writing credit of the film whilst Snyder still held directing credit for a film that he hadn’t directed.

Joss Whedon on the set of Justice League

If you wish to know more about what was and wasn’t re-shot in Justice League you can find plenty of video on YouTube to help you out. Most of which talk about how reshoots clashed with the filming of Mission Impossible that Superman actor Henry Cavill was also to star in. This lead to public battels with Sony and Warner Brother’s over the facial hair that Cavill had to grow for Mission Impossible. Justice League’s VFX team was then forced to use special effects to digitally remove the mustache in post-production.

Leaked image of Henry Cavill before his mustache had been removed.

So, the film comes out and we all rush out to see it. Wait, that’s wrong. Justice League opened to a disappointing box office weekend that never gained a following and landed an even worse online rating compared to the reviews given to Batman v Superman. Fans claimed that is felt like a different film to what had been promoted and what Snyder’s original DC films were leading up to. One noticeable change what the use of the character of The Flash and Cyborg, who we will get to later, and how their stories were cut down and altered to add a more comedic and slapstick approach whereas Cyborg was almost written out of the film. Snyder nor Whedon turned up to any of the promotional events for the movie leaving it all up to the main cast of heroes.

More drama came when Whedon began to like a string of tweets that were throwing shade on the film and it’s cast. One that claimed the film’s villain, Steppenwolf was the worst villain ever made and some towards the casting of Ray Fisher as Cyborg.

So, time passes, and fans start to call out for the Snyder Cut of Justice League to be released and for Zack to come back to Warner Brother and finish his version of the movie. But since then Ben Affleck stepped out of the role of Batman and the whole World’s of DC film franchise took a change in tone. But we now know that in 2021 fans will be treated to the Zack Snyder Cut of Justice League titled Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The movie will be available to stream on the new streaming service HBO Max with all the original cast set to return including Ben Affleck’s Batman. But that’s not where this story ends.

After cast and crew of the film called for Snyder’s version of the film to be realized the attention quickly turned to Joss Whedon and some of the big heads over at DC Comics. In some recent tweets and Instagram post, Cyborg actor Ray Fisher claimed that Joss Whedon was “gross, abusive, unprofessional, and completely unacceptable.” as a director and was made to do so by the head of DC Comics Geoff Johns and producer of a lot of DC films at the time, Jon Berg.

A few hours after Fisher’s tweets Jon Berg made a statement claiming that Fisher’s tweet was not true. “It is categorically untrue that we enabled any unprofessional behaviour. I remember Fisher being upset that we wanted him to say ‘Booyah’ which is a well-known saying of Cyborg.” It seems that Berg wasn’t understanding what the drama was actually about. Something that doesn’t seem too rare when it comes to privilege filmmakers.

Fisher also made a statement in which he included a clip of his parsing Joss Whedon at Comic-Con 2017 with the caption “I’d like to take a moment to forcefully retract every bit of this statement”.

It’s well known that Whedon has not been the easiest director to work with. In August 2017, Whedon’s ex-wife, Kai Cole, published an essay on an industry trade site accusing Whedon of 15 years of multiple infidelities and the hypocrisy of touting feminist ideals while using their marriage “as a shield” for his misuse of power. This then led to Whedon being fired as director of Batgirl, a future film in the DC film series.

It will be interesting to see where this story goes and who else will step in to support Ray Fisher. Some fans believe that Jason Momoa who co-starred with Fisher in Justice League will speak up as he has been very vocal about his love for Snyder. This as well Avengers cast member Scarlett Johansson who played Black Widow in all Marvel Avengers team-up movies.  


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