Troubling New Details On Justice League’s Messy Production Surface


By this point, we don’t need to tell you that Justice League was a disappointment. Both critically and commercially it failed to impress and ever since release it’s been plagued by one troubling story after another about how the production was rushed, handled poorly and succumbed to much studio interference. With countless rumors mounting, and speculation reaching an all-time high, The Wrap has now come out with an official report on what went down, and it doesn’t paint a very pretty picture.

The outlet dives deep into the behind the scenes drama, going right back to the birth of the DC Extended Universe with Man of Steel, but the long and short of it is that everyone knew that the film wasn’t ready for its November 17th release date, but decided to push it out anyways, resulting in “a Frankenstein” movie made out “of the assembled parts favored by rotating executives and directors.”

From what we understand, the studio wasn’t pleased with Batman V Superman, understandably so, and actually wanted to fire Zack Snyder after it failed to meet expectations. They were so concerned, in fact, that DC President Jon Berg was on the Justice League set for almost a year to oversee things and make sure they ran smoothly. In the end, though, they kept Snyder on board simply because it would have been too much trouble to take him off the project at that stage.

“They were already in deep prep on ‘Justice League’ and it would have cost a fortune. There’s stickiness to a director because there’s so much cost to unstick him,” an insider said. “Warners is a studio that almost to a fault always wants to project strength.”

As production moved along, Warner Bros. announced plans to merge with AT&T and while each company was sizing the other one up, it became apparent that Justice League needed more time. However, moving it would have “projected weakness” according to The Wrap, whereas if they released it on time and it became a hit, that would project strength, and back then, WB still felt like the film would be a winner.

That didn’t mean things were running smoothly, however, as the studio was clashing with Snyder over the tone. They wanted him to lighten it up and make it more like The Avengers and while the director didn’t agree, he still gave his blessing for Warner Bros. to bring Joss Whedon on board to touch up the script.

It was around this point that a personal tragedy occurred in Zack’s family and while he still intended to stay behind the camera, the conflict between his vision and that of the studio’s turned the work environment into a toxic one, forcing him to depart. It was then that Whedon took on directing duties.

With time winding down, things were getting a bit hectic and though some felt that the release should be pushed back to accommodate for the sudden change in directors, Warner Bros. execs “wanted to preserve the bonuses they would be paid before the merger,” and were worried that “if they pushed the movie, then their bonuses would have been pushed to the following year and they might not still be at the studio.” Clearly, they made the wrong decision.

In the end, Whedon’s reshoots were rushed and chaotic and in hindsight, many involved with the production wished they had more time to work on it. Especially because Snyder had to step aside so suddenly and Whedon came in during the middle of a fairly big conflict over which tone the film should adopt. Ultimately, the director went for a bit of both and as we said above, it resulted in a fairly messy pic, one that never quite finds the right balance and is mediocre at best.

Still, the DCEU’s carrying on, with studio execs optimistic about what lies ahead. Though releases like Wonder Woman 2 and Shazam! are certainly exciting, it’s really Aquaman that The Wrap says is what’s being looked at as the real winner on the franchise’s slate, with James Wan’s tentpole set to swim into theaters on December 21st, 2018.

Until then, though, fans will surely continue to look back on Justice League with thoughts of how things could have been had the studio taken their time and we can only hope that some day, we’ll get an extended version or Director’s Cut. If only to see what Zack Snyder had originally envisioned for the project.