My relationship with DC movies has been like being friends with that guy who’s always asking for money for their next “innovative” and “foolproof” business scheme.
“It’s not going to be like last time, I swear it’ll be better I promise.” They say, and for a moment I believe them… until of course it is just like last time and I end up exhausted and sad.
By now most people have probably been feeling the same way about Justice League, a bland film that’s kinda fun in some people’s opinion, but is a narrative disaster. How do movies end up the way they do? How are bad movies allowed to happen? Do producers really not care about the quality of their content?
Well you’re about to find out, because for the rest of this article I want you to pretend like you’re an executive at Warner Bros. and you’re the head honcho in charge of Justice League!
TWICE THE PRIDE, DOUBLE THE FALL
When you started this comic universe, you were pretty confident… a little too confident, but why shouldn’t you be? Sure Marvel took five movies to bring their characters together in Avengers, but you’re the studio that owns Batman. You got this in the bag.
It wasn’t an awful idea, after all everyone knows at least who those characters are weather or not they’ve seen a Batman film, and no one knew who that Iron Nerd was before 2008.
You made a mistake though and chose director Zack Snyder, who’s infamous for favouring style over substance. Now Batman v Superman, it’s a mess and it’s clear your golden boy Zack’s to blame.
No worries, learn and move on and hopefully everyone will just think of this as the really bad one. Here’s the thing though… you can’t.
After all, this was the movie that had Batman fight Superman; how was it ever going to do bad? So you started filming Justice League (again with Snyder at the helm) just before Batman v Superman’s release date.
Now that fans and critics are tearing what was supposed to be a sure hit to shreds, it’s your job to fix this with no time, and an approaching deadline. What are you going to do?
First thing’s first you have to change things up a bit; try to distance JL from Batman v Superman. The problem is you already have a finished script, sets made, actors cast and a lot of money poured into a film that’s being made as we speak; then to top it all off your director leaves the project.
A TALE OF TWO DIRECTORS
Unfortunately Zack Snyder suffered the loss of his daughter to suicide and understandably left the film. To fill his shoes you have to think fast, because you’re literally losing millions of dollars every day the film is still on hold.
In a mad fury of thought and board meetings everyone decides Joss Whedon is the perfect fit, after all the guy made Avengers, so hopefully he can be the missing piece and turn this nightmare into a dream.
It’s not ideal, but what can you do? Things is, the difference in tone, style, and story between Snyder and Whedon is like the difference between a tuna salad, and a bowling ball. So you’re job is to somehow try and make a bowling ball-tuna sandwich taste good.
WONDER WOMAN’S SUCCESS
Go ahead and take a breath, you’ve had some crazy fires to put out with Justice League, but everything seems to be going okay and you’re finally able to relax for a bit… and then Wonder Woman happens. It’s a complete unexpected success, which is great… but now you have another big problem; your most critically and financially successful film is completely different from the film you’re currently making. So what do you do?
“Stop the presses we have more reshoots to do!”
Now in order to salvage your film, you have to try and make it more like Wonder Woman, you’re getting down to the crunch time, but you should be okay as long as nothing else goes wrong (knock on wood). Of course everything does go wrong.
You call up the cast to get them back for reshoots, but there’s a problem; you call Henry Cavill (AKA Superman) and he tells you that he’s now the villain in the new Mission Impossible 6 and he has a mustache that he’s under contract not to shave (yeah you read that right).
In order to get Cavil back for Justice League, you can’t call the man himself you have to go through Paramount, who the actor is now under contract. You hold your breath and cross your fingers for a second and then they tell you “okay” — but he can’t shave the mustache!
What follows is a two week legal dispute where you and your lawyers are trying to do everything you can to get Cavill to shave, but Paramount doesn’t budge. Your only option? CGI the daylights out of that thing.
Yep, with only about five months before the film’s release you have to spend even more money and hire a team of VFX artists tasked solely with the job of removing every facial hair follicle in every frame and digitally recreate the lip. It’s a job that takes a long time, but you only have a few months, the results?
… Less than ideal.
THE FINISHED PRODUCT
At this point it’s a miracle you’ve been able to put something on screen that’s watchable, but at the end of the day you’ve spent around $300 million to make a film that has an inconsistent tone, very obvious reshoots with lousy green screens and rushed special effects, including the worst CGI mustache removal of all time (if there’s ever been one in the past).
So after all that hard work, and putting out all those fires, you have a 41% to show for it on Rotten Tomatoes.
Just think all of this could have been avoided if Warner Bros. had put story at the forefront rather than things they thought “looked cool”.
There’s a saying in filmmaking “Five minutes in pre-production can save you hours in production.” And no film proves this saying right like Justice League.