It took a few weeks before the mill began grinding up more rumors about extensive reshoots for the Warner Bros. superhero team-up Justice League, after director Zack Snyder left production to deal with a personal tragedy. How extensive, you ask? Anywhere from extensive enough that the film is being practically reshot in order to make some major fixes, to basically nothing at all.
Now director Joss Whedon (The Avengers), who had been recently working with Snyder, writing additional scenes for Justice League, has joined the crew, with Snyder stepping away. On paper, Whedon stepped in to direct the scenes he had written and complete any other work needed, including overseeing post-production.
Chris Terrio co-wrote the script for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with David S. Goyer and is co-writing Justice League with Snyder, as well as story elements of the untitled sequel. Originally, the film was going to be one large film, split into two parts. Then Justice League was changed to two separate stand-alone films.
Looking back, after the strong negative reaction that Batman v Superman received from critics and a sluggish box office, there was effort by Warner Bros. to steer the direction of Justice League away from the cynical tone set by Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. To infuse more hope and a lighter tone. Warner Bros. even created a DC Films division led by DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and Warner Bros. Vice President Jon Berg to oversee the DCEU. Principal photography for Justice League originally ran through October 2016 and was completed in early 2017, as one could track the progress following Jason Momoa’s (Aquaman) Instagram feed.
Rewrites and reshooting during production is not something new; in fact it’s quite common for movies of this scope. These include pick-ups, additional photography and reshooting of completed scenes. Anything extensive beyond that is what is in question by a variety of fansites tracking social media posts by cast and crew and trying to get a glimpse of crews popping up in London, where a bulk of principal photography occurred, along with areas of Iceland. Now, it’s not cheap, and film production tries to keep them to a minimum, but they’re certainly not uncommon. But one wonders why the smell of smoke is suddenly growing with each day.
Already on slate to direct Batgirl, Whedon's involvement with Justice League prior to Snyder's leave suddenly gave him a seat of influence. But remember, Whedon knows how to manage a production to fit an established look and feel, coming from the background of television. Warner Bros. President Toby Emmerich also gave Whedon his endorsement in being able to follow the course set by Snyder:
“The directing is minimal and it has to adhere to the style and tone and the template that Zack set. We’re not introducing any new characters. It’s the same characters in some new scenes. He’s handing the baton to Joss, but the course has really been set by Zack. I still believe that despite this tragedy, we’ll still end up with a great movie.”
Batman-On-Film claims to have a very reliable source that confirmed that Justice League reshoots have begun in London, that they will be significant – much more than the standard pick-ups — and that they could last through July and potentially into August. Reshoots shouldn’t be a harbinger of doom, as they are often portrayed. We might never know whether these reshoots were going to happen before Snyder left, since Whedon was already on board to write some additional scenes. Whedon could simply be doing what Snyder asked rather than being the film's savior, as some might be projecting. It could certainly be an admission that a few things need fixing, yes, but in the end, it means that Warner Bros. is trying to put forth the best film possible and was not content with the first cut to leave the film as-is. Which, again, isn't that strange.
Let's also not discount how everyone is riding the high of Wonder Woman being universally adored by both fans and critics. Fans want those positive vibes to roll right into the next DC Extended Universe film, which would be Justice League. Which, by the way, is scheduled to be released on November 17, for those monitoring how long those extensive reshoots last. So, naturally, there is going to be speculation on whether the success of Wonder Woman is big enough to steer Justice League in a different direction, or toward a different focus or tone, since it was the first one to get so much right.
Wonder Woman worked in so many ways that the other DCEU films did not, and one thing we do know is that fans of Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and Antiope (Robin Wright) will have something to look forward to in Justice League. Despite the added breathing room that Wonder Woman gave the DCEU, a poorly received Justice League film could further stall the development for solo films for Flash, Cyborg, Batman and the Green Lantern Corps, to name just a few. It finally felt like a big step forward for the DCEU, and no one wants to see it take a step in the wrong direction. So the pressure mounts while the hourglass for production keeps running down for Justice League. The reality remains that no one knows just how "substantial" these reshoots will be unless they're shared down the road.
Fair or unfair, Snyder's initial approach to the DCEU polarized viewers, and a desire to see someone else involved by many may be pouring gasoline on the flames of rumor and speculation. His leave of absence and Whedon’s arrival is just tossing a lit match onto it all. His most ardent critics may not want to give Snyder credit for helping shape Wonder Woman with screenwriter Allan Heinberg, but he did. Realistically, it’s too late in the game to reshoot the entire film, or even a whole lot of it, but the rumors will persist the longer the reshoots occur in London. Ultimately, no one will be concerned with what was done and by whom, as long as it helps make a good film.