One of the big questions surrounding Justice League, beyond how well it’s doing or if it’s even a good movie, revolves around ownership. Whose movie is it? Zack Snyder is the only credited director, but he hasn’t been involved with the film since early this year, before reshoots and post-production. And while Joss Whedon oversaw those reshoots and shares a co-writer credit, he’s been radio silent about the final product and shares no co-director credit. It’s as weird thing, and many figured that while Whedon supervised post-production, he didn’t exactly have final say over the finished film. Well, we now have some evidence to back that up.
If you’ve seen Justice League you know the movie opens with a scene in which Ben Affleck’s Batman is taking down a criminal, played by Mindhunter star Holt McCallany, before he runs into a parademon. It’s a bit of an odd scene that seems to only serve as an expositional introduction explaining what the parademons are and what they’re doing. Well as it turns out, the scene we see in the finished film is not exactly the scene that was originally shot.
This opening sequence was part of the Whedon written and directed reshoots, but as McCallany tells it in an interview with Men’s Fitness, it was supposed to be comedic—until Warner Bros. decided otherwise:
“I love Joss Whedon. My scene with Batman was originally conceived as a comedic scene. That’s how Joss wrote it, and that’s how we shot it. I thought it came out great, but the studio felt it would be a mistake to open the film with a completely comedic scene, so it was re-edited a little bit. I was disappointed, but when I got home to New York I found a bottle of my favorite Champagne and a note from Joss that said ‘To Battles Lost. Gratefully, Joss.’ I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that he took the time to write to me. Joss Whedon is a class act. I had the letter framed.”
McCallany says he doesn’t harbor any bad feelings and would be happy to return to the DCEU if asked (his character is still alive), but this offers some interesting insight into the post-production period. As many figured, Warner Bros. had the final say over the finished cut. This probably should have been obvious when we learned there was a studio mandate to bring the runtime in under two hours, but in contrast to a lot of other studio movies where a filmmaker will lobby long and hard for his or her way, Whedon only had so much wiggle room here as essentially a “helping hand.”
So to those fans clamoring for a Zack Snyder director’s cut, that’s probably never going to happen because those effects were never finished. But for those thinking the finished Justice League is “a Joss Whedon film,” that’s not exactly right either. It’s a somewhat author-less mishmash of Snyder, Whedon, and studio sensibilities, and while the finished product isn’t terrible, it has left many wanting to see at least some sort of unencumbered version of the film that reflects a single filmmaker’s vision. Alas.
In better news, for all you Mindhunter fans out there, McCallany offered a great tease for Season 2. While the brilliant David Fincher Netflix series hasn’t officially been renewed for a second season just yet, McCallany reveals scripts are already being written and he’s deep in prep:
“Right now I’m prepping for Mindhunter Season 2, reading, doing lots of research. The scripts are great and I think fans will be happy with how it’s developing. To potentially work with someone like David [Fincher] over the course of multiple seasons is an honor, and I’m excited to do more with the character of Bill Tench. I can take my time, and I can really explore this guy over a long period of time. I think it’s gonna be just an amazing adventure.”