So, Justice League is out. It’s the latest movie in what is being referred to by the studio overlords at Warner Bros. as the DC Extended Universe, essentially DC Entertainment’s response to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has admittedly enjoyed much more success than the DCEU.
The reviews are in, and they’re not particularly positive, but the critics do note that the troubled franchise is moving in the right direction after its first couple of missteps, albeit not as modern classic as this year’s fiercely entertaining Wonder Woman.
But now that the movie’s out, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Here are 15 things you may not have known about Justice League.
15. Henry Cavill himself has doubts about the DCEU
Ever since Man of Steel, the DCEU has had its detractors, but you would’ve never thought one of those detractors would be Henry Cavill, the man at the center of the entire thing. But he himself has his doubts about the shared cinematic universe that he’s starring in. When asked about the negative responses to both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman.
Cavill said, “Even if Marvel didn’t exist, we’d struggle. There was a style they [DC] were going for – an attempt to be different and look at things from a slightly different perspective, which hasn’t necessarily worked. Yes, it has made money but it has not been a critical success. It hasn’t given everyone that sensation which superheroes should give the viewer.”
However, he does believe that Wonder Woman and Justice League mark a “step in the right direction.”
14. The cast is filled with Oscar darlings
In their review of Justice League, GQ magazine wrote that the movie’s “biggest sin” was “wasting its great actors,” and they’re not lying that the actors involved in the film are great. Three of them are Oscar winners.
Ben Affleck, who plays Bruce Wayne aka Batman, has won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, for his movie Argo, and Best Original Screenplay, for the Good Will Hunting script that he co-wrote with his pal Matt Damon. Jeremy Irons, who plays Alfred, won Best Actor for playing an accused murderer in Reversal of Fortune.
Commissioner Gordon actor JK Simmons won Best Supporting Actor for Whiplash. Meanwhile, three other cast members are Oscar nominees. Lois Lane’s player Amy Adams has been nominated five times for Junebug, The Master, The Fighter, Doubt, and American Hustle.
Diane Lane, who plays Superman’s adoptive mom Martha Kent, was nominated for Best Actress in Unfaithful. And Jesse Eisenberg, the guy ripping off Heath Ledger’s Joker to play Lex Luthor, was nominated for Best Actor in the Facebook biopic The Social Network.
13. Four Justice League actors have appeared in Game of Thrones
Three of the actors in the cast of Justice League have also appeared in roles in Game of Thrones. Someone involved in the casting team for the DCEU is clearly a big fan of the HBO fantasy series. Ciaran Hinds, who plays the villainous role of Steppenwolf in Justice League, played the minor role of Mance Rayder in a few episodes of Game of Thrones.
Francis Magee plays the King of Men in Justice League who buries one of the 3 Mother Boxes after defeating Steppenwolf the first time. In Game Of Thrones, he played Yoren, the recruiter of the Nights Watch who watches over Arya Stark after her father Ned Stark’s execution at the Sept of Baelor.
Michael McElhatton plays a bank robber in Justice League who squares off against Wonder Woman. In Game of Thrones, he played the role of Roose Bolton in 19 episodes. And, of course, Jason Momoa, Aquaman in Justice League, played the iconic role of Khal Drogo before his tragic end.
12. There’s a lot of familiar themes on the soundtrack
One of the most controversial moves by director Joss Whedon when he took over from Zack Snyder following the death of Snyder’s daughter was the removal of Junkie XL from the soundtrack duties. However, he probably made the right move.
Junkie XL’s Whedon-appointed replacement Danny Elfman has worked on a grand total of seven other superhero franchises: Hulk, Wanted, Hellboy, Men in Black, Avengers, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies, and Tim Burton’s gloomy Batman movies.
In fact, his theme from Batman was used in the Batman scenes of Justice League. However, it’s not clear if this will carry through into the standalone Batman film. Also, John Williams’ iconic Superman theme is used in a scene involving Superman in Justice League.
11. Some big names were cut from the final film
In Justice League, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, and Kiersey Clemons were originally supposed to be playing Antiope, Nuidis Vulko, and Iris West, respectively, but they were all cut from the final film. Robin Wright would’ve been reprising her role from Wonder Woman.
Ditto Willem Dafoe, who has appeared in Spider-Man, and will be playing the role he was supposed to play in Justice League in next year’s solo Aquaman movie. Kiersey Clemons isn’t a huge star, but she has been in some great movies and TV shows, including Netflix’s Easy.
She was supposed to play Iris West, the main love interest of Barry Allen, in Justice League. And although she was cut from that film, she’ll still be appearing as Iris in the Flash’s solo DCEU movie Flashpoint.
10. It’s one of the most expensive movies of all time
With an estimated production budget of a whopping $300 million, Justice League is one of the most expensive movies of all time. For the amount it cost them to make Justice League, they could’ve made two Captain Americas, or two Thors. It’s an absurd amount.
Let’s hope this level of confidence from Warner Bros. will pay off. It might. The box office experts are saying that the movie needs to make $750 million worldwide to break even, and it made back $100 million in its first night alone.
9. That post-credits scene sets up The Batman
In the style of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Justice League has two post-credits scenes – one humorous one halfway through the credits, and another that sets up future storylines after all the credits have finished rolling. The mid-credits scene sees Superman and the Flash engaging in a race to determine the true fastest person alive. That’s a fun, bubbly little scene.
The post-credits one isn’t so fun. It sees Lex Luthor breaking out of prison and recruiting the aid of bounty hunter Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke, played by Joe Manganiello, to form their own league — the Injustice League.
This is setting up, not only the future of the DCEU as Lex rises up to conquer the world, but also the first standalone movie for Ben Affleck’s Batman. The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, will feature Manganiello’s Deathstroke as its primary villain.
8. Ben Affleck might be stepping down as Batman
Ben Affleck has been praised by some as the best Batman. He plays Bruce Wayne as a grizzled, angry curmudgeon, and it worked a charm in Batman v Superman. But that was his first appearance in the role, and he was enthusiastic about getting it right.
However, since then, there have been rumors that the workload is too much for the actor, who would much rather be off directing his many passion projects. We’ve been hearing for months that Affleck might be getting replaced by Warner Bros. He almost wasn’t even in Justice League, and his lack of interest shows in the movie.
The Hollywood Reporter wrote that in Justice League, “Ben Affleck, donning the bat suit for the second time, looks like he’d rather be almost anywhere else but here.” Now, the rumor mill is saying that Jake Gyllenhaal is replacing him in the DCEU. Watch this space.
7. Justice League was originally supposed to be the first part of a two-part movie
When the DCEU’s initial titles were first being announced – that the sequel to Man of Steel would be titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and would set up a shared universe, and that there would be an all-supervillain ensemble flick called Suicide Squad, and that pretty much everyone in the DC Comics universe would be getting their own solo movie – Justice League was announced as Justice League Part One, and it would have a single running storyline through that and its sequel, Justice League Part Two.
However, they decided during pre-production that they would drop the two-part nature of the film, and with it, drop the ‘Part One’ from the title. There will still be a second Justice League movie, but it will instead be its own standalone story, like the first one.
6. Many great directors were considered for the movie
In its earliest incarnation, the Justice League movie was set to be directed by George Miller, the mastermind behind the Mad Max saga.
Zack Snyder was chosen by Warner Bros. after he set the tone for the DCEU with Batman v Superman, and he ended up being replaced by Joss Whedon after a personal tragedy. But before Snyder was hired, many great directors were considered to take the helm.’
Batman himself, Ben Affleck, was considered, which may seem like an odd choice, but he did win Best Picture at the Oscars for his movie Argo.
Lana and Lilly Wachowski were also considered, and they’ve would’ve been great.They’ve proven themselves as creators of big budget action-packed cinematic masterpieces with The Matrix trilogy, and also wrangled an ensemble cast with their Netflix series Sense8.
Juno director Jason Reitman was also considered, but he considered himself to be more of a small indie director, rather than a big budget blockbuster director, so he declined the offer.
5. Liam Neeson helped to form the villain
Liam Neeson is no stranger to comic books and superhero movies. He played an original superhero character, Peyton Westlake, in Sam Raimi’s criminally underrated and devilishly enjoyable Darkman. He also portrayed the infamous DC Comics villain Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.
It turns out Neeson also had a hand in crafting the villain of Justice League, too. See, Ciaran Hinds is a classical actor, typically known for high-end dramatic roles like Julius Caesar and John le Carre’s Roy Bland. So when he was cast in the role of Steppenwolf, the main villain in Justice League, he felt a little out of his depth.
He had never performed using motion capture technology before, but his pal Liam Neeson had just done it in A Monster Calls, so he turned to him for help.
4. The Flash watches Rick and Morty
This little tidbit of trivia has been known to eagle-eyed viewers ever since the trailer for Justice League was released. The premise of the whole movie is that a catastrophic force threatens to destroy Earth, so Bruce Wayne has to round up all the most powerful meta-humans to join his awesome super-powered team of heroes to save the day.
In the scene where Bruce goes to Barry Allen’s house to enlist his services, an episode of Rick and Morty is playing. Barry’s a fan! Can you blame him? The Adult Swim sci-fi comedy cartoon is really great, and it’s also wildly popular, especially with self-righteous nerds like Barry Allen.
3. There was once an entirely different cast in place
When a movie about the Justice League was first being put together way back in 2007 by Mad Max director George Miller, an entirely different set of actors were locked into the lead roles.
DJ Cotrona was set to play Superman. He was a relative unknown at the time, and has since gone on to take high profile roles in GI Joe: Retaliation and the TV series adaptation of From Dusk till Dawn. Yet, he’s still nowhere near as famous as he would’ve been if he’d played Superman.
Meanwhile, model Megan Gale was cast as Wonder Woman (with Jessica Biel also being considered for the role), and Armie Hammer was cast as Batman. Hammer went on to play the Lone Ranger and the Winklevoss twins, but there’s no role greater than that of the Caped Crusader.
The rapper Common was cast as the John Stewart incarnation of Green Lantern, and funnily enough, Common did end up featuring in the DCEU – he was in last year’s Suicide Squad. Adam Brody (Seth Cohen from The OC) was supposed to play the Flash, while Santiago Cabrera (Isaac Mendez from Heroes) was cast as Aquaman.
Jay Baruchel would play the villain, Maxwell Lord. That’s the same Jay Baruchel who helped to castrate Satan in the movie This is the End.
2. Zack Snyder found it hard to keep Superman out of the movie
Since Superman died at the end of Batman v Superman, the character’s fate in Justice League was left deliberately hazy and indeterminable in the trailers. The filmmakers didn’t want to spoil the reveal. Zack Snyder, however, struggled with a Justice League story that Superman was mostly absent from.
He explained, “It’s hard to have a Justice League without Superman. But his sacrifice is, in a weird sort of way, the why of the Justice League. So, what do you do now with him? What does the team think? What does the world need? All that comes into play.” So, in a weird way, it’s a movie that hardly featured Superman, but is totally about Superman.
1. Henry Cavill has a digitally removed mustache in some shots
It’s not uncommon for movies to need reshoots, especially with big budget epics like Justice League. You shoot everything you think you need, and then you start to wade through all the footage and edit it down and you realize you’re missing some shots, so you need to go into reshoots to fill in the gaps.
But it’s also not uncommon for big movie stars to be in demand and have busy schedules. These two instances converged during the production of Justice League, and it led to Henry Cavill’s upper lip looking really stupid in some shoots. After shooting Justice League, Cavill started work on Mission: Impossible 6, a role which required him to grow a mustache.
When the DC guys needed him to come back for reshoots, the Mission: Impossible producers reminded him that he was legally bound by contract to keep that mustache. So he shot the rest of Justice League with a mustache and the visual artists had to digitally remove it from his face. Ridiculous, right? That’s Hollywood for you.