New Jus­tice League looks be­yond Bat­man, Su­per­man

Khaleej Times - City Times - - HOLLYWOOD HUSTLE -

PEACE NEVER REIGNS in the pages of DC Comics. There’s al­ways a world to be sav­ing, a cat­a­clysm to avert. The mak­ing of the DC su­per­hero team-up film Jus­tice League was hardly any more tran­quil.

Made in the wake of the dis­ap­point­ment sur­round­ing its pre­de­ces­sor, Bat­man v Su­per­man, and the crit­i­cally panned Sui­cide Squad, Jus­tice League was, like a jet­liner given new wings in midair, re­tooled on the fly. Warner Bros. sought to lighten the tone of Zack Sny­der’s grandiose and mus­cle-bound DC uni­verse – a much-pub­li­cised pivot that came just as tragedy was strik­ing.

Sny­der, the 300 film­maker, had over­seen this lat­est series of DC movies start­ing with Man of Steel, but he stepped down af­ter Jus­tice League had been shot fol­low­ing the death of his daugh­ter.

Joss Whe­don, the Avengers di­rec­tor known for snappy di­a­logue who had al­ready been help­ing to punch up the script, was brought in to steer the film through post-pro­duc­tion and two months of reshoots. Writer Ge­off Johns and pro­ducer Jon Berg had al­ready been brought in to brighten Jus­tice League and over­haul the wider DC slate with a more op­ti­mistic tone.

But that’s not been all. Ben Af­fleck, who stars as Bat­man, with­drew from di­rect­ing a stand-alone Bat­man film, while also com­bat­ing crit­i­cism over his be­haviour with women in the past. Whe­don, him­self, was called a hyp­ocrite for es­pous­ing fem­i­nist ideals by his ex-wife, Kai Cole. Ja­son Mo­moa had to apol­o­gise for a 2011 joke about rape and Game of Thrones. And just weeks be­fore re­lease, Warner Bros. sev­ered ties with one of the film’s chief fi­nanciers, Brett Rat­ner’s RatPac-Dune com­pany, af­ter sex­ual as­sault al­le­ga­tions were lev­eled against Rat­ner. Gal Gadot (Won­der Woman) has re­port­edly in­sisted Rat­ner have no con­nec­tion with any fu­ture Won­der Woman film.

“I’ve prob­a­bly had a stiff drink along the way,” pro­ducer Charles Roven says, chuck­ling. “It’s been dif­fer­ent in the sense that we’ve had some sad­ness along the happy-joy of mak­ing the movie. But for the most part it’s been an in­cred­i­bly pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.” Warner Bros. and DC are hop­ing that the fin­ished Jus­tice League, which opens in the UAE this Thurs­day, doesn’t show any Franken­stein-like scars from its tu­mul­tuous cre­ation.

“The goal is to make sure when you’re watch­ing the movie, it all feels co­he­sive,” says Roven, the veteran pro­ducer of The Dark Knight tril­ogy. “That im­print that Joss had, some as­pect of it is go­ing to come out in the di­rec­tion, but the ac­tors are al­ready pretty much down the road on their arcs. Let’s just say 80, 85 per­cent of the movie is what was orig­i­nally shot. There’s only so much you can do with other 15, 20 per­cent of the movie.”

In in­ter­views, Roven and cast mem­bers pledged their loy­alty to Sny­der and his vi­sion for the fran­chise, one they say in­cor­po­rated a chang­ing tone be­fore Whe­don’s in­volve­ment.

“Zack from the time that I first met with him said, ‘Look, Bat­man makes the DC world dark. The DC world has to be cre­ated as some­thing dark,’” says Ezra Miller (who plays Barry Allen aka The Flash).

“He said what’s great now is that the League gets to bring Bat­man out of this dark­ness. That was al­ways Zack’s vi­sion. That was the in­ten­tion from the be­gin­ning.”

Jus­tice League, a team-up movie, will be fol­lowed by solo ef­forts. “One of the things that’s re­ally im­por­tant to us with all of these DC movies is mak­ing sure that while they make sense, one from the other – be­cause they’re in a cer­tain way linked – we also want to make sure that the au­di­ence is hope­fully ex­cited by the fact that you don’t know ex­actly where you’re go­ing to go.”

Team­ing-up to save the world: Ja­son Mo­moa (Aqua­man), Ezra Miller (Flash), Gal Gadot (Won­der Woman), Ben Af­fleck (Bat­man), Ray Fisher (Cy­borg) and Henry Cav­ill (Su­per­man)

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