In the comic book world, the Justice League may be the single greatest symbol of hope that exists. At the moment, the Justice League movie happens to be that symbol of hope for the DC Extended Universe. There are certainly fans of what Warner Bros. has done with their current run of DC Comics movies, but there are a great many others who are less than happy with the results so far.
Warner Bros. is totally committed to making the DCEU work. Rotten Tomatoes be damned. But they can't keep making movies that get trashed by critics and are met with a divisive response from fans. That being the case, Justice League really needs to deliver in order to help keep the DCEU train on the tracks and the responsibility is once again falling in Zack Snyder's lap, with his vision to remain intact as Joss Whedon has officially taken over rewrites and reshoots moving into the final lap of post-production..
No matter how you feel about the DCEU so far, much of the blame and/or praise belongs to Zack Snyder. He directed Man of Steel, the first movie in this DC Comics movie universe, as well as Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. That movie was the true launching point of the DCEU, but it didn't go as smoothly as Warner Bros. was hoping it would. While it will surely be a very different movie, Justice League will shoulder a lot of the same responsibilities that The Avengers did for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has to prove this grand idea can work and that these heroes can unite in an effective movie. And that is one of the reasons Whedon was chosen to take the baton from Snyder. He directed Avengers and made it a success. He knows how to handle the weight of this, and will help shape something wonderful while keeping Snyder's visual flare from falling to the wayside.
Despite very poor critical reception to the movies that have been released so far in the DCEU, with both Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad both hovering around a 26 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, there is massive desire for these movies. Combined they made more than $1.6 billion at the box office in 2016, so the general public really wants to see these movies and there is no reason to think they won't also want to see Justice League. But at some point, mixed reception will hurt more than it currently is. Justice League has to work.
We are still about a year away from Justice League landing in theaters, but anticipation is very high. Ever since the first footage debuted at San Diego Comic-Con, cautious optimism has been abundant and there is reason to believe Justice League could nail it. So just to help satiate your desire to see the movie, here is what we know about Justice League at this point in time.
Joss Whedon is Taking over for Zack Snyder as Director
There remain a great many defenders of the DCEU despite the fact that none of the movies have been critically well received so far. At this point, equal parts blame and praise belong to Zack Snyder. He started Warner. Bros down this path with Man of Steel and forged the road for these movies moving forward with Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And he was the one set to unite the Justice League for the very first time ever on screen.
Nobody will argue against Zack Snyder's ability as a director to make things look visually stunning (see the warehouse seen in BvS), but most complaints that have been lobbed in his direction have to do with character and story. In the case of the DCEU, his treatment of Superman in general and showing Batman killing people willingly on screen are decisions that have divided fans. Also, even the biggest defenders of Batman V. Superman can acknowledge that it was a bloated story with some plot issues. It is unclear exactly how the fallout from the negative reception to Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice has effected his approach, but Zack Snyder was the man behind the camera for Justice League during principle photography. And that was a huge responsibility.
The movie is now undergoing reshoots and script changes under the direction of Joss Whedon. Zack Snyder officially stepped down from his directorial duties as summer 2017 approached, just six months from the release of the movie. Snyder and his family faced personal heartbreak when the director's 20-year-old daughter committed suicide. DC Films and Warner Bros. offered to push the release date back, but Snyder's original plan was to keep moving forward as planned without a break. He soon found it hard to continue work, and made his grief public. He didn't want to, but he also didn't want a barrage of rumors swirling around why he left. So he recruited Avengers director Joss Whedon to step in and take over.
Zack Snyder's vision for the movie will remain intact. Synder and Whedon will share co-directing credit on the movie, with Whedon doing minimal reshoots after having tweaked the script. Joss Whedon, who is set to write and director Batgirl for DC and Warner Bros., had already been recruited to help out with the planned reshoots. The movie is still scheduled to hit theaters this holiday season as planned.
Chris Terrio Returned to Write the Script
Even if you loved Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, you can probably acknowledge that there were some serious story problems. It is really unclear where those story problems came from, but hopefully they weren't from Chris Terrio, because he is the one responsible for the Justice League script. In the case of Batman V. Superman, David S. Goyer also was credited, so it is unclear who was responsible for exactly what.
Either way, Chris Terrio is the man who shaped Justice League, at least on paper. He is also reportedly already signed on for the Justice League sequel, so it seems like Warner Bros. liked what he did. It is also worth noting that he wrote Argo, which Ben Affleck directed. That movie went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, so it is clear the man has some talent. Fans can just hope he brought his A game for Justice League.
When it was first announced that Ben Affleck was going to play Batman in the DCEU, many thought, or at least hoped, it was a joke. It was not. But for all of the criticism made of the casting choice, Batfleck wound up being one of the best parts of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And with Superman currently dead after his fight with Doomsday, it is up to Ben Affleck to bring the Justice League together in order to fight whatever threats await them in Justice League. It is unclear if Batman will be a little less willing to kill this time around, but outside of that, Ben Affleck doesn't need to do a whole lot differently in this movie. It was a tough task to be the first man to play Batman after Christian Bale in The Dark Knight trilogy, and I think most would argue that he did an admirable job. It is just a matter of Justice League being able to deliver on the promise, and Batman will be a very large part of that.
Alfred is Coming Back
Another thing that most people seemed to respond to in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was Jeremy Irons as Alfred. His take was very different from what we had seen previously, especially when compared to Michael Caine. But it worked very well. So, it is probably a good thing that he will be coming back for Justice League. We don't know much about how he will fit in or how big his role in the movie will be, but we know that he is in it. Perhaps he will be helping Batman or the Justice League team members remotely like he did with Bruce at the end of Batman V. Superman? Either way, it'll be nice to see Jeremy Irons back at it.
Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, may not have had a lot of screentime in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but whatever screentime she did have made a big impression. Gal Gadot absolutely killed her opportunity to bring the iconic DC Comics superhero to life and she will be a huge factor in Justice League next year. At this point, it seems like she and Bruce Wayne will be partnering up to bring the team together, or unite the seven, as it were. Heading into Justice League we will have a much better idea of what this character can do, because the Wonder Woman solo movie will be released before Justice League lands in theaters. From what we have seen in those trailers alone, we know that she can do some serious damage when she is in Amazon warrior mode. She will be a major player when it comes to saving the world in Justice League, make no mistake about that.
We have seen little flashes, if you will, of Ezra Miller's The Flash on screen in the DCEU so far. There was the odd dream sequence and the security camera footage from Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and his very brief "blink and you'll miss it" cameo in Suicide Squad. He is definitely going to be in Justice League and you can bet his time on screen will be more than brief. In the trailers alone we have seen quite a bit of interaction between Ezra Miller as Barry Allen and Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne. It is also clear that he is going to offer a bit of comic relief, which could help out in balancing the tone a bit. The Flash is a core member of the Justice League so he will surely be central to the story and not just someone for Batman to joke around with. Plus, this will be our real introduction to the character before The Flash solo movie, so the creative team will want to get everyone on board with this version of Barry Allen.
It is no secret that Henry Cavill's Superman bit the dust at the end of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice after his fight with Doomsday. The thing is, none of us were really convinced that he was going to stay dead. Not for long anyway. Point being, Superman is coming back in Justice League. Zack Snyder hasn't kept the best poker face about it and Henry Cavill can even be seen on set, in costume during one of the behind-the-scenes videos from Justice League that made its way online. Not some shaky, unofficial video mind you. This was an official video and was released as an official piece of marketing for the movie.
As for how Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon plan to resurrect Superman or how that will factor into the story remains a mystery, but he will be back. Not only that, but Henry Cavill has even teased that we may be seeing the famous black suit from the Death and Return of Superman comic book storyline. So not only will Superman be returning, but he will be returning in fashion.
Aquaman and The Atlanteans
There is the version of Aquaman from the days of old, be it from the comics or the old animated Justice League TV show. Then there is the Aquaman that we are going to get from Jason Momoa in Justice League. From the trailers alone it is very clear that this isn't going to be your daddy's Aquaman, which is probably for the best. At the moment it kind of looks like beefed up, "drunk uncle" Aquaman and that could be very cool. We got the briefest of teases to Arthur Curry in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but he will be a big time player in Justice League.
Not only will the best known and most powerful Atlantean be arriving in Justice League, but a couple of other players from the upcoming Aquaman solo movie will also be showing up. Amber Heard is playing another powerful Atlantean named Mera, who we have already had a glimpse of thanks to a photo that was released online. Also making an appearance will be the chief science advisor of Atlantis, who goes by the name of Nuidis Vulko. The character is being portrayed by Willem Dafoe. So get ready for a major introduction to the world of Atlantis in Justice League.
A lot of DC Comics fans know Cyborg, aka Victor "Vic" Stone, as a chief member of the Teen Titans. But in 2011 when DC relaunched their comic book line and rebooted their continuity, Cyborg became a founding member of the Justice League. It appears that is the take Zack Snyder, Joss Whedon and the creative team behind the movie decided to go with, because Ray Fisher will be joining up with Batman and the gang as Cyborg in Justice League. Again, outside of what we have seen in the trailers, the only bit we have seen from Cyborg is what we saw in the video file that Bruce Wayne emailed to Diana Prince in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. That will all change when Justice League comes around next year, because he is going to be fighting alongside the more well-known members of the team. Maybe Ray Fisher can help make the character a mainstream hit. Regardless, he is going to be a big factor in Justice League.
At this point there is really no telling how big of a role she will have, but Amy Adams is set to return as Lois Lane in Justice League. She played the iconic reporter and love interest for Superman in both Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Of all the complaints made about the DCEU so far, pretty much none of them have involved Amy Adams' portrayal as Lois Lane, so her presence in Justice League should be encouraging, or at the very least certainly not upsetting. Having an actress of her caliber on board any project can't possibly hurt.
Introduction to Commissioner Gordon
We have yet to have a solo Batman movie in the DCEU, so many important characters have yet to be introduced. That will start to change with Justice League, because Commissioner Jim Gordon is going to be featured in the movie. The best and most intriguing part is that he is going to be played by Oscar winner J.K. Simmons. We haven't seen much, but even the first teaser photo that was released of him standing by the bat signal was enough to encourage any DC Comics fan. We can't really know how Justice League as a whole is going to shake out, but it is hard to imagine that J.K. Simmons will do anything but crush it as Jim Gordon. He probably won't have a big role in the movie, but just having him there will definitely add something to Justice League.
Batman and Superman were busy fighting one another last time around, until Doomsday came into play that is. This time around, they will be fighting the villain Steppenwolf, who will be the primary villain in Justice League. Perhaps the best part is that Game of Thrones star Ciaran Hinds is playing him in the movie. He is best known for playing Mance Rayder in the HBO series.
In the comics, Steppenwolf was created by legend Jack Kirby and is a relative of the villain Darkseid, who was also teased in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice during that crazy dream sequence. He is an immortal with superhuman strength and a gifted military leader. He also survived an attack from Doomsday. You know the monster that killed Superman at the end of Batman V Superman. Steppenwolf should be a formidable foe for the DC heroes in Justice League and hopefully, he will live up to the promise of how cool he could potentially be.
Darkseid Looms Large
Speaking of Darkseid. Darkseid is one of the biggest and baddest villains in all of DC Comics. He was created by legend Jack Kirby and was already teased to appear in the DCEU. It looks like his first appearance will be in Justice League. During Batman's weird dream sequence in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, the presence of Darkseid was heavily teased, so it seemed inevitable that he would show up at some point in the DCEU. There had been plenty of rumors that Darkseid, but it was recently reported that he will show up in the prologue of Justice League doing battle with the Atlanteans and Amazonians.
So not only will we probably get our first peek at Darkseid in Justice League, but it seems like we will also get to see more of a connection between Aquaman and Wonder Woman to Darkseid. It is hard to say how big this scene will be. It could be a quick flash or a fairly significant scene, but either way the "New God" is going to appear. It also isn't clear if Darkseid will just appear as a CGI character on screen, or if Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder have pulled a fast one and cast someone to do some motion capture and voice work. We will have to wait and see.
Which Green Lantern Corps. Will Show Up?
It was revealed by Warner Bros. quite a while back that this new take on Green Lantern would be a team movie, involving several different Green Lantern's, making it the Green Lantern Corps. It has also been teased by Zack Snyder by way of a cool picture of Aquaman that Justice League will "Unite the Seven." Up to now, it seemed like it would only be six members, since Green Lantern appears to be absent from the movie. But he will reportedly be featured in a "key sequence."
Colin Farrell is going to be in Justice League and has been given a mystery role. Could he be playing one of the new members of the Green Lantern Corps.? It is possible, but it doesn't seem like the right role for him. It is also very unclear about which member it will be. Could it be Hal Jordan? Could it be John Stewart? Those would seem like the most likely candidates, but it is very hard to know. What matters is, at least according to this report, a new Green Lantern will appear in Justice League and it sounds like it will have a significant impact on the movie. So the seven will presumably unite, meaning that Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon are delivering on that promise.
Lessons Have Been Learned
Warner Bros., Geoff Johns, Deborah and Zack Snyder and virtually everyone involved with Justice League seems to understand that some adjustments need to be made this time around. They have even gone out of their way to let the public know that lessons have been learned. They have acknowledged that mistakes have been made. They are taking the public voices into account here and trying to implement changes to make Justice League more in line with what the majority of fans wanted. And bringing in Joss Whedon certainly won't hurt matters.
It is pretty common practice to have journalists conduct set visits during the production of a movie. This occurred during Justice League, with the producers inviting some of the harshest critics of the DCEU thus far to check out what they were working on. Not only that, but these journalists were allowed to release everything they saw during their set visits almost immediately. Normally studios make outlets wait until right before the release of a movie to do this. That move implied that Warner Bros. and the creative team behind Justice League want to make it clear to fans that they are taking this seriously and that they want to show they are making changes. Will they be the right changes? That is the million, or perhaps even billion dollar question.
Next up for Warner Bros. and the DCEU is director Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, which comes out on June 2, 2017. That is the last movie standing between us and Justice League, which is currently scheduled to arrive in theaters on November 17, 2017. Let's just hope that it is finally the movie that delivers on every shred of the promise from the beloved source material in DC Comics universe.