In the huge marketing cycle for the Justice League film there were three full trailers released by the studio, plus some footage screened at Comic-Con. It’s not unusual for trailer material to change or disappear from the final product, however Justice League went through an unusual process whilst in production.
Director Zak Snyder stepped down from the project in early 2017 after a personal tragedy. Joss Whedon was brought on to complete the film, and underwent some major reshoots as well as, leading to Whedon earning a writing credit for the movie. We don’t know exactly what changed, but the first trailers, released under Snyder’s stewardship give us some great clues as to the differences in vision.
I’ve taken the moments from each trailer to look more deeply into what went missing between the marketing and the final film. I’m going to be discussing details from the Justice League film. I will not be delving into deep plot points but be aware this may be considered spoilers if you want to go in fresh.
This sequence with Superman might have been trimmed, but in all likelihood was completely re-done in the now famous ‘moustache’ re-shoots.
Here we see Bruce Wayne travelling in a frozen and harsh landscape. The discussion was going to be whether he was travelling to find Aquaman, or if he was searching for the Fortress of Solitude.
We now know he was searching for Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. A couple of these shots made it into the final film, but even this reveal of his face is much shortened.
Something completely excised is this longing, yearning look at a holographic Superman. This is a moment that the slash fiction writers would have written pages about.
The next sequence shows Bruce and Diana discussing the attempt to bring Aquaman onto the team…
Diana – He said he’ll fight with us?
Bruce – More or less
Diana – More more, or more less?
Bruce – More less
Diana – He said no?
Bruce – He said no
Speaking of Aquaman, he only has a few moments in the trailers, mostly showcasing his bombastic action or humour, but this leap and double strike was also missing. Jason Momoa’s recording sessions doing leaps in front of green screens must have been genuinely enjoyable dreaming up different action moments for him to do.
And whilst we’re on the subject of missing green screen action, this shot of Flash evading a non-winged bug and pummelling him through a door is also absent. Probably due to his role being more support than offense in finished movie.
But if we want to talk CG sequences, this amazing glass smash has disappeared. It’s a shame because it alludes to an increased role for Ezra Miller’s Flash at some point in the film, but if we rewind… this lady behind him seems oblivious to any danger, which leaves me wondering what was going on in this scene to make Barry cause such destruction.
And if we want to see evidence of decreased roles in the film, Ray Fisher has both pre- and post-Cyborg moments in the trailers that have gone missing. Shots of him in a varsity letterman jacket and playing football before his accident hint at a full backstory for a very new character to the live action DC universe.
His new body defending scientist hostages and a police-person is also now gone. The second of these looks to be at Superman’s memorial, which implies a much larger fight happening than we eventually saw.
We also have some more shots of him flying, and donning a helmet a la Iron Man, then bursting through clouds. This is a comparison the film and character do not need so I can appreciate them being excised.
There are a couple of short moments that have gone, one is a shot of a Mother box in a cupboard, along with a hero shot of Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Aquaman. Looking at their surroundings it is very similar to a shot of Steppenwolf and his army. This might be mostly down an effects change – perhaps the aesthetic of the hellscape became much more organic later in post-production.
There is some audio in one trailer that is also absent, and has a very interesting line for DC fans…
Steppenwolf – No protectors here. No Lanterns. No Kryptonian
Steppenwolf knows not only is there no Earth-based Green Lantern, the Lantern Corps are not around either. It’s a small moment but adds into a brief glimpse in the flashback sequences we get in the final film.
To finish, I’m going to go to the end of the main trailer. Alfred is doing his mechanic thing and knows something has come into the Batcave, someone he then talks to. This has also been removed entirely, and the possible person he speaks to appears at the fight’s climax with no explanation for how they knew to be there. Which didn’t occur to me as a plothole, so this was probably an unnecessary explanation.
So there you have it – in total about three minutes worth of content from 14 minutes of trailer that did not end up in the final film. Given the quality of Justice League I approve most of these changes, but it leads to a high likelihood an extended edition, maybe even the Zak Snyder cut, will be released on home media and streaming. Maybe at that time we’ll know more about his intentions for the film.