THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR JUSTICE LEAGUE!!! IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET, THEN I SUGGEST YOU RUN AWAY LIKE THE FLASH!!!
Justice League is not a great film. I mean, I certainly enjoyed it enough, but it’s simply not the homerun success that Marvel had when they first gathered all their heroes together on-screen in The Avengers. Of course, Justice League had a way more bumpy production, as ex-Avengers director Joss Whedon was brought in when original helmer Zacky Snyder had to exit very late in the game due to a family tragedy. On top of all the last-minute reshoot changes Whedon made to suit his more lighthearted filmmaking style, Warner Bros. execs also gave him a mandate that the film needed to clock in under two-hours (this was a direct reaction to all those accusations of bloat that had been levelled at Batman v Superman).
What all of this resulted in though, is a tiny mountain of ideas, script pages and footage lying on the editing room floor. Just go have a look again at the trailers, filled with scenes and bits of dialogue that weren’t in the movie, or actors that were cast in roles (Willem Dafoe as Atlantean advisor Vulko, Kiersey Clemens as Flash’s love interest Iris West, etc) but were nowhere to be seen. Will we ever get to see them reincorporated back into the film a la Snyder’s superior and far more cohesive Ultimate Edition director’s cut of BvS? I have no idea. I really hope so though, because I believe that they could perhaps help to address some of Justice League’s biggest flaws.
Now over the weekend past, after I had already begun writing this article, some of those deleted scenes actually leaked online. Most of them are still in the early pre-vis stage and involve Cyborg getting to grips with his abilities. One actually shows Ezra Miller’s Flash saving Kiersey Clemens’ Iris West, which is where that shot of him breaking the glass in the first trailer comes from. Another report comes from SuperheroTalkSite who claim to have seen the early cut of the film that was shown to WB execs before Whedon got snippy, however there are a few details in this report (especially regarding that Flash scene mentioned above) that don’t quite line up, so take all of it with a pinch of salt.
There are a couple things mentioned in that report though that would have helped immensely in bettering Justice League. We actually get to see more of the background for Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman, fleshing out their characters a lot more with a whole lot extra time given for Aquaman and his Atlantean heritage. More important than that though are some details that perfectly syncs up with my thoughts when it comes to Steppenwolf, the film’s main adversary… and quite frankly, a rather terrible one. Besides for the CG used to bring the 9-foot tall axe-wielding conqueror to life not being up to snuff when we have the likes of the new Planet of the Apes trilogy around, he also lacks severely as a character. He just shows up to collect some boxes and punch/be punched by our heroes. That’s it. That’s his entire schtick. Because of this, he has rightly been pointed out as one of the worst comic book movie villains ever.
Comic book fans know that there’s much more to him though, specifically when it comes to his nephew Darkseid, the evil god-king ruler of the hellish planet Apokalips where Steppenwolf and his Parademons originate from. Now we’ve known since BvS that Darkseid is being set up as the Big Bad of the DCEU – we see his symbol in the “Knightmare” dream sequence in BvS and Steppenwolf mentions his name once in Justice League. But originally Darkseid was supposed to actually appear in the film before Whedon cut all of his scenes. I hypothesized though that Darkseid’s inclusion would have given Steppenwolf a lot more narrative agency – he doesn’t just want the Mother Boxes’ power for power’s sake, but he has a plan for them.
The earlier mentioned report claims that in the early cut of the film, it’s revealed that the Mother Boxes actually contains the living essence of Steppenwolf’s mother Heggra. By bringing them all together, Steppenwolf would unleash her power which he could then use to overthrow Darkseid himself and assume rulership of Apokolips. Of course, this doesn’t link up with the Mother Boxes’ Unity being used as a weapon to change worlds – which may have been added later – but it does explain why Steppenwolf keeps talking to and referring to the Mother Boxes as literally “mother”. It’s apparently during a conversation with Heggra that he uses that one line used in the trailers but not seen in the film that says, “No protectors here. No Lanterns. No Kryptonians. This world will fall,” while also adding “You will be free, mother.”
Darkseid’s inclusion would also address one bit of ambiguity, as the film would apparently have ended by showing exactly where Steppenwolf’s boom tubes – those blue transporter beams – actually go. As most comic book fans would know, they lead back to Apokolips, and in the early cut of film’s finale, after Steppenwolf is beaten by the League and swarmed by his own Parademons, it’s reportedly Darkseid that uses a boom tube to drag him back. There, angered by Steppenwolf’s failure/potential insurrection, Darkseid kills him before declaring his intention to come to Earth to “meet the Kryptonian” that beat his uncle.
This does unfortunately seem very reminiscent of the way Whedon’s Avengers introduced Thanos, who was actually created by Jim Starlin for Marvel as a direct rip-off of Darkseid. It’s clear WB didn’t want that comparison. Another comparison they probably didn’t want was to a certain jade-coloured hero who has already been seen on screen in a flopped pre-DCEU movie.
I am, of course, talking about Green Lantern, who we know will be rebooted for the DCEU in a Green Lantern Corps movie after the disastrous 2011 Ryan Reynolds flick. It was also rumoured for a very long time that one of the film’s credits scenes would, in fact, be the introduction of the light-powered space cop. A Green Lantern does show up in the movie, as during Wonder Woman’s history lesson on the last time Steppenwolf tried to conquer Earth, we see an unnamed Lantern fighting alongside the Amazons, Atlanteans and the tribes of men, but there’s nothing that features prominently. And if you can count, then you know that there should be.
The very first teaser poster for Justice League showed a pic of Aquaman with text declaring “Unite the seven”. This is clearly referencing the League who were originally seven members when they first appeared in comics back in 1960: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter (who was replaced by Cyborg in DC’s New 52 reboot) and Green Lantern. Only six of those are in the movie.
While I didn’t expect to see a Green Lantern in action with the League in modern times, I did expect some further reference to them especially given that piece of Steppenwolf dialogue mentioned above, because it could actually explain away the film’s one gigantic plot hole. In the movie, we’re told that the reason why the Mother Boxes are awakening now is because Superman is no longer around to protect the Earth, but this makes absolutely no sense. The Mother Boxes were hidden away on Earth 5000 years earlier so why didn’t they call out to Steppenwolf during the 4970-odd years before Superman even arrived on Earth?
Steppenwolf briefly speaks of being in exile in the movie (and it’s never mentioned again) and that could somehow explain him perhaps being unreachable, but the likeliest answer would just have been that this entire time there has been a Green Lantern making sure nothing bad happens. For uninitiated, while the Green Lantern’s headquarters is on the planet Oa at the center of the universe, each individual Lantern is assigned a sector to protect – Earth is in Sector 2814 – much like a cop gets a precinct to watch over. When a Lantern dies, their power ring automatically flies off and seeks out a replacement who can take over their sector, so there’s always somebody on the job. All Justice League needed was a line from Steppenwolf to indicate that there’s no Green Lantern guarding this sector now – presumably preoccupied with whatever happens in the Green Lantern Corps movie – and that would have both filled in that huge plot hole and get fans excited for a Green Lantern movie.
One constant theme running through several of the deleted scenes is that Whedon seemingly wanted this film to stand alone instead of also setting up a sequel or solo character movies (there was an entire Atlantis sequence chopped that set the stage for the Aquaman solo movie). This could be because of his own aversion to this approach – it was seemingly Marvel’s insistence on him including teaser scenes in Avengers: Age of Ultron that caused him to end their lucrative partnership – or it could be because the DCEU doesn’t seem to have a roadmap set in stone right now. We know the immediate future as some titles are already in development (Aquaman is currently busy shooting while Shazam is ready to go soon), but we’ve been seeing every other month how WB’s plans change. Justice League Part Two was removed from WB’s schedule and their official lineup is filled with potential titles that have no set release dates and/or filmmakers and scripts attached. Either way, whatever the reason why Whedon chose or was asked to cut some of Snyder’s content, I really hope we get to see it one day because it could actually make for a better movie experience.
Also, if somebody could please start a campaign to get us a version of Justice League in which Henry Cavill’s moustache is not digitally removed that would be amazing. The world needs to see the Super-Stache.
Last Updated: November 20, 2017