The tales of Joss Whedon's work on Justice League have swirled since he took control of the production, with rumors running rampant through the internet about extensive reshoots and even an alternate ending. Recently, we heard that Whedon rewrote roughly a third of the script, and cut several major characters from the story. Now, at least one of Whedon's victims has been revealed — and it's someone we all expected to see after his role in Batman v Superman.
No Lex For 'Justice League,' But What About Deathstroke?
Fansite Batman News has the scoop, claiming they can confirm that Lex Luthor has been unceremoniously sliced from the script, like so many luscious locks.
This is a great surprise, considering that Lex was the one to "ring the bell" and invite Stepphenwolf to invade Earth at the end of Batman v Superman. This seemed to be setting up a large role for Lex in Justice League, and we could have even seen him become a minor lieutenant for the alien general. Considering Lex's position as one of #DC's greatest villains, this would be a logical progression for the character. And yet, it seems that Lex's role was insignificant enough for Whedon to erase the character while trimming the fat from the film.
Lex's erasure has huge implications for another villain, as this report leaves Deathstroke's #DCEU fate hanging in the balance. This time last year, Zack Snyder tweeted a photo of himself deep in the storyboarding process for Justice League. Redditors swiftly zoomed and enhanced the picture (just like in the movies!), identifying the characters as Deathstroke and Lex Luthor. The storyboard seemed to depict Deathstroke freeing Lex from prison.
Around the same time last year, Deathstroke was tapped to play the villain in The Batman, and continued to be the only thing we knew about the movie — until Ben Affleck's solo Batman outing nose-dived straight into production hell, losing Affleck as a director before Matt Reeves was brought in. It slowly became apparent that Reeves was starting from scratch with the movie, leaving Deathstroke out in the cold. And with Arrow set to bring back the character — after cutting him to avoid clashes with the movies — it seems that Deathstroke's DCEU future has been cut short.
It could be that this scene between Lex and Deathstroke in Justice League was intended to set up the latter's role in The Batman, and now, with Deathstroke no longer playing a role in that film, this Justice League scene would feel simultaneously gratuitous and jarring. With that in mind, it seems highly likely that Deathstroke has been cut from Justice League along with Lex Luthor, unless he had some role in the plot outside of rescuing the Metropolitan crime lord.
What this means for Lex's role outside Justice League remains to be seen. As he is primarily Superman's foe in the comics, it wouldn't be surprising if Lex played a major role in Man Of Steel 2. But one thing's for certain: we'll get no hints for this in Justice League.
And maybe that's for the best. One of the major criticisms of Batman v Superman was that this film was far too crowded with cameos and set-up, so preoccupied with establishing a cinematic universe that it lost focus on its own plot. Justice League should not be burdened with such things — we're all hoping that this team-up flick is the fun, wild ride that the DCEU needs.
So maybe Joss Whedon cutting Lex from the movie is a step towards this, making the movie as un-convoluted as it needs to be. Or perhaps this is a huge misstep and will result in confusion after Lex's role in Batman v Superman. At least we'll find out soon!