Ever since Joss Whedon took the helm of Justice League, rumors about his involvement have been flying about like so many parademons. There have been whispers that Warner Bros. brought him in to lighten the tone, murmurings about the "extensive reshoots" that have completely rewritten key scenes, and one possibly unfounded but concerning grumble that Whedon has changed the ending completely. So far, all of this is hearsay. Now, we have some more hearsay — but at least this rumor adds some clarity to what has become an elaborate and overhyped game of Chinese whispers.
Whedon Cut Characters, Rewrote A Third Of The Script
According to Forbes's Mark Hughes, who discussed his thoughts on the Superhero News podcast, Joss Whedon's contributions to the script make up about 20 minutes of the film:
"There are a lot of ways you can contribute to changing a script… What I heard was [that Whedon did] roughly two dozen pages of additional material and rewrites, and on top of that… There’s some stuff that’s been cut."
Hughes points out that Joss Whedon's writing credit doesn't just refer to his actual script rewrites, but his contributions in general to the production. This includes reshoots, additional scenes, and everything he cut from the movie — which, according to Hughes, is quite a lot:
"Scenes have been cut, and characters have been cut out of the film... things have been changed and things have been cut. So when you look at the totality of his involvement and his work and his impact on that script, yes, it’s fair to say probably a third of the script total when you add [cuts, reshoots, and new scenes]."
Unfortunately Hughes did not pinpoint where he got his information, simply attributing these facts to what he "had heard." His information seems to line up with what we know of Whedon's involvement in reshoots — but the fact that significant portions of the movie, even entire characters have been cut is certainly new information.
Are These Changes Good Or Bad For Justice League?
So what do we make of all this? Whedon's changes could be a benefit to the movie — some past movies definitely seem like they could have benefitted from redrafting, a different perspective coming in to tidy up the story a bit. I would argue that Zack Snyder's previous work for the #DCEU — Batman v Superman especially — could have been dramatically improved by another director making some cuts and rewrites. It's possible for filmmakers to get too creatively involved in their own production, rendering them unable to see the film's flaws. An external perspective can help in this situation.
However, the opposite can also be true. There are plenty of films that have suffered from having too many cooks in the kitchen — the most recent Fantastic Four movie was plagued with too many different perspectives, and reportedly every part of The Dark Tower's story went through exhaustive vetoes from several different studios. It could be that Justice League falls prey to the same problems, with the dual creative inputs resulting in a confused storyline and odd shifts in tone.
Yet, all of this is not only pre-emptive, but also a moot point. It's impossible to judge Whedon's involvement before Justice League is released, and we discover if the final product matches up with what the trailers represented. But even then we won't really know how different the film could have been — because Snyder never got the chance to realize his vision of the movie, the only version we'll see is the combination of Snyder and Whedon's work, and we can only guess what the movie could have been. Such is the case of Rogue One, a film which underwent six months of reshoots and rewrites that reportedly completely changed what Gareth Edwards originally created. Hopefully, like Rogue One, what we'll get with Justice League is an enjoyable movie that is good in its own right — and only a lingering curiosity over what might have been.
Tell us in the comments: Do you think Whedon's alterations are a good or bad thing for Justice Leauge?