Armie Hammer as Batman; an evil superman; a budget of $ 250 million. Why was Pre-Zack Snyder Justice League: Mortal scrapped?
In another dimension, Armie Hammer’s role in Call Me by Your Name would have been a risky departure for an actor best known for playing Batman. Mad Max: Fury Road may never have happened. And Megan Gale would have been on everyone’s lips.
These were elements of Justice League: Mortal, an early incarnation of the Justice League movie that went up in flames spectacularly in 2017 after being botched by Joss Whedon and now dated original director Zack Snyder has been repainted. Before either version, Justice League: Mortal should be released in 2009, directed by Mad Max: Fury Road mastermind George Miller.
Hollywood projects falling apart over time are nothing new, but Miller’s Justice League is almost happens. When the Warner Bros. film was canceled due to issues with its budget, stars, and script, a number of actors were cast, costumes designed, and production was due to begin. It remains one of Hollywood’s most infamous unmade films.
Information about the proposed film has leaked here and there in anecdotes and conceptual art over the years, forming a remarkable picture of a slightly jumbled – albeit undeniably fascinating – comic film that The film’s script, which was leaked online in 2013 and credited to married writing duo Michele and Kieran Mulroney, featured Batman as an untrustworthy and vaguely dictatorial crime fighter developing a surveillance machine called the Brother Eye, which the Justice League of America and their colleagues are supposed to monitor civilians with superpowers. This, surprise-surprise, would fall into the evil hands of businessman Maxwell Lord, who would hijack the machine and create killer robots to fight the team.
Justice League: Mortal positioned The Flash somewhat strangely as its central character who later sacrificed his life to save the day in the movie’s final game. Additionally, as Maxwell Lord actor Jay Baruchel told the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Superman would turn evil and fight Wonder Woman as the film progressed.
« I’m turning him into a red-eyed Superman, » recalled Baruchel. « And then there is this great fight between him and Wonder Woman where he breaks her wrists and teeth and then I die in the middle of the movie and then my consciousness is uploaded to a f —— Mainframe and I’m a bad computer. “
Production art, prosthesis testing, and storyboards have been leaked over the years, one from artist Steve Skroce showing the aforementioned Superman / Wonder Woman fight (although he has since deleted the images) and others who did Aquaman in costumes and Wonder Womens House by Themyscira.
A documentary about the abandoned film has been in the works for years and will hopefully see the light of day when filmmaker Ryan Unicomb gets permission to use characters and images from Warner Bros.
This Justice League incarnation was developed at a particularly hopeful time for DC Comics and Warner Bros, who were successful and about to hit Batman Begins, the first entry in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed Batman trilogy Superman myth reinterpreted courtesy of Bryan Singer.
In September 2007, Miller, inspired by the Mulroney script, directed the Superhelo Took over the team film and quickly began assembling its cast. Looking back at the various breathless casting reports at the time is like looking back at the young Hollywood of 2007 in the microcosm.
There was Adam Brody, fresh from his role on The OC. Jessica Biel and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were both associated with Wonder Woman; The cast of Friday Night Lights read for numerous roles; and rapper Common auditioned at a time when he was dying to get into acting. One-time big deals like Shannyn Sossamon, Michael Angarano and Joseph Cross were also included in the auditions.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Miller was specifically looking for young actors who would be able to « grow into their roles over the course of several films « . They were also significantly cheaper than the ensembles of Batman Begins and Superman Returns.
Ultimately, Armie Hammer (long before his current controversy) as Batman, TV actor DJ Cotrona as Superman, Australian model Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, were common as Green Lantern, Brody as The Flash, the late Anton Yelchin as his nephew Wally West. The hero actor Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman and the late George Miller regulars Hugh Keays-Byrne as Martian Manhunter. Other roles included The Big Sick’s Zoe Kazan as The Flash’s Love Interest, Iris Allen, Stephen Tobolowsky as Alfred Pennyworth, Teresa Palmer as Talia al Ghul and Judd Apatow’s Jay Baruchel as the villain Maxwell Lord.
As Hammer Vulture said in 2010 , Miller’s preproduction for the film had been extensive. « They had pre-checked many of the special effects sequences, and we saw some of the battle sequences without actually filming them. »
He continued, « There was a huge room that he had turned into a storyboard room – that huge conference room with floor-to-ceiling storyboards on the walls – and you’d start at one point and just walk through the entire room and when you were done it was frame by frame the entire movie. We saw it on paper and wanted to bring it to life, we just never got the chance. “
The actors had tried their costumes on too, with Hammer describing his Batman costume as being made of incredibly luxurious fabrics. « His utility belt was made from the finest Italian leather and was highly polished. The things that would come out of his forearm were made of titanium but wrapped in very fine leather. » He also revealed that his Batman would have been the first to be able to turn his head in his hood.
An upcoming writers’ strike had got the film into production based on a few drafts of a script, however Warner Bros reportedly got cold feet when work began. There have long been concerns about a Justice League film that could potentially confuse the market, especially since the Christopher Nolan trilogy was in full swing. That had been publicly aggravated months earlier when Batman star Christian Bale told reporters he hadn’t been contacted to play the Caped Crusader in the film, stating, « It would be better if [Justice League] didn’t take the stage Toes of what our Batman series does. «
According to the New York Times, the Mulroneys traveled to Australia in March 2008 to work on the script with Miller and feared that » the script won’t quite meet the challenge of introducing a new series without the old ones to be beaten ”. The delay in production also meant the options for the cast lapsed and they could sign up for other work. This wasn’t a pressing issue, however, as they had reportedly hooked up with Miller while traveling to his Australian home and everyone was eager to make the film.
Another problem loomed: the film couldn’t get in Australia to be filmed. Miller, who has rarely made films outside of his home country, expected a 40 percent tax break from the Australian government, which would fund the film in exchange for the work the project would bring to the country. With a reported price of $ 250 million, the Justice League would have been largely inconceivable without government aid.
The Australian federal government finally stated that the Justice League would not receive the 40% discount, citing an alleged shortcoming of Australian actors in the main cast (although Gale, Palmer and Keays-Byrne were all from Down Under). As a result, Warner Bros. suspended production.
An outraged Miller told the Sydney Morning Herald, “A golden opportunity for the Australian film industry is being ruined by very lazy thinking. If this is to be the final decision, they are throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars in investment that the rest of the world is competing for, and especially high-quality creative jobs. «
Given the decision, production was relocated to Canada. Warner Bros planned to begin filming a summer 2009 release in July 2008. But July came and went and after Christopher Nolan’s tremendous critical and commercial success The Dark Knight, which was released earlier this month, Warner Bros and DC decided to regroup.
« We’re not excluded from the idea of a Justice League, » said Jeff Robinov, President of WB Production Time versus Variety. « There is massive interest and knowledge in the comics industry and it takes time to catch up with the characters and story and understand where they intersect and what their worlds are. That’s part of the training we go through. «
Gregory Noveck, senior vice president of creative affairs at DC Comics, added, » These are big, iconic characters. So if you’re making them into a movie, you’d better be shooting to a pretty high standard. You will not always achieve it, but you have to shoot for it. We’re going to make a Justice League movie, now or 10 years from now. But we won’t and Warners won’t do it until we know it’s right. «
By the end of 2008, the Justice League was as good as dead, and Miller announced on Australian television that he had left the project. He stated that he was no longer involved « in any way » and also implied that the cast’s poor performance was also a factor, claiming that the studio « now seems to want bigger stars in their superhero films ».Several cast members have spoken about the project over the past several years, with a mixture of sadness about what they thought was a missed opportunity and a slight shrug about the possible downfall of the project.
« For a long time I thought: « How great that could have been! « Said Hammer to Vulture. » [But] as a 31-year-old who has been through a lot since I was 19, I don’t want to see a 19-year-old Batman. I would say, « Who is this spoiled rich kid who wants to dress up? »
« I used to be upset that we didn’t make it, but everything happens exactly as it should, » he continued. « I still have a lot to learn and it’s a constant pursuit for me. If I had been so successful from the start, I would have thought I understood it all. I know I wasn’t doing a great job, or even a good one « It was a great script and a great director, » Adam Brody told HeyUGuys in 2013. « I’m not saying it changed the world, but this film would have worked, I’ll say that. » [It] would have been a nice little movie I think, but they [Warner Brothers] just didn’t want to cross their streams with a whole bunch of Batmans in the universe and all the other reasons they didn’t make it.
« I’ll say I don’t have a particular affinity for Flash. I grew up reading comics and I loved them, and I still have a thing for them. Although the older I get, the more saturated the market becomes, the more saturated it becomes. » I care less overall. «
Even Miller was a little » meh « because of his lack of existence. » It was very loyal to the comics at the time, very DCU, « he told the Word Balloon podcast. » Ultimately, I think it’s good it didn’t come out as there were some parts that were cool that they got right and there were some things that people would hate. Some of it was very focused on children. «
Speaking to Channel Nine in Australia, Gale had a slightly warmer answer: » As long as my son thinks I’m Wonder Woman [I’m fine], « Gale said. am healthy. «
In addition to recognizing the film for her friendship with Miller, who later cast her in Mad Max: Fury Road, she also proudly spoke about a photo she took in a costume that leaked online in 2015 « It was a really nice surprise because I hadn’t seen it in seven years. We were just doing costume trials. We were just doing the dress, costume, hair and wardrobe and doing a photo shoot. But I’m glad we did. » are far in the making that we had these photos! «
Miller’s departure from Justice League was weirdly hailed by fans who made it their business to see the director as » just the guy who made happy feet « Beat up and make fun of his casting decisions. The fresh-faced, all-American hammer, completely unknown at the time, had repeatedly been referred to as the “Frat-Man”.
« Since he was announced as director of the Justice League, I have increasingly disapproved of him and his idiotic casting decisions « wrote Alex Billington of First Showing in 2008. » I couldn’t be happier that he’s no longer involved! «
In retrospect, such a reaction is a bit embarrassing. On paper, Justice League: Mortal had problems with the story, while the timing of its planned release and lack of relationship with the Nolan trilogy pointed to a lack of thinking on the part of Warner Bros. bosses … something that has been repeated since then.
But Miller would also direct one of the most relentlessly exciting and rightly heralded blockbusters of the 21st century in the form of Mad Max: Fury Road, and it remains fascinating to imagine what he would have done with the superhero genre.
Given the ridiculously grim adaptations of Zack Snyder and the Joss Whedon snark that was roughly taped onto it really couldn’t have been much worse.
« It was allegorical, almost like a tale of Greek gods, » said Cotrona 2015 to slash film. Check out Fury Road and you can only imagine what he would do with these legendary characters. “
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