Superman can do anything, it seems, but have a mustache.
Or to be more accurate, it’s Henry Cavill’s mustache that’s reportedly causing some problems for Warner Bros.’ upcoming Justice League movie, which is due to be released on November 17 but is nonetheless currently undergoing extensive reshoots (which are generally filmed to fix or replace scenes that aren’t working).
After initial filming on Justice League was complete, it seems that Cavill reasonably assumed he was done playing the smooth-jawed Man of Steel for a minute and grew out his facial hair for a part in the next Mission: Impossible movie.
According to a new Variety report, however, Justice League is being retooled so much — with an assist from The Avengers’ Joss Whedon, no less, now that director Zack Snyder has stepped away from the project to cope with his daughter’s recent death — that Warner Bros. has agreed to just digitally remove Cavill’s mustache from any reshot Justice League scenes rather than lose any more time.
That’s because, per one particularly amusing detail in Variety’s account of the situation, Mission: Impossible producer Paramount reportedly “would not allow Cavill to shave the facial hair while production was taking place.” (Just imagine the resulting negotiations for a second and tell me it’s not an outtake from the Coen brothers’ Hail Caesar.)
Many people have (rightfully) delighted in this detail as the hilarious one it is. Some are even imagining a brave new world in which Superman — not to mention fellow his Justice League teammates Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg — can both save the world and sport a bushy mustache.
But mostly this anecdote serves as a tangible example of just how hard Warner Bros. is scrambling to make sure Justice League succeeds, and the studio’s apparent belief that in order for the film to have a chance at that success, it requires an almost total tonal revamp.
Justice League’s reshoots — helmed by Joss Whedon — are reportedly trying to adjust the tone to be closer to Wonder Woman’s
As of this week, Wonder Woman has officially passed Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 to become the summer’s biggest box office hit. That’s a huge boon for both DC Comics and Warner Bros., which may have found monetary success with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad but were presumably unhappy with the overwhelmingly negative critical response they received. Both movies were slammed for their incoherent stories, their dedication to reimagining beloved comic stories in a relentlessly grim fashion, and their unyielding darkness (both figurative and literal).
Meanwhile, not only is Wonder Woman still tracking better than both of those films, but it’s also been met with widespread acclaim, with the character of Diana Prince inspiring huge cultural cachet and enthusiasm.
So it stands to reason that this success is a huge motivating factor for Warner Bros. to make sure its next DC Comics movie — Justice League — doesn’t squander the opportunity to draw in the fans that came out in such force for Wonder Woman, making the Gal Gadot film an undeniable, massive success.
It seems some adjustments were inevitable for Justice League after Whedon took over directing the project in March. But Variety reports that he is now taking on more than anyone could have anticipated as he carries Justice League over the finish line. (Whedon will not get a co-directing credit, though he may wind up with a producing or screenwriting credit like Tony Gilroy did when he took over the similarly extensive Rogue One reshoots for director Gareth Edwards.)
According to Variety, Warner Bros. is so dedicated to retooling Justice League that it’s devoted about $25 million to reshoots, versus the more typical $10 million or so. Sources tell Variety that Justice League’s reshoots are largely focusing on fixing some “connective tissue” in bigger set piece battles and “punching up” the dialogue to be a little pithier. Both of these tasks land firmly within Whedon’s usual wheelhouse — as we’ve seen at Marvel, where his bantering and bombastic take on The Avengers became the linchpin for the studio’s ongoing web of interlocking superhero stories.
All of this suggests that Warner Bros. wants Justice League to look less like the grim wars of Batman v Superman and more like The Avengers — or the buoyant Wonder Woman. In fact, some people, like Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan, have even noted that the most recent Justice League trailer, released last weekend at Comic-Con, is literally lighter than the first, seemingly to bring Snyder’s direction out of its preferred shadows.
But with Justice League’s release date holding firm in November — just a few months away! — how much can it really change? We may never truly know what the film originally looked like, but it will at least be fascinating to see what the combination of Snyder and Whedon’s perspectives will do for this next critical step in the DC-Warner Bros. superhero universe.
Corrected to reflect that Cyborg, not Cyclops, is part of the Justice League.