How Justice League Handled the Director Transition

Ben Affleck & Deborah Snyder on how Justice League changed from Zack Snyder to Joss Whedon, saying characters are bigger than directors.

It is no secret that the production process behind Justice League has been a complicated one that has left fans curious. The film is the culmination of a story Zack Snyder began with 2013’s Man of Steel and continued in the ambitious Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice last year. But due to a personal tragedy, Snyder was forced to step away from the post-production process of Justice League, leaving fellow superhero filmmaking stalwart, Joss Whedon, to both finish the film and to helm enough reshoots that it gained Whedon a co-writing credit on the screenplay.

This dynamic was the elephant in the room during a Justice League press event in London that Den of Geek attended, and both Ben Affleck and producer Deborah Snyder addressed it head on.

“The movie is Zack’s DNA,” Affleck said while noting that he himself as a director knows something about the creative process. “He cast the movie, he designed the movie. There’s something that people, I think, who don’t work on movies don’t actually understand, which is how much of the work is done in prep. You know the casting; the sets get built; the story is written; the ship is in essence sailing. I found as a director you can maybe change 10 percent, 15 percent or something on the day. So Zack’s ship set sail for us, and we were fortunate that, when Zack was not able to continue, we got really lucky that we got a guy who was very accomplished in his own right, and particularly in this genre. He kind of sprinkled on some of his fairy dust on our movie and finished it.”

Ad – content continues below

Affleck added that he doesn’t think it will do any good trying to decipher whose fingerprints are on each specific scene. “I don’t think there’s any way to go back, to me, and go, ‘Oh, that’s a Joss scene, that’s a Zack scene.’ It was more they were both working together toward a common goal.”

Deborah Snyder, meanwhile, considered the process a wistful experience but thinks that the film is bigger than any one director. It is all in service of giving the fans the Justice League movie they always wanted.

“I think for us this whole thing is so bittersweet, because we had been working on this franchise for the past almost eight years, when we started developing the script for Man of Steel,” Deborah recalled. “And then we moved on to BvS and also Zack developed this story for Wonder Woman, which was leading up literally to the point of Justice League where these characters were finally going to come together. This really was a great hero’s journey, and a journey for these characters to be the characters that they are today.

“So not being able to complete his vision was extremely difficult… but we were lucky we had Joss already working on script pages. And our feeling is we’re hoping people aren’t thinking about how the movie was made when they go to see it, because these characters are bigger than any director. They’re bigger than any of us. And we love and adore these characters.”

Fans can discover each character for themselves, as well as Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon’s collaborative contributions, when Justice League opens on Nov. 17.