The 2007 JUSTICE LEAGUE Movie That Nearly Happened. - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The 2007 JUSTICE LEAGUE Movie That Nearly Happened.

The League who very nearly fought for Justice...
The Snyder cut is here! After extensive fan campaigns, a global pandemic causing many a movie studio to lose projected income, a need to drive subscribers to the HBO Max serivce, and a raft of negative publicity surrounding both Joss Whedon personally and his 2017 cinematic version of the Justice League, Warner Bros. made the no-brainer decision to fund, complete and release Zack Snyder's intended vision for DC Comics ultimate ensemble of heroes.

It's been a long journey to get here, and a bumpy ride the entire way. The theatrical version of Justice League, released by Warner Bros. in 2017, suffered a difficult production. Its script underwent major changes before and during filming between 2016 and 2017. then, in May 2017 Snyder stepped down during post-production following the death of his daughter, and Joss Whedon was hired to finish the film. Although he completed the film as an uncredited director, Whedon oversaw extensive reshoots and other changes that incorporated a brighter tone and more humor and cut the runtime down significantly in accordance with a mandate from Warner Bros. Upon release, the theatrical Justice League was a box-office bomb and received mixed reviews, leading Warner Bros. to re-evaluate the future of the DCEU and "focus development on individual films featuring the main heroes" - a decision the studio had also made a decade earlier when a very different take on the Justice League can dangerously close to going before the cameras. This is the story of Justice League: Mortal...
In February 2007, Warner Bros. hired husband and wife duo Michele and Kieran Mulroney to write a script for a Justice League film. Titled Justice League: Mortal, the Mulroney's submitted their script in the June of that year to positive feedback, which prompted the studio to immediately fast track production.

Warner Bros. had earlier announced solo outtings for The Flash and Wonder Woman, the latter of which was at the time being overseen by Joss Whedon, but had cancelled both projects in favour of an ensemble adventure, and having been disappointed with the box office return of Superman Returns had decided to start afresh with the Man of Steel rather than either produce a Brandon Routh starring sequel or invite the actor to reprise the character in this Justice League film. Christopher Nolan, who was deep in production of the second of his accliamed Batman trilogy, was against incorporating elements of a wider DC cinematic universe into the third instalment, so Christian Bale was also not approached to star as Batman.

Instead, Warner Bros. intended for Justice League: Mortal to be the start of a new film franchise, and to branch out into separate sequels and spin-offs. The proposed new DC Cinematic Universe didn't sit well with everyone as shortly after filming finished with The Dark Knight, Bale stated in an interview that...
"It’d be better if it doesn't tread on the toes of what our Batman series is doing, [and] it would make more sense to release the film after Batman 3 [The Dark Knight Rises]"
Warner Bros. felt quite differently and pushed ahead, offering Jason Reitman the directors chair for Justice League: Mortal. Fresh from his Juno success, Reitman turned it down, and George Miller of Mad Max fame signed to direct in September 2007, with the film allocated a $220 million budget.

The following month roughly 40 actors and actresses were auditioning for the ensemble superhero roles, among them were Joseph Cross, Michael Angarano, Max Thieriot, Minka Kelly, Adrianne Palicki and Scott Porter. Miller intended to cast younger actors as he wanted them to "grow" into their roles over the course of several films. D. J. Cotrona was cast as Superman, along with Armie Hammer as Batman. Jessica Biel reportedly declined the Wonder Woman role after being in negotiations. The character was also linked to actresses Teresa Palmer and Shannyn Sossamon, along with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who confirmed that she had auditioned. Ultimately Australian model Megan Gale was cast as Wonder Woman, while Palmer was cast as Talia al Ghul, whom Miller had in mind to act with a Russian accent. The script for Justice League: Mortal would have featured the John Stewart character as the Green Lantern, a role originally offered to Columbus Short before hip hop recording artist and rapper Common was cast. Adam Brody signed on to play The Flash / Barry Allen, and Jay Baruchel would be the lead villain, Maxwell Lord. Longtime Miller collaborator Hugh Keays-Byrne was cast as the Martian Manhunter, and the final member to join the team, Aquaman, would be played by Santiago Cabrera.

Miller planned to shoot the whole thing in Australia, and New Zealand's Weta Workshop were bought on board for the production. Their contract stipulated it was an exclusive agreement to focus solely on Justice League and not take work for any other movies until it was completed. Weta were to be involved in the motion capture as some of the characters would be realised entirely digitally (presumably at least Martian Manhunter). Filming was scheduled to begin immediately, and with all the cast in place, and some years later images of them gathering during pre-production appeared online...

From the bottom- director George Miller, Jay Baruchel(Maxwell Lord), Hugh Keays-Byrne(Martian Manhunter). Next row - Santiago Cabrera(Aquaman), Adam Brody(The Flash), Teresa Palmer(Talia al Ghul), stuntman Greg Van Borssum, and producer Barrie Osborne(Lord of the Rings). Armie Hammer(Batman) is at the very back and D.J. Cotrona(Superman) directly in front of him.

However, in November 2007 the Writers Guild of America Strike began and placed the film on hold. Warner Bros. had to let the options lapse for the cast, but development was fast tracked once more in February 2008 when the strike ended, and filming was now scheduled to begin in May 2008. All looked good...

Australian born Miller hadn't just chosen to film in his home country for sentimental reasons, the country offered a lucrative 40% tax rebate on foreign productions shooting there, meaning the budget, which although not at all insignificant, could be stretched further to accomodate all the work Miller's vision would need. However (and you knew there was a however, right?), the Australian government denied Warner Bros. their tax rebate as they felt they had not hired enough Australian actors. Miller had cast Gale, Palmer and Keays-Bryne, all Australian natives, with this in mind, and the entire crew were made up of native workers from Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, but as the recently-elected Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, had changed the tax rebate incentive program the production wasn't deemed to be enough Australian to qualify. Miller was, quite understandably, frustrated, stating that...
"A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Australian film industry is being frittered away because of very lazy thinking. They're throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that the rest of the world is competing for and, much more significantly, highly skilled creative jobs."
Although an attempt to re-stage the production at the Vancouver Film Studios in Canada took place, the budget was now spiraling up closer to $300 million. Filming was then pushed back to July 2008 while Warner Bros. considered options, and with the success of The Dark Knight the studio decided to halt production on Justice League: Mortal completely and "focus on development of individual films featuring the main heroes".

After the films cancellation, Gregory Noveck, senior vice president of creative affairs for DC Entertainment, stated...
"We’re going to make a Justice League movie, whether it’s now or 10 years from now. But we’re not going to do it and Warners is not going to do it until we know it’s right."
And they did! As to if they "got it right" with the 2017 release of the Justice League, that is of course subjective, but given that Whedon's theatrical cut grossed $657.9 million against an estimated break-even point of as much as $750 million, meaning that the film lost Warner Bros. around $60 million, there's clearly a lot more riding on the back of the Snyder Cut than just appeasing a very vocal fanbase.

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