Earlier this week, faster than a speeding bullet, a flurry of articles appeared online, all detailing the same set visit to the first of Zack Snyder’s two Justice League films. Press outlets including io9, Vulture, IGN, Nerdist, and Birth.Movies.Death. were invited by Warner Bros to check out the London set where Justice League was reaching the one-third mark on a projected 111-day shoot. The set visit took place on June 17; the reports were published half a week later. Online speculation is that many of the outlets invited had derided Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; the subtext of the set visit, then, was See for yourself that we’re not making the same mistake twice!
Whatever the reason, we now have a much clearer sense of Justice League‘s story and (more importantly) tone, as well as promising information about Ezra Miller’s Flash and J.K. Simmons’ Commissioner Gordon. There’s even intel on Ben Affleck’s standalone Batman film. Here’s everything we now know about Justice League.
Spoilers for Batman v Superman and light spoilers/speculation for Justice League.
Revealing the Logo, Summary, MacGuffins, and Villain
While the original announcement set up Justice League as a two-part film, it now looks as if the first installment will be a standalone. There will still be a Justice League “sequel” coming out June 14, 2019, but Snyder told press that the first movie (coming to theaters November 17, 2017) will be a complete story, which hopefully means it won’t end on a big cliffhanger we’ll have to wait two years to resolve. To that end, Warner Bros has released the official logline, as well as the above logo:
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
It’s about what we all expected. The only surprise so far seems to be where in the narrative Superman will show up—something that the producers weren’t shy about addressing, according to io9. “There wouldn’t be a Justice League without Superman,” Deborah Snyder (Zack Snyder’s wife and producing partner) told the press. “But I think his way back to us [is something] we don’t want to really spoil. But he’s here.”
Birth.Movies.Death. identified the movie’s MacGuffins: the Mother Boxes, alien supercomputers that can manipulate time, space, and reality—anything from turning the injured Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) into Cyclops, as we saw in Batman v Superman, to teleporting people across the galaxy. Justice League will revolve around three Mother Boxes (one designed for the Amazonians, one for the Atlanteans, and one for humans), which the newly-formed Justice League will have to keep out of the hands of confirmed villain Steppenwolf (Darkseid’s uncle) and his Parademons (spotted in BvS). This makes sense considering the deleted scene WB released online shortly after the film’s release, which showed Lex Luthor communing with Steppenwolf, holding the three boxes.
Zack Snyder Took Your Criticisms to Heart
There’s a reason Devin Faraci titled his article (on Birth.Movies.Death.) “A Hater Tours the Justice League Set“: His hypothesis was that the invite had an ulterior motive, of converting him and other journalists who were underwhelmed or downright angry over the mess that was Dawn of Justice. Snyder admitted that he was caught off guard by the negative reaction (to the tune of 27% on Rotten Tomatoes) to the movie, so much so that he made a conscious adjustment to the tone of Justice League. Deborah Snyder framed it as a three-film arc that was always meant to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other: “What’s really great is that where we were going is kind of what the audience was wanting, which is a good thing. We just had to take the characters from somewhere [dark] to bring them up to where they are now.” When asked what her learning experience from Dawn of Justice was, she responded, “The main thing we learned, I think: People don’t like to see their heroes deconstructed.” (Several Twitter users disagree with her use of the word “deconstructed.”)
The thing is, it’s not all just talk. Or rather, it is talk, and action…
It’s Funny! (Mostly Because of The Flash)
The journalists were invited to sit in on the shooting of a key scene in which Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons, looking quite the part according to reports) turns on the Batsignal, only to have Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and The Flash join Batman to discuss the strange happenings in Gotham. Aside from the plot points it covers, one big takeaway was that it wasn’t just a bunch of costumed superheroes stiffly expositing at each other; they actually seemed like real people. Faraci writes:
“The bad guy’s flying monkeys,” Batman says. Batman makes a joke! And it’s a real Batman type of line, one that would work in the comics! “Sardonic” is the word Affleck uses later to describe Batman’s sense of humor. I got very excited.
All of this is great, but get this: as Cyborg walks up to the group Wonder Woman looks at him and gently smiles. A smile! In a Zack Snyder superhero movie! I was over the moon. This is what I want from a movie like this—people who are at least happy to see one another.
There’s even some subverting of superhero tropes the likes of which you’d more expect to see in a Marvel movie:
Batman rounds up the team and they head out. But with Cyborg the dynamics will be different.
“Now that he’s here we can’t all fit in the car!” says The Flash.
“I have something bigger,” Batman replies, which is like perfect.
Gordon turns away. He knows what’s up. Batman’s gonna disappear. He starts giving a speech to the city below him (it’s actually a huge green screen). He turns around, expecting to be alone… but The Flash is still there! Gordon is startled!
“You’re still here!” he says.
“Yeah, hey they all left,” says The Flash. “That’s rude.”
(By the way, I got to see Batman sneaking away from Commissioner Gordon. That was pretty cool).
Later, the press checked out a completed clip of Bruce Wayne meeting Barry Allen—though not for the first time, as The Flash appeared to Wayne in Batman v Superman telling him to “find us.” Multiple outlets have written up this scene; here’s io9’s writeup, which likens the scene to Tony Stark and Peter Parker’s banter with a dash of those amazing Quicksilver sequences from the X-Men films:
Allen returns to his home. It’s a huge warehouse with graffiti all over the walls and a basketball rim over the door. He turns on the lights, revealing a huge cache of TVs, monitors, and Bruce Wayne sitting in a chair. Allen wants to know how he got there, but Wayne ignores him and hands Allen a photo of the surveillance video we saw in Batman v Superman. “That’s a person who looks exactly like me but is definitely not,” says Allen. “Hippie, long hair, very attractive Jewish boy. He drinks milk, I don’t drink milk.” he jokes as Wayne starts to walk over to a red suit standing in the apartment.
“I know you have abilities, I just don’t know what they are,” says Wayne.
“My special skills include viola, web design…” Allen rambles as Wayne examines the suit and notes it’s made of a very specific heat resistant material. “Yeah, I do competitive ice dancing,” Allen says.
“This is the stuff the space shuttle uses to prevent from burning up on reentry.”
“…Very competitive ice dancing?”
Just then, the film turns to slow-motion as Bruce Wayne hurls one of the razor-sharp, bat-logo-shaped throwing stars he used in BvS at Allen. Allen looks at it inquisitively as it passes him in slow motion then, with a profound realization, grabs it out of the air. Silence, surprise, and then: “You’re the Batman?”
“And you’re fast.”
“That feels like an oversimplification.”
Bruce tells Allen he’s putting together a team of people with special abilities because he believes enemies are coming. Barry immediately wants to be part of it, and Batman can’t help but ask why he’s agreed so quickly. “I need friends,” says Barry, just before holding up the throwing-bat/star. “Can I keep this?”
The consensus is that Ezra Miller’s Flash will steal the show: he’s charming, he’s having fun, he has wonderful banter with Cyborg.
Batman Gets Upgraded
On the tech side of things, Justice League will have planes, trains, and automobiles: There’s the souped-up Batmobile, seen above; the Night Crawler, a Batmobile-like vehicle that has spider legs which allow it to traverse uneven terrain, including an abandoned tunnel from the 1930s meant to connect Gotham and Metropolis; and the Flying Fox, a plane big enough to carry the entire Justice League. Batman will also sport a new “tactical suit,” a Batsuit augmented with extra layers of leather and protective plates. Interestingly, this Batsuit will be asymmetrical, with one shoulder more padded than the other, to protect Bruce’s bum shoulder.
And here’s another Tony Stark/Bruce Wayne parallel: some of Barry’s Flash armor comes from Wayne Industries.
Supporting Characters FTW
Though many of us know J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson, Faraci assures fans that Simmons is “absolutely classic Gordon: brimmed hat, head of grey hair, big brushy mustache, trench coat. I was blown away. It’s a perfect Gordon. And Simmons plays him with a kind of weariness.” Steppenwolf has been confirmed, though not yet cast. And Willem Dafoe’s character has been confirmed: Nuidis Vulko, Atlantean politician and mentor to Aquaman (Jason Momoa). No word yet on if he’ll also appear in the standalone Aquaman film.
The Standalone Batman Movie Will Happen When It Happens
Affleck—sans cowl, cracking jokes about how Christian Bale would never let people see him in smeared mascara—chatted with the press about Justice League as well as the solo Batman movie in the works. While WB seems to have a date in mind, Affleck does not yet have a script in hand that “pass[es] a very high bar” instead of just “yeah, that might be fun, let’s go try this out.” Having been promoted to executive producer on Justice League, he’s keeping in mind story elements for the eventual Batman film—one of which is more of a detective story:
The world’s greatest detective aspect of Batman is more present in [Justice League] than it was in [Batman v Superman], and will probably be expanded upon further in a Batman movie that I would do. I think all the great Batman stories are, at their heart, detective stories. That’s why they feel like noir movies in a way. Somehow it feels like it could be The Maltese Falcon.
And this is before any official promotional stills or a trailer! As we said, Justice League comes to theaters November 17, 2017, so stay tuned for plenty more news before then.