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Exclusive: What I Learned About ‘Justice League’ After Talking To A VFX Artist

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The Outset

Now, before I get into all of this: Know that because of the strict NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) the artist has, I asked questions that could be left up for interpretation. I didn’t want the answers to be linked back to any one person. What I can say is that this person worked on Justice League for about a year and began before Zack stepped down.

That indicates several things: One – all character designs were well into place before Joss Whedon was brought in. You can read into that however you would like, but that simply means Steppenwolf and the Parademons from Batman v Superman were in their initial form prior to release. Then, once the backlash about the entirety of the controversial film was cemented in history, things escalated exponentially. I’ll cover my thoughts on that later.

Two – most of these artists are somewhat aware of what transpired between having a different director brought in. They were only working on their assignments without knowledge of what would make it into the film or not. That’s why we’ve found certain shots that contain missing portions from Zacks film. The artist themselves are unaware since they’re constantly working on additional films.

What I Found Out

When asked why WB might have any reel removed if they contained any footage from Justice League NOT seen in theaters, they replied: Is that happening? The only reason I can think of is that if the footage was pirated, such as a DVD rip, it might have been flagged and removed. I’ve heard of demo reels being taken down due to unlicensed DRM music.”

That brings up an interesting point though: Why would Warner Bros. pull any additional footage if it doesn’t get flagged by their system originally? Or more specifically:  Why are reels able to contain any other films after release, but when the reels contain any Justice League footage not seen in theaters, they get removed after enough people bring it to attention? “I haven’t heard anything about this,” my source said.

Why Haven’t We Found Additional Footage?

VFX artist working on these films aren’t sure what they can and cannot put in their reels, that much we know. But why haven’t we found any other footage containing work done with Steppenwolf invading Themiscyra? Or even more of the League v Superman when he’s brought back to life? My only thought is those were the only scenes that featured heavy CGI usage, that WAS NOT altered.

Sure, we’ve been finding plenty of reels for 2017 but mainly for 2018, meaning they’re showcasing their most recent work. The amazon battle and the League v Superman were obviously scenes Snyder was completing as evidence showing him in the Extras on the Blu Ray of Justice League.

The 3rd Act

We never see Zack involved with the 3rd act in the behind-the-scenes, and by all accounts, we know that was the most heavily altered part of the film by Joss Whedon. Add that these VFX artists are obviously allowed to showcase what they’ve done on films, how come they’re coming out now and not back in 2016 AFTER principal photography?

These are questions that in order to get answers, one would clearly be breaking their NDA and that is the last thing I would make someone do. So how does one gain useful answers and formulate questions without jeopardizing the persons current NDA? You break everything down to the simplest form from the answer you already suspect but in an objective way. You search for meaning in-between the words that are spoken.

Do VFX Teams Work On Films POST Theatrical Release In General?

I’ve heard this has happened on other shows but I’m not sure how often.” That would make sense. Certain things might be touched up if the directors cut gets worked on with things that may have been removed early on. But that also leads me to believe that the Justice League was completed prior to Zack leaving (VFX wise).

My source didn’t work on the film after it got released in theaters. It would be ridiculous to bring in a brand new team to complete work on VFX and start over from scratch. Especially just for the re-shoots. And since my source was still working on the film when Zack left, we can assume nothing was told to the artists about things being made ‘lighter’. They also weren’t told to make him ‘less scary’ when it came to Steppenwolf, right? “Can’t say either way“.

The Snyder Cut

One of the last things I wanted to find out, is if they knew about the infamous “Snyder Cut” of Justice League: “Sorry I really don’t know anything about the Snyder Cut, if such a thing exist.

So What Are The Takeaways?

For me, it’s obvious VFX were done prior to Zack leaving. Everything we see in the film (minus the red skies), was created with Zacks permission. The Pre-Viz footage of Justice League we saw was pre-BvS. It contained the Steppenwolf we saw with Luthor. That was obviously CUT out of the Theatrical release because Execs already had a problem with it. Execs tell Zack to cut out the real version of Steppenwolf in the theatrical release of Batman v Superman. They’re wanting to prevent it being seen in a wide release.

That’s why he released it AFTER the fact because it’s still his film. But Pre-Viz for Justice League was already worked on before the release of Batman v Superman. That’s why it contained the original version of what he was going to look like.

What We Know

The Execs were already working on changing Zacks vision of Steppenwolf. It came to the point that he allowed the lighter version of what we got in the film. So, if the artist weren’t actively working on the film after release, what would that mean? That would mean almost all the footage Zack shot was worked on. It had a lot of VFX already locked because DI was already being handled on it. That indicates that if DI was being done in February, the film was locked prior. If my source doesn’t know about a Snyder Cut, that’s because they only worked on one cut of the film. That means all Whedon did was replace things with filler in the editing bay.

But why are we finding a lot of reels of main material that was re-shot? Maybe because the artists working on those finally finished them to add into their 2018 reels to highlight their work. VFX artist wouldn’t have finished the film, only to be brought back and continue work on what Whedon was shooting. The VFX were all done at the same time. That would indicate they wouldn’t know if what they’re working on is Zacks or Whedons. That’s probably why we saw the Cyborg scene in the football stadium fully complete. If that doesn’t give you more evidence just how complete Zack Snyders Justice League film was and still is, then I’m not sure what more you need.

Father // Senior Editor // Co-Host for The Reel in Motion Podcast @TheReelinMotion // Male Feminist // Unapologetic Snyder Enthusiast // Xbox X

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