There are still a lot of details about the Justice League movie that have yet to be officially seen - and one of the biggest ones (literally) is the villain of the movie, Steppenwolf, the ruthless general of Darkseid, a classic DC Comics villain.
Steppenwolf was previewed in the Extended Cut of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as a CGI monster, before Game of Thrones actor Ciaran Hinds was cast to play the full version of the character in Justice League. However, like so many DC Comics movie villains, it seems that Steppenwolf will be created through technical wizardry (motion-capture), without the need for the actor playing him to actually have contact with the sets and other actors in the film.
According to the actor:
“...I didn’t even have a costume when I was doing it [Justice League]. It’s all done in motion capture. So… they stick a helmet on your head, they put two cameras around, and they capture all your expressions, facial expressions. So basically, they’re going to concoct some kind of construction and they will use my facial expressions – eyes, mouth, voice – they’ll turn into this murderous, avenging Steppenwolf from the planet Apokolips, apparently. Who’s bent on Hell on Earth."
Regarding his total lack of interaction with fellow Justice League stars like Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot or Henry Cavill:
“...I don’t know whether they’re all afraid to come and meet me– no, no they weren’t, really. Because it’s imaginary, you do it with green screen… That was another challenge, you could say, yeah. But it was quite fun. And they’re very encouraging in what you do, suggesting ‘Over here, look over there, imagine that, do this here, they’re coming at you now.'”
DC Comics and DC Extended Universe fans are going to read that quote from Hinds, and for a lot of them, there will be a collective reaction: "Not again."
More so than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Extended Universe has amassed a negative stigma for (among other things) having third act "Boss Battles" featuring CGI monsters and backdrops hat seem to lack the substance and "feel" of a real-world battle, instead coming off like the cut scene of a video game.
It's a criticism that became particularly noticeable with the recent release of Wonder Woman, as that film was almost universally praised for being the best of the DCEU films released (to date) - and yet, it was still criticized for having a an overly bombastic and CGI-filled final battle between the Amazon warrior and Ares, the God of War, with actor David Thewlis adorned in CGI armor and tossing around ever digitally-created object in sight.
Wonder Woman was supposed to be a turning point that signaled DC Film's new approach to movie-making, with fan criticisms taken to heart and corrected. However, the news that Steppenwolf is another CGI creation and that Hinds never even had the chance to base his performance on actual interaction with castmates and environments, proves that the learning curve is still taking shape.
Of course, it's way too early to state any of this as a complete certainty - but don't be surprised if Justice League ends up being another DCEU movie that impresses... all the way up to that final battle.
Justice League is directed by Zack Snyder, from a screenplay by Chris Terrio, based on a story by Snyder and Terrio, Justice League stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Ciarán Hinds, Amy Adams, Willem Dafoe, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J. K. Simmons.
Justice League opens in theaters no November 17, 2017.
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