When Justice League opened in theaters in 2017, the story was as much about what was on the screen as it was about what happened behind the scenes. It was well-known that, while Zack Snyder was listed as the film's director, he had left the production before completion with Joss Whedon stepping in to finish things up. In the years that followed, however, it started to emerge that Whedon hadn't just finished a few things but had made an entirely different movie, complete with multiple weeks of reshoots and a very different script. Now, with Zack Snyder's Justice League -- the filmmaker's original vision for the film -- complete and now streaming on HBO Max, fans can see for themselves just how little of Snyder's work was in that theatrical release and it turns out there was very little of the original cinematographer's work there as well. In an interview with IndieWire, cinematographer Fabian Wagner admits that he wasn't involved in Whedon's Justice League reshoots.
In the interview, Wagner is asked if he was ever asked to do the Whedon reshoots and he admits that he was, but work on another project prevented him from participating. He also explains that he isn't sure who actually did the reshoots, but he dropped by the set one time.
"I'm not entirely sure, but I think the guy who did our second unit did most of it," Wagner said. "I was actually shooting a movie in the same studio space where they were doing the reshoots, so I only dropped in on the set once, which was a strange experience. It was very different than what I had experienced with Zack, so I wasn't there for long."
He continued, "And obviously, I knew how many days they were reshooting, so that kind of sets off alarm bells. You think, 'Wow, that's a lot of,' you know, "How's that going to work?'"
Fabian also explained that, in retrospect, doing an interview with the American Society of Cinematographers when the theatrical Justice League came out was a bit weird considering his work wasn't fully used in the film.
"I did that interview, and I'm doing it again now actually. Because by the time I did the interview, I hadn't seen the movie," Wagner said. "I was talking about the movie the way we'd shot it, but I hadn't seen the final version. Yes, and it was very strange. It was a very devastating experience."
He added, "There was to things. I was thinking about Zack, and all the horrible things he's went through, and then obviously, I knew the movie I shot with Zack and I knew what Zack was going to do with it. I could see the movie Zack had in his head. So to see that movie, and to see the color grade and everything we aimed for and that we did in our rushes [dailies were generated with a predetermined color grade and timing], for example, was completely different. Yeah, I was devastated."
And Wagner isn't the only person involved with Justice League who has expressed being devastated with the changes made when Whedon boarded the project. Writer Chris Terrio recently opened up about his situation to Vanity Fair.0comments
"I went into such depression when the film was taken away and rewritten. But I didn’t even feel entitled to be depressed, because Zack and Debbie [Snyder, his wife and coproducer] were dealing with their family tragedy," said Terrio. "Measured against that, losing the film that you wrote seems like nothing at all. But it did hurt. It hurts to think that I cared so much about these characters and worked on nothing else for a very long time."
Zack Snyder's Justice League is now streaming on HBO Max.