Up, up, and a shave: producer Charles Roven says it was a poor decision to send Justice League to theaters with a CG-shaved Superman whose face looked "funny." Having to use costly digital makeup to make a mustached Henry Cavill cleanshaven in post-production was one of several complications facing Justice League, left in the hands of Joss Whedon after director Zack Snyder stepped away to deal with a family tragedy. Roven recalls the CG-removed mustache mocked by moviegoers, who might not have known Paramount barred Cavill from shaving his Mission: Impossible facial hair when called on by Warner Bros. for Justice League reshoots.
"We were dealing with very complicated scenes. They were so complicated in terms of their structure and the additional shooting issues, and of course, we also had the fact that we were hoping for Henry to shave his beard," Roven told The Hollywood Reporter. "We were very worried that we weren't going to be able to accomplish that in a way that wasn't visible. And in fact, we were right to be worried about that. To open a movie with your Superman and have his face look funny — I wouldn't say that was one of the great decisions that were made."
Just 12 days into the theatrical run of Justice League in 2017, a damning report from TheWrap detailed the drama of the rushed production — described by one insider as "a Frankenstein," referring to the mishmash of parts from Snyder's vision and Whedon's retooled version — that should have been pushed back from its November 17 release date.
Insiders said that then-Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara and Warner Bros. Pictures Group Chairman Toby Emmerich "wanted to preserve their bonuses they would be paid before the merger [with AT&T]," explaining the decision not to delay Justice League to 2018. According to this person, the executives worried that "if they pushed the movie, then their bonuses would have been pushed to the following year and they might not still be at the studio."
Releasing a Justice League with a funny-looking Superman "was a decision that was made because of many other things, as opposed to protecting the movie," Roven told THR ahead of his new movie The Suicide Squad. "It was a decision that was made to protect a release date, all of the promotional partners who were tied into that release date, all of the theaters that had booked things around that release date."
Roven added: "The fact that IMAX was tied into that, that it was Christmas, that it would mean a lot of revenue for Warner Bros. at that particular time. They had no big, huge Christmas blockbuster to replace it with."
Snyder would correct Cavill's look when he returned to complete and deliver his never-before-seen vision for the movie with Zack Snyder's Justice League on HBO Max, which uses only footage shot by Snyder. In his director's cut, Snyder's Superman wears a black suit and does not have the computer-generated face of Whedon's reshot, red-and-blue-suited Superman.
"I've only seen it in memes," Snyder previously told MTV News about Cavill's digitally-erased mustache from the theatrical cut of Justice League. "It was funny because part of me is happy that we were able to have that not be the total legacy of the hard work that he had done over the last ten years, you know? It's sad to think that that could have been the last view that people had of Superman was with that, whatever that is."