A bad superhero sequel is nothing special – these days, the box office is awash with them.
But there is something special about Justice League. The 2017 DC comics team-up film was dud of rare proportions, a movie that whiffed so badly Warner Bros eventually commissioned a radical, expensive re-edit.
There are a few factors behind the original Justice League’s disastrous reception.
For one, the original director, Zack Snyder, stepped down from the project mid-way through production due to family tragedy; former Buffy the Vampire Slayer showrunner Joss Whedon took the reins. Script changes, budget issues and delays also ensued.
Whedon’s time on the project has been met with intense scrutiny in subsequent years, as the filmmaker has faced a wave of allegations of toxic misconduct from former collaborators.
Watch: Joss Whedon claims Gal Gadot 'misunderstood' him as he responds to misconduct allegations
Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher and Jason Momoa were among the Justice League castmembers to speak out against Whedon.
When Zack Snyder’s expanded black-and-white re-edit of the film was released last year – complete with extensive reshoots – fans rejoiced. Finally, they could put the memory of the original Justice League disaster to bed.
For those who were actually there, however, the memory may be hard to expunge. Here are what the cast of Justice League have said in criticism of their own film…
Affleck played Bruce Wayne/Batman in the film; from the sounds of it, he didn’t have much fun doing so. Speaking to the LA Times recently, the Gone Girl star said: “It was really Justice League that was the nadir for me. That was a bad experience because of a confluence of things: my own life, my divorce, being away too much, the competing agendas and then Zack’s personal tragedy and the reshooting. It just was the worst experience. It was awful.
“It was everything that I didn’t like about this. That became the moment where I said, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.’”
The thespian, who played Wayne’s butler, Alfred, was asked about his response to the “Snyder Cut” earlier this month. He told Variety that he hadn’t yet seen it. “I shall have to hunt it out and see if I have it somewhere online or on a DVD. I remember talking to Zack [Snyder] before he did it and being very interested to see what he came up with,” Irons said.
However, he then added that it “couldn’t have been worse” than the original theatrical release. After being told that some viewers thought the film to be “dreadful”, Irons responded: “Well, so did I.”
Cavill played Superman in the film, a role he had previously inhabited in Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman. While Cavill hasn’t been particularly outspoken regarding his thoughts on Justice League’s merits, he admitted in an interview with Men’s Health last year that the film “didn’t turn out as I expected”.
Gadot hasn’t spoken out in criticism of the film itself, but has made damning claims about the on-set behaviour of Whedon. The Wonder Woman actor alleged to Israeli outlet N12 that the filmmaker “kind of threatened my career and said if I did something, he would make my career miserable”. She later clarified in a statement: “I had my issues with [Whedon] and Warner Bros handled it in a timely manner.”
In a new interview, Whedon characterised the incident as a “misunderstanding”, stating that “English is not [Gadot’s] first language”. Gadot shut down Whedon’s suggestion in her response to the outlet.
Fisher was the first prominent voice to speak out against Whedon from the Justice League cast. In July 2020, he accused the directed of “gross” and “unprofessional” behavior on set.
At a 2017 Comic-Con panel, Fisher said: “Joss [Whedon] is a great guy and Zack [Snyder] picked a great person to come clean up and finish for him.” He later tweeted that he wished to retract “every bit of this statement”.
You can read a full timeline of the allegations against Whedon here.
Watch: Ben Affleck reveals his experience shooting Justice League