Over a year after Justice League, nearly 3 after Batman v Superman, and almost 6 (!) since Man of Steel, and we can’t escape talking about Zack Snyder’s vision for the DC universe on film. The results have been a success and failure, pending on whom you ask. But we can all agree that it’s been very divisive.
Recently on The Fire And Water Podcast, they welcomed a man with A LOT of insider knowledge on the DCEU (Jett’s favorite term). Neil Daly, an independent freelance market research analyst plays a crucial role in the outcome of these films. He runs a lot of the early screenings for these films, and thoroughly relays the feedback to the studios. Daly came aboard during the early part of the Justice League screenings, all of Aquaman, and has recently been involved in Shazam!.
Below are some of the most interesting tidbits he shared, concerning Justice League, Aquaman, and Geoff Johns.
Snyder’s overall plan was a 6-film Superman arc: MOS, BvS, Justice League, MOS 2, JL 2, and JL 3.
Snyder didn’t want to bring the Justice League in as quickly, wanted characters to have solo films and backstory first. Warner Bros. wanted to play catch up.
JL was supposed to open with the flashback of the Apocalyptic war. The scene would’ve had a young Darkseid, Ares, and multiple Green Lanterns (with the team building in sequel films).
Cyborg had a nightmare vision when he plugged into the Kryptonian ship before Superman’s resurrection.
The fisherman Aquaman saved in the movie was originally attacked by parademons.
Joss Whedon directed at least 50% of reshoots, brought in teen boy humor (Flash falling on Wonder Woman, the “thirsty” line, Aquaman lasso scene).
There was a cut scene at the end of the movie with Vulko and Mera coming to get Aquaman.
Wayne Manor was supposed to become the Hall of Justice.
Test screenings ranked characters: Wonder Woman (1st), Aquaman and Flash (neck-and-neck), Batman and Superman way down at the bottom of the list.
There was far more interest in a Flash movie than an Aquaman movie.
First version of the movie everyone saw was a 3-hour cut.
James Wan showed Snyder, against studio’s wishes, cuts of the movie and early test screenings and storyboards to make sure they were on the same page. Snyder gave approval.
Studio knew what they had with Momoa, but test screening feedback was to have more “Iron Man” in him, more dry sense of humor, build him up more.
Movie was said to be too long and convoluted.
Wan fought against keeping all of the Black Manta footage. It was for the next Aquaman movie. Geoff Johns said he can’t cut “a single frame,” and to find other ways of shortening the movie.
The version that everyone saw was close to Wan’s vision. It was more Geoff Johns’s movie than Wan’s.
“Common knowledge” Aquaman saved Clark from the oil rig in Man of Steel.
Plans were to still go ahead with Flashpoint, hence the easter egg in the mid-credits scene (newspaper saying “Wonder Woman nixes Aquaman dating rumor”).
There you have it. Take all of this however you want, but I find Mr. Daly highly credible. Also, do listen to the podcast. It’s a great inside look not just into these behind the scenes tips of the DCEU (Jett’s favorite term), but also a great look at how these test screenings are handled, and how information is sent to the studios.
No doubt this is a lot of interesting information, regardless of which side of the fence you fall on when it comes to Zack Snyder. His decisions were bold, sure, but also passionate. I enjoyed Justice League but would have rather seen Snyder’s full vision be completed. But we’ll never know, and that’s all right too.
As Aquaman has shown, the future is bright for DC on film. – Ryan Lower
Link to podcast: fireandwaterpodcast.com/podcast/fire-water-223/