[WARNING: This article contains potential SPOILERS for Justice League]
It may seem like the big reveal of Comic-Con footage was just yesterday, but believe it or not, the principal photography of Justice League is drawing to a close. Fans got their first dose of celebration directly from the cast, but before filming had even wrapped director Zack Snyder was already hard at work teasing the addition of Deathstroke – the future villain for Ben Affleck’s Batman film. It turns out Snyder saved his most exciting glimpse behind the scenes for last.
Few expected to see a highlight reel of the on-set antics released in a lengthy preview video by Snyder himself, but the additional looks at characters in costume, out of sorts, and goofing around were more than welcome. Now that we’ve had the opportunity to break the video down shot by shot, fans may be surprised to see just how many plotlines, locations, and moments from the film are either revealed or teased.
Needless to say, there will be potential SPOILERS in our look at the Justice League Set Video: Every Reveal & Hidden Detail.
20. The Fisher King
The set video kicks off by returning to the first location shown in the previous Justice League Comic-Con footage, as Bruce Wayne succeeds in hunting down Arthur Curry in a remote, frozen fishing village. While Momoa’s own social media posts suggest that this section of the film formed the bulk of the film’s Iceland shooting, the exact significance of the village itself, or its inhabitants is unclear. Obviously, Aquaman is more associated with tropical waters than those locked in ice, which immediately implies that this version of the ocean royalty may protect everyone who lives in, on, or near the sea.
The video highlights one aspect of the scene that may have been missed before, but bears the kind of literal and symbolic meaning Snyder showed to be a fan of in Batman V Superman. Put simply, a man seated upon a throne (in this case, made out of driftwood) as Arthur stands idly by is as clear an encapsulation of his character as any comic fan could hope for. Whether the man in question is merely the leader or patriarch of this fishing village, or simply the most respected, the inclusion of a literal throne in Arthur’s first scene is the kind of detail sure to delight fans.
19. Wayne Manor Redux?
The above shot is the exact kind that will slip by those watching to see actual video of the stars in costume, or… well, anyone but crew members. But aside from a reminder that German cinematographer Fabian Wagner (Game of Thrones, Victor Frankenstein) will be handling the task on Justice League, the shot also reveals a location – and tonal shift. Take a closer look, and you’ll notice that the stonework and accents in the background are a match for the decaying Wayne Manor seen in Batman V Superman, as Bruce informs Alfred that bringing down Superman will be “his legacy.”
The sculptture over top of the doorway marked with a “W” is another clue, and fans can spin their own theories on what this could mean for the film’s story (with Bruce on a new mission, could he return to his family’s home and start to rebuild?). But it’s the color choice that may matter here, since the scene is far warmer and brighter than when the set was visited in Dawn of Justice. The stark, cold greys may be added in post-production, but the sun clearly breaking into the previously desolate memory of Bruce’s life could hold stronger meaning.
18. Mocap Cyborg
It may be a little difficult to avert your gaze from the sight of Jason Momoa in full Aquaman armor, tongue extended and trident in hand. But if you do, you’ll catch a look at Ray Fisher’s costume as Cyborg… minus the CG wizardy seen in the first Justice League sizzle reel. In other words, while the rest of the cast don meticulously-crafted costumes bringing their characters from the comic page to real life, it’s Fisher who slips into the mocap bodysuit now infamous among big-budget Hollywoof productions.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Fisher hasn’t packed on the size and muscle of his co-stars. And while some fans may see his fitness regime as a little pointless, considering that none (or almost none) of it will be seen on the big screen, Snyder and his actors have regularly praised the physical and mental impacts of exercise, as well as the visuals. In other words, when a hulking Fisher sets foot on set next to Momoa, all that time in the gym will shine – ideally, as brightly as the red lights used for animator reference later.
17. Batman & Gargoyle
The early footage has focused mainly on Batman’s recruitment of the Justice League heroes, putting Bruce Wayne into the driver’s seat and Batman temporarily on hold. Thankfully, the video of on-set footage confirms that Affleck will not only be doing battle as the Dark Knight (in a brand new Batsuit, no less), but will still do a good amount of gargoyle perching.
As the comic book fans breathe a sigh of relief, we’ll remind the casual followers that this is actually a bit more important than it may seem. After all, Batman’s perching on Gotham rooftops is practically synonymous with the gargoyle sculptures that adorn them – not only for the character, but as a distinguishing feature of the city as a whole. While they’ve been noticably absent from recent incarnations of the Bat, Snyder is bringing them back for at least one epic leap.
16. Hostage Situation or Photo Opp?
A bit of speculation on our part here, in the interest of not missing a potential reveal or two in the footage. The shot of Gadot’s Wonder Woman in what looks to be a brightly-lit, upscale foyer (a bank? Hotel?) interacting with an unknown man seems fairly random on its own. But combine it with the footage later seen on a monitor as Snyder takes a swing at the behind-the-scenes camera, and a larger sequence begins to take shape. Whether it’s a hostile encounter or a friendly one remains to be seen.
The shot reveals Diana alongside a large group of civilians, sitting on the floor. So, viewers can take their pick: is the assembled group of people confined to sitting cross-legged on the floor the kind of hostage situation it so often looks to be in Hollywood movies? Or are we catching a group of extras taking a seat between shots, meaning Diana will be interacting with a large group of civilians in a photo-opp-worthy setting? There’s no shortage of people eager to thank her in person for coming to the rescue in Dawn of Justice, so readers can sound off with their own theories.
15. The Gang’s All Here
Fans are hungry for each and every shot of the assembled Justice League, and there may be none better than the shot of them descending in an elevator, taking the positions already assigned to them by comics and film. Batman and Wonder Woman leading, Aquaman the stoic figure in the rear, The Flash enjoying himself in far too casual a mood, and Cyborg… trusting that post-production will transform him into the coolest member of the team.
The elevator itself is of note, since many viewers may assume that this is a callback to Batman V Superman, when the Batcave was introduced via Bruce’s descent in a similar lift. Closer examination shows that the previous movie’s elevator was much smaller (large enough for only one or two occupants), and the exterior isn’t a match, either. So, does a new lift mean a new Batcave? The stone seems to match that of what we assume is the original Wayne Manor, but it’s hard to say. Either way, Bruce is clearly an accomodating host and team leader.
14. Alien Tech?
It isn’t the camera rigs or lighting equipment we’re highlighting in this shot, but the massive alien prop located behind them, almost impossible to make out through all the objects. Still, enough of it is visible to decipher that it is not of this world, and it’s not an exact match to any alien architecture or styling that we’ve seen so far. Far more insectoid than the smooth lines of Kryptonian ships and construction, and in stark contrast to the human-built concrete it’s sitting upon, Apokolips may be the top contender.
The cement walkway that the object is either on or next to looks like a match for the tunnel system in which one of the film’s teased action scenes will take place. There isn’t enough here to build a substantial theory, but if the setting and designs are what they seem, then the Parademons could be up to much more than just a smash-and-grab kidnapping.
13. STAR Labs?
Fortunately, not every location shown in the video is a total enigma, since the above set is – if history is repeating itself – a spot-on recreation of the usual STAR Labs facility. Sure, it may seem like any laboratory from… well, just about any modern sci-fi film or TV show, but in the world of DC Comics, labs like these are typically joined by the “STAR Labs” brand. It makes sense, since Batman V Superman already gave audiences a brief look into the organization’s darkest corners.
We speak, of course, of the introduction of Cyborg (delivered in a video diary recorded by Dr. Silas Stone, and attained by Lex Luthor as part of his meta human research). It’s assumed that Justice League will flesh out the origin of Victor Stone, so scenes following his father’s work in STAR Labs is to be expected. Especially if Dr. Stone’s experience with Apokoliptian Mother Boxes makes him a target of interest for the invading Parademons.
12. Superman is Back
The first official cast image for Justice League made it clear that the “death” of Superman in Dawn of Justice wasn’t being played out by the production, putting Henry Cavill front and center (as all fans knew he would be). The set videos show Cavill as fans have known him, missing the beard or long hair many had hoped for in Snyder’s live-action “Death and Return of Superman” adaptation. But that doesn’t mean he won’t sport that look at all – especially considering that his suit is missing the massive damage inflicted by Doomsday, meaning this scene could take place long after his return… or before his demise.
The lines of the legs of the costume might suggest that the suit has received additional updates (but we can’t be sure), yet the alien architecture in the background may prove just as important as anything else in this shot. It doesn’t match the style of any Kryptonian technology or interior locations that viewers have yet seen, so it may be tied to the alien objects glimpsed in other shots, as well.
11. Grease is The Word
Is it wrong to get excited about a lubricant on the set of a massive superhero blockbuster? If it is, then we don’t want to be right. But honestly, the amount of CG effects and digital doubles used in modern comic book films has us pleased to see one shot in the video in which Zack Snyder demonstrates how an actual, dramatic sliding stop will be created practically. And if the director can pull off the task impressively enough on a handheld camera, our hopes are high for how it can look in the finished film.
The feat’s been used a number of times in Snyder’s approach to Superman, particularly in the Smallville fight scenes in Man of Steel. While one might assume that the trick will be used here for Ezra Miller’s Flash (since it’s used consistently on The Flash TV series), it’s actually Gal Gadot for whom he seems to be acting out the desired move. Either way, it’s a moment fans now know to look out for, since small touches like these can often add up to a far more satisfying sequence.
10. Fall in Line
Anyone who saw the Comic-Con footage knows where the scene being filmed here takes place, as Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Flash make their way through the abandoned Gotham tunnel system we learned about during our set visit. The steel and cement setting alone has helped place multiple shots and scenes in some sort of sequence for detail-obsessed fans (like ourselves), but it’s the order of the heroes that has us most pleased.
It takes a special kind of storyteller to place The Flash – the one person capable of rocketing up the staircase and into danger in the blink of an eye – bringing up the rear, forcing him to ascend the distance at the same speed as his colleagues. We’re willing to bet that the decision is played for at least one joke in the finished film, if the introduction scene between Bruce and Barry is anything to go by.
9. Practical Grappling
Following on the point mentioned before, this shot of what appears to be Ben Affleck’s stunt double rehearsing some grappling wirework is yet another bit of practical filmmaking we hope to see valued by many, if not all superhero films. It would be easy to substitute a CG double to heighten the excitement or speed at which Batman would propel himself out of frame, or through the air (as was done in the final Doomsday battle in Dawn of Justice), but the decision to pull of the stunt practically – as telegraphed by the stunt double holding his imaginary grapple gun – is the right one.
Not to mention how much the move grounds Batman next to the certified superheroes he’s surrounded by. While he has to rely on a complicated rigging system to cover the gap that the League encounters in the previous shot, his teammates can likely jump across it with ease. Here’s hoping they just tell him his grapple gun is ‘cool,’ and not deeply revealing of his non-meta-human shortcomings.
8. A Breakneck Stunt
Another standout moment from the behind-the-scenes portions of the video is the above stunt, in which two stuntwomen “catch” a large falling object – aided here by wires to stop the fall, with a large padded mat standing in for the actual object being caught in the finished film. Since it’s clearly two stuntwomen rehearsing the move, fans have a question (or two) to ask: if one of the women is standing in for Gal Gadot’s Diana – who is the other superpowered heroine set to help her?
It’s worth considering, since the arrival of an Amazon is completely possible, given the worldwide scale of the Apokoliptian threat. For all we know, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) arrives to lend a hand to her daughter, since, you know, she was there when Apokolips first attacked thousands of years ago. It’s still possible that we’re reading too much into the shot (perhaps they’re demonstrating different poses for reference), but if it’s theories you’re after, this is a smoking gun.
7. Leaping Stuntman
Now here’s a cryptic shot for you: a stuntman dressed in a pair of grey coveralls takes a flying leap off of a long table into a cement wall, as a group of horrified people look on. The costumes are the most confusing and likely telling thing here, showing a mix of working outfits, soldier’s jackets and white lab coats. We’re guessing that the end of the stunt is what will be used in the film (but would love to be wrong), meaning it’s the person who is throwing him into a wall that’s of interest to us.
We’re open to theories from the readers, since the setting and costumes haven’t popped up in previous set photos or films. Knowing just how many different people from around the world will be targeted by the Parademons, the bombed-out cement in the background could suggest that we’re seeing the Apokoliptian forces get rough with their prisoners (soon to be freed by the coming League?). For now, your guess is as good as ours.
6. Parademon Pajamas
Sure, it may not be the big reveal of the Parademons that fans were hoping for, but this does look like the first shot we have of mocap soldiers – and in a movie where the enemies are winged alien footsoldiers, the options for post-production are limited. They may not have their suits or weapons now, but the Knightmare sequence of Dawn of Justice already proved that the footsoldiers of Steppenwolf strike an intimidating pose.
Just as interesting is the set they’re attacking. We’ve seen plenty of shots of the metalwork and cement of the abandoned tunnel system the League launches their surprise strike within, but here, the sides of the frame imply that we’re looking into the Flying Fox – Bruce Wayne’s massive, multi-level ship intended to house the entire team. Given the shots of Affleck entering the ship from earlier in the footage, and the shot of him firing a weapon later on could be from the same sequence, we’ll let readers put the pieces together as they like.
5. Batman Flips The Switch
We’re always happy to get another look at Batman’s new tactical suit, coming equipped with heavier plating over key areas (while keeping the accents on the comic book silhouette and exaggerated musculature). The enemies the League will be dealing with are obviously the explanation for the upgraded suit, and the subtle touch of integrating the goggles into the suit itself, minus a strap has our hopes up for similar details throughout the rest of the costume.
As for the switch being dramatically flipped, the jury is out. The preceding shot seems to show Parademons entering the Flying Fox, and this one does contain a massive cannon. Could this weapon be the one responsible for the explosions sending said Parademons flying bavkward? We can only hope. Either way, the sparks flying here AND when Barry lights up his makeshift apartment may suggest that in the DCEU… that’s just how switches work.
4. The Amazon’s Scream
After the trailer for Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman – and Dawn of Justice for that matter – it’s safe to say that when Diana does something that elicits the kind of scream seen above, the audience is going to enjoy it. While the first assumption might be that she is, once again, using her shield to withstand the same attack blowing her hair behind her, the preceding footage suggests another answer. Specifically, Diana planting her shield onto the cement in front of her and Aquaman, and lowering her bracer onto its edge.
Take your pick: she’s bracing (pun intended) herself for an attack, or unleashing one, as we saw her do in Batman V Superman. The actual shockwaves fired out from her bracer smash is a new invention for the films, so how they’re being used here (perhaps in conjunction with her shield, smashing through the cement they’re standing on?) is entirely open to the imagination. All we know is that the tease of Aquaman and Wonder Woman fighting together is hard to resist.
3. Shirtless Supes
As distracting as Ezra Miller’s grinning Flash surrounded by men dressed head to toe in green might be, fans shouldn’t miss one more confirmation that Henry Cavill will also be taking part in the same sequence. At least, that seems to be what’s suggested by the shirtless Superman making his way across the shot. But before anyone gets excited that this could mean Superman enters a fight before donning his Supersuit, Cavill seems to simply be wearing a pair of black shorts… potentially casting doubt on the idea that he’s even included in this exact shot, and isn’t simply warming up on his own.
Whatever the case, it looks like the scene in question will be pulling some creative moves with Ezra Miller’s Flash, placing him into an entire CG backdrop in post-production. As for Cavill’s role… well, we’re all ears. There is a chance, however slim, that the Apokoliptian plot required the acquisition of Superman’s corpse. In which case, seeing a shirtless Superman leap into battle alongside the League could happen sooner than later.
2. A Telling Location
As further evidence that the set of the Justice League movie is one filled with laughs, Jason Momoa shows off his best weapon skills during a heroic final stand between Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Flash (or one as epic as we would expect from a final standoff). Those weapons skills soon result in him stealing a sword from his Amazonian teammate to the delight of his co-stars, but the background of the set seems important, filled bit flowers, balloons, an American flag, and police barricades.
Those items have led many to believe that this location is the Superman memorial seen at the end of Batman V Superman, surrounded by crowds of people in a candlelit vigil next to the metallic Superman crest placed into the ground. It seems as likely an answer as any, since other memorial sites have yet to be created in the DCEU. Add in the fact that the actors are looking up at an unseen enemy, and this may be a fight with Steppenwolf himself that we’re about to see unfold.
1. Gotham City University
The video ends with a group shot of the entire crew gathered together for a photo, following the traditions now set by David Ayer’s Suicide Squad wrap, and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman. But the actual setting of this shot is telling for fans of the comic book Justice League. The crew are filling the bleachers as football fans of Gotham City University – and actor Ray Fisher is among them, dressed in the football uniform Vic Stone would have worn before the disaster that transformed him into Cyborg.
It’s confirmation of the fact that Justice League will finally feature Vic in his pre-Cyborg days (just as the recent New 52 “Justice League” origin story did), as teased with footage of him in his university letterman jacket. Exactly how extensive the scene will be is unclear, but with a GCU game added into the DCEU in Batman V Superman‘s Ultimate Cut, the connections between Snyder’s films are growing by the day.
Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters. Wonder Woman opens in theaters on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, The Batman, Dark Universe and Man of Steel 2 are currently without a release dates.