Whenever someone mentions last-minute changes in movies, fans get a little panicky. It's understandable since the term has become synonymous with train wrecks in recent years. In the case of comic book movie fans, they're heavily invested in these heroes and villains and don't want to see them ruined on the big screen by greedy studio execs.
It isn't all doom and gloom, though, as changes are part and parcel of the movie industry. Every production is riddled with its own problems and there's often a necessity to adapt and tweak at unplanned times. Sometimes, these adjustments arrive at the most inopportune moments, but you have to go with the flow.
In fact, we've seen several instances where these changes have worked out for the best and improved the final product, while we've also seen the reverse where the worst possible outcomes panned out. One thing is for certain, though: no matter how much we protest, last-minute changes are here to stay, so it's best that we take a deep breath and get used to them.
So, with that said, let's take a trip down memory lane and look at the 10 Last-Minute Changes That Hurt DC Movies (And 10 That Saved Them).
20 Hurt: Joss Whedon Taking Over Justice League
Zack Snyder stepped away from Justice League due to tragic circumstances mere months before the film's release. At the same time, it was announced that Joss Whedon would take the production over the finish line. According to producer Charles Roven (via CinemaBlend): "[Whedon] was already working with us on some of the scenes for that additional photography. It was fortunate that Zack convinced him, and he agreed to step in and finish the movie."
It wasn't that simple, though. Whedon and Warner Bros. reshot most of the movie, and it's obvious that the final product was a stitched and rushed job to meet its release date. Watching Justice League, it's a tale of two movies – and Whedon didn't win DC fans over for tampering with Snyder's vision.
19 Saved: Superman's Script Rewrite
Richard Donner says that producer Alexander Salkind called him out of the blue and offered him a million dollars to direct Superman. An hour after the call, a delivery man arrived at his door with the script. "So I sat down and read the script, and it took forever. It was the longest thing I have ever read. It was indulgent and heavy and had no point of view and treated [the comic books] with disrespect," Donner told The Hollywood Reporter.
Disappointed, but not about to turn down the money, Donner called writer and friend Tom Mankiewicz, who eventually agreed to rewrite it. At first, the studio didn't agree to a script rewrite, but after an argument, it finally caved in to Donner's wishes.
18 Hurt: Michael Keaton Leaving Batman Forever
Much like Richard Donner's Superman changed the superhero film landscape in the '70s so did Tim Burton's Batman 11 years later. When the sequel, Batman Returns, went a little darker than what Warner Bros. expected, there were major disputes about the direction of the movie that would end up becoming Batman Forever.
Burton departed the project, and he was followed by the franchise's star, Michael Keaton. The latter's departure was a bitter blow since he'd become synonymous with the role and is still ranked as one of the best actors to put on the cape and cowl. "[The script] sucked. I knew it was in trouble when [Joel Schumacher] said, 'Why does everything have to be so dark?'" Keaton told The Hollywood Reporter.
17 Saved: Maggie Gyllenhaal Replacing Katie Holmes In The Dark Knight
It's safe to say that there was zero chemistry between Katie Holmes' Rachel Dawes and Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. So, when Holmes turned down the opportunity to reprise her role in the genre-defining The Dark Knight, she was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Holmes must feel a little aggrieved as the role of Dawes played a significant part in The Dark Knight and featured in all of the movie's best moments. Additionally, Gyllenhaal developed terrific on-screen relationships with both Bale and Aaron Eckhart. What must hurt Holmes even more is that Gyllenhaal's career continued to ascend after this film, while her most famous role still remains as Joey Potter in the '90s teen drama Dawson's Creek.
16 Hurt: Richard Lester's Superman II
When envisioning Superman on the big screen, Alexander and Ilya Salkind decided that it would be a two-movie deal to begin with. The two movies would be filmed back-to-back, saving time and allowing for quicker release dates. Unfortunately, with the budget soaring on Superman, the producers decided to let Richard Donner focus on getting the first movie out.
Considering that Superman was a massive hit, you'd think the Salkinds would get Donner behind the camera as soon as possible to wrap up Superman II, but that wasn't the case. There had been numerous fights between director and producers, so they decided to replace him with Richard Lester – even if 75% of the movie had been already completed by Donner. Decades later, the Donner cut proved far superior.
15 Saved: Michelle Pfeiffer Replacing Annette Bening In Batman Returns
The casting of Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Batman Returns is an example of what happens when the stars align. "I was halfway through the script when I said yes," Pfeiffer told Empire Magazine (via The Wrap). "Someone else was cast in the part and I remember being absolutely devastated and calling my agent and saying, 'How have I not had a meeting about this? Why have I not heard about it?'"
The actress was Annette Bening. Pfeiffer, though, was considered as a backup. Things worked out for her in the end as Bening had to depart the production due to her pregnancy and Pfeiffer received the role. Looking back at it now, it's impossible to imagine anyone other than Pfeiffer as Catwoman.
14 Hurt: Shortened Batman V Superman's Theatrical Cut
The story of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would make for an interesting book. Reportedly, one of the movie's test screenings received rapturous applause, yet the final theatrical release was met with a lukewarm response. It didn't make matters any better when the Ultimate Edition proved to be a far superior film than the theatrical version.
As it turns out, we have Warner Bros. to blame for tinkering with the theatrical cut. Speaking to Collider, director Zack Snyder said, "It was really just a function of time, to be honest. Because the movie's long now, long-ish – I don't think it's long, but when you get over two and a half hours the studio starts getting nervous."
13 Saved: Cillian Murphy Being Cast As Scarecrow In The Dark Knight Trilogy
Thinking back to Batman Begins, one of the most inspired casting choices was Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow. There was a real menace and mystery to his rogue, and we got to see him appear in the entire trilogy. Things could've been different, however, had Murphy received the coveted part he originally auditioned for.
Chatting to The A.V. Club, Murphy discussed how he auditioned for the part of Bruce Wayne/Batman. "In fact, I did an awkward audition in the Batsuit. [Laughs.] I think [Christopher Nolan] saw something interesting in that screen test somehow, though, because he said, 'Hey, would you be interested in playing this other part?' Then we did a lot of work."
12 Hurt: Suicide Squad's Edit
Amazingly, after interfering in the theatrical cut of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. thought it was a good idea to do the same to Suicide Squad. It also didn't help that the studio only gave David Ayer six weeks to write the script and rushed the movie into development.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, multiple editors were used and Ayer was even locked out of the editing room at some stage. While the director has remained polite and praised the studio for affording him the opportunity, he's also admitted that the final version of the movie isn't what he envisioned. The question is, will we ever see the Ayer cut of Suicide Squad?
11 Saved: Ben Affleck Not Directing Man Of Steel
Right now, no one knows if Ben Affleck is still in or out as Batman. There's a lot of debate and murmurs doing the rounds, but Warner Bros. hasn't released any official statement. As it turns out, his participation in DC films could've been a whole lot earlier – but not in the way you expected.
Before deciding on Zack Snyder as the director of Man of Steel, Warner Bros. developed a shortlist of directors including Snyder, Darren Aronofsky, Duncan Jones, Tony Scott, Matt Reeves, Jonathan Liebesman, and Affleck. Reportedly, Affleck turned down the offer. It's a good thing that he did, though, because it's unlikely we would've seen him as the Caped Crusader had he directed the movie.
10 Hurt: Val Kilmer Leaving Batman & Robin
While Val Kilmer wasn't as good a Batman as Michael Keaton, he was miles better than George Clooney. However, it looks like Kilmer could have some form of spider-sense as he averted himself from the dangers of Batman & Robin in the nick of time.
Director Joel Schumacher has never been shy of admitting that he and Kilmer never got on well. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, he said, "Batman Forever, when we were on the world tour, it just really went to his head. I'm not going to get into that. He wanted to do Island of Doctor Moreau because Marlon Brando was going to be in it. So, he dropped us at the eleventh hour."
9 Saved: Kim Basinger Replacing Sean Young In Batman
If there's one person who has wanted a DC role more than anyone else, it's Sean Young. Originally, she was cast as Vicki Vale in Tim Burton's Batman, only to break her arm during rehearsals and to be replaced by Kim Basinger. It turned out just fine, as Basinger was perfect as Vale and even influenced the character in the comics.
In conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Young revealed she still has sour grapes about it. "If [producer] Jon Peters had wanted me I think they could have shot around it. I think he just had a [thing] for Kim Basinger. He had a good excuse to let me go and hire her. It hurt me, but that's show business."
8 Hurt: General Zod's Removal From Superman Returns Because Of Jude Law
When Bryan Singer took the helm of Superman Returns, he promised it would be the sequel to Superman II. Of course, one of the key elements of those films was General Zod, so it was expected that the villain would return. Singer only had one actor in mind to play the role: Jude Law.
Unfortunately, Law turned down the part and the character was scrapped from the script altogether. In an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (via The Guardian), Law said, "I just didn't really want to go there. I'm an Englishman and it just didn't seem to fit. I was really worried about the outfit and I just didn't fancy it."
7 Saved: Christopher Nolan Sticking With Marion Cotillard In The Dark Knight Rises
Hollywood can be unfair at times. When actresses get pregnant, they often get booted from their roles because of the delays in production. Christopher Nolan decided to be a decent human being, though, as he delayed The Dark Knight Rises to accommodate Marion Cotillard's pregnancy.
Nolan explained to Vogue (via Daily Mail) that he wanted to "figure it out". Cotillard's scenes were pushed back a month and Nolan made accommodation for her family on set. He also couldn't praise her enough as he was impressed with her dedication and ability to get back on set so soon after giving birth. It was worth it, though, as Cotillard's Talia al Ghul stole the scenes she was in.
6 Hurt: Martin Campbell Replacing Greg Berlanti In Green Lantern
Green Lantern was expected to kick-start the DC Extended Universe, but it didn't quite do the job. There are rumors that Ryan Reynolds and director Martin Campbell didn't see eye to eye during the filming and tensions flared up on set. However, most of the movie's issues can be stemmed to the change in directors as Campbell inherited all of Greg Berlanti's plans.
Campbell agrees with that assessment, telling Wizard World: "I came into it replacing another director and the concept was already set. The script was set but I think perhaps we should have perhaps thrown that away and redone it." Would Berlanti's Green Lantern had been any better? No one will ever know.
5 Saved: Connie Nielsen Accepting The Role Of Queen Hippolyta In Wonder Woman
There was a time when Nicole Kidman's name was attached to Wonder Woman. She was meant to portray Diana's mother, Queen Hippolyta. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts prevented her from taking the part and she had to depart the project. It turned out just fine, though, as Kidman portrayed another queen, Atlanna, in Aquaman and Connie Nielsen was cast as Hippolyta.
There were rumors that Robin Wright was set to portray Hippolyta in Wonder Woman, but these were dispelled as she took the part of Antiope instead. With all things considered, it seems like everything worked out for the three ladies involved and they all secured the parts they deserved. See? Not every scheduling conflict is a disaster…
4 Hurt: Danny Elfman's Score In Justice League
Despite what you might personally think of Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, you can't deny that Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL did fantastic work on the soundtracks. Junkie XL was meant to return for Justice League – and even began work on the score – but he was replaced by Danny Elfman when Joss Whedon boarded the movie.
While fans were initially ecstatic about Elfman and his nostalgic callbacks to classic DC themes, it was obvious that he was brought in at the eleventh hour and the work was rushed. Compared to Zimmer and Junkie XL's themes, Elfman's score was much like the final movie – uninspired and hastily put together to meet the impending deadline.
3 Saved: Jim Carrey As The Riddler In Batman Forever
With the departures of Tim Burton and Michael Keaton from Batman Forever, Warner Bros. had to step it up and bring in some other hard hitters to convince the audiences that it wasn't a budget Batman project. Originally, the studio wanted Robin Williams for the role of the Edward Nigma/Riddler, as per Variety's claim.
Williams had long been linked with the Batman movies ever since he'd been used as bait to get Jack Nicholson to accept the Joker role in the late '80s. The studio couldn't cut a deal with Williams, though, so it got Jim Carrey instead. While Williams would've been a great choice for the Riddler, Carrey nailed the tone of the zany character in this crazy movie.
2 Hurt: Tom Hardy Leaving Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad had an all-star cast and it's hard to criticize any of the actors for its failings. There was one casting, however, that would've made the movie even better: Tom Hardy as Rick Flag.
Speaking about the film to Collider, Hardy revealed his disappointment of not starring in it due to scheduling conflicts. "Warner Bros. is my home studio and I love them so I was really bummed out. I wanted to work on that and I know the script is [great]," he said. "And that whole territory is something that I would certainly – I mean, everybody loves the Joker. Will Smith is a dope guy, but everybody loves the Joker and that's gonna, I think, be a very important film for fans."
1 Saved: Lynda Carter Not Filming A Cameo In Wonder Woman
Many filmmakers believe the best way to pay respect to the past is through cameo appearances. In the case of Lynda Carter, there was a plan to let her cameo in 2017's Wonder Woman. While the intention is pure, it's also cheesy and feels stuffed in for fan service rather than any real narrative purposes.
Lynda Carter revealed to Variety that scheduling conflicts prevented her cameo from being filmed. "I've spoken to [director] Patty Jenkins. She talked to me on the phone about the character, and we were trying to see if I could do something with the movie, but it didn't work out. The timing was off, and I was doing other things and couldn't get over to where they were shooting," she said.
Tell us, which other last-minute changes hurt or saved DC movies? Let us know in the comments section!