The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is experiencing a renaissance with James Wan's Aquaman, as the film looks set to break box-office records in every part of the world. Warner Bros. must be breathing a sigh of relief after Justice League failed to reach the billion-dollar mark. Even if the movie did turn a profit at the end of the day, expectations were naturally higher for the all-star team-up.
The box-office wins for the likes of Sony and Warner Bros. should be celebrated as much as Marvel's, since it gives us much more variety and a bunch of movies to watch at the cinema every year. A true comic book movie fan realizes this and is capable of enjoying things that don't only come from the House of Mouse.
With the DCEU celebrating five years since its inception, we've decided to take a look back at some of the best behind-the-scenes photos from the various films. To give credit where credit is due, a bulk of these shots came from the camera lens of Clay Enos, who's become the DCEU's unofficial photographer.
So, put on the Hans Zimmer soundtrack, hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, and take a peek at the 25 Behind-The-Scenes Photos That Completely Change The DCEU.
25 The Smiling Squad
Seeing the critical bashing that 2016's Suicide Squad took wasn't fun. The film is obviously a result of conflicting visions and trying to release the version that the studio wanted. Of course, with major blockbusters, the studio always has the final say in the cut. In this instance, director David Ayer does deserve sympathy for being sucked into the machine.
It's sad, really, because the actors looked incredibly happy on set. Apart from Jared Leto, who bemoaned his screen time, no other cast member has had any bad words to say about their experience on Suicide Squad. Many friendships were formed and we can only hope the cast get a second chance at redemption with the upcoming sequel.
24 The Road Race
Talking about 2017's Justice League woes is an exhausting topic. So many articles were written about the behind-the-scenes turmoil and all that went on, so it's pointless to rehash where everything went wrong. Right now, we all want to move on and look towards the future, which looks incredibly bright after the release of Aquaman.
That said, Justice League did have its high points. Most notably, the mid-credits scene paid tribute to the infamous comic book moment when the Flash and Superman raced each other. While many people thought that Ezra Miller and Henry Cavill were really on an open road, it's revealed in this shot that the scene took place in a green room.
23 Super Friends
The conflict between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice culminated in an epic conflict that tested both men's endurance and pushed them to the max. Naturally, the battle was largely a recreation of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson's fight scene between the two heroes in 1986's The Dark Knight Returns miniseries.
If you've seen any of the interviews featuring Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck, though, you'll notice that the two actors struck up a friendship during the production. Look at this picture of their rehearsal for the big scene: Both Cavill and Affleck are smiling, as they appear to be more Super Friends than sworn enemies.
22 Vogue! Strike A Pose
Fair play to David Ayer. Even after receiving a lashing for Suicide Squad, he's accepted responsibility for its failings but always praised the experience of working on the film. In a tweet from December 2017, he said, "I got to work with amazing people. It won an Oscar, did incredible business. Launched a franchise and spinoff. And like it or not it’s halfway to cult status. I grew as a person, grew creatively. Warners [sic] took a chance on me. I’m grateful."
Looking at photos of Ayer with his cast on set, it's evident that he knew what he wanted and was heavily invested in the film. If anything, his enthusiasm is contagious and welcome.
21 Swimming Practice
After Jason Momoa's stint in Baywatch, hanging around on the beach and in the water should be a cinch for him. That said, lugging around all the heavy Aquaman armor can't be too easy or pleasant, especially when the waves hit and you're trying to ground yourself in the sand. Judging by this pic, though, Momoa proves he's the real Aquaman by not being fazed by the water at all.
His co-star Amber Heard looks to be struggling a bit, requiring Momoa's assistance. Reportedly, the waves knocked her over a few times and she needed Momoa to yank her back up. Now, who said that Aquaman was all CGI and had no real water on set?
20 Wait, What's He Doing There?
Clay Enos is renowned for working with the DCEU and his outstanding photography work. His pictures have become the wallpapers of many fans around the world and he continues to share many unseen photos on his Vero account. Simply put, he's the person who's able to capture this universe's vision and share it with the world.
In this still, we see the photographer running on the beach with the Amazon warriors. It's kind of funny when you realize there weren't any men in Themyscira, yet here's Enos running alongside them in his weekend attire. Of course, he isn't in his battle gear, so he'd likely need to find protection behind one of the warriors if the situation got sticky.
19 The Batmobile Is All Real
One of the biggest complaints about modern superhero films is that they're mostly CGI. It's true, but do you really think a man in a suit would look great as Groot as an example? That said, there are still many directors who cherish using practical effects where they can – even if it means throwing in an extra zero at the end of the film's budget.
The below shot dispels the rumors that Zack Snyder is way too reliant on CGI. That's the Batmobile on fire! Nothing about the shot looks fake and it must've been quite the experience for everyone to film. Heck, the size of that gigantic blaze would've even made Michael Bay proud.
18 The Fish Tank
We wonder if the Aquaman actors were sick of water after the film wrapped up production. While a fair number of scenes were filmed in green rooms, there were others that required the actors to be in fish tanks and actually in and under water. Their fingers must've been extra wrinkly after a full day in the tank.
It mustn't have been easy, because no matter what the weather was like outside, the show had to go on. Even if an actor had a cold or would've preferred to be snuggled up in a blanket, the production was on a schedule. Good thing that director James Wan decided to film in a climate that was hot.
17 Zack Attack
There's a section of the internet that says Zack Snyder is to blame for the DCEU's failures. If you consider turning a profit on every single one of its films – plus casting some of the best actors to portray these iconic characters on screen – then yeah, Snyder failed to meet some warped expectations.
Undoubtedly, one of Snyder's greatest achievements was seeing the potential in Gal Gadot to be Wonder Woman. At the time, Gadot had appeared in a few films but wasn't a household name. Snyder took a risk, cast her, and transformed her into a global icon. Seeing him guide Gadot into the classic Wonder Woman pose is an picture that speaks a thousand words.
16 The Directing Bat
Once upon a time, Ben Affleck was set to write, direct, produce, and star in The Batman. He seemed to be extremely enthusiastic about the DCEU and fans saw him as the one to take the franchise to the next level. After all, Affleck has not only won an Oscar for screenwriting, but also for his work on Argo.
Unfortunately, this image stands as an example of what could've been. As we all know, he announced he'd dropped out of the director's chair and would only be starring in the film – and even that is debatable at the moment. If he'd directed The Batman, we might've seen more pictures of Affleck, in the cape and cowl, behind the camera.
15 The Arkham Meeting
A lot was written about Jared Leto's method acting on the Suicide Squad set. Many people spoke of how he was in character as the Joker for the entirety of the production, and how he wowed the actors and crew around him. As we now know, most of his footage ended up on the editing room floor.
Still, in this photo that captures the filming of the Arkham scene between him and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, it's evident that Leto took his portrayal very seriously. There's a seriousness in his eyes and you can tell that he wasn't playing around with his performance. That said, we wonder how David Ayer's original vision for Mr. J differed from what we saw in the theatrical cut.
14 The League Assembles
For what it's worth, the actors had a ball on Justice League with Zack Snyder (nobody speaks about the reshoots with Joss Whedon). Jason Momoa shared several pictures of the cast jamming a song in his trailer on Instagram, while the comradery was noted in the press appearances before and after the film's release.
In this image, we see Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Cyborg assemble, as they need to stop the rampant and reborn Superman. Momoa looks ahead while Gal Gadot flashes a smile at Ray Fisher, who looks delightful in his "pajamas". Surprisingly, the usual joker of the pack, Ezra Miller, appears to be deep in concentration and preparing himself for the scene.
13 The Knightmare
The Knightmare scene in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was one of the most talked about things in the film. Many fans didn't understand what was going on, but Zack Snyder had a plan that would've unfolded if he'd received the opportunity to complete his vision.
A behind-the-scenes photo of the infamous scene makes it look less nightmarish, though, as we see largely green screens and realize that Ezra Miller wasn't actually dressed as the Flash either. Surprisingly, the Flash's costume was CGI for this scene. While we all know it's movie magic on these sets, this picture takes away the whole magic element as we have to accept that it wasn't filmed in an actual high-tech Batcave.
12 Serious Shazam!
Shazam! hasn't been released yet, but judging by the trailers and photos we've seen, it looks like David F. Sandberg's upcoming superhero film will be heavy on the comedy side of things. It's the right move, too, especially since the character does lend itself to the humorous.
Recently, Fandago released a few behind-the-scenes pictures of the film. In this photograph, Zachary Levi's Shazam holds a serious expression as he looks on at someone (or something). Of course, we don't know the context of the scene, since the movie hasn't been released yet, but it could be a grave moment – or not. Nonetheless, it's good to see that Shazam's costume looks terrific and doesn't need CGI to shine.
11 Wonder Women
The expectations for Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman were extremely low, with many sites predicting that the film would flop for Warner Bros. even before it was released. Again, the movie proved that you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet, as it debuted to glowing reviews and made a bucketload of money at the box office.
If you think about it, no one should've doubted Wonder Woman in the first place because Jenkins is a masterful director. This behind-the-scenes shot of her and Gal Gadot shows that a lot of fun was had on set. After all, if you can't have fun making these movies, how do you expect the audience to enjoy watching them?
10 Under The Sea
It's no secret that James Wan had to largely invent Atlantis via CGI. Even so, he and his team created many original set pieces when scenes were isolated. For example, the area where Arthur Curry and Mera met with Vulko.
As the picture shows, the set was real and involved the usage of proper materials. In addition, the background and light that seeped in through the gaps in the wood gave the effect that it took place underwater. Of course, in post-production, it was tidied up and made to appear even more like an underwater world with the use of effects and CGI. Still, it's nice to see that not all the magic was computer-generated.
9 The Snyder Cut
There's something heartwarming about seeing Zack Snyder in the behind-the-scenes footage of Justice League. Even though a chunk of the film was reshot by Joss Whedon, it's evident which are Snyder's scenes and which aren't. Whether Warner Bros. will ever release the Snyder Cut of the movie is another story altogether.
In this image, we see Snyder directing Ben Affleck's Batman and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. The director had an eye for outlandish action sequences and we can only imagine what his realized version of Justice League would've looked like. Fortunately, he gives us little teasers of what he was going for on his Vero account every so often. Maybe Warner Bros. will eventually cave in and give us what we want one day.
8 The Bat Creature
While Doomsday was a CGI creation, not every other creature in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice followed suit. As part of Bruce Wayne's recurring Knightmares in the film, he encountered a bat creature that lunged for him during his visit to Wayne Manor.
In this photo, we see director Zack Snyder proudly showing off the creature to Ben Affleck, who looked utterly captivated by what he saw. For actors on superhero movies, it must be welcome seeing practical effects being implemented when the bulk of it all is CGI. Having something to react and work with must be easier and more enjoyable than imagining a tennis ball on a stick is a giant creature.
7 The Trench Of A Studio
Undeniably, one of the standout moments in Aquaman is the Trench sequence. In this scene, James Wan brought all of his experience from years of making horror movies and infused real terror into the audience. The creatures and setting were absolutely frightening as it all looked too real.
As it turns out, the boat wasn't even on the water. This photo shows how the rain and turbulence were recreated in a studio and everything else – bar the actors – was formulated in post-production. While it's a lot less scary than what we saw on screen and experienced, the effects team deserves a long round of applause for making something so incredibly realistic and lifelike in the movie.
6 The Men Of Steel
For Warner Bros., Christopher Nolan is a messiah. He made all the studio's dreams come true with The Dark Knight trilogy. When it was time to make a Superman film, which went on to become Man of Steel, Nolan recommended Zack Snyder as the man to lead the DCEU.
Nolan was credited as an executive producer in several films and popped by the sets a couple of times (as evidenced above). As Snyder revealed to IndieWire, Nolan was a soundboard for him, as he bounced ideas off him about Superman and the general direction of the DCEU. So, if you're upset about how things turned out, you can be the brave one and call up Nolan to tell him that you're disappointed.
5 Early Aquaman
What many people fail to realize is that Jason Momoa auditioned to be the Caped Crusader in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Naturally, he didn't get the gig but Zack Snyder saw something in him and cast him as Aquaman. The image above is an early picture of Momoa as Arthur Curry.
Speaking about the casting in an interview with Jake Hamilton, Momoa said, "I got called in again probably two, three weeks later and that's when Zack laid it down and said, 'I want you to play Aquaman,'" he said. "When he told me his vision, what he wanted to do with the tattoos, someone who comes from, being half-white, half-Polynesian, it made sense.”
4 The Amazons
Wonder Woman was a revolutionary film. Not only was it directed by a female director (Patty Jenkins), but it also featured a predominantly female cast. The best part? These ladies weren't damsels in distress; the Amazons proved they were tough enough to handle anything that the world threw at them.
Seeing this snap of Jenkins with her female cast is inspiring for several reasons. There's an abundance of talent in that one picture, as it features different generations of strong and talented women. It makes you realize that Wonder Woman was more than just a box-office hit or another superhero film; it was culturally relevant and important to the arts and society as a whole.
3 The Cape-Less Superman
Many fans will be surprised to find out that most of the capes in the DCEU are CGI. It might sound like something silly to do, but when you think about it, it makes sense. With all the wind and other variables on set, it's difficult to control the direction and flow of the cape. Additionally, it can be a hazard if the cape gets tangled up with the other rig on set.
As we can see by this picture, Henry Cavill's Superman spent a bulk of time in his costume, but largely cape-less. It's a pity that we didn't get to see him suit up in the infamous black suit, but alas it is what it is.
2 The Borg Life
Years ago, it was announced that Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller would have their own solo movies as Cyborg and the Flash, respectively. All the shake-ups and changes have left things a little up in the air, though, especially for Cyborg. At one point, it was even mooted that the two would appear in a buddy-cop type of film.
If it doesn't happen, it'll be disappointing. Watching Cyborg and the Flash together was a joy in Justice League. Fisher and Miller have a chemistry, and it's evident that the two are good friends in real life, too. Hopefully Justice League won't be the last time we see them on screen together, because these two are gold.
1 The Green Screen League
Even if you weren't a fan of Justice League, you have to admit it was cool to finally see the League assemble on the big screen. Watching them work together to take down Steppenwolf was a highlight of the film, and we certainly hope that this wasn't the last time these cast members got to come together.
The big battle at the end happened in a green room and featured a whole lot of CGI. Well, at least the characters were represented in their iconic costumes – bar Ray Fisher's Cyborg who wears his "pajamas". It does make you wonder, though, if Steppenwolf couldn't have been portrayed entirely by Ciarán Hinds, with minimal visual effects. Surely, the character would've turned out a lot better that way.
Tell us, are there any other behind-the-scenes photos that change the DCEU? Let us know in the comments!