Justice League could have been a truly great movie, despite its most infamous flaw - the CGI that removed Henry Cavill's mustache. It is generally accepted at this point that Justice League was a deeply flawed film, though the precise reasons for why this is so have resulted in a good deal of finger-pointing and nit-picking. In all this debate, waged upon in countless Twitter feeds and comments sections, one feature of the movie has risen above all others to stand as the ultimate symbol of everything wrong with Justice League - Superman's freaky upper lip area.
There are several reasons for this. Chief among them is that it was the first major misstep to become obvious, with Superman appearing in the very first scene of the movie as he is questioned by a group of children interviewing him for their podcast. The incongruity of Superman's face in the opening set the tone for how equally disjointed the rest of the film would be.
Related: Henry Cavill's Mustache Explained
Writer/director Joss Whedon, who oversaw the completion of Justice League after Zack Snyder stepped away from the project, was supposedly only supervising the wrap-up and it was claimed the final movie would otherwise be a Zack Snyder film in every respect. Despite this, there was a clear tonal difference - both in writing and in cinematography - between the scenes that Snyder had shot and the Whedon-supervised reshoots. Storyboards and footage have surfaced since then, suggesting that while Whedon may have intended to complete Snyder's vision, Warner Bros. was determined to tell a drastically different story than what Snyder had planned.
The ultimate tragedy of Justice League is that with a little more time and effort it might have been a worthy movie. Had Zack Snyder been allowed to complete the movie as he had planned it or had Whedon been given time enough to craft a movie more in-line with his own sensibilities as a director, the finished product would have been better. Even allowing more time for the graphic artists to work on the CGI would have helped the movie immensely. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. was determined to stick to their original release date and the movie suffered for it.
- This Page: Why the Mustache Was So Bad
- Page 2: Justice League Needed Consistent Tone & Story Most Of All
Why The Mustache Was So Bad
In this respect, Henry Cavill's CGI-removed mustache can be seen as symbolic of the problems with the Justice League reshoots in general- a lot of unnecessary work for a clearly rushed result. The reason why CGI was necessary to remove Cavill's mustache was due to the reshoots for Justice League occurring at the same time Cavill was filming Mission Impossible - Fallout. Cavill had grown a mustache for his role in that film and Paramount refused to let him shave or wear a false mustache in their movie. This led to Warner Bros. having to go through ludicrous lengths to hide Cavill's mustache in order to get Justice League finished according to their timetable.
Ignoring Cavill's upper-lip, the same sense of hurriedness can be seen Cavill's performance as Superman. Most of Cavill's scenes in the theatrical cut of Justice League were filmed during the reshoots and the difference between his performance in those scenes and the Snyder-filmed moments is like night and day. Cavill's performance in the reshoot scenes is broader and bigger, almost to the point of over-acting, particularly when compared to the more understated performance he gave when directed by Snyder in Man of Steel.
The Changes To Superman Go Deeper Than His Lip
Problematic as the CGI needed to hide Cavill's mustache was, it was a skin-deep issue compared to the problems caused by the writing of Superman in the reshoot scenes. Thanks to the film's original trailers, we know something of Snyder's original plans for Superman's resurrection and the intended tone of the involved scenes. Perhaps the clearest example of this lies in the moment which opened the final trailer of Justice League, in which Lois Lane sees Clark Kent in the cornfields of his family's farm and he greets her by saying "I'll take that as a yes?" when he sees that she is wearing the engagement ring that he had given Martha Kent for safe-keeping.
This scene is nowhere to be found in the final theatrical cut of Justice League. There is a scene where Lois Lane and Clark Kent speak while standing in a cornfield, but it is drastically different in tone and scope than what we saw in the trailer. Instead, we see Cavill, his CGI altered lip firmly in evidence (along with CGI corn in the background), as Lois Lane asks him what death is like. Rather than giving some complex or philosophical answer regarding what he might have seen in The Great Beyond, Superman responds with one word - "Itchy." It was a painfully Whedonesque quip which clearly indicated just how severely Snyder's vision was being altered by Whedon's handling of the reshoots.