The buzz surrounding Zack Snyder's Justice League might be slowing down, but the film's game-changing debut has been a memorable one. The four-hour epic is filled with entertaining character moments coupled with surprising revelations that could change the path of the DCEU like never before.
With so many moving pieces, many would agree that one of the most-talked-about sequences in the film is the Knightmare scene. After being featured in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the ramifications of the apocalyptic timeline were showcased in the Snyder Cut, providing viewers with much-needed context on why Superman became evil and a preview of Batman's own ragtag group of resistance fighters.
While completing the film, it was revealed that Snyder gathered several cast members for reshoots, and it was confirmed that the scene that was filmed was for the Knightmare scene which included the likes of Jared Leto's Joker and Amber Heard's Mera.
Now, the VFX crew behind the famous sequence has shared interesting tidbits about that process.
JUSTICE LEAGUE VFX TEAM OPENS UP ABOUT RESHOOTS
The Weta Effects team, who worked on the visual effects of Zack Snyder's Justice League, sat down with ScreenRant to discuss the challenges of completing Snyder's original vision.
One of the topics that were discussed is the Knightmare sequence of the film. VFX supervisor Kevin Smith revealed the process behind bringing the apocalyptic timeline to life:
“The post-apocalyptic sequence was I think only new footage that Zack shot for this movie. The rest of everything we did was footage that had already been shot previously for 2017. You're totally right, the sequence was our characters, and there were a couple of practical cars on set shot on green. We put most of everything else in, even a few of those shots of the ground that they're standing on. They were just standing on green, so it was up to us to create that little piece of the world for them to exist in."
Smith then pointed out that the Knightmare's early inclusion from Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice gave them a “fairly good idea” on how to establish the look and feel of the apocalyptic world:
"There's that one glimpse of this post-apocalyptic nightmare world that we had to anchor this new sequence to. So, we had a fairly good idea, in general, of what that needed to look like - at least as far as a mood and an overall feel. It's kind of nice to build from there, especially because the sequence isn't about this world that they're existing in, per se."
Then, Smith unveiled the fact that Ezra Miller “was not even present” during reshoots, sharing that the crew “barreled ahead” even if there was an ongoing health crisis:
"It's about these little moments between all the characters, and the big moment between Batman and Joker. It's cool to grounded that sequence in this reality, and have it be cool without getting in the way of all these little moments and emotional beats with the characters. And not only was that filmed with COVID protocols, but Ezra Miller was not even present. They barreled ahead, COVID be damned, and shot it. Which is awesome, they didn't let that get in the way of the vision of having this new sequence.”
The process of shooting Miller's scenes was indeed a challenge, with Smith even mentioning that the actor “shoot his shots” during the whole ordeal. As a result, Miller was added digitally in post-production:
“I think they just sent a camera to wherever Ezra was and had him shoot his shots. There's a couple shots, since he couldn't be there, that we just added him in digitally. He's in the background, so that was just a little bit of more of a complication for us, because of how hard it was to get a crew together during COVID to shoot that.”
Smith described the reshoots as “guerilla filmmaking,” confirming that Zack was hands-on during the whole thing:
“Yeah, but it was almost guerilla. This is an A-plus movie, and that means big crews and a lot of stuff. This was almost, for them, guerilla filmmaking; stripped down and Zack driving the camera himself.”
SNYDER'S PASSION FOR HIS ORIGINAL VISION
It is no secret that completing an unfinished film is an insurmountable task, but Snyder's leadership appears to have softened the blow.
Smith's deep dive on creating the visual effects for the Knightmare sequence should give fans an overview of what really went down and how the team managed to pull through despite the ongoing pandemic. It was evident that the look and feel of Snyder Cut's Knightmare was consistent with Dawn of Justice's apocalyptic scene, and this goes to show that the Weta Effects team pulled it off in a convincing fashion.
Strict health protocols and production delays have been the norm in the entertainment industry ever since the health crisis started, but it looks like Snyder was not fazed by it. In a normal timeline, Ezra Miller's inclusion in the epilogue scene would've been easy to film, but several hurdles such as the actor's schedule combined with border restrictions made it difficult.
Despite that, the passion of Snyder combined with Miller's dedication to fulfilling his part for the director's cut were more than enough, and Smith's comment about the fact that the team “barreled ahead” is a fitting way to put it.
The result was a captivating sequence headlined by a compelling confrontation between Batman and Joker. While Flash's involvement in the scene was minimal, this new piece of information should serve as a solid reminder of how the Snyder Cut puzzle worked.
Zack Snyder's Justice League is now streaming on HBO Max.