Justice League (2017) could have been a great film. Alas, the winds of fate have conspired against the latest entry in the DC Cinematic Univese (DCCU). Instead of another Zack Snyder masterpiece, we are forced to sit through a movie that is very strange and nearly incomprehensible.
The winds of fate that snatched Justice League from the teeth of excellence were ignited by the recent plague of misconduct claims against an astonishing plethora Hollywood stars. The epidemic of misconduct claims last month snared Kevin Spacey who was supposed to star as the Martian Manhunter in Justice League.
(Martian Manhunter happens to be my all-time favorite character in the entire DC Extended Universe [DCEU] so forgive me if I’m take this all very personally.)
In the olden days, if misconduct claims marred the career of a distinguished award-winner like Kevin Spacey, he would definitely have to check into rehab and disappear from the limelight for a few years. But any movies he already completed would still be released as planned, with audiences agreeing to “separate the art from the artist,” as the old saying goes.
Nowadays, the terrain in which morality bears fruit has shifted. No longer can we watch a Kevin Spacey movie without thinking to ourselves, “I wonder if he went and placed his heavy body atop a twelve-year-old boy right after shooting this scene?” Thus, Kevin Spacey’s performance as the Martian Manhunter had to be edited out of Justice League altogether.
With the advanced digital technology available to filmmakers in this day and age, a simple change to the film’s content along these lines should have been no sweat. With computer generated imagery, it’s possible to swap in an entirely different actor into a scene that’s already been shot whenever necessary.
And it happens all the time – James Franco was digitally inserted over the performance originally delivered by Johnny Depp in Oz: The Great and Powerful, Bradley Cooper was the motion-capture replacement for Christian Bale in American Sniper, and most famously Emma Stone won an Oscar for her performance in La La Land, which was shot entirely after principal photography wrapped and re-edited to replace Kristen Stewart who originally played Mia Dolan.
Unfortunately, when the Kevin Spacey scandal broke, the producers of Justice League chose actor-comedian Louis CK to digitally replace Spacey as the Martian Manhunter. Little did they know that Louis CK would face his own storm of misconduct claims shortly after removing the mo-cap sensors from his face. CK’s substitute portrayal of Martian Manhunter was instantly ruined by real life allegations that he forced women to watch him masturbate.
Digital compositors immediately starting clicking CTRL+Z and DELETE on their work to insert Louis CK’s Martian Manhunter over the top of Kevin Spacey’s Martian Manhunter. But the film had to be sent to theaters in time for its heavily promoted November 17th release date. Producers intervened and told the digital compositors to stand down. The clearly unfinished film would have to do.
If Martian Manhunter played only a minor role in Justice League, maybe no one would have noticed. But Martian Manhunter is one of the seven main characters in Justice League, alongside Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborgia and the Two-Headed Dog. Removing Martian Manhunter from Justice League is like tearing off the leg of a spider – it will survive, sure, but it won’t be much fun to play with anymore.
Though many of his scenes were cut altogether, many sequences remain in which Batman or Wonder Woman will speak to the void, a black absence where Martian Manhunter should have been standing. These moments are unsettling and disorienting to say the least.
To make matters worse, Martian Manhunter plays an essential role in Justice League’s quest to recover the Mother Boxes before they fall into the hands of the evil Steppenwolf and his nasty squad of Parademons. Without Martian Manhunter, the recovery of the Mother Boxes just doesn’t make any sense to an adult with the intellectual capacity to understand a logical plot.
The DC comic book movies always had an advantage over the Marvel movies in that they appealed to rational grown-ups rather than a bunch of dumb kiddies. Unfortunately, Hollywood misconduct has claimed another victim. That victim is Justice League.
TL;DR – Justice League is the first major blockbuster to be disfigured beyond recognition by the toxic horrors of Hollywood Misconduct.
What the rest of the critics are saying:
“The post-production fixes were so rushed that there’s actually a scene near the end of the movie where Martian Manhunter appears momentarily, looking at first like Kevin Spacey and then briefly like Louis CK. In the next moment, he’s gone. It’s a haunting effect, and probably the only thing in the movie worth seeing.” – Nathaneal However, NYRB
“Making a Justice League movie without Martian Manhunter is like making a James Bond movie without Miss Moneypenny. Why would you even do that? There’s just no point to it.” – George “Ramble” Bortz, Arizona Republic
“Kevin Spacey would have made a great Martian Manhunter. Louis CK may have been a decent alternative. Instead, we get no Martian Manhunter at all, and everyone’s unhappy.” – Pepper Schwartz, E! Online
“In the comic books, the Two-Headed Dog barks in response to Martian Manhunter’s superintelligent quips. But in Justice League (2017), the Two-Headed Dog barks at nothing, alone.” – Jonathan Lethem, The Believer
“The New York Times ruined more than the careers of two universally respected geniuses. It ruined the first movie in the DCEU with a chance to knock out Marvel’s monopoly on superhero cinematic greatness.” – Ernie van Schledorn, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
“Martian Manhunter’s great flaw is his chronic, compulsive masturbation. Louis CK would have perfectly captured the soul of the character, in much the same way Robert Downey Jr. once did with Iron Man. It’s too bad we’re not allowed to have anything fun in this Age of SJWs.” – Romyn Araxie, Breitbart.com
“Hollywood Misconduct has claimed more than Justice League (2017). It’s also claimed the solo Martian Manhunter movie that was planned to follow. Which is the greater crime? I don’t know.” – Jubal Swinglehurst, Ain’t It Cool News
“Kevin Spacey’s not back, baby! And he might not ever!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com
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