For part of the upcoming Justice League movie, Superman’s mustache will be digitally erased.
Henry Cavill has been juggling filming for both Mission: Impossible 6, for which he grew said mustache, and additional scenes for Justice League, in which he continues to play the clean-shaven Man of Steel as he has done in two terrible, poorly received films. The Justice League reshoots weren’t supposed to begin until after M:I 6 was completed. But they became so extensive that Cavill has been balancing both productions for months, ‘stache and all.
Warner Bros. is spending roughly $25 million on additional photography, as its known in the biz, for the first big-screen team-up of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and other superheroes, Variety reported. That’s double the $6-10 million studios usually budget for a project of its scale, according to the publication. Reshoots also typically last a week or two; Justice League‘s have gone on for roughly two months, meaning actors like Cavill are having to juggle insane schedules. (His paymasters at M:I 6 would not let him shave the mustache while the film was shooting.)
The studio is shelling out the additional millions to build on the momentum of Wonder Woman, its first unequivocal hit in the DC Extended Universe that also includes the latest Superman films, Batman v. Superman, and Suicide Squad. Wonder Woman, released last month, is beloved by critics and fans alike, and is on pace to overtake Iron Man, the superhero origin story that kickstarted rival Marvel’s cinematic comic-book universe. In doing so, it would become one of the top-grossing superhero debuts of all time, domestically.
Justice League’s extensive changes stem from a shift in direction that was announced about two months ago when DC Extended Universe mastermind Zack Snyder stepped down from Justice League following a family tragedy. Warner turned to its rival Marvel and The Avengers director Joss Whedon took up Snyder’s mantel. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator is reportedly adding his trademark wit to the script, along with scenes and dialogue that better tie together Snyder’s explosive action.
Fans could already see the new director’s influence in the four-minute Justice League trailer that was released at San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend. While the sequences and tone were typically dark and gritty, like a classic Snyder film, the trailer actually had a bit of fun with itself, which is all Whedon. (“Oh wow, they really just vanish huh?” says Ezra Miller’s The Flash, about his superhero teammates. ”That’s rude,” he adds before vanishing himself.)
Reshoots usually aren’t considered a good sign for a production. But they’ve become commonplace in today’s tentpole studio system in which millions are spent on a handful of films that shore up the bulk of a studio’s revenue each year. Both the recent Star Wars film and the upcoming Han Solo film went through some extensive reshoots, even with new directors coming on board.
Reshoots themselves are nothing new. Some of the best scenes in classic Hollywood movies were the results of additional photography. Take Jaws for example. Director Steven Spielberg had a tough time with the 1975 shark thriller. His initial script for the creature feature relied on shots of the shark in the foreground, but the mechanical great white didn’t look real or threatening. After reviewing the initial footage, he reportedly decided to reshoot the film, showing as little of the shark as possible to build tension. The movie was over budget and over schedule—but became in instant classic when it was released.
The iconic image in Spielberg’s E.T., in which E.T. and Elliot are silhouetted in front of the moon before E.T. returns home, also wouldn’t have been in the film if not for reshoots. An early test screening of the film reportedly had an entirely different ending, in which E.T. died. Audiences did not care for it.