'Justice League' Set Visit: Zack Snyder Goes Full Marvel

Thunder crashes in the distance as lightning flashes on a gothic-looking rooftop. The iconic Bat Signal shoots a beam of light into the sky as Commissioner Gordon looks out over Gotham City. On the other side of the rooftop, Batman appears, flanked by Wonder Woman and the Flash.

"How many of you are there?" asks Gordon.

Batman dryly responds, "Not enough."

I'm on the set of Justice League watching a scene be filmed for Zack Snyder's follow-up to the divisive Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Moments later, Cyborg walks out of the shadows to join the group. It's not really Cyborg — he will created later in visual effects, but more on that later — it's actor Ray Fisher in a performance capture suit and a rig that projects red lights from his head and chest. Ezra Miller, playing the Flash, comically overreacts at Cyborg's appearance. This doesn't feel like the previous Zack Snyder DC Extended Universe films.

Cyborg informs the group that "the head of Star Labs was taken tonight" and it's now clear that while he may have been reluctant earlier, he is now willing to join up with this league of "meta humans" to fight a group of villains that Batman humorously refers to as "flying monkeys."

Wonder Woman gives Cyborg a smile, and the camera moves in to capture this moment in closeup. It's a moment of warmth and humanity, something that many fans and critics believed to be lacking from the two previous Superman films. After someone yells "cut," one of my colleagues on set comments that this might be the first smile we've seen in Snyder's DCU so far, or at very least, the most obvious.


I didn't hate Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as much as most of my movie reviewing colleagues, but my 6 out of 10 review was far from gushing. It was negative enough to earn me thousands of hate tweets and threatening emails from DC fanboys, something that persisted for weeks. So I was surprised to get a call from Zack Snyder's personal publicist asking if I'd be interested in visiting his Avengers-style team-up film Justice League.

I've been invited to dozens of movie sets over the years and usually the offer comes from the movie studio in charge, or more rarely a filmmaker friend will send out the personal invite. But this is the first time I've had the filmmaker's personal publicist has reached out.

I boarded a British Airways flight to London with a bunch of other movie bloggers and journalists, most of whom did not like Batman v Superman, and this seems completely by design. We were told that Zack Snyder had read our reviews, our coverage, and picked this particular batch of bloggers because while we weren't fans of BvS, we were fair in our assessments and thoughtfully explained our issues with that film. It seems like Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. know they have something to prove, and are willing to open the curtain to try to change the perception of their big franchise series.

Batman v Superman was far from a disaster, but the film did not make the monstrous amount of money that Warner Bros. was probably hoping it would. Since the film's release, we have seen a barrage of reports of a shakeup on both the executive and producing levels. There were rumors that producers Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder had been privately demoted. Batman actor Ben Affleck was given an increased creative presence on this film as well as an executive producer credit. And there are lots of additional rumblings in the inner circles that haven't made the Internet.

We visited the Justice League set on June 17th, 2016, day 31 of a planned 111-day shoot, while they were filming an hour outside of London at Leavesden Studios. When I was last at this facility, it was when I was on the set of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The movie studio has since turned into a tourist destination with the opening of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in 2012. But films are still shot at this studio, including Edge of Tomorrow, 300: Rise of an Empire, Paddington, Jupiter Ascending, Kingsman, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., In the Heart of the Sea, Pan, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Tarzan, Fantastic Beasts, Wonder Woman and King Arthur. In fact, some areas of the studio were under strict lockdown because Steven Spielberg is currently prepping Ready Player One.

Before I get into my thoughts on my visit, I should acknowledge that a set visit gives us a very limited and almost completely orchestrated look at the production. Everything we saw on set and everything that was said by the filmmakers is completely by design, to paint a particular picture.

With that bit of warning out of the way, I won't bury my lede here: Even though Justice League may look much like the other Zack Snyder DCEU films, it feels like a much different film from Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. There are moments of humor, humanity, personality and color.

I encourage you to read the rest of my written coverage but if you purely want my reaction, feel free to watch this video blog I recorded after the set visit with Steve Weintraub from Collider and Devin Faraci from Birth.Movies.Death.:

Director Zack Snyder admits that he was not expecting the critical reaction to Batman v Superman:

You know, when Batman v Superman first came out, I was like, "Wow, okay, woof." It did catch me off-guard. I kind of felt like — and I have had to, in my mind, make an adjustment, and maybe it is my hardcore take on characters as far as I love 'em, and I love the material. I do, I take it really deep. So I think the nice thing about working on Justice League is that it is an opportunity to really blow the doors off of the scale and the bad guys and team-building and all the stuff that I think I could justify as a big, modern comic book movie, if that makes any sense.

And producer Deborah Snyder is very clear about it — Justice League is "a totally different movie than Batman v Superman." From what I saw while visiting the set, this film seems to have more humor, more personalities, and a sense that the filmmakers have learned something from their mistakes.

Zack says that the characters in the Justice League are "inherently, sort of this larger-than-life, big, fun":

Flash and with [Aquaman actor JasonMomoa, when you see, I've been out with Jason and the way that he's interacting with the group, even just in his Jason-ness, the contrast to Ben and to Gal [Gadot] is really interesting and fun.

Its these kind of personality contrasts that make the Marvel Universe team-up films so much fun, and it seems like Snyder and team are aiming for the same kind of delightful interplay.  Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot thinks they have found a very interesting dynamic in this film.

It's fun, it's funny. It's different, each and every character brings their own flavor and color to the team. And for me, you know, personally it's really fun to play with them. They're great, they're talented, and I'm having a great time.

But by far the biggest surprise for me was Ezra Miller as the Flash. Imagine going into Captain America: Civil War not looking forward to Spider-Man's appearance and coming out totally blown away. This is how I felt leaving the Justice League set.

I've read runs of Superman and Batman but I've never regularly read any of the DC series. And I've never really been interested in the Flash. I tried watching the pilot of the CW show, and I know everyone says it's great but it just didn't hook me. I'm not sure if its just that Ezra Miller is that good (he is very good) or if it's that the character is just written so well (it is written packed with personality and amusement) but after my trip to set, I found myself back at the hotel purchasing Flash comics on my iPad.

the flash

While touring the Justice League costume department, the Flash's costume stands out amongst the other Justice League outfits. It's brighter than the others, but still a dark red. The first thing you will notice about the Flash's costume is that it appears to be constructed of many pieces, 148 separate red patches that cover a spandex-like black body suit. The suit is constructed out of so many pieces that a big blueprint hangs on the wall mapping out how the costume must be assembled. This costume in particular took eight months to design. Just assembling the costume takes a lot of time: eight days to construct, two days to map out where everything goes, four days to glue, and another two days to attach the wires.

The Flash logo on his chest is gold, as well as his belt and pieces at the elbows, shoes, and ears. The suit does not look as slick and polished as Batman or Superman's costumes and that's intentional. This is a prototype suit, and not everything is completely functional. Oscar-nominated costume designer Michael Wilkinson couldn't say if the Flash has another costume in the film created by Bruce Wayne, but I would bet on it.

In the comic books, electricity surrounds the Flash as he zooms by, and we will see a similar effect in the movie. But of course Zack Snyder has to come up with a grounded reason to do this, even though a reason isn't really necessary. So the character has dozens of wires that criss cross his body which harness electricity as he moves as hyper speeds. In the film the wires will be enhanced with a digital effects to show electricity harnessed throughout his body. This will also explain how the character can time travel, as we briefly saw in BvS. While it looks very aerodynamic, the armor has scratches all over it — imagine what it would look like if an intense downpour left scratches on the paint of your car.

One of the hardest pieces to create for the character were the shoes. Wilkinson had to create completely custom sneakers for the Flash, complete with lightning bolts on the sides and bottom soles. I think fans will want to own these sneakers once they see them. If the Warner Bros. Consumer Products Department isn't working on producing these sneakers in large quantities, something is wrong.

At the conclusion of my visit, Zack Snyder screened an unfinished scene for us, which I will recount for you in full. I don't believe its a spoiler at all because it appears to be a scene from early in the film. Snyder says it's one of the first scenes they shot for the movie.

The scene follows Ezra Miller as Barry Allen, entering an abandoned brick building with lots of colorful graffiti which he has co-opted for his home. He turns on the power and his apartment lights up with tons of computer monitors all over the place. The light reveals Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne sitting in a chair.

"Barry Allen, Bruce Wayne."

"You said that like it explains why there's a total stranger in my place sitting in my second favorite chair," quips Allen.

"Tell me about this..." Wayne presents Allen a printout showing the security footage of Allen which was retrieved from Lex Luthor's hard drive in Batman v Superman. Allen looks at the paper incredulously.

"This is... uhh... a person who looks exactly like me but is definitely not me. Somebody, hippy, long hair. Very attractive Jewish boy... who drinks milk. I don't drink milk."

Wayne is not amused. "I know you have abilities, I just don't know what they are..."

Allen quips, "My special skills include viola, web design, fluent in sign language, gorilla sign language..."

Wayne has stopped listening and is admiring Allen's prototype Flash costume which is in the middle of the room.

Looking closer at the Flash suit, Wayne notices its made of "silicon base and quartz fabric, heat resistant."

Allen tries to explain what the superhero costume is for: "Yeah, I also do ice dancing."

"They use it on the space shuttle to keep it from burning up on reentry," comments Wayne.

Barry responds that the suit is for "very competitive ice dancing." Barry turns and continues, "Look man, I don't know who you are but whoever you're looking for is not me."

While Barry is turned, Bruce Wayne takes the opening to chuck a Batarang at the young superhero. Almost instantly time slows down and we are engulfed into Barry Allen's world of slow-motion as he dodges the incoming weapon and notices that it's a metal throwing star in the form of the Batman logo. He reaches out and grabs it, catching it.

We transition into real time as Barry looks at Bruce, "You're the Batman?

Bruce now understands, "So you're fast?"

Barry remarks, "That feels like an over simplification."

Bruce is not amused, so he gets to the point: "I'm putting together a team, people with special abilities. You see, I believe enemies are coming..."

Allen interrupts him, "Stop right there, I'm in!"

Wayne surprised, "Just like that?"

"Yeah," responds Allen, taking a few seconds to admit, "I need friends."

"Great," says Wayne relieved.

Barry still looking at the Batarang, "Can I keep this?"

After screening us the Bruce Wayne/Barry Allen meeting scene, Zack Snyder explains that he chose that scene for us because "it shows a little bit about what Ezra brings to the movie."

You know, Batman's Batman. I think Bruce Wayne has this kind of Batman humor that's not the same as — you could say he's the straight guy, you know? It's what he's good at. When I saw the scene — we just cut it together the other day — I was like, "Oh God, this is fun." This is an interesting way of understanding how the movies have gone in a progression.

I'm not entirely sure how well that scene plays out reading it on this website (and I'm sure you'd rather be watching it than reading it) but watching it on a screen in the war room, it had me smiling and laughing out loud. This doesn't seem like a scene that would have fit in Man of Steel or Batman v Superman. To be honest, it feels like something I would expect from a Marvel Studios film.

If there is any criticism I can throw at the scene, it is that it almost feels too similar to the Tony Stark / Spider-Man scene in Captain America: Civil War. And I'm not accusing Snyder of copying that film, as this scene was probably written well before anyone saw the interaction between Peter Parker and Tony Stark on the big screen. Its just an odd coincidence, kind of like how Captain America: Civil War almost feels like an alternate earth version of Batman v Superman, covering many of the same themes, many of the same beats.

I honestly had more fun watching this one scene than I did the entirety of Batman v Superman, and again, that's coming from someone who didn't hate that film.


The filmmakers are willing to admit that Batman v Superman didn't connect with critics and audiences in the way they wanted it to. Producer Deborah Snyder explains that "every film is a learning experience" and proudly admits that "we hear what everyone has to say because we care what the fans say." When asked what the biggest lesson they learned from BvS was, Deborah responds:

I think the main thing we learned is that people don't like to see their heroes deconstructed. [Laughs.] I think that's hard because it's people we've grown up with and that we care about. They like seeing them in all their glory. Yeah.

Deborah says that while a lot of the recent superhero films have been bright and fun, "Man of Steel and BvS were sort of celebrations of those darker comics like Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman." And for Zack, he explains that the darkness was necessary.

I think Superman was on his way toward something... I wanted to get to a Superman that had a reason to be Superman, like a reason to feel the way he felt about humanity, that we all understand from the comic books as far as he's pretty, as far as a moral compass goes, he's pretty much the thing. But I feel like he had to go through something to be that.

Batman actor Ben Affleck agrees that Justice League is the next step in the evolution of this film franchise, and now "there's definitely room for more humor."

DC movies I think, by their nature, are a little more mythic than some comic book movies are. But [Batman v Superman] was very dark and heavy because it was really rooted in Dark Knight Returns which is a heavy, dark book. And this is not that. This is a step in evolution in that to bring together all of these characters who have had their origins. It's about multilateralism, and it's about hope and about working together and the kind of conflicts of trying to work together with others. It's a world where superheroes exist, so there's comedy in that necessarily, trying to work with other people and people trying to accomplish goals together is the root of all great comedy in my view. So there's definitely, hopefully some fun in it. But it's not unrecognizably these characters or these stories. It's not turning it upside down.

Zack says that "the idea of drawing Superman and Batman in conflict meant that you really had to dig down into the darker parts of them to make them fight each other."

And I really do believe that with this movie, with Justice League, they've both been freed of the shackles of that, the responsibility to be in a place where they would fight each other. I think that that is liberating for us in some ways in making the movie because really now we have a single enemy with a single objective, and it's really about uniting the team. That to me is a fun activity. ...

Not to give anything away or say anything that would be too telling of where we're headed with the movie, but death is darker than, say, resurrection or team-building. It's just a darker concept, like when you're dealing with Dark Knight or Death of Superman, those kinds of ideas. As opposed to, "Oh, let's build a team and fight the bad guy!" It's a different energy.

A lot of parents discovered that BvS was a little darker than their younger children may have been ready for, and Deborah Snyder admits that Justice League will be more inclusive for children:

Justice League is much more inclusive. I think also it's all about the characters too. And we have these two very young characters, Flash and Cyborg. And you know, they're definitely lighter. I think they're going to appeal to a younger audience.

But according to Deborah, this was always part of the plan — to have different tones and different audiences for each of the DCEU properties.

And you know, I think Suicide Squad has its own audience. And I think Wonder Woman has its own audience. And not just women, because I think the movie – I've seen a little bit of it – and Patty [Jenkins] is still working on her director's cut, but I think it's going to be broad-reaching. I think the darkest where we've been is where we've been.

But it seems weird that the filmmakers acknowledge this and still try to paint a picture that the fun and humor of Justice League was always planned, that Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were always leading towards happier times. Deborah Snyder affirms that this was all a planned evolution, even if it might not feel like one.

Every story that we're telling is a completely different story, and I think what's really great is that where we were going is kind of what the audience is wanting. We just had to take the characters from somewhere to bring them up to where they are and that was kind of our journey. ... I think that MoS and Batman v Superman were kind of origin stories.  You kind of saw them really at points in their life that they were challenged. It was a darker movie. But this is a movie about coming together. It's a movie about building them up. So this is really an arc that we started. We have to go somewhere. You have to start from somewhere to really get to that point. But I think we're gonna see all the heroes in a way that people know them from the comic books.

Snyder admits that he's consciously changing the tone for this film.

Yeah, I mean, I think I'm obsessed with tone in the movies. Tone has always been the main thing that I go after with a movie, and I really wanted the tone of the three movies to be different chapters and not be the same note that you strike like, "Okay, there's this again." I really wanted that, and I do believe that since Batman v Superman came out and we've wrapped our heads around what Justice League would be, I do think that the tone has, because of what fans have said and how the movie was received by some, is that we have kind of put the screws to what we thought the tone would be and I feel crushed it that little bit further.

But he carefully warns us that "by no means is this the whole movie."

There are parts of the movie of course where they're facing enemies and they have to get their stuff together. Look at the Batmobile, for God's sake. You know, they're going to be drawn into conflict. But I think the Magnificent Seven aspect of the movie, the team-building part of the movie, which — and you guys know I'm a fan of Magnificent Seven and team-making movies. So it's fun for me to finally get to this point now in the progression of these three movies where we are building a team and making the Justice League, if you will.

As far as the rumors, Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder were both on set and working. It seemed like business as usual. Even Zack Snyder denies that there was/is any corporate pressure on this film, or Batman v Superman.

Yeah, I don't think so. I would just say that, for me, Batman v Superman, I think there is a slight misconception about the shooting, anyway, about how much pressure there was on us and the pressure on the movie to perform in a certain way. From my point of view, and maybe just because I don't know how to do it any other way, we make really personal movies. For me, anyway, I love the characters. I love comic books — maybe to a fault sometimes. Like, I dork out on these hardcore aspects of the comic books, because I'm a grownup and I love that part of it. I had a great time making the movie. ...

But I think the studio's been amazing with me, and they are a filmmaker-driven studio. They don't really do a ton of things by committee. It's just been a great experience I've had with them as a studio. But I do think that, for me, it's been amazingly rewarding to work with these characters, because I just love stuff. I love the material, and for me it is personal, a really personal movie.

Justice League Concept Art

The Story

Justice League producer Deborah Snyder explains that the core of this story is about Batman trying to get the Justice League together in the face of a mysterious threat.

The story takes place a few months after we left off with BvS. As you know with the death of Superman, his death really impacted Batman in a profound way. And he really starts to regain his faith in humanity. He also feels like there is something coming, something imminently coming. Maybe even here already. So he feels, with the help of Diana Prince, that he needs to find the rest of the metahumans. So basically this story is about finding the group and bringing them all together. And it's a lot of fun because we get to go on that journey and we get to see the different personalities of all the members of the Justice League. And that's really kind of generally what it's about.

While Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were thematically exploring the idea of the weight of being a hero, Deborah says Justice League will focus more on "the purpose of being a hero."

I think that Superman's death really did have such a strong effect on Batman. And I think he really regains faith in humanity and everything that's good. Because here's this alien that just gave his life really for us. And I think this really changes who Batman is. And he also feels a responsibility to honor him because he didn't really feel like he did it when they were living. So I think you are seeing the elevation of these heroes in this one. ... It's about teamwork and creating this family and everything. So I think that it's definitely more positive and it's about building people up, you know. That's what this movie's arc is I think.

It would be easy to compare this to The Avengers, but most of these superhero team-up origin stories kind of follow the same basic structure. But just as Batman v Superman almost seemed like an alternate universe version of Captain America: Civil War, it looks like Justice League may also share similarities with Marvel Studios' upcoming Avengers: Infinity War films. We expect those films to be the Avengers trying to prevent Thanos from obtaining the last of the Infinity Stones, which combined in the Infinity Guantlet could mean bad things for our world and universe. Justice League has its own set of MacGuffins in the form of "Mother Boxes".

a deleted scene from Batman v Superman

A deleted scene from Batman v Superman

The Mother Boxes

Justice League producer Charles Roven explains how the Mother Boxes fit into Justice League:

Those of you who did see Batman Vs. Superman, there was some, a bit of a tease or an Easter egg about these guys. Which are Mother Boxes in that movie. And what we can tell you is that this is a sort of three dimensional version of the Mother Boxes. These Mother Boxes are best when they work in threes.

In the war room we were presented with the prop Mother Boxes to look at. The human one is Bronze Age-looking, while the Amazonian Mother Box is red, ornate, with circular symbols and ancient writing. And the Atlantean Mother Box is grey and organic-looking in nature. The plan seems to be to open the movie with a big epic "history lesson" which will give us all this backstory. Roven continues:

The Amazonians and the Old Gods came together and decided that based on an event that happened, these Mother Boxes were going to be placed in the care of the Amazonians, the Mankind and the Atlanteans. And so that allows us to get into some of those environments and in our story of course Atlantis is underwater.

So this film will be less grounded than the previous DCEU installments, giving us a look into the further reaches of the DCEU universe. We saw concept art of Zeus for this history lesson segment of the film, and Deborah Snyder is quick to warn us that its just "a small section of the film."

He's in a very small part. Obviously the Apokoliptian technology, the Mother Boxes, gives it a whole sci-fi, you know, flair. But I think it's still our world that they're living in.

Charles Roven steps in:

They interact in a real way. Just like they did in Man of Steel. You know, we did say that there's other entities out there. Not just us here on Earth. And so we're just following that track.

The film itself will revisit some of these locations, like the long lost city of Atlantis now underwater, as well as the Amazon and the world of man. Production designer Patrick Tatopoulos convinced Zack Snyder to have him design the Mother Boxes before he began designing the worlds they were from because he thought it would help to start small, and have that inform the larger worlds.

Of course, these boxes were not invented for the film. They have a history in the comic books, having been created by legend Jack Kirby. One of the things I loved about Man of Steel was the opening sequence in Krypton, which felt more like a science-fiction film than a comic book movie. It seems like Snyder is returning to some larger-than-life sci-fi in Justice League with the Mother Boxes. When I ask Snyder about this, he says the following:

You know, Kirby's crazy in a great way, and there's a lot of influence, you know, sort of New God-y, kinda the New Gods stuff, and we were digging on that — and that's the Mother Boxes and that sort of Apokoliptian world and all that stuff. I mean, you can't really do that stuff without some — I don't know if I can call it "weird." [Laughs.] Larger than life! But the kinda scope-y, sci-fi, kinda cool, what I think is fun stuff. I think inherently when you start to talk about a bad guy that would justify the Justice League, not to make a thing, to "Double Justice," but I think you have to have a good threat that's fun and kinda crazy. And the Mother Boxes are always fun DC weird tech, you know?

parademons in Batman v superman

Who Are the Villains?

And who will Batman and the Justice League be fighting in this story? Charles Roven explains:

Obviously with the Mother Boxes and then the hints from the other movie, you know we are dealing with Apokoliptian technology and villains and we have kind of some more visions... These are our Parademons.

You probably remember the Parademons as those winged creatures that appeared in the nightmare sequences in Batman v Superman, that most viewers couldn't make heads or tails of. Lex Luthor's menacing monologue hinted at the arrival of Darkseid, and many fans had assumed that this was to set up the galactic villain for this next chapter. When asked if this film will follow-up on the Darkseid tease of BvS, Deborah Snyder deflects, saying, "I think you're gonna have to wait and see about that."

Last month it was rumored that the villain of Justice League would not be Darkseid , but instead Steppenwolf. And this has now been confirmed. Deborah Snyder walks over to a large image on the wall in the war room and points to it. On the wall is a piece of concept art that wasn't too revealing, a silhouette of Steppenwolf.

And this is a work in progress. We are cheeky I know, but we are still working on and you got a glimpse of a version of, but obviously Steppenwolf.

Who will be playing Steppenwolf in the film? Snyder reveals that they are close to signing an actor but because the deal isn't done they could not announce a name just yet.

We're not completely closed. So I'm sorry, I can't share that. We're close.

The plan is for the character to be complete performance capture, so they don't need to nail down an actor this early in the shooting schedule.

As for whether Jesse Eisenberg will return in this movie as Lex Luthor, Zack Snyder says, "I think that that's a little bit of a spoiler," hinting that we might see the now-bald villain appear at some point in this story.

I think that Jesse's amazing and hilarious and fun. I mean, he's in prison, so who knows? Prisons in the comic book world are pretty porous places, you know? [Laughs.]

One of the sets we visited was that of an abandoned ventilation tower on Striker Island. We briefly saw this island in Batman v Superman when Doomsday crashed on it –the building was affected but it's mostly steel and brick and so it survived. This location will be used in the film for a huge action sequence which production designer Patrick Tatopoulos described as "a playground for visual effects." Batman and the Justice League will use this tower to get access to the tunnel that was constructed to connect Gotham City and Metropolis. This brick building is filled with rusted pipes and broken old glass windows, and features steel catwalks and a spiral staircase — plenty of locations for a big battle between Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Cyborg and the parademons. One brick wall has a big hole in it, probably created by one of our heroes.

We also got a tour of a 70-foot-wide concrete tunnel set. This is an abandoned expressway that was built in the 1930s and abandoned before it was ever fully constructed. The concrete walls and steel structure show signs of water damage, and there are abandoned train tracks which were used to bring the materials in to construct this transit way. A sign attached to the concrete sports the Gotham W.P.A. logo with the years 1925-1929, and paint on the wall alerts us that we're 5 miles from Gotham's shores.

Back on the soundstage, they are still filming a scene on the roof top of Gotham City Police Department. It's surrounded by green screen. Lights flash from above to simulate lightning, and a wind machine blows the sheet that normally covers the bat signal. Fake steam comes out of small chimney pipes as fake helicopter noise is piped in the background. A structure on the rooftop has Grim Reaper-like gargoyles that look down, in something that looks like a panel in a Batman comic book.

Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher are clowning around in between takes, it looks like they're having so much fun. For a couple takes Gal Gadot bursts into laughter, unable to keep her composure. You can't judge a movie based on how much fun the actors are having, but sometimes that fun translates into their interactions together on screen.

As the scene continues, Batman comes to the conclusion that the parademons must have a nest somewhere, but Commissioner Gordon has coordinated all the data onto a map and the lines "don't converge anywhere." Cyborg responds, "On land... the lines converge at Striker's Island, between the two cities." Batman remembers that vents exist that lead to the abandoned tunnel which connects the two cities. Someone suggests, "Let's take the car."

"Kind of small," says Batman. "I've got something bigger."

J.K. Simmons, looking almost like a perfect live-action translation of Commissioner Gordon, peers out into the green screen which will one day be replaced with a digital Gotham City. He asks a question and gets no response. When he turns around he finds out that Batman is gone, as usual. And Wonder Woman and Cyborg are also gone — leaving only the Flash.

"Oh wow, did they just do that?" jokes Ezra Miller as the Flash "That's pretty rude."

To me Justice League doesn't feel like an evolution but a new start. Zack Snyder tried to do something different with an angry, darker, more brooding version of this superhero universe and it didn't work for most people. The tone of Justice League feels more in line with the movies we've been getting from the Disney-owned Marvel Studios. Depending on your view, maybe thats a good thing, maybe it isn't. For me it looks like it should be an improvement.

I left London a lot more hopeful for not only Justice League but the future of the DC Cinematic Universe. My only worry is that much of this film was planned before the release of Batman v Superman. A lot of the concept art we saw in the war room was dated before the fallout of that movie. The big concepts were already decided long before BvS hit theaters. This might explain why Batman's guns are bigger and more intense, which doesn't seem to match the current tone of the story.