Exclusive: The VFX team found it easier to replace the non-black suit Henry Cavill was wearing with a fully digital one rather than recolor the shots.
The VFX masterminds behind Zack Snyder’s Justice League reveal that they fully replaced rather than just recolored Superman’s suit. The four-hour epic is so far the biggest movie event in the DCEU. A total reimagining of the middling theatrical cut of Justice League helmed by Snyder, it is authentic to his vision from beginning to end. The first change fans will notice is that the film opens with Superman’s demise from Batman V. Superman Dawn of Justice. In the original film’s opening, Henry Cavill’s facial hair had obviously been removed in post-production, as he had been filming Mission: Impossible – Fallout during Justice League reshoots.
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Kicking off with Superman’s gruesome end helps to set up one of the major storylines in Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Superman’s resurrection. His all-black suit, in opposition to his vibrant red and blue getup, represents his emotional journey in being reborn. When Superman is resurrected by the Justice League, he has amnesia and attacks his friends. He regains his memories after reconnecting with his mother and finds the new suit inside the ship that delivered him from Krypton.
VFX supervisors, Anders Langlands and Kevin Smith, sat alongside Animation Supervisor, Simeon Duncombe, in a conversation with Screen Rant and explained their process to make Cavill’s suit black in post. During shooting, Cavill was not wearing a black suit, and though fans familiar with the wonders of Photoshop will know that it’s quite easy to alter the colors of a shot, Langlands, Smith, and Duncombe were unsatisfied with the results. For a few shots they “could get away with” just recoloring, but given the reflective nature of the silver S on his chest, they realized that it was actually easier to use “fully digital suits.” Check out their full explanation below:
Superman is wearing a black suit that was not black when filming it. The average movie fan would think they know how that can be done, but what actually is that process?
Anders Langlands [Visual Effects Supervisor]: How do you think it could be done?
Oh you just use the lasso tool, and hit ‘black and white,’ right?
Simeon Duncombe [Animation Supervisor]: Some shots, yes. You could get away with that.
Kevin Smith [Visual Effects Supervisor]: The black suit button. Make suit black.
Anders Langlands: Yeah, making the suit black is relatively easy in that method. But making the S that silver color is not, just because it was getting brighter and more reflective. I think some shots, yes, we did use rotoscoping–your lasso tool–and change the color. There was that shot in the trailer of Superman coming out of the Scout Ship wearing the black suit for the first time, and that we did just by tracing around it and changing the color. A lot of the rest of them were fully digital suits, because it ends up being easier to get. Otherwise, you end up–especially when there’s lots of different lights on the character–in a situation where you’re pulling it around so much that it starts to look very muddy. You end up with something that’s a black suit, but it just looks a bit funky for some reason. It just doesn’t look very nice. Having it be fully digital gives you a lot more control, and it just looks better at the end of the day.
Kevin Smith: A lot of the stuff is so invisible. You have a shot with Superman, and we’ve replaced his body with the digi-double to get the suit black because it was easier that way. But he happens to be sharing the frame with an eight-foot-tall alien with a shiny metal moving suit. Where’s your eye going to go? It’s not going to be to the fact that we changed Superman to the black suit.
Given fans’ dissatisfaction with the effects in Justice League, it was likely the right move for the team to go the extra mile to impress. Such high-production superhero films are truly wonders of visual effects. So much of every shot is made in post-production, seamlessly integrated using the best tech money can buy. With four hours of movie to dig into, the Snyder Cut has flooded the internet with countless easter eggs, non-easter eggs, and behind-the-scenes factoids such as this one.
The release of the Snyder Cut puts the DCEU in a strange place. The planned Snyderverse that is set up by the various plotlines in Zack Snyder’s Justice League tease an entire continuity that will not come to fruition. As the original cut is no longer the definitive version in the minds of much of the fandom, a direct sequel would likely only confuse the DCEU timeline even more. With a Superman reboot on the way, it’s likely that this was the last hurrah for Cavill’s Superman – at least he was dressed to impress.
More: Every Hint Lois Lane Is Pregnant In Zack Snyder’s Justice League
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