As Warner Bros.’ Justice League enters its second week in theaters, new details have surfaced about the opening scene, and how it was originally conceived as much more comedic. If you haven’t yet seen Justice League, there will be some SPOILERS below, but actor Holt McCallany revealed in a new interview that the first few minutes that he appears in where much funnier than what made it to the screen, as conceived by Justice League reshoots director Joss Whedon. Unfortunately, the scene that Joss Whedon wrote had to be reconceived, per request of the studio. Here’s what he had to say below.
“I love Joss Whedon. My scene with Batman was originally conceived as a comedic scene. That’s how Joss wrote it, and that’s how we shot it. I thought it came out great, but the studio felt it would be a mistake to open the film with a completely comedic scene, so it was re-edited a little bit. I was disappointed, but when I got home to New York I found a bottle of my favorite Champagne and a note from Joss that said ‘To Battles Lost. Gratefully, Joss.’ I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that he took the time to write to me. Joss Whedon is a class act. I had the letter framed.”
While Holt McCallany plays a rather small role as an unnamed burglar, his scene that opens Justice League is rather pivotal and helps set the tone for the movie. The movie opens with Holt McCallany on a Gotham City rooftop, who gets into a fight with Batman and ends up serving as “bait,” so to speak. In a rather surprising move, Batman leans this burglar over the edge of the rooftop, using the thief’s fear to lure in one of the parademons commanded by the movie’s main villain, Steppenwolf. This helps establish that Steppenwolf and his parademons literally feed off the fear of humans, and while Holt McCallany’s scene is a brief one, it’s also quite memorable. Here’s what he had to say about getting into a fight with Batman, in which he used some of the fighting skills he acquired over the years by playing boxing trainer Teddy Atlas on HBO’s Tyson and boxer Patrick “Lights” Leary on the FX series Lights Out.
“It was fun to fight Batman, even if I lost. In some of the takes, my character fights back a little more but with no success. I have my own fight style based on techniques I’ve learned over many years of boxing and working in films, and I got to use that here. In this case, it’s fighting a superhero, so it’s tougher. Batman can do a lot of things other guys can’t do. It was a great experience, and a fun scene to shoot. Ben [Affleck] was very easygoing, we got it in just a few takes. My favorite fight scenes are usually ones that are choreographed with some style to them, and ones that are choreographed around a particular actor’s individual strengths. The old adage in the fight game is ‘styles make fights.’ I like to design my own fight choreography in conjunction with my director and stunt coordinator whenever possible, and here it was a great way to be a part of the film, even though I got beat by Batman.”
Unfortunately, the actor doesn’t reveal any specifics about his opening Justice League scene, and how it was more comedic than what ended up on the screen. He did remain hopeful about returning at some point in another DCEU movie, since his character didn’t die and, “he had some good rapport with Batman.” It remains to be seen when the Justice League sequel will go into production, but until we find out more about this sequel, you can read Holt McCallany’s entire interview with Mens Fitness, where he also discusses his role on the hit Netflix series Mindhunter.