How Game of Thrones‘ Cinematographer Fabian Wagner Gave Justice League a Brand new Look

Throw Suicide Squad director Zack Snyder and Game of Thrones cinematographer Fabian Wagner into a blender, and you probably expect to end up with a dark, saturated, and stylized movie. That didn’t turn out to be the case for Justice League, which is a brighter, more colorful affair, taking inspiration from the film’s tone of teamwork and the disparate personalities that come together to try and help save the planet. The film was also no doubt shaped by the style of Joss Whedon, who came on to direct when Snyder had to depart to be with his family. Whedon, of course, crossed over from the Marvel realm, having helmed both of their Avengers films. Yet the common demoninator all along was Wagner, whose work on Justice League was hugely influential to the film’s final look.

Wagner spoke with Kodak about filming Justice League as it was shot on film, a practice that’s becoming rarer in Hollywood. He explained that in speaking with Snyder, they decided to go for a more natural look. Once Steppenwolf and his army descend on the Earth, storm clouds roll across the sky, but the pallet turns into a fiery clay red.  

The film’s look changes once Steppenwolf arrives. (L-R) RAY FISHER as Cyborg, GAL GADOT as Wonder Woman, EZRA MILLER as The Flash and JASON MOMOA as Aquaman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “JUSTICE LEAGUE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

“Zack was incredibly nice and open,” Wagner said of the collaboration. “He is a huge fan of the original comic books and the characters and has a fantastic knowledge of that world. We chatted for an hour or so about his general ideas for the production, moving the look forwards. Zack wanted to get away from the stylized, desaturated, super-high contrast looks of other films in the franchise. I am someone who likes to light very naturally, so that fitted my work ethic.”

One signature piece of Snyder stylization that isn’t lost is slow motion shots. Patty Jenkins even utilized the technique in Wonder Woman so we could see Diana’s elegant grace during fast paced fight sequences. It’s a fun choice for comic films where we can stop to appreciate the action.  

Wagner gave an extremely technical answer as to why shooting on 500T film was ideal for slo-mo shots. “Zack likes to shoot slo-mo action sequences, and Justice League was no exception,” Wagner said. “The beauty of working with the 500T is that, in combination with the lenses and the lab [i-Dailies, now Kodak Film Lab London at Pinewood], I could push the stock several stops and quickly adapt to his request, while retaining the image quality.”

If that’s the level of detail you like, then you’ll definitely want to check out the entire interview with Kodak. We’re excited to see the new direction that the DCEU is headed, which has been evolving quite nicely once Wonder Woman hit the scene. Patt Jenkins’ and Gal Gadot’s stand-alone film has given audiences a reason to to look forward to a different kind of DCEU, one that exists in a brighter, more optimistic atmosphere. With that said, there will still be plenty of mayhem, and brooding, considering Batman’s involved. Even if Affleck’s Bruce Wayne is in a more charitable mood after the events of Batman v Superman, the Dark Knight will always perfer to work in the shadows.

BEN AFFLECK as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “JUSTICE LEAGUE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Justice League is in theaters this Friday.

Featured Image: (L-r) EZRA MILLER as The Flash, BEN AFFLECK as Batman and GAL GADOT as Wonder Woman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “JUSTICE LEAGUE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. © 2017 WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. AND RATPAC-DUNE ENTERTAINMENT LLC


Kelle Long

Kelle has written about film and TV for The Credits since 2016. Follow her on Twitter @molaitdc for interviews with really cool film and TV artists and only occasional outbursts about Broadway, tennis, and country music. Please no talking or texting during the movie. Unless it is a musical, then sing along loudly.