Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Zack Snyder|
|Based on||Characters from DC|
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$657.9 million|
Justice League is a 2017 American superhero film based on the DC Comics superhero team of the same name, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. It is the follow-up to 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film is directed by Zack Snyder, written by Snyder and Chris Terrio, and features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher as the titular Justice League team, alongside Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J. K. Simmons. Joss Whedon, who served as the post-production director of Justice League after Snyder stepped down from directing duties two months after the death of his daughter, received a special screenwriting credit. Snyder received sole director credit. In the film, Batman and Wonder Woman recruit The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg after Superman's death to save the world from the catastrophic threat of Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons.
The film was announced in October 2014, with Snyder on board to direct and Terrio attached to write the script. Initially titled Justice League Part One, with a second part to follow in 2019, the second film was indefinitely delayed to accommodate a standalone Batman film with Affleck. Principal photography commenced in April 2016 and ended in October 2016. After Snyder stepped down to properly deal with the death of his daughter, Joss Whedon was hired to oversee the remainder of post-production, including directing additional scenes written by himself. Justice League premiered in Beijing on October 26, 2017, and was released in the United States in 2D, 3D, and IMAX on November 17, 2017.
With an estimated production budget of $300 million, Justice League is one of the most expensive films ever made. The film grossed $657 million worldwide up against a break-even point of $750 million, making it the lowest overall gross of the DCEU and analysts reported it lost the studio approximately $60 million, becoming a box office disappointment. The film received mixed reviews from critics; the action sequences and performances (particularly Gadot and Miller) were praised, while the plot, writing, pacing, villain, and overuse of CGI were criticized. The film's tone was met with a polarized reception, with some appreciating the lighter tone compared to the previous DCEU films, and others finding it inconsistent.
In a multi-millennial long ago past, Steppenwolf and his legions of Parademons attempt to take over Earth with the combined power of three Mother Boxes. They are foiled by a unified army that includes the Olympian Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, mankind, and the Green Lantern Corps. After the defeat of Steppenwolf's army, the allies separate and hide the three Mother Boxes in locations across the planet.
In the present, the world mourns the death of Superman,[N 2]. His death triggers the Mother Boxes’ reactivation and Steppenwolf returns to Earth in an effort to regain favor with his master, Darkseid. Steppenwolf aims to gather the artifacts to form "The Unity", a power which will destroy Earth's ecology and terraform it in the image of Steppenwolf's homeworld.
Steppenwolf retrieves the Mother Box from Themyscira, prompting Queen Hippolyta to warn her daughter Diana of Steppenwolf's return. Diana joins Bruce Wayne in his attempt to unite other metahumans to the cause. Wayne searches for Arthur Curry in an attempt to recruit him, and follows suit with Barry Allen, while Diana seeks Victor Stone. Wayne fails to persuade Aquaman, but brings an enthusiastic Barry onto the team. Although Diana fails to convince Stone to join, he agrees to help them locate the threat if he discovers its location. Stone later joins the team after his father Silas, along with several other S.T.A.R. Labs employees, are kidnapped by Steppenwolf in his attempt to find mankind’s Mother Box.
Steppenwolf attacks Atlantis to retrieve its Mother Box, pushing Aquaman into joining Batman and he cohorts. The team receives intel from Commissioner James Gordon whichthem to Steppenwolf's army, based in an aba..ndoned facility under Gotham Harbor. Although the group manages to res.cue the kidnapped employees, the facility is flooded during combat, whichtermath of the battle, Bruce and Diana agree to set up a base of operations for the team, with room for more members. Diana steps back into the public spotlight as a hero; Barry acquires a job in Central City's police department, impressing his father; Victor continues to explore and enhance his abilities with his father in S.T.A.R. Labs; Arthur returns to Atlantis; Batman continues protecting Gotham; and Superman resumes his life as reporter Clark Kent. In a post-credits scene, Lex Luthor escapes from Arkham Asylum and recruits Slade Wilson to form their own league.
The Olympian Old Gods Zeus, Ares and Artemis are portrayed by fitness model Sergi Constance, stuntman Nick McKinless, and MMA fighter Aurore Lauzeral, respectively. All three were required to reach a specific degree of physicality, with Snyder instructing McKinless to sport "veins like worms and paper thin skin". In the finished film, McKinless' face was replaced with David Thewlis's face, and Thewlis received the credit as Ares. Robin Wright reprises her role as Antiope during a flashback sequence. Amber Heard portrays the Atlantean Mera. During a scene depicting Steppenwolf's first invasion of Earth, Julian Lewis Jones appears as an ancient king of men, while Francis Magee portrays an ancient king of Atlantis. Joe Morton reprises his role as Silas Stone, Victor Stone's father and S.T.A.R. Labs' head while Billy Crudup appears, uncredited, as Henry Allen, Barry Allen's father. Joe Manganiello and Jesse Eisenberg appear uncredited in a post-credits scene as Slade Wilson / Deathstroke and Lex Luthor, respectively. Michael McElhatton appears as the leader of a group of terrorists who clash with Wonder Woman early in the film, while Holt McCallany makes an uncredited appearance as a burglar. Marc McClure, who portrayed Jimmy Olsen in the Christopher Reeve Superman film series, has a cameo as a police officer. An unidentified Green Lantern appears at the beginning of the film, created by use of CGI and embodied by an uncredited actor. Willem Dafoe and Kiersey Clemons filmed scenes as Nuidis Vulko and Iris West, although their roles were cut from the final film. Both actors are signed for multiple films and set to appear in the future installments of the franchise. Dafoe is set to appear in Aquaman and it was reported in November 2017 that the studio wanted to recast Clemons in a different role. Laurence Fishburne, who portrays Perry White in the DCEU, said he declined to reprise his role in the film due to scheduling conflicts.
Early in production, a scene depicting Green Lanterns Kilowog and Tomar-Re visiting Batman was filmed as another post-credits scene, further teasing the upcoming Green Lantern Corps, but the scene was later scrapped. In March 2016, producer Charles Roven said that Green Lantern would not appear in any film before Justice League Part Two, and stated that they "could put Green Lantern in some introduction in Justice League 2, or barring that, a movie after."
In February 2007, it was announced that Warner Bros. had hired husband and wife duo Michele and Kieran Mulroney to write a script for a Justice League film. The news came around the same time that Joss Whedon's long-developed Wonder Woman film was cancelled, as well as The Flash, written and directed by David S. Goyer. Reportedly titled Justice League: Mortal, the script by Michele and Kiernan Mulroney was submitted to Warner Bros. in June 2007, receiving positive feedback, which prompted the studio to immediately fast track production in the hope of beginning filming before the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike. Warner Bros. was less willing to proceed with development of a sequel to Superman Returns, having been disappointed with its box office. Brandon Routh was not approached to reprise the role of Superman in Justice League: Mortal, nor was Christian Bale from Batman Begins. Warner Bros. intended for Justice League: Mortal to be the start of a new film franchise, and to branch out into separate sequels and spin-offs. Shortly after filming The Dark Knight, Bale stated in an interview that "It'd be better if it doesn't tread on the toes of what our Batman series is doing," and felt it would make more sense for Warner Bros. to release the film after The Dark Knight Rises. Jason Reitman was the original choice to direct Justice League, but he turned it down, as he considers himself an independent filmmaker and prefers to stay out of big budget superhero films. George Miller signed to direct in September 2007, with Barrie Osbourne producing on a projected $220 million budget.
The following month, roughly 40 actors and actresses auditioned for the ensemble superhero roles, among them Joseph Cross, Michael Angarano, Max Thieriot, Minka Kelly, Adrianne Palicki and Scott Porter. Miller had intended to cast younger actors, as he wanted them to "grow" into their roles over the course of several films. D. J. Cotrona was cast as Superman, along with Armie Hammer as Batman. Jessica Biel reportedly declined to play Wonder Woman role after negotiations. The character was also linked to actresses Teresa Palmer and Shannyn Sossamon, along with Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who confirmed that she had auditioned. Ultimately, Megan Gale was cast as Wonder Woman, while Palmer was cast as Talia al Ghul, whom Miller had in mind to act with a Russian accent. The script for Justice League: Mortal would have featured John Stewart as Green Lantern, a role originally offered to Columbus Short. Hip hop recording artist and rapper Common was cast, with Adam Brody as Barry Allen / Flash, and Jay Baruchel as the lead villain, Maxwell Lord. Longtime Miller collaborator Hugh Keays-Byrne had been cast in an unnamed role, rumored to be Martian Manhunter. Santiago Cabrera was eventually revealed to be Aquaman after the film was cancelled. Marit Allen was hired as the original costume designer before her untimely death in November 2007, and the responsibilities were assumed by Weta Workshop.
However, the writers strike began that same month and placed the film on hold. Warner Bros. had to let the options lapse for the cast, but development was fast tracked once more in February 2008 when the strike ended. Warner Bros. and Miller wanted to start filming immediately, but production was pushed back three months. Originally, the majority of Justice League: Mortal was to be shot at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, with other locations scouted nearby at local colleges, and Sydney Heads doubling for Happy Harbor. The Australian Film Commission had a say with casting choices, giving way for George Miller to cast Gale, Palmer and Keays-Bryne, all Australian natives. The production crew was composed entirely of Australians, but the Australian government denied Warner Bros. a 40 percent tax rebate as they felt they had not hired enough Australian actors. Miller was frustrated, stating that "A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Australian film industry is being frittered away because of very lazy thinking. They're throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that the rest of the world is competing for and, much more significantly, highly skilled creative jobs." Production offices were then moved to Vancouver Film Studios in Canada. Filming was pushed back to July 2008, while Warner Bros was still confident they could produce the film for a summer 2009 release.
With production delays continuing, and the success of The Dark Knight in July 2008, Warner Bros. decided to focus on the development of individual films featuring the main heroes, allowing director Christopher Nolan to separately complete his Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. Warner Bros. relaunched development for a solo Green Lantern film, released in 2011 as a critical and financial disappointment. Meanwhile, film adaptations for The Flash and Wonder Woman continued to languish in development, while filming for a Superman reboot commenced in 2011 with Man of Steel, produced by Nolan and written by Batman screenwriter David S. Goyer. In October 2012, following its legal victory over Joe Shuster's estate for the rights to Superman, Warner Bros. announced that it planned to move ahead with the Justice League film. Shortly after filming on Man of Steel was complete, Warner Bros hired Will Beall to write the script for a new Justice League film. Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov explained that Man of Steel would be "setting the tone for what the movies are going to be like going forward. In that, it's definitely a first step." The film included references to the existence of other superheroes in the DC Universe, and set the tone for a shared fictional universe of DC Comics characters on film. Goyer stated that should Green Lantern appear in a future installment, it would be a rebooted version of the character, unconnected to the 2011 film.
With the release of Man of Steel in June 2013, Goyer was hired to write a sequel, as well as a new Justice League, with the Beall draft being scrapped. The sequel was later revealed to be Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a team-up film featuring Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone / Cyborg, the latter three in minor roles that became more significant in the Justice League film. The universe is separate from Nolan and Goyer's work on The Dark Knight trilogy, although Nolan was still involved as an executive producer for Batman v Superman. In April 2014, it was announced that Zack Snyder would also direct Goyer's Justice League script. Warner Bros. was reportedly courting Chris Terrio to rewrite Justice League the following July, after having been impressed with his rewrite of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. On October 15, 2014, Warner Bros. announced the film would be released in two parts, with Part One on November 17, 2017, and Part Two on June 14, 2019. Snyder was set to direct both films. In early July 2015, EW revealed that the script for Justice League Part One had been completed by Terrio. Zack Snyder stated that the film would be inspired by the New Gods comic series by Jack Kirby. Although Justice League was initially announced as a two-part film, with the second part set for release two years after the first, Snyder stated in June 2016 that they would be two distinct, separate films and not one film split into two parts, both being stand-alone stories.
Principal photography commenced on April 11, 2016, with shooting taking place at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, as well as various locations around London and Scotland. Additional filming took place in Chicago, Illinois, Los Angeles, and Djúpavík, in the Westfjords of Iceland. Snyder's longtime cinematographer Larry Fong was replaced by Fabian Wagner due to scheduling conflicts. Ben Affleck served as executive producer. In May 2016, it was revealed that Geoff Johns and Jon Berg would produce the Justice League films, and would also be in charge of the DC Extended Universe, after the largely negative critical reception of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The same month, Irons stated that the Justice League storyline would be more linear and simple, compared to the theatrical version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Johns confirmed on June 3, 2016 that the title of the film is Justice League, and later stated that the film would be "hopeful and optimistic" in comparison to previous DCEU films.
Justice League has a troubled production. During filming, it was reported that the rewrites Geoff Johns caused issues with Chris Terrio and Warner Bros. executives. Warner Bros. was unsatisfied with how the film is shaping up under Snyder, because of the negative feedback that Batman v Superman received. It was reported that Warner Bros. held a footage summit for writers that include Joss Whedon, Wonder Woman writer Allan Heinberg, Seth Grahame-Smith, and Andrea Berloff. This caused numerous rewrites as Justice League was filming. Whedon was eventually hired by Warner Bros. after Snyder stepped down for directorial duties during the post-production. Filming wrapped in October 2016.
In May 2017, Snyder stepped down from directorial duties during post-production of the film to properly deal with the death of his daughter, Autumn Snyder. Joss Whedon, whom Snyder had previously brought on to rewrite some additional scenes, took over to handle post-production duties in Snyder's place. In July 2017, it was announced the film was undergoing two months of reshoots in London and Los Angeles, with Warner Bros. putting about $25 million into them, more than the typical $6–10 million additional filming costs, which brought the budget of the film up to $300 million. The reshoots coincided with Cavill's schedule for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, for which he had grown a moustache which he was contracted to keep while filming, so Justice League's VFX team was forced to used special effects to digitally remove the moustache in post-production. Whedon received a screenwriting credit on the film alongside Chris Terrio, while Snyder received sole director's credit.
Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara mandated the film to be under two hours. The company also did not opt to delay of the film's release despite the fact that there are numerous problems in post-production, so that the executives will receive their cash bonuses before the company's merger with AT&T. In February 2018, it was reported that Snyder was fired from directorial duties from Justice League, after his cut was deemed "unwatchable" according to Collider's Matt Goldberg. "I’d heard similar things from separate sources over the last year as well, I also heard that Snyder’s rough-cut of the movie was ‘unwatchable’ (a word that jumped out at me because it’s rare you hear two separate sources use the exact same adjective). Of course, even if that’s true, there’s obviously more to the story since rough cuts can be fixed up with reshoots, rewrites, etc.", Goldberg wrote. According to DC comic book artist Jim Lee, Snyder was not fired. Speaking at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, Lee stated "that he (Snyder) was not fired at all and that he stepped down from the production due to a family matter, as far as he knew."
In March 2016, Hans Zimmer, who co-composed the score for Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, stated that he had officially retired from the "superhero business". Junkie XL, who wrote and composed the soundtrack of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with Zimmer, was originally scoring the film. In June 2017, Danny Elfman was announced to have controversially replaced Junkie XL. Elfman had previously composed the films Batman and Batman Returns, and the theme music for Batman: The Animated Series. Elfman used the Batman theme music from the 1989 film Batman. The John Williams' Superman theme was used during "a dark, twisted moment" in the film, the time when a resurrected Superman fights the Justice League. The film features a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Everybody Knows" performed by Sigrid, "Icky Thump" performed by the White Stripes, and a cover of the Beatles' "Come Together" performed by Gary Clark Jr. and Junkie XL. WaterTower Music released the soundtrack album digitally on November 10, 2017, with a release of the physical format on December 8.
The film held its world premiere in Beijing on October 26, 2017, and was theatrically released in North America and elsewhere around the world in standard, RealD 3D and IMAX on November 17, 2017. Its Japan premiere took place on November 20, 2017 in Tokyo, with only Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher from the main cast attending. In the United States, the film opened to 4,051 theaters in its widest release. Justice League was shown in cinemas for 119 days (17 weeks).
Superman was intentionally left out on all early Justice League marketing materials, including trailers, clips and posters, which actor Cavill commented as "ridiculous". Despite his character being hidden from promotional materials, Cavill still joined the rest of the cast on the film's press tour. Clark Kent was revealed in a final trailer before the release of the film, but edited in a way that writers felt Lois Lane was dreaming about Clark. Sponsorship and marketing partners of the film included AT&T, Gillette, Mercedes-Benz, and TCL.
Justice League was released on digital download on February 13, 2018, and was released on Blu-ray Disc, Blu-ray 3D, 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray and DVD on March 13, 2018 in various international markets. The Blu-ray features two deleted scenes titled Return of Superman. As of July 7, 2018[update], it has made $10.9 million in DVD sales and $37.2 million in Blu-ray sales, totalling an estimated of $48.6 million.
Justice League grossed $229 million in the United States and Canada, and $428.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $657.9 million, against a production budget of $300 million. It had a worldwide opening of $278.8 million, the 24th biggest of all-time. Up against an estimated break-even point of as much as $750 million. Deadline reported the film lost the studio an estimated $60 million.
In the United States and Canada, industry tracking initially forecast the film debuting to $110–120 million from 4,051 theaters (including 400 IMAX screens). It made $13 million from Thursday night previews, up from the $11 million made by Wonder Woman the previous June. However, after making $38.8 million on its first day (including Thursday previews), weekend projections were lowered to $95 million. It ended up debuting to $93.8 million, down 45% from Batman v Superman's opening of $166 million, and being the first film of the DCEU to open under $100 million. Deadline attributed the low figure to lukewarm audience reaction to the film and most of its predecessors, as well as poor critical reception, and film review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes not posting their aggregated score until the day before release, causing speculation and doubt from filmgoers. In its second weekend, the film dropped 56% to $41.1 million, finishing second at the box office, behind newcomer Coco. It was the second-best second weekend hold of the DCEU, behind Wonder Woman's 43%, but the lowest overall gross. In its third week it again finished second behind Coco, grossing $16.7 million. It made $9.7 million in its fourth week and $4.3 million in its fifth, finishing a respective second and fifth at the box office.
Internationally, the film was projected to debut to $215–235 million for a worldwide opening of $325–355 million. It made $8.5 million on its first day from nine countries, including South Korea, France and Brazil. It ended up having a $185 million international debut from 65 countries, including $57.1 million from China, $9.8 million from the United Kingdom, $9.6 million from Mexico and $8.8 million from South Korea. The film broke a record in the Philippines with a debut of $1.12M (PHP 57.3M), making it the biggest industry opening day for a film there in 2017. In Brazil, the film opened to $14.2 million, the biggest opening in the country's history. Outside North America, the films largest markets were China ($106 million), Brazil ($41 million), Mexico ($24.8 million), and United Kingdom ($24 million).
Justice League received praise for its action sequences and performances (primarily Gadot and Miller) but criticism for the writing, pacing and CGI, as well as its thin plot, and the underdeveloped villain. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 40%, based on 313 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Justice League leaps over a number of DC movies, but its single bound isn't enough to shed the murky aesthetic, thin characters, and chaotic action that continue to dog the franchise." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 45 out of 100, based on 52 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 85% overall positive score (average 4 out of 5 stars) and a 69% "definite recommend".
Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, praising the cast, especially Gadot, and saying "It's a putting-the-band-together origins movie, executed with great fun and energy." Owen Gleiberman of Variety gave the film a positive review and wrote, "Justice League... has been conceived, in each and every frame, to correct the sins of Batman v Superman. It's not just a sequel—it's an act of franchise penance. The movie... is never messy or bombastic. It's light and clean and simple (at times almost too simple), with razory repartee and combat duels that make a point of not going on for too long."
Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars, praising the cast but criticizing the action sequences and writing, saying: "The scenes of the League members together, bickering and bonding, spike the film with humor and genuine feeling, creating a rooting interest in the audience. Without it, the film would crumble." Conversely, Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter, while praising Gadot and Miller, called the film visually ugly and boring, saying, "Fatigue, repetition and a laborious approach to exposition are the keynotes of this affair, which is also notable for how Ben Affleck, donning the bat suit for the second time, looks like he'd rather be almost anywhere else but here."
Justice League was short-listed as a potential candidate for the 90th Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, along with another DCEU film, Wonder Woman. However, both films didn't make it to the final list of nominations.
|2017||Detroit Film Critics Society||Breakthrough Artist||Gal Gadot||Nominated|||
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Action Poster||Warner Bros., Works ADV||Nominated|||
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Comedic Performance||Ezra Miller||Nominated|||
|Golden Schmoes Awards||Biggest Disappointment of the Year||Justice League||Won|||
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Wildposts (Teaser Campaign)||Justice League||Nominated|||
|Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Movie Actor||Ben Affleck||Nominated|||
|Favorite Movie Actress||Gal Gadot||Nominated|
|MovieGuide Awards||Best Film for Mature Audiences||Justice League||Nominated|||
|Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Awards||Most Disappointing Film||Justice League||2nd place|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Action Movie||Justice League||Pending|||
|Choice Action Movie Actor||Henry Cavill||Pending|
|Choice Action Movie Actress||Amy Adams||Pending|
A sequel was scheduled to be released in June 2019 but has since been delayed to accommodate the release for a standalone Batman film. By March 2017, producer Charles Roven announced that Zack Snyder would return as director. In October 2017, J. K. Simmons stated that the studio is working on the script of the sequel, alongside The Batman. Shortly after the release of Justice League, Henry Cavill stated that he is under contract with Warner Bros. to play Superman for one more film. In December 2017, it was reported that there were "no immediate plans" for Zack Snyder to direct a Justice League sequel, or any other DC films, with Snyder instead being relegated to an executive producer position. This comes after a reshuffling of film production staff at Warner Bros. due to the film's moderate financial performance.
The film would have to make at least $750 million just to break even...
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