One DC movie was conspicuous by its absence at the DC Films/Warner Bros. panel at SDCC 2018 - Justice League. Where other studios took the time to celebrate their past achievements, with Marvel running a panel related to Black Panther and Fox hosting a Deadpool 2 panel, Warner Bros. seems keen to consign Justice League to the past.
Last year's SDCC was all about Justice League. The Warner Bros. panel dropped a trailer for the film that teased Superman's return, and confirmed an entire slate of movies that would launch off the back of Justice League. The film presented as the linchpin of the entire DCEU, a defining moment in the history of the superhero shared universe. It was the DCEU equivalent of The Avengers, an expected blockbuster hit.
Fast-forward a year to SDCC 2018, though, and Justice League didn't even get a mention in the Warner Bros. panel. Although the studio acknowledged the history of the DCEU, they seemed keen to forget what should have been the cornerstone of their plans for the future.
Justice League Was A Failure - And Comic-Con Is A Celebration
It's important to realize that an SDCC panel is a place where every studio celebrates their triumphs and successes - and Justice League was no success. The film grossed just $229 million in the domestic box office against a budget of $300 million, the DCEU's lowest box office takings to date, and received scathing reviews. Justice League's poor performance led to yet another corporate restructure at DC Films, with Walter Hamada stepping in as the new boss. That restructure seems to be mostly complete now, with the most prominent change being Geoff Johns's decision to step down as an executive and return to writing.
Given the fact that Justice League did more damage than good, it's no surprise Warner Bros. isn't keen to make it a highlight of this year's SDCC. They want to move on from it.
DC Needs To Look to the Future, Not to the Past
All this means the panel's relentless focus was on the future slate, with trailers, footage, and guest appearances from Aquaman, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman 2. It's true that other studios have put on dedicated retrospective panels, but the purpose of the Warner Bros. Hall H panel was essentially promotion. It was a high-profile marketing exercise to get some of the most enthusiastic fans of all excited about the upcoming film slate. Justice League is in the past, and is simply irrelevant to everything Warner Bros. was trying to achieve at this panel.
The last couple of weeks saw strange rumors run through the DC fan community that Warner Bros. was going to use SDCC to announce the impending release of the Snyder Cut of Justice League. The rumors became significant enough for an unnamed Warner Bros. executive to quietly deny that this was the case, insisting the studio has no plans to ever release the Snyder Cut. Such a release wouldn't make business sense - the studio aim to look forward to the future, not get lost in a discussion of past mistakes and the behind-the-scenes dramas of 2017 - and definitely not at Comic-Con.
Everything about San Diego Comic-Con is, by necessity, forward-looking - not backward. That means DC was never going to look back at Justice League. And, given what they brought, they didn't need it anyway.
This #SDCC 2018 post brought to you by Regal Cinemas.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020