Filmmaker and noted comic book fanboy Kevin Smith has rendered his verdict on Warner Bros.' Justice League. Like most of the previous DCEU films, Justice League has sharply divided moviegoers, and largely been pummeled by professional critics. The film opened to a reported $94 million its opening weekend, a less-than-strong performance for a movie whose budget is reported to be in the $300 million range.
The soft box office returns for Justice League are particularly disappointing in light of the huge success of this summer's DCEU film Wonder Woman. With Wonder Woman returning to fight alongside Batman, Aquaman and other iconic DC comic book heroes, the hope was that the DCEU would gain some momentum with Justice League and establish itself as a viable box office rival to the juggernaut Marvel Cinematic Universe and its core Avengers films. By contrast to Justice League, Marvel's latest entry Thor: Ragnarok (a standalone not expected to make nearly as much money as an Avengers film) has been a massive success, grossing $122 million its opening weekend on the way to $247 million domestically in just three weeks.
Speaking on his Babble-On podcast with co-host Ralph Garman, unabashed fanboy Kevin Smith (who also has a professional connection to the larger DC universe via his work on the TV series Supergirl) rendered his own verdict on Justice League. The film-going public in general may have been unenthused by the effort, but Smith was clearly pleased by what the film offered up:
"I saw Justice League twice already. I liked it. I liked it. There's stuff in it that I really dug, stuff that I was happy, I mean it's weird this is like, I'm not going to review the movie and stuff, but these are moments that f--- made my heart soar."
Smith was very effusive in his praise for the movie's efforts to bring to life certain long-standing aspects of DC comic book lore. In one sequence for instance, Diana (Gal Gadot) tells Batman (Ben Affleck) about an ancient battle against the movie's bad guy Steppenwolf that included an early incarnation of Green Lantern. Moments such as this seem to have resonated with hardcore DC fans like Smith, but clearly have left casual audiences a little cold.
The divide between the largely positive reaction of longtime fans to Justice League and the relatively lukewarm response of regular moviegoers points up a general issue with movies that tackle huge, expansive, pre-existing universes laden with mythology: how far do you go in appealing to the hardcores by visualizing the esoteric elements of the universe, knowing that by doing so you may alienate audience members who are not already familiar with the mythology? For every Kevin Smith who gets giddy at the sight of an early Green Lantern showing up in a flashback, there are ten casual moviegoers who just sit there wondering what the heck is going on.
The box office numbers for Justice League indicate that the movie is not catching on with audiences for whatever reason. This could be a marketing-related issue, or it could be superhero fatigue creeping in, or it could be that a lot of folks still remember the dark experience of Batman V Superman and are not down for another heavy superhero movie (though even critics of Justice League seem to be giving it and director Joss Whedon, who stepped in for Zack Snyder and re-shot a good amount of the film, credit for somewhat Marvel-izing the tone). Audiences certainly are not entirely turned-off by the DCEU, as Wonder Woman proved, but for whatever reason Justice League has not picked up the momentum generated by Wonder Woman and that is a problem for Warner Bros. as they map out the future of their DC universe.
Source: Hollywood Babble-On
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Cyborg (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020
- Green Lantern Corps. (2020) release date: Jul 24, 2020