A grisly "murder poster" featuring members of the Justice League and slain members of Marvel's Avengers is reportedly being used to officially promote the new DC film in China. DC fans finally got their long-awaited union of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg over the weekend in Justice League, which, despite all of its pre-release hype, debuted with an underwhelming $94 million at the domestic box office in its opening frame.
The box office reception was no doubt a huge disappointment for Warner Bros. and DC Films, since stateside ticket sales for the film not only marked the worst opening for a DC Extended Universe film ever, but a gross of $72 million less than Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, its critically maligned predecessor. Thankfully for the film, Justice League found a silver lining with its overseas box office with $185 million in ticket sales, with the largest take, not surprisingly, coming from China, where the film grossed $51.8 million.
In addition to being a massive market for Hollywood products, China, at least in the case of Justice League, appears to be the territory featuring the most-provocative marketing approach for a movie. According to Comic Book, the film's standard poster, featuring all the members of the Justice League with dead bodies of its Marvel counterparts from both Fox's and Disney/Marvel Studios' films, is being used in an official capacity in China. Take a look at the poster below, captured by Twitter user Marvelous Realm:
Y’all need to read this Reddit post about this #JusticeLeague poster with murdered Marvel characters that has supposedly been used by multiple Chinese theaters. ?https://t.co/4aBeZfyHfG pic.twitter.com/ci4drMQCLv
— Marvelous Realm (@MarvelousRealm) November 20, 2017
Comic Book reports the Photoshopped poster image – which includes Batman holding the disembodied head of Thor, Aquaman's trident impaling Deadpool, Wonder Woman's sword impaling Wolverine, The Flash's foot on Captain America's head, and a severed limb of Iron Man – has appeared in several Chinese theaters. Comic Book reports the poster is also on the video hosting site iQiyi as a ticketing app for Wanda Cinema, which is the country's biggest theater chain.
According to Comic Book, Warner Bros. has yet to issue a statement on the matter. Clearly Warner Bros. wasn't behind the rogue marketing move, but in all likelihood there will be some call to action from the studio to have the "murder posters" removed from circulation as soon as possible.
Whether the unauthorized posters are actually affecting the business of Justice League in China is hard to tell, but it's certain to catch the ire of DC Films President Geoff Johns and Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. Both Johns and Feige have been nothing but supportive of each other's comic book movie endeavors, with Feige most recently saying that he was excited to see Justice League. Other Marvel filmmakers and actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have also come out against the DC/Marvel rivalry, including Guardians of the Galaxy writer-director James Gunn, who on social media last month simply asked fans of the respective comic book universes to stop fighting.