It would be unfair to describe Batman v Superman as a failure. Any film that grosses over $800 million is ridiculously successful, but within the context of today’s superhero movie fever, Zack Snyder’s second entry into the DC Cinematic Universe was underwhelming. Warner Bros would have been keen to breach the $1 billion mark and make a statement of intent upon Marvel’s vice-like grip on the genre but poor reviews and bad word of mouth saw ticket sales dramatically drop from opening weekend, severely affecting box office revenue.
And in response to the unsatisfactory reaction to Batman v Superman, Warner Bros have unleashed a tidal wave of brand new information and changes that we can expect from their upcoming Justice League movies, most notably that it is now a singular, self titled flick, doing away with plans for a two-part ordeal. Warner Bros have also revealed the plot behind The Justice League’s debut on the silver screen, as well as moving up the release date and letting us know the exact amount of individual pieces that make up Flash’s costume. It’s 148, if you were curious.
The official synopsis from Warner Bros reads:
Fuelled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
There’s a refreshing air of simplicity about the synopsis. It’s just Batman gathering some new mates and saving the world, which is a far cry from Batman v Superman’s muddled motivations and endlessly moving parts that confused more than entertained. However, Justice League can’t escape all of its predecessor’s flaws. The selfless act in question is Superman’s ultimate sacrifice that flew in the face of all logic, in a move that will most likely put him out of action for most of film, only to predictably return in the absolute nick of time to save the newly formed Justice League from the brink of destruction, just when they needed him most. But that just might be my deeply ingrained cynicism talking.
There are also reports of Warner Bros aiming for a more light-hearted tone, maybe having learnt from their mistakes with Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman, finally realising that you can’t just make every character a brooding Batman carbon copy. The Justice League is made up of an array of different superheroes with widely contrasting personalities, it’s what makes them so interesting and entertaining to watch. There’s no joy in watching a group of fancily dressed brutes stare sullenly at each other for two and a half hours, no matter how much Zack Snyder will try to convince you otherwise. Early reports from journalists, who were invited onto the Justice League set, are very promising on this front, with most making note of Ezra Miller’s refreshing comedic presence in the film as The Flash, bouncing delightfully off Ben Affleck’s Batman.
Talking to reporters on set, Ben Affleck talked up the affect of portraying a more optimistic Batman.
“He’s a little bit more sardonic, a little more irony,” Affleck explained, “He’s a little more of a man on a mission this time. As opposed to, he was so full of anger because of what happened at the Black Zero Event. That sort of rage that possessed him. And now he’s on a mission to get this group together; to constitute this League. But more of that sort of Bruce Wayne, wry, ironic gallows humour comes out. He’s not like a ‘haha’ jokey, but that sort of stuff comes out a little bit. A bit of his darker humour is present.”
It seems that Warner Bros is treating Justice League as a redemption project, making clear efforts distancing themselves from Batman v. Superman’s failings with tone, character and plot by releasing details of their re-envisioned plan for the future of the franchise. Even just reducing Justice League’s size from two parts to one demonstrates an understanding from Warner Bros that they have to get the story in one film right, before attempting to stretch one huge story over two very ambitious films. It certainly shows a willingness to listen to fan feedback, which is a rarity that we should take advantage of.
And with a brand new release date set for November 17th 2017, we won’t have to wait too long to find out whether Justice League is a sincere apology or just another hollow attempt to build hype for a mediocre film.