Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Zack Snyder|
|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 Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, and features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher as the title team, with Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J. K. Simmons in supporting roles. 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 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; Snyder retained sole directorial credit, while Whedon received a screenwriting credit. Justice League premiered in Beijing on October 26, 2017, and was released in the United States in 2D, Real D 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 against a break-even point of $750 million, becoming a box office bomb and losing the studio approximately $60 million, while also making it the lowest overall gross of the DCEU. 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.
Thousands of years ago, Steppenwolf and his legions of Parademons attempted to take over Earth with the combined energies of three Mother Boxes. They were foiled by a unified army that includes the Olympian Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, mankind, and a Green Lantern. After repelling Steppenwolf's army, the Mother Boxes were separated and hidden in locations on the planet. In the present, mankind is in mourning over Superman, whose death triggers the Mother Boxes to reactivate and Steppenwolf's return to Earth. In an effort to regain favor with his master, Darkseid, Steppenwolf aims to gather the boxes to form "The Unity", 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 their cause, with Wayne going after Arthur Curry and Barry Allen, while Diana tries to locate Victor Stone. Wayne fails to persuade Curry, but manages to recruit an enthusiastic Allen onto the team. Although Diana fails to convince Stone to join, he agrees to help them locate the threat if he discovers their location. Stone later joins the team after his father Silas and several other S.T.A.R. Labs employees are kidnapped by Steppenwolf seeking to acquire the Mother Box from mankind.
Steppenwolf attacks Atlantis to retrieve the next Mother Box, forcing Curry into action. The team receives intel from Commissioner James Gordon leading them to Steppenwolf's army, based in an abandoned facility under Gotham Harbor. Although the group manages to rescue the kidnapped employees, the facility is flooded during combat, which traps the team until Curry helps delay the flood so they can escape. Stone retrieves the last Mother Box, which he had hidden, for the group to analyze. Stone reveals that his father used the Mother Box to rebuild Stone's body after an accident almost cost him his life. Wayne decides to use the Mother Box to resurrect Superman, not only to help them fight off Steppenwolf's invasion, but also to restore hope to mankind. Diana and Curry are hesitant about the idea, but Wayne forms a secret contingency plan in case Superman returns as hostile.
Clark Kent's body is exhumed and placed in the amniotic fluid of the genesis chamber of the Kryptonian ship alongside the Mother Box, which in turn activates and successfully resurrects Superman. However, Superman's memories have not returned, and he attacks the group after Stone accidentally launches a projectile at him. On the verge of being killed by Superman, Batman enacts his contingency plan: Lois Lane. Superman calms down and leaves with Lane to his family home in Smallville, where he reflects and his memories slowly come back. In the turmoil, the last Mother Box is left unguarded and Steppenwolf retrieves it with ease. Without Superman to aid them, the five heroes travel to a village in Russia where Steppenwolf aims to unite the Mother Boxes once again to remake Earth. The team fights their way through the Parademons to reach Steppenwolf, although they are unable to distract him enough for Stone to separate the Mother Boxes. Superman arrives and assists Allen in evacuating the city, as well as Stone in separating the Mother Boxes. The team defeats Steppenwolf, who, overcome with fear, is attacked by his own Parademons before they all teleport away.
After 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 embraces his Atlantean heritage; and Superman resumes his life as reporter Clark Kent. In a post-credits scene, Lex Luthor has escaped from Arkham Asylum and then 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' 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. Two ancient kings of Earth appear during a scene depicting Steppenwolf's first invasion, including King Atlan of Atlantis and Arthur Pendragon of ancient England; portrayed by Julian Lewis Jones and Francis Magee, respectively. 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 DC Extended Universe (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." Later, Snyder revealed that Orion Lee was cast to portray Ryan Choi in the film, setting up the character's future as The Atom. These scenes were cut from the theatrical film.
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 DC Extended Universe (DCEU) films.
Justice League had a troubled production. During filming, it was reported that the rewrites by Geoff Johns caused issues with Chris Terrio and Warner Bros. executives. Warner Bros. was unsatisfied with how the film was 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. While Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie initially gave the producers of Justice League permission to have Cavill shave the mustache in exchange for the $3 million it would cost to shut down production on Fallout and then digitally fill the mustache in, executives from Paramount Pictures rejected the idea. Justice League's VFX team was then forced to used special effects to digitally remove the mustache in post-production.
In an interview, producer Charles Roven said: "Let's just say 80, 85 percent of the movie is what was originally shot. There's only so much you can do with other 15, 20 percent of the movie". 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 had been 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 exactly the 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 Comics publisher, 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 October 4, 2018[update], it has made $12.1 million in DVD sales and $37.3 million in Blu-ray sales, totaling an estimated of $49.4 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 Hollywood reported that the film lost the studio around $60 million. Due to the film losing the studio money, the movie was deemed a "box office bomb" or "flop".
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. In 2018, Forbes compared the drastic uncohesive shift from Snyder's darker films Man of Steel and Batman v Superman to the lighter Justice League (co-written by Wheddon), to the similarly drastic and uncohesive change in tone experienced from the older 1989 and 1992 Tim Burton's Batman films to the direct light-hearted sequels directed by Schumacher, although nothing the former shift in tone was better received than the one in Justice League, affecting box office, due to going against the expectations of Snyder fans in its attempt to reach a higher demographic, while alienating its own established core audience.
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 mixed reviews. It was praised for its action sequences and acting (primarily by Gadot and Miller) but criticized for the screenplay, 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 326 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 the 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."
Bilge Ebiri of the Village Voice similarly gave it a positive review: "...action scenes start and stop and then start again, then go in different directions, and it was a few moments into the Big Climactic Face-Off before I realized we'd arrived at the Big Climactic Face-Off. But these off-kilter rhythms actually lend the film a pleasant unpredictability. As does the humor, which often sits uneasily next to the moodiness, but is somehow fast and witty enough to work." 
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."
Sara Stewart of the New York Post gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars: "Justice League is a pointless flail of expensive (yet somehow cheap-looking) CGI that no amount of tacked-on quips, or even Gadot's luminescent star power, can rescue. Like Cyborg (Ray Fisher), one of its ostensible heroes, Justice League is patched together from disparate elements. Original director Zack Snyder left partway through due to a death in the family, leaving Joss Whedon to finish up. The result? All the plodding, gray, generic action of a Snyder film with stabs of Whedonian humor that almost never feel organic. There's no sense of purpose here, not even a sense of place."
Writing for The Washington Post, Alyssa Rosenberg also returned with a negative review: "...if Justice League is a symbol of just how entrenched superhero movies have become in the Hollywood ecosystem, it's also a potent illustration that success hasn't necessarily artistically elevated the genre. It's not just that, beat by beat, Justice League feels nearly identical to so many of the superhero movies that have come before, or that it features some of the ugliest, most pointless special effects I've seen at the movies in a long time. It's that the darn thing feels depressingly haphazard and thoughtless, and that it's guaranteed to make a ton of money anyway. Superhero fans are a ridiculously powerful market; they deserve better than this."
James Berardinelli gave it 2 out of 4 stars: "When Marvel mapped out the trajectory for their Cinematic Universe, they were sometimes criticized for overthinking and overplanning. Nearly every major hero – Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor – had his own movie. Many of the secondary characters (including the villain) boasted significant screen time in one or more of the first five films. Only once all these things had been accomplished were the characters brought together for The Avengers. The formula worked. The Avengers was popcorn bliss, a superhero nirvana. DC, however, came late to the party. Riding the critical and popular success of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and smarting from the disappointing performance of Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, they dithered and dallied and didn't begin planning out the post-Dark Knight campaign until the MCU movie count was past the half-dozen mark and rising. The late start resulted in a rushed and ununified approach. Justice League arrives with three major characters who haven't previously been introduced. As a result, this film has a lot of heavy background lifting to do - too much, in fact, for it to be able to tell a worthwhile story. 70% of the movie is set-up for future tales. The rest is an overlong smack-down between our heroes and possibly the worst villain ever to appear in a comic book picture."
Writing for the Film Ireland Magazine, Ellen Murray found the characters interesting, but their setting unworthy: "...there is something undeniably thrilling in seeing these iconic characters work together on the big screen. It's just a shame that their current incarnation, moulded in Zack Snyder's vision, lacks a strong framework to allow them to better shine. The characters save the film from being a complete and utter disaster, but they alone can't save it from being a mild disaster. While undoubtedly Snyder is genuinely passionate about these characters, he seems to suffer from a fundamental misunderstanding of what they represent and, most importantly, what cinema-goers expect from a story involving them. Justice League understands that a character like Superman means something to people; it just can't show us convincingly why".
Justice League was short-listed as a potential candidate for the 90th Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, along with another DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film, Wonder Woman. However, neither film made it to the final list of nominations.
|2017||Detroit Film Critics Society||Breakthrough Artist||Gal Gadot||Nominated|||
|Golden Schmoes Awards||Biggest Disappointment of the Year||Justice League||Won|||
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Action Poster||Warner Bros., Works ADV||Nominated|||
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Comedic Performance||Ezra Miller||Nominated|||
|BMI Film & TV Awards||BMI Film Music Award||Danny Elfman||Won|||
|Golden Trailer Awards||Best Wildposts (Teaser Campaign)||Warner Bros., The Refinery||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||Nominated|||
|Choice Action Movie Actor||Henry Cavill||Nominated|
|Choice Action Movie Actress||Amy Adams||Nominated|
The divisive reaction towards the final high-lighted cut of the film, with Zack Snyder leaving directorial duties and the final cut of the film in the hands of Joss Whedon, has led some fans to compare the situation to the one experienced by the film film Superman II, when it changed director, despite being almost completely filmed. Although Snyder left to recover from his daughter's suicide, Richard Donner left Superman II due to spending too much money filming Superman 1 and 2 back to back, before even releasing the first film. Richard Donner got to complete his Superman II cut in 2005, about two decades after the release of the final cut that excluded him. In the belief that Snyder had shot enough material, some fans have campaigned for a Snyder cut, allowing Snyder to receive a similar treatment to Donner, while refusing to accept Justice Leagues's theatrical cut. However it was noted that Donner's Superman films, were significantly better received than Zack Snyder's, and the possibility that a Snyder cut would be as poorly received as his previous DC efforts, rendering the assembly effort pointless. However fans also argue that Snyder's vision would be more cohesive to the previous films than the actual theatrical cut, which Snyder has refused to see. Snyder's interest in editing it and Warner Bros's refusal to confirm wheter Snyder shot enough material, keep fans speculating whether it's possible or not. However, Warner Bros has denied any intention of making a Snyder cut.
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 mixed critical reception and disappointing financial performance.
The film would have to make at least $750 million just to break even...
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