Warner Brothers Walks Slippery Slope in Justice League Aftermath
Justice League‘s release has come and gone. With currently a 40 percent on the Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes, the consensus of critics on the website states the following: “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.” Additionally, Box Office Mojo shows that the film has made back its $300 million budget with its current $614,729,668 box office gross ($212,129,668 domestically and $402,600,000 globally). It’s telling that the film has been doing better outside the USA than in the country where these characters began.
With the film not fulfilling box office expectations of the company and doing less than well with critics, despite an 80 percent rating with audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, the studio has decided to make massive changes to their DC cinematic operations. Those that are taking the biggest hits are Jon Berg, Geoff Johns, Ben Affleck, and Zack Snyder. Warner Brothers Picture Group President Toby Emmerich states that the change for Berg is something Berg had wanted. He will return to being a producer to work on other films.
Johns will remain the chief creative officer at DC Entertainment. His focus will be on consumer products, publishing, and television, and his work on the films might shift into a more advisory capacity. The film studio might be looking for a replacement for these two in January or absorb the DC films back into the overall WB company. But, perhaps the biggest letdown for fans, is the alleged departure of Ben Affleck from the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.
While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice received a mixed response from critics and audiences alike, what everyone almost unanimously loved was Affleck in the Batman role. Most people loved his and Snyder’s portrayal of the character. It was a highlight of the film and was something to look forward to for many in Justice League as well as future DC movies. As Brent Lang writes in Variety, the sun has set on his time as the Caped Crusader.
“While Ben Affleck is expected to appear as Batman in a standalone Flash movie, it is highly unlikely he will don the cape and cowl in Matt Reeves’ planned standalone Batman movie,” Lang stated. “The director is said to want to cast the role with fresh talent, according to sources.” Vanity Fair‘s Joanna Robinson states Affleck had been going back and forth about it, but, with the departure of his friend, Berg, there’s no reason he sees to remain.
And the road seems to have ended for Snyder too. Lang states that there are no plans for him to return to direct any of the DC films but only continue producing the ones he already has commitments to. Snyder appears to potentially have the option to direct films in the future because of the studio’s deal with his production company but Time Warner appears not too happy with Warner Brothers letting him continue to do so.
It would be a lie to say that Warner Brothers is a mess right now with their strategy for the DC Comics characters on film. They do not seem to know what exactly to do with the characters and the overall strategy. They appear to want to follow in the footsteps of Marvel Studios but there’s no path to success if you just attempt to replicate what another place did.
It’s not clear whether or not that positioning Johns and Berg in their older positions they had before DC Films was established is a positive thing or not. Johns knows these characters and has produced several successful stories in comics and TV. He also helped position Wonder Woman to the success it now has. Berg has seen some success as well with his work on movies like Elf. However, both Johns and Berg were not given enough to actually make any changes to the whole system. They were not really able to see one film from concept to fruition. Their stamp or impact was not largely felt seemingly on one single DC property beyond coming in for clean-up duty at the eleventh hour.
From a business perspective, letting Affleck leave or getting rid of him seems to be a very bad decision. It has angered many of the fans who have built up a good deal of love for the actor and his portrayal of the character. What seems to be the mystery, though, is whether or not Affleck is being forced out of the role or not. For all intensive purposes, that seems to be the case. He probably is tired of the many added and other potential responsibilities such as producing, writing, and potentially helming The Batman, which he had to do.
It would have been smart for the studio to see what became of the workings of Johns, Berg, Affleck, and others. Despite this, Warner Brothers seem to want to continue to change course. While the idea of Flashpoint for a Flash movie seems like a no-brainer for a way to both do a solo Flash movie and reboot the universe, it really is not. It will essentially serve as another film featuring the Justice League and it’s doubtful as to whether the execution of the storyline will truly serve Barry Allen/The Flash as it does in the original storyline by Johns.
At the end of the day, what is truly sad is the failure of films featuring characters that much of the mainstream love. Much of the audience grew up loving characters such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and others. To see many of them finally come together in a Justice League film and not have it receive the praise it should, it remains the biggest loss for the fans DC Entertainment hoped to entertain with their film properties. For Warner Brothers, that should signal to them that nonsuccess does not mean success. It means there’s a sinking ship and a new captain needs to set sail once more for the final time.
About the author: Tommy Zimmer is a writer whose work has appeared online and in print. His work covers a variety of topics, including politics, economics, health and wellness, addiction and recovery, and the entertainment industry.