Justice League has been out for several weeks now and the dust has had a chance to settle. The verdict? It massively under-performed at the box office. It seems that poor critical reception and audience divisiveness have finally caught up with the DC Extended Universe. We’re about to hit mid-December and the film has only just cracked $600 million globally. In fact, Justice League had the lowest opening of any DCEU film so far at around $94 million. That has to have Warner Bros. very, very, worried.
This film is the Avengers of the DCEU. It was supposed to wow audiences and fans as the flagship DC staple. The only problem is, it did the opposite. With Justice League’s near-abysmal numbers, Warner Bros. can only expect that Aquaman (which has wrapped filming), will under-perform at the box office as well. If people won’t show up for Justice League of all movies, how can they be expected to show up for solo films? The numbers just aren’t there when it comes to the superhero world of cinema.
Financials aside, it’s evident Warner Bros. is planning on forging ahead with the franchise. Flashpoint is expected to begin filming “pretty soon,” according to Ezra Miller, and the still untitled Suicide Squad 2 is slated to begin production in 2018. When it comes to Ben Affleck’s early retirement from playing Batman, things get even murkier. Now it’s not to say the studio can’t successfully recast the role mid-stream. Marvel pulled it off with the Hulk when Mark Ruffalo took over for Ed Norton. Tom Holland also seamlessly became Spider-Man after Andrew Garfield’s version failed to win over critics and audiences. So it certainly can be done, but it still further complicates things for the studio.
Batman’s inevitable recasting brings us to the importance of Flashpoint. The source material from the comic has Barry Allen traveling back in time. In the past, Thomas Wayne, not Bruce, is Batman. Fans may remember that Jeffrey Dean Morgan even played Wayne Sr. in Batman v Superman. Flashpoint could easily serve as a soft reboot for the franchise, being a chance for Morgan to return and ease-in change to the caped crusader role. In the meantime, rumors remain rampant regarding the casting for Matt Reeve’s solo Batman film.
Suffice to say, Warner Bros. has a tough road ahead, and an uphill one at that. The implications of Justice League as the lowest opening DCEU film simply cannot be overstated. Fans have just lost interest in the franchise after an abundance of critical bombs.
I’m really hoping the studio shakes things up as much as they can with Flashpoint with an emphasis on making it as great as it can be. As stated previously, Aquaman has wrapped, so the best we can do is cross our fingers (or perhaps pray, if that’s your thing). Saying DCEU is on life-support right now would not be a hyperbole. Considering the money at stake for the studio, the future margin of error is razor thin.
By George Poor