It’s hard not to look at the box office numbers for Justice League, the 2017 film mostly directed by Zack Snyder, and think of it as as a disappointment. The first ever live-action team-up of Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) was supposed to be the DC film universe’s answer to Marvel’s Avengers – heck, Joss Whedon even wrote the script and stepped in to finish the film when Snyder took time to be with his family after tragedy struck.
However, when the money was added up, the film only grossed $657 million worldwide, with just $229 million coming from North America. That was hugely off from both Wonder Woman‘s $821/$412 million, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s $873/$330 million. With a lighter tone and shorter run time than the latter, many assumed Justice League would be a blockbuster, and would right many of the perceived wrongs of BvS. Perceived is the notable word in that sentence, as I firmly believe that had the superb Director’s Cut been released when Batman and Superman locked up in 2016, the reaction to the film and the franchise would have been much different. That wasn’t to be, and Justice League paid the price for it.
Which is a shame, because the movie, which was released on Blu-ray this past Tuesday, gets far more right than wrong.
In fact, I was pleased to see during my rewatch just how much Justice League has going for it. Though we’re stuck with a lacklustre villain in Steppenwolf, Justice League still strongly succeeds on the backs of its main characters, all of whom get to shine. I’ve never had a problem with Batfleck, and I genuinely like the chemistry, and something more someday, between Bruce Wayne and Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince. There’s also a great vibe between Miller’s Flash and Fisher’s Cyborg. Truth be told, I had to run to the washroom when I saw Justice League in theatres and missed the grave digging scene, so watching it for the first time was a treat. Jason Momoa’s tough guy Aquaman makes the character more appealing than you’d think, and watching him once again left me looking forward to James Wan’s film, due out in 2019. Finally, Henry Cavill demonstrates that he absolutely has what it takes to deliver a Superman that doesn’t brood; he just needs a script to allow him the chance.
While it’s definitely flawed (Lois calling Superman Clark in front of the cops is always going to rub me the wrong way), Justice League is a film that holds up to repeat viewings if you’re up for some superheroics. For those who were hoping the Blu-ray would contain a Zack Snyder Director’s Cut, you’re out of luck, and that’s a shame, as Snyder’s final cuts are always an improvement over his theatrical releases. Along with some making of features, the Blu-ray contains two deleted scenes featuring Superman that, while not essential, would have been a nice inclusion in the final film.
With Aquaman set for next year, the news that Patty Jenkins will be directing Wonder Woman 2, with Kristen Wiig taking on the role of the villainous Cheetah, things are hopefully looking up for the DC film universe, and a rewatch of two of Justice League isn’t a bad way to remind someone that there’s lots of potential for another cinematic universe to shine.