Justice League is a 2017 American superhero film based on the DC Comics superhero team of the same name consisting of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film is the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film is directed by Zack Snyder with a screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, from a story by Terrio and Snyder. It features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen and J. K. Simmons. In Justice League, the superhero team forms to honor Superman following his death and to save the planet 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 announced as 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. Snyder then hired Joss Whedon to write scenes that would be filmed during reshoots; however, Snyder left the project in May 2017 following the death of his daughter.
Whedon was hired to oversee the remainder of post-production, including directing additional scenes written by himself. Snyder received sole director credit for the film, with Whedon receiving a screenplay credit in post. With an estimated production budget of $300 million, it is one of the most expensive films ever made. Justice League premiered in Beijing on October 26, 2017, and was released in the United States in 2D, 3D and IMAX on November 17, 2017. It has grossed $281 million worldwide and received mixed reviews from critics; the action sequences and performances were praised while the thin plot, weak villain and CGI were criticized. The film's tone was met with a polarized reception, with some praising it for being lighter than previous DCEU installments, while others noted it as inconsistent.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Zack Snyder|
|Based on||Justice League
by Gardner Fox
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|Box office||$281.5 million|
Thousands of years ago, Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons attempt to conquer and remake Earth through the combined energies of the Mother Boxes. They are foiled by a unified army that included the Olympian Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, ancient humans, and Green Lanterns. After repelling Steppenwolf's army, the Mother Boxes are separated and hidden in locations around the world.
In the present, the death of Superman triggers the Mother Boxes to activate, resulting in Steppenwolf's return to Earth in an effort to regain favor with his master, Darkseid. Steppenwolf manages to retrieve the Mother Box from Themyscira, prompting Queen Hippolyta to warn her daughter, Diana Prince, of Steppenwolf's return. Diana joins Bruce Wayne in his attempt to unite the other metahumans, with Wayne going after Arthur Curry and Barry Allen, while Diana tries to locate Victor Stone. The two of them fail to persuade Curry and Stone, but manage to recruit Allen onto the team. Stone later joins the group after his father Silas is kidnapped, along with several other S.T.A.R. Labs employees, by Steppenwolf who is looking for the box left with mankind.
Meanwhile, Steppenwolf attacks Atlantis to retrieve the second Mother Box, forcing Curry to decide to take action. The team receives intel from Commissioner James Gordon that the Parademons are traveling underground, and conclude that Steppenwolf's army is based in an abandoned facility. 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. Wayne decides to use the Mother Box to resurrect Superman, not only to help them fight Steppenwolf's army, but also to restore hope in humanity. Prince and Curry are hesitant about the idea, but Wayne forms a secret contingency plan in case Superman returns as a nemesis.
Clark Kent's body is exhumed and placed in the incubation waters of the Kryptonian ship alongside the Mother Box, which activates with Allen's help 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 Lois to his family home in Smallville, where he reflects and tries to recover his memories. With the last Mother Box unguarded, Steppenwolf retrieves it with ease.
Without Superman to aid them, the remaining five heroes travel to a village in Russia where Steppenwolf plans to unite the boxes once again and reshape the world. The team fight their way through the Parademons to reach Steppenwolf, although they are unable to distract him enough for Stone to separate the boxes. Superman arrives and assists Allen in evacuating the city, as well as Stone in separating the Mother Boxes. The united heroes manage to defeat Steppenwolf, who, overcome with fear, is attacked by his own Parademons, before they all teleport away.
In the aftermath of the battle, Wayne and Diana agree on the decision to rebuild Wayne Manor as a base of operations for the team, with additional space for more heroes in the future. Prince steps back into the public spotlight as a hero; Allen manages to acquire a job in Central City's police department; Stone continues to explore and enhance his abilities with his father in S.T.A.R. Labs; Curry returns to Atlantis; and Clark resumes his role as Superman. In the post-credits scene, Lex Luthor has escaped from Arkham Asylum and recruits Slade Wilson to form their own league.
Joe Morton and David Thewlis reprise their roles from previous films as Silas Stone, a scientist at S.T.A.R. Labs and Victor Stone's father, and Ares, the son of Zeus and half-brother of Diana, respectively. Amber Heard and Billy Crudup portray the characters Mera and Henry Allen, respectively. Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe and Kiersey Clemons were originally cast to portray Antiope, Nuidis Vulko and Iris West, only for their roles to be cut from the final film. Julian Lewis Jones portrays King Atlan, the king of Atlantis, while Michael McElhatton appears as a human bank robber who clashes with Wonder Woman early in the film. Marc McClure, who portrayed Jimmy Olsen in the Richard Donner Superman films, has a cameo as a police officer. Joe Manganiello and Jesse Eisenberg appear in a post-credit scene as Slade Wilson / Deathstroke and Lex Luthor, respectively.
In February 2007, it was announced that Warner Bros. 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 had been cancelled, as well as The Flash, written and directed by David S. Goyer. Reportedly titled Justice League: Mortal, Michele and Kiernan Mulroney submitted their script to Warner Bros. in June 2007, receiving positive feedback, which prompted the studio to immediately fast track production in the hopes of filming to begin before the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America strike. Warner Bros. was less willing to proceed with development with a sequel to Superman Returns, having been disappointed with the box office return. 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 finished with 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," though he personally 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 were auditioning for the ensemble superhero roles, among them were Joseph Cross, Michael Angarano, Max Thieriot, Minka Kelly, Adrianne Palicki and Scott Porter. Miller 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 the Wonder Woman role after being in 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. Aquaman had yet to be cast. 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 would 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 release 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. Gregory Noveck, senior vice president of creative affairs for DC Entertainment stated "we're going to make a Justice League movie, whether it's now or 10 years from now. But we're not going to do it and Warners is not going to do it until we know it's right." Actor Adam Brody joked "They [Warner Brothers] just didn't want to cross their streams with a whole bunch of Batmans in the universe." Warner Bros. relaunched development for the 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 was commencing in 2011 with Man of Steel, produced by Nolan and written by Batman screenwriter David S. Goyer. Shortly after filming had finished for Man of Steel, 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 setting 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 and not connected 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 Ben Affleck as Batman, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone / Cyborg in a minor role that will become more significant in leading up to the proposed Justice League film. The universe is separate from Nolan and Goyer's work on The Dark Knight trilogy, although Nolan is still involved as an executive producer for Batman v Superman. In April 2014, it was announced that Zack Snyder would also be directing 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 releasing on November 17, 2017, and Part Two on June 14, 2019. Snyder will 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 will 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 releasing two years after the first, Snyder announced in June 2016 that they would be two distinct, separate films and not one film split into two parts, both being stand-alone stories.
In April 2014, Ray Fisher was cast as Victor Stone / Cyborg, and was set to cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice followed by a larger role in Justice League. Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Diane Lane and Amy Adams were also expected to reprise their roles from Batman v Superman. In October 2014, Jason Momoa was cast as Arthur Curry / Aquaman and debuted as the character in Dawn of Justice. On October 20, 2014, Momoa told ComicBook.com that the Justice League film would be coming first and that is what they were preparing for, and he did not know if the solo Aquaman film would be prior to Justice League or post. He thought it might be the origin of where Aquaman came from. On January 13, 2016, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Amber Heard was in negotiations to appear in the film as Aquaman's love interest Mera. 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." Also in March, The Hollywood Reporter announced that J. K. Simmons was cast as Commissioner James Gordon, and Heard was confirmed to join the cast as Mera. Adams also confirmed that she would reprise her role as Lois Lane in both Justice League films. The following month, Simmons confirmed that he would play Gordon. By April 2016, Willem Dafoe was cast in an undisclosed role, later revealed to be Nuidis Vulko. Cavill confirmed that he would return for both Justice League films. In May 2016, Jeremy Irons confirmed he will appear as Alfred Pennyworth. That same month, Jesse Eisenberg stated that he would reprise his role as Lex Luthor, and in June 2016, he confirmed in an interview with Shortlist magazine of his return. In July 2016, Julian Lewis Jones was cast in an undisclosed role, later revealed to be Atlan, the king of Atlantis. Laurence Fishburne, who portrays Perry White in the DCEU, said he declined to reprise his role in this film due to scheduling conflicts. In April 2017, Michael McElhatton revealed that he had a role in the movie, which was later revealed to be a human bank robber who faces off against Wonder Woman.
Principal photography commenced on April 11, 2016, with shooting taking place at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, as well as various locations around London, Scotland, Los Angeles and in Djúpavík in the Westfjords of Iceland. The old herring factory in Djúpavík was one Iceland filming location (Ben Affleck appears to be standing near the herring oil tanks in the Heroes trailer). Snyder's longtime cinematographer Larry Fong was replaced by Fabian Wagner due to scheduling conflicts. Affleck was also revealed to be serving as executive producer. In May 2016, it was revealed that Geoff Johns and Jon Berg will be producing the Justice League films and they will also be in charge of the DC Extended Universe after the largely negative critical reception of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Geoff Johns confirmed on June 3, 2016, that the title of the film is Justice League. That same month, Irons stated that the Justice League storyline will be more linear and simple, in comparison to the theatrical version of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Johns later stated that the film would be "hopeful and optimistic" in comparison to the previous DCEU films. Filming wrapped in October 2016.
In May 2017, Snyder stepped down during post-production of the film to properly deal with the death of his daughter. 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). The reshoots coincided with Cavill's shooting schedule for Mission: Impossible 6, for which he had grown a moustache which he was contracted to keep while filming, so Justice League's VFX team had to resort to using special effects to digitally remove the moustache in post. Warner Bros. later announced that Whedon would receive a screenwriting credit on the film alongside Chris Terrio.
In March 2016, Hans Zimmer, who composed the score for Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, stated that he is officially retired from the "superhero business". By June 2016, he was replaced by Junkie XL, who wrote and composed the soundtrack of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with Zimmer. In June 2017, Danny Elfman was announced to have replaced Junkie XL. Elfman had previously composed Batman, Batman Returns, and the theme music for Batman: The Animated Series. Elfman confirmed that he would be using the Batman theme music from the 1989 film for Batman in the film, and would also use briefly John Williams' Superman theme during "a dark, twisted moment" in the film. Gary Clark Jr. and The White Stripes have also been featured in the Justice League album.
As of November 19, 2017, Justice League has grossed $96 million in the United States and Canada, and $185.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $281.5 million, against a production budget of $300 million. It had a worldwide opening of $281.5 million, the 24th biggest of all-time. Estimates for the total the film will have to gross worldwide in order to break even range from $600–750 million.
In the United States and Canada, industry tracking initially had 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 just $96 million, down 44% from Batman v Superman's opening of $166 million and marking the first film of the DCEU to open under $100 million. Deadline.com attributed the low figure to lukewarm audience reaction to the film and its predecessors, as well as poor critical reception and Rotten Tomatoes not posting their aggregated score until the day before release, causing speculation and doubt from filmgoers.
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 $185.5 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. In Brazil the film opened to $14.2 million, the biggest opening in the country's history.
Justice League received mixed reviews, with critics praising the action sequences and performances (particularly Gadot and Miller) while criticizing the thin plot, CGI and weak villain. The tone of the film was met with a polarized reception, with some praising it for being lighter and more fun than previous installments, while others noted it as inconsistent. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 40% based on 237 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site'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." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 46 out of 100, based on 49 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
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."
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, "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." Mike Ryan of Uproxx had similar thoughts, writing, "...maybe in the future this can be a fun team to watch? Ezra Miller sure looks like he’s having fun, so that’s promising. The actors involved are all pretty good. They just need someone in charge to have them do something interesting – cough, Patty Jenkins, cough."
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Golden Trailer Awards||June 6, 2017||Best Action Poster||Justice League “Group Teaser”||Nominated|||
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 a sequel's script alongside The Batman.