The initial box office tracking numbers for Justice League have come in and by the looks of things, it’s not going to be the mega-blockbuster hit that Warner Bros. was hoping for. Is it because of the changed tone? A less than stellar portrayal of Wonder Woman? Or a weak plot? Here’s what I think!
This post contains minor spoilers for Justice League. But don’t worry because I’ll you warn you before I start talking about them.
According to Variety, Hollywood sources are placing the budget for Justice League to be around $250 million. At least $25 million of that amount is said to be the cost of Joss Whedon’s reshoots. Adding the promotional costs, the studio will have to earn near $600 million to break even.
Now, that’s a very high number which I think Justice League can make. However, the real question is how much it’ll be able to make in total gross. Will it reach the billion-dollar mark similar to films in the MCU? I don’t think so.
Justice League is projected to open at $110 domestically. Comparatively, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opened at $166 million back in 2016. With a similar budget, BvS went on to gross $873.3 million at the worldwide box office. Unless JL ends up bringing in higher foreign box office numbers than BvS, the newest DCEU offering might not be able to surpass the 2016 film.
There’s also the unimpressive Rotten Tomato score that might hinder word-of-mouth, at least in the US. Currently, Justice League is projected to earn more than $300 million worldwide in its debut weekend. So, let’s see what happens when the final global numbers come in.
Did I expect Justice League to encounter such misfortune? Before Wonder Woman, I did. BvS wasn’t the best superhero movie out there. But then Wonder Woman was released and I thought the DCEU had learned some important lessons. Surely, the studio saw how popular Diana was and would shift JL‘s focus more on her, right? Even if Joss Whedon was brought in for the reshoots, Diana would be protected by the studio, right?
I turned out to be so wrong. Sigh!
My doubts began to resurface when the promotional material started to be released. I was happy that Diana was getting focus during the advertising but she was still being displayed as the only character showing skin while the others heroes were all covered up.
Now, some might argue that nothing could be done about Diana’s outfit. It was in BvS as well as in Wonder Woman. So, of course, she’d had to wear it in JL.
However, Diana in body armor that makes sense is a thing in DC Comics. So, JL could’ve tried to do the same thing, especially when the studio wasn’t using pictures of a shirtless Aquaman in the posters. If men can fight in full body armor, women should be able to as well.
I don’t know about you, but for me, a young man who is also attracted to women, Diana’s outfit made her stand out from the male superheroes in a more sexual manner.
Minor Justice League spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned!
Stop reading now if you don’t want spoilers!
I watched the film and all my fears, unfortunately, came true. While I enjoyed seeing Diana in Justice League, her onscreen treatment was different from the Diana I knew from her solo film. She was turned into the sole female of the group that shared onscreen sexual tension with her male teammates.
The film had the Flash trip and fall into her boobs. Aquaman talked about her beauty and wanting to get together. Even Alfred made a joke about her meeting Cyborg being a date. Also, her ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ vibe with Batman is a thing that Whedon decided to add. Whedon’s leaked Wonder Woman script still creeps me out.
Justice League also had Diana in revealing civilian clothes with numerous camera shots focusing on her breasts and butt. Seeing how Patty Jenkins filmed Gal Gadot in the same outfit without focusing on sexualization and how Justice League has shots of her butt hanging out in some of the scenes is amazing. I guess it all comes down to what the director wants the audience to see.
Then there’s the whole issue of Amazonian battle gear in JL. Again, why aren’t women allowed to protect themselves when they’re off to war? It makes no sense. Especially when men are covered from head to toe.
Now, I’m not against women wearing what they want and owning their sexuality. But there’s a difference between the character owning their sexuality and using their body as a joke or just to serve as eye-candy for the audience.
But Farid, what about the shirtless Aquaman scenes?
Yes, Aquaman is shirtless in the film and that’s eye-candy too. However, no one trips and falls into his boobs. There’s also no dialogue that mentions how pretty he looks to take away from his manly strength.
But Farid, what about Steve’s naked scene in Wonder Woman?
Again, Steve being naked doesn’t diminish his character. Diana is not looking at him as a piece of meat during that moment nor does she flirt with him because she wants to sleep with him. The joke was for the audience. It wasn’t funny for Diana.
My point here is that I’m more concerned about how a character is seen by others onscreen rather than the audience. Diana can be wearing even less clothing as far as I’m concerned in Justice League because the ‘male gaze’ is, unfortunately, a thing (and there’s not much I can do about it) as long as her teammates didn’t make her the sole sexy female of the group that everyone is attracted to.
I think the best example for me to mention here would be of Atlanta from 2014’s Hercules. She’s the sole female of her group but is still treated with respect. She has more to do than sharing sexual tension with her male team members or have her body be used as a joke even though she can still be seen as sexy by viewers.
Again, having male characters looking at a female character as a mere love interest is different from the audience viewing her as such. Only by having stronger portrayals of female characters in the plot itself can films slowly move away from the male gaze and change for the better. They need to be respected by the male characters they interact with during a film to also come across to the audience as more than just two long legs in a skirt.
Diana deserved better than ‘boobs-are-funny’ jokes and having men in her team being attracted to her. At least hold off on having Diana potentially hooking up with someone in her first film with numerous main male characters.
Coming back to the box office predictions, Justice League isn’t a bad film. I had fun watching it. The plot is flimsy but it’s still a fun popcorn movie. However, it definitely won’t make any non-DCEU people see it. Also, fans who only got introduced to the DCEU because of Wonder Woman might find it problematic.
Let’s see how the film performs. Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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