It doesn’t take a soothsayer to realize that for Justice League, the writing was on the wall long before Warner’s mega-movie limped into theaters back in November.
Amid news of extensive reshoots and the much-touted director substitution (Zack Snyder out; Joss Whedon in), the Powers That Be reportedly tried to inject more heart and humor into the final product in order to bring it closer in line with Wonder Woman, undoubtedly the DC Extended Universe’s greatest feat and a sound template for success.
And then there was the whole hullabaloo surrounding the DCEU itself. Coming out of Wonder Woman, Vulture reported that Warner Bros. was rethinking its approach to superhero movies so that they were able to stand on their own two feet, unshackled by the chains of an interconnected universe. This, coupled with the fact that high-ranking figures like Joss Whedon and Geoff Johns distanced themselves from the project, has led Revenge of the Fans (h/t CBM) to compile a report alleging that Warner was always bracing for Justice League to flop. Hell, they were even expecting it.
Such a filmmaker-driven tactic will seemingly inform the likes of Aquaman and Nightwing – James Wan and Chris McKay, respectively – going forward, but for Justice League, it appears the ship had already sailed, and the doomed project was too far into production for Warner Bros. or Joss Whedon to make any real, tangible changes.
Via Revenge of the Fans:
I remember speaking to an insider in the weeks following Justice League‘s release and them saying they “expected this.” While they conceded the fallout was, perhaps, a bit worse than anticipated, they knew that this thing was going to be a bump in the road. The studio just didn’t want to spend another dime on the film, considering all the effort that had gone into it already. They wanted to simply get it out there, get it over with, and move on to the next phase of DCU films which would act as a distinct course correction.
It’s supposedly the reason why Ciaran Hinds wasn’t brought back to reshoot select scenes for Steppenwolf; Warner Bros. had already come to terms with Justice League failings – even if the film’s final performance turned out to be much worse than anticipated.