When the Marvel movie The Avengers hit theaters in 2012, it was by far the most successful movie that the studio had released until that point. That was not surprising, given it gathered all the MCU’s biggest heroes together in one film. So there was initially every reason to expect that superhero rivals DC’s team-up, Justice League, would becomes its biggest movie too. But with the film’s theatrical run now over, it has ended up as the lowest grossing of all five movies in the DC cinematic universe so far.
Justice League finished its run with a worldwide gross of $657.9 million. While this would be a substantial amount for most movies, it is below even the second least successful movie in the DC universe, Man of Steel. That film grossed $668 million in 2012, from a lower budget–$225 million compared to Justice League‘s rumored $300 million. The middle three DC movies all made way beyond this: Suicide Squad grossed $746.8 million, Wonder Woman $821.8 million, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice $876.3 million.
Justice League was beset with issues both before and during production. While Batman v Superman still stands as the biggest DC movie so far, it was met with an extremely negative reaction from both critics and fans (as was Suicide Squad). Despite assurances from DC Films head Geoff Johns that Justice League would be a more “hopeful and optimistic” movie, it started shooting only a few weeks after those Batman v Superman reviews, leading to speculation that the tone of the film would have to be changed during production.
Snyder quit the movie in May 2017 following a family tragedy, with Avengers director Joss Whedon taking over. Extensive reshoots took place, which actor Joe Morton confirmed were to lighten the tone. In addition, the movie became notorious for the issue of Superman actor Henry Cavill’s mustache, which he had grown for his role in this summer’s Mission Impossible: Fallout. With Mission Impossible producers Paramount refusing to let Cavill shave for the reshoots, Justice League‘s visual effects team were forced to remove the ‘tache digitally.
Despite Justice League‘s box office failure, there are still several more DC movies on the way. James Wan’s Aquaman is is due in November this year, while Shazam is currently in production ahead of its April 2019 release. Wonder Woman 2 hits theaters in December 2019, and Suicide Squad 2 is expected to start shooting later this year.