A little more than three years ago, Warner Bros. announced ambitious plans for its DC Comics properties.

The film studio would undertake no fewer than 10 DC movies, chief executive Kevin Tsujihara said. It would introduce various characters and build up to a pair of “Justice League” ensemble pictures, which in turn would allow it to spin off more stand-alone movies.

The template?

Rival Marvel, which began with “Iron Man” in 2008 and four years later evolved into a massively successful “Avengers” film, which then became the gift that kept on giving (17 movies and counting, including the current smash “Thor: Ragnarok.”)

This past weekend, all those plans blew up.

7 reasons why ‘Justice League’ failed:

1. Despite its status as one of the most expensive movies in history, “Justice League” grossed just $96 million and appears headed to a relatively quick exit from domestic theatres.

2. All the star power and extravagant spending – a budget reportedly near $300 million – couldn’t get the Superman-Batman-Wonder Woman film to a baseline respectable return of $110 million.

3. Four other superhero movies, nearly all with fewer stars and expectations, opened to higher numbers than “Justice League” this year alone.

They’re ready to save the world. #JusticeLeague NOW PLAYING. [Ticket link in bio.]

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4. The studio was beset by specific problems on the film, not least a personal tragedy for director Zack Snyder that did not allow him to complete the movie in postproduction.

5. Marvel has long ago found a successful formula, a kind of big-stake jokiness that manages to keep its movies just serious enough. DC films have not succeeded in finding find that; if there’s a go-to mode it’s the effects-heavy grimness of the “Batman” and “Superman” movies, which has proved far less popular.

6. DC has struggled repeatedly to find the right guiding hand. The most recent attempt came when, after a shaky performance by “Batman V Superman” last year, executives put DC comics veteran Geoff Johns in charge of the films, pairing him with WB veteran Jon Berg.

“This is about the future of the world. It may be the only thing I do that matters.” #BatmanvSuperman #UltimateEdition

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7. WB has given some signals that it will renew its effort in this sense – hire top-end filmmakers and focus on making strong stand-alone movies instead of worrying about feeding into a universe.

Of course, that is easier said than done.

Categories: Entertainment