DC’s latest film set to spark renewed rivalry with Marvel
Around six decades after the birth of Justice League, one of the most famous metahuman alliances in American comics history, an upcoming movie named after the fictional team will bring them to life.
Justice League, the latest DC Comics film, will be simultaneously released in China and the United States on Nov 17.
A surprise for fans was that China is the first stop for the $220 million film’s global promotion tour.
“China is one of the most important film markets in the world,” says Ben Affleck, who reprises his role of Batman in the upcoming movie.
Alongside Affleck, the other major stars in Justice League — Wonder Woman played by Gal Gadot; Superman played by Henry Cavill, Flash played by Ezra Miller; Aquaman played by Jason Momoa and Cyborg played by Ray Fisher — were on a whirlwind tour in Beijing in late October.
In recent years, it has been common to see Hollywood stars promote their movies in Chinese cities, but such a large team was unprecedented.
From greeting Chinese fans in Mandarin to taking photos with them, the Justice League team won local hearts.
Statistics from ticket services such as Maoyan and Taopiaopiao showed that Justice League was one of the most anticipated movies in November.
Separately, as part of its promotional campaign in China, distributors screened a 25-minute slice from the 121minute feature for a small group of Chinese fans and journalists in a theater in Beijing on Oct 27.
The section featured the mourning for Superman’s death, and the Justice League teaming up to stop the villain Steppenwolf’s attempt to rule the world.
But the slice did not say if Superman would be brought back to life in the movie.
In the DC film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which was released in 2016, Superman sacrificed his life to kill a deadly monster, but the last scene seemed to indicate a possible return.
Despite avoiding questions about the return issue, Cavill says the death of Superman has changed Batman, who now works with Wonder Woman to guard the planet.
Compared with previous DC superhero movies, Justice League has a brighter tone with more funny scenes, indicating DC’s strategy to target non-fan audiences.
Referring to the “preview”, producer Charles Roven, who is behind a string of DC comics hits such as The Dark Knight Trilogy and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, says: “You (the Chinese audience) are the first in the world to see that 25 minutes.”
Justice League was conceived by American writer Gardner Fox and first appeared in a DC comic book in 1960.
Over the past decades, the fictional alliance has inspired a series of animated movies and TV shows, but Justice League marks the first time the team is part of a live-action movie.
For most DC fans and movie industry watchers, the movie is a late reply to Marvel, probably DC’s biggest rival in the comics-adapted superhero movies genre.
Marvel, the publisher of Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk comics, released its first movie, Iron Man, in 2008. And with The Avengers (2012) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014) and a series of standalone movies and franchises, it has established a well-known cinematic universe for its heroes.
Now, with the latest Marvel superhero movie Thor: Ragnarok, which will be released in China and the United States simultaneously on Nov 3, Marvel has 17 such movies.
Wang Xiaoyang, a Beijingbased critic, says Justice League will be a pivotal chapter in the history of DC, as it will decide if DC’s warriors can regain the audiences they have lost to Marvel.