A Close Read on Warner Bros.' 'Justice League' Press Blitz

Can the promise of a more inclusive superteam movie save the day, post 'Batman v. Superman'?
Courtesy of DC Entertainment/Warner Bros.

The timing of Warner Bros' new press blitz for Justice League is anything but accidental — inviting select reporters to the London shoot of the movie now gives a chance for buzz to build in advance of next month's San Diego Comic-Con, and also remind people that the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition home release is only a few weeks away, as well.

Journalists and writers from a number of sites — including comic book-centric sites like ComicBook.com, Comic Book Resources, general pop culture outlets like New York Magazine's Vulture.com and Uproxx and those somewhere in between like Birth Movies Death and Nerdist.com — visited the set of the movie last week to get briefed on what to expect from the cinematic version of DC Entertainment's own Avengers, with Ben Affleck, director Zack Snyder and producer Deborah Snyder all answering questions about the summer 2017 release.

The narrative that's emerged from the visit has been strikingly clear: that Warners and DC have learned from the (relative) failure of BvS and that Justice League will be a movie far more in tune with what its target audience — genre-friendly readers of the afore-mentioned sites, A.K.A. "the people that go to all the Marvel movies" — wants to see.

Each site is sharing details of a finished scene between Bruce Wayne and Barry Allen that — gasp! — has jokes in it, as well as the same quotes from Snyder that come somewhere close to a mea culpa for those who thought that the last movie was far too dark ("Every story that we’re telling is a completely different story, and I think what’s really great is that where we were going is kind of what the audience is wanting," she reportedly said, adding "Justice League is much more inclusive") — and, because of the way the Internet works, those reports are being sourced and reported and repeated all over, continuing to get the message out.

It's a message that's almost guaranteed to resonate with those who encounter it, no matter what they thought of Batman v. Superman, in part because it's a Rorschach test: Those who thought the last movie was too dark can hear "Oh, they've learned their lesson and they're making the movie I wanted to see all along now," while those who enjoyed BvS can get excited about details about what's coming next (All-CGI Cyborg! Barry Allen as a nerdy smart-ass! Steppenwolf as the villain!) and look forward to their favorite heroes coming back to the big screen next year.

Sure, there will be those who aren't as excited by some of what they've read — I've already seen complaints about a costume designer referencing Wonder Woman's "victims" on social media, and rightfully so; since when does a superhero have "victims"? — but they're still talking about the reports; the message continues to carry.

If the idea that Warners is making the appropriate course corrections after BvS takes hold of the collective nerd subconscious, then the studio can slide into Comic-Con in a particularly enviable position, primed to showcase Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and likely Justice League as well to an eager and excited audience and secure in the knowledge that it has managed to not only weather a backlash, but turn it around to reignite fan anticipation in record time.

And if nothing else, the DC Extended Universe is once again dominating online chatter, just months after it did so surrounding the release of Batman v. Superman in theaters. Not even Captain America: Civil War got people talking this much. The questions now are whether the movie will live up to the hype — and just how long before the backlash to the backlash to the backlash arrives to ruin the mood?

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