Season 7 of ‘The Flash’ Running to Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 12

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Flash: The Complete Seventh Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Oct. 12.

The collection includes all 18 episodes from the 2021 season of the CW series that chronicles the adventures of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who uses his super-speed powers to become the superhero known as the Flash, and his friends as they protect Central City from a variety of threats.

The cast also includes Candice Patton as Iris West-Allen, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow and Killer Frost, Carlos Valdes as Cisco, Tom Cavanagh as Wells, Jesse L. Martin as Joe West, Danielle Nicolet as Cecile, Kayle Compton as Allegra and Brandon McKnight as Chester.

Extras include the show’s 2020 DC FanDom panel, plus the featurettes “The Journey Ends: Carlos and Tom Cavanagh” and “Never Alone: Heroes and Allies.” Exclusive to the Blu-ray and DVD will be deleted scenes and a gag reel.

The season is also available to own from digital retailers. The Blu-ray will include a code for a digital copy of the season, redeemable in the United States only.

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Justice Society: World War II

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 5/11/21;
Warner;
Animated;
$29.98 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for violence and some bloody images.
Voices of Stana Katic, Matt Bomer, Omid Abtahi, Geoffrey Arend, Chris Diamantopoulos, Matthew Mercer, Liam McIntyre, Elysia Rotaru, Armen Taylor, Darren Criss.

The plot mechanics that presumably served as the jumping off point for Justice Society: World War II ultimately cause the latest DC Universe animated movie to struggle to become a satisfying standalone adventure.

The film starts off in modern times, with Barry Allen (Matt Bomer) interrupting a picnic with his girlfriend to become the Flash and help Superman hold off an attempt by Brainiac to invade Metropolis. The battle ends up opening a rift that sends the Flash to World War II, where he encounters the Justice Society of America, the team of the greatest superheroes of that era (known in comic book lingo as the Golden Age).

They are led by the ageless Wonder Woman (Stana Katic, effectively laying on her best Gal Gadot accent). But the team also includes the Golden Age version of the Flash, Jay Garrick (Armen Taylor), allowing the iconic speedsters of two eras to meet each other.

As Barry works to figure out how to get home, he agrees to help the JSA on their mission, which involves stopping Hitler from collecting mystical artifacts (a nice nod to Indiana Jones), and leads them to uncover a Nazi plot involving the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, ruled by Aquaman (Liam McIntyre).

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The film is loaded with some great animated action sequences, nice character dynamics and some intriguing plot twists. But what could have been a good period piece about Golden Age comic book characters during WWII gets sidetracked by the question of why the future Flash had to be involved for the story to work.

Turns out there are a couple of reasons for it, and it has more to do with franchise building and comic book history than servicing the story (or, at the very least, the story that they appear to be telling).

Based on a half-hour roundtable with the filmmakers included on the Blu-ray, the genesis for the film seems to be adapting the classic 1961 comic book story called “Flash of Two Worlds,” which is generally credited with establishing the idea of a comic book multiverse. That story, by Flash creator Gardner Fox, was a fun, meta examination of the nature of comic book storytelling. A number of characters from the Golden Age (roughly the 1940s through the mid 1950s) had been either retired or redesigned heading into the Silver Age (mid-1950s through the 1960s). The Flash was one of the ones redesigned for a new audience, switching from the maskless, helmeted Jay Garrick to the red-suited Barry Allen we still know today. “Flash of Two Worlds” saw Barry Allen’s Flash cross into the dimension where Garrick had been the Flash 20 years earlier, putting the two on an adventure together. The multiverse was significant in that it freed writers from adhering to established continuity when it no longer made sense due to the passage of time (e.g., Superman and Batman supposedly being the same age in the 1960s as they were when they were created in the 1930s), while allowing them to honor the legacies of characters from the eras in which they were introduced.

So, building a version of “Flash of Two Worlds” into a movie then begins with the concept of sending Barry Allen into Jay Garrick’s time. Which then requires the filmmakers to develop Garrick and his era.

The other factor that seems to have influenced this movie is that it’s apparently set in the same continuity as 2020’s Superman: Man of Tomorrow. The animation styles are similar and Darren Criss voices Superman in both movies. So, that makes the two films an early attempt to establish a new DC shared animated universe, and uses the story of Barry Allen meeting the JSA to inspire him to help build the team of modern heroes that will be known as the Justice League for future movies.

Otherwise, the Golden Age trappings are just a great excuse to either revisit characters that don’t get as much screentime anymore, or look at familiar characters through a different lens.

This just leads back to the idea of the JSA fighting Nazis being a strong enough premise on its own without the Flash framing device pulling focus from it. Of course, time will tell if future movies pay off some of the story threads introduced here in a way that reframes how this particular movie ends up being perceived.

The filmmaker roundtable is a fun watch and a nice departure from the usual talking-heads featurettes usually included with the DC animation Blu-rays. The format provides for a fun conversation about exploring different superheroes and bringing their stories to life through animation in a way that both satisfies the curiosities of the writer and entertains the audience.

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The Blu-ray also includes the two-part “Legends” episode of the “Justice League” animated series which tells the same basic story — the Flash and some other Justice League team members are sent to an alternate dimension where they encounter another superhero team that is eerily similar to yet slightly different from their own.

The other notable inclusion on the Blu-ray is the 18-minute animated short film Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. This is a fun adventure set in an apocalyptic future that begins with some clever nods to Planet of the Apes. Kamandi is a teenager trying to survive in a world in which humans are gone and animals have evolved into walking, talking tribes. A clan of apes captures Kamandi and some of this friends and subjects them to a series of tests, hoping to find the reincarnation of the great warrior who shaped the world after the fall of society. Kamandi’s backstory (created by the legendary Jack Kirby) and the world of humanoid animals give the short the feeling of a classic 1980s Saturday morning cartoon.

Rounding out the extras are previews for other DC animated movies, including the upcoming Batman: The Long Halloween.

Animated DC Universe Movie ‘Justice Society: World War II’ Arriving Digitally April 27, on Disc May 11

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the DC Comics-based animated superhero movie Justice Society: World War II for digital sellthrough April 27, and on Blu-ray Disc and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray May 11.

The 42nd entry in the DC Universe line of animated movies finds The Flash (voiced by Matt Bomer), prior to the formation of the Justice League, speeding back in time to find the Golden Age’s top superhero team, the Justice Society of America, locked in an epic battle against the Nazis.

Led by Wonder Woman (Stana Katic), the group includes Hourman (Matthew Mercer), Black Canary (Elysia Rotaru), Hawkman (Omid Abtahi), Steve Trevor (Chris Diamantopoulos) and the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick (Armen Taylor).

The voice cast also includes Geoffrey Arend as Charles Halstead/Advisor, Liam McIntyre as Aquaman, Keith Ferguson as Dr. Fate, Ashleigh LaThrop as Iris West, and Darin De Paul as Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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The home video release also includes the new DC Showcase animated short film Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! The character created by the legendary Jack Kirby comes to life as Kamandi, the last civilized teenage boy on a post-apocalyptic Earth ruled by talking animals, and his friends Prince Tuftan of the Tiger Kingdom and humanoid mutant Ben Boxer are kidnapped by a gorilla cult dedicated to finding the reincarnation of their god. Golgan, the cult’s leader, puts Kamandi’s team through a series of deadly tests to find if any of them know the secret of The Mighty One.

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Other bonus materials include the featurette “Adventures in Storytelling: Justice Society: World War II,” in which the film’s creative minds chat about making the film; bonus episodes of the “Justice League” animated series, “Legends, Part One” and “Legends, Part Two”; a sneak peek at the next DC Universe movie, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One; and previously released preview featurettes about the earlier DC movies Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Available With:
Supergirl: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
Batwoman: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season Blu-ray, $44.98;
Arrow: The Complete Eighth Season Blu-ray, $29.98;
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray, $29.98;

Warner;
Sci-fi/Action;
Not rated;
Stars Stephen Amell, Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, Caity Lotz, Ruby Rose, Brandon Routh, Cress Williams, David Harewood, Tom Cavanagh, Tyler Hoechlin, John Cryer, Matt Ryan, David Ramsey, LaMonica Garrett.

Multiverses are all the rage nowadays.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the live-action DC movies are scrambling to introduce the concept in their upcoming blockbusters, filling the Internet with casting rumors of the return of previous versions of certain characters. And one reason they may be motivated to do so is how popular the idea proved in the CW Arrowverse’s big crossover event last season, Crisis on Infinite Earths, which brought together characters from six of the DC superhero shows and featured cameos from several more, and even referenced a few from the big screen.

The TV Crisis is based on a major DC Comics storyline from the mid-1980s, which redefined and modernized all the publication’s classic characters while seeking to streamline convoluted histories that went back decades. In doing so, characters encountered versions of themselves from parallel realities in an epic battle against a villain called the Anti-Monitor who was destroying entire universes.

The CW networks’ “Arrowverse” shows adopted the same basic premise. The series have been doing annual crossovers for a while, and have been laying the groundwork for Crisis on Infinite Earths for years.

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The crossover itself is structured like a miniseries, though each of the five parts are actually an episode from one of the participating series: part one is an episode of “Supergirl,” part two is an episode of “Batwoman,” part three is an episode of “The Flash,” part four is an episode of “Arrow,” and part five is an episode of “Legends of Tomorrow.” Though they use a unified Crisis title card instead of the individual show, the main credits still reflect the cast of that show. This is likely more a matter of contractual obligations, since it probably would have made more sense to produce the crossover as a separate production outside the purview of any of the shows. The fact that these are technically separate episodes of different series makes for some awkward distribution scenarios.

For home video, Warner has chosen to include a special bonus disc containing all five episodes and bonus materials with the relevant season Blu-ray releases of each of the series. It’s the same disc for every show, so “Arrowverse” fans who pick up the Blu-ray for each show will get it five times.

Since the individual parts are also episodes of the shows, they are also included with the regular episode runs for each show on disc. Since the miniseries version is exclusive to the Blu-ray, anyone wanting each part just on DVD has to buy each show’s separate season, and those don’t come with the special “Crisis” extras.

In years past, the crossovers on disc were handled a bit differently, with Warner including all crossover episodes on the Blu-ray for each show’s relevant season as part of the regular episode listings, so that they’ll come up in a “play all” binge.

Either way, it kind of points to a more common sense solution being to release the Crisis disc as a standalone miniseries, and not part of any of the shows’ seasons, but contracts are what they are.

The fact that these are individual episodes of each show makes for some messy plot developments in terms of where certain events happen in relation to what show they are technically happening on. Major life events affecting Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) happen on “Supergirl,” and not his own show, “Arrow.” However, “Arrow” does get a monumental cameo involving The Flash, rather than that bit of fan service actually happening on “The Flash.”

With the central conceit that every TV show and movie ever based on a DC Comics property exists alongside the others in a multiverse, producers have packed in cameos from a number of these other shows, in many cases offering a reunion or update for some of the characters. These range from quick glances at other current shows such as “Titans” and “Stargirl,” as well as drop-ins on the worlds of Superman Returns, the 1989 Batman movie, the 1960s “Batman” series, “Smallville,” the 1990 “Flash” TV show and even the recent Justice League movie.

It’s all in good fun for the fans of these characters who have been following them not just on the CW, but on the other shows as well, not to mention the original comics. The idea of using “Batman: The Animated Series” star Kevin Conroy to play a live-action version of an older Bruce Wayne is just a marvelous idea. As is putting Brandon Routh back in the Superman suit to play an older version of the character. Routh already plays the Atom in the Arrowverse, but physically he seems much more suited to play Superman now that he’s a bit older than he did in 2006, which he was a bit to thin for the part.

For comic book fans, the looks of Conroy’s Bruce Wayne and Routh’s older Superman borrow a lot of influence from the 1990s Kingdom Come miniseries.

Tom Welling also makes an appearance as the “Smallville” Clark Kent, and between him and Routh they just make the Arrowverse’s Superman, Tyler Hoechlin, seem way too undersized for the role.

In addition, Cress Williams shows up in a couple episodes to play Black Lightning from his own CW show. While “Black Lightning” doesn’t have one of the Crisis episodes, it did do its own prelude to Crisis episode similarly to the other participating shows. That episode isn’t included here, but it is available with the third season of “Black Lightning” which is available digitally now and coming to DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Archive Oct. 27.

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Nostalgia aside, Crisis does a lot to resolve several of the storylines from the various shows, not the least of which is to finally put Supergirl and Black Lightnine in the same universe as the other heroes (though that has raised its own plot problems as the shows have continued post-Crisis). It’s an ambitious piece of television that should satisfy fans of the series involved, but the various crossovers and nostalgia bait do a lot to distract from flaws that become apparent on subsequent rewatches.

Primarily, the quaintness of plotting that persists on the five main shows carries over here, and the dialogue can get a bit grating the more one hears it. In some instances the collective writing teams may have been in over their heads coordinating such a big production, as there are many attempts to cram in the supporting casts of the various shows in their series’ respective episodes with subplots that end up going nowhere or having no effect on the larger storyline. Some of these are excuses for cheap cameos, while others just seem like they are giving the characters busy work.

When these shows are syndicated to various stations and streaming services in the future and have to stand on their own, I can only imagine the confusion some viewers might having when encountering the crossover episodes in the middle of a binge and seeing partial storylines that have little to do with the rest of the show they’ve been watching. But, a happy fan is an informed fan, and they should know what they’re getting into with the Arrowverse to begin with.

The extras on the Crisis bonus disc are fun backgrounders typical of the kinds usually found on Blu-rays of DC-based content, particularly the DC Universe animated movies.

Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Architects Return” is a 12-minute featurette that reflects on the original comic book, featuring interviews with its original creators, plus a look at the new comic book tie-in created for the Arrowverse version.

“Crisis Management” is a 13-minute making-of featurette looking at how the five shows coordinated to bring the crossover together.

“Crisis Past and Present: Kevin Conroy Bat Legend” is a three-minute profile of Conroy and bringing him to play a live-action Batman for the first time.

“Crisis Past and Present: Superman vs. Superman” is a four-and-a-half-minute featurette about a showdown between Routh and Hoechlin for super-supremecy.

“Characters in Crisis: Pariah” is a four-minute video about turning Tom Cavanagh’s “Flash” character into the Pariah role from the original comic.

Finally, “Characters in Crisis: The Anti-Monitor” is a five-minute examination of the main villain of the story.

‘King of Staten Island,’ ‘Deep Blue Sea 3’ Top Slate of New Disc, Digital Releases

Topping the slate of new disc releases available Aug. 25 is Universal Pictures’ The King of Staten Island, the new Judd Apatow comedy based on the life of and starring Pete Davidson of “Saturday Night Live.” The film bypassed theaters as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in lieu of a VOD release June 12. It has been available for digital sellthrough since Aug. 11, and is now available at retail on Blu-ray and DVD as well.

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Another newcomer is Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Deep Blue Sea 3, the latest direct-to-video sequel to the shark attack franchise. The third installment finds the genetically engineered sharks from the second movie attacking an abandoned island fishing village that serves as the base for a team of oceanographers. The film is now available widely on Blu-ray and DVD, after being released through digital retailers July 28, when it also became available early on disc through Redbox and Walmart.

Warner also releases the DVD and Blu-ray edition of The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season, the latest disc collection from the “Arrowverse” family of CW superhero shows. The season contains the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover.

Sony Pictures releases The Burnt Orange Heresy on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally. The neo-noir thriller focuses on a disgraced art critic tasked with stealing a painting.

Arriving for digital sale is Virgil Films’ The Blech Effect: The Rise and Fall of the King of Biotech, a documentary about a pioneer investor whose inner demons cost him his fortune.

Among catalog titles, Blue Underground is releasing 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray editions of The New York Ripper and The House by the Cemetery.

A complete list of new disc and digital releases, compiled each week by the Media Play News market research team, can be found here.

‘The Flash’ Season 6 on Disc Aug. 25

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Flash: The Complete Sixth Season on Blu-ray Disc and DVD Aug. 25. The season’s 19 episodes are available now for digital purchase.

In its sixth season, the top-rated series on the CW finds its heroes dealing two villains: Bloodwork and Mirror Master, as the Flash (Grant Gustin) prepares for the potential sacrifice he must make in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover with the CW’s other superhero shows. After surviving Crisis, Flash learns he is losing his speed powers, and must find a way to restore them just as his wife, Iris (Candice Patton) finds herself trapped in a mirror universe.

The cast also includes Danielle Panabaker as Frost, Carlos Valdes as Vibe and Hartley Sawyer as Elongated Man, plus Danielle Nicolet, Efrat Dor, Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin.

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Home video extras include “Kiss Kiss Breach Breach — Noir,” a special version of the fifth episode with optional commentary by showrunner Eric Wallace. Other extras include deleted scenes, a gag reel and highlights from the DC TV 2019 San Diego Comic-Con panels.

The Blu-ray will also include a limited-edition bonus disc that includes all five “Crisis” crossover episodes, plus six “Crisis” featurettes.

‘The Flash’ Season Five on Disc Aug. 27

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Flash: The Complete Fifth Season on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 27 (order date July 23).

The season deals with team Flash working with Barry and Iris’ future daughter, Nora, who has come back in time to confront a new threat to metahumans in Central City..

The Blu-ray and DVD includes all 22 episodes, plus highlights from the show’s panel at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International,deleted scenes, a gag reel, the featurette “The Evolution of Killer Frost,” a “Villains: Modes of Persuasion” featurette, and a featurette about the season’s “Elseworlds” crossover event with other DC TV series.

The Blu-ray will also include the “Elseworlds” episodes from “Arrow” and “Supergirl.”

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The cast includes Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Hartley Sawyer, Danielle Nicolet, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Chris Klein, Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin.

The fifth season is currently available to own digitally, and a digital copy is included with the Blu-ray.

‘Flash’ Season Four on Disc Aug. 28

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release The Flash: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 28 (order date July 24).

The discs include 23 episodes, plus featurettes “The Elongated Man,” “Flash Time on Amunet Black with Katee, Eric and Sterling,” “The Fastest Mind Alive: The Thinker,” “The Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2017” and “Inside the Crossover: Crisis on Earth-X,” which delves into the four-part crossover event with “Supergirl,” “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”

The four-disc Blu-ray version will also include the crossover episodes from the three other series. The Blu-ray also includes a digital copy and DTS-HD Master Audio for English 5.1.

Justice League

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street 3/13/18;
Warner;
Action;
Box Office $229.01 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 3D BD, $44.95 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of sci-fi violence and action.
Stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams, J.K. Simmons, Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen, Diane Lane, Billy Crudup, Ciaran Hinds.

As a movie, Justice League is a perfectly fine, entertaining superhero adventure, in which Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) recruit a handful of superheroes to fight an alien invasion. Except, you just can’t shake the feeling that it could have been so much more.

This was supposed to be the DC Comics version of Marvel Studios’ The Avengers, with the greatest superheroes of all time finally coming together on the big screen. But with Marvel’s cinematic universe having such a head start (Black Panther is the 18th MCU film, while Justice League is just the fifth for DC), the DC films creative team took a few creative shortcuts to try to jump-start its mega franchise, mostly by foregoing introductory films for many of the characters and relying on the audience to have built-in knowledge of and nostalgia for who the characters are supposed to be.

In that regard, Justice League is primarily a sequel to 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which introduced Wonder Woman in advance of her own solo film, as well as most of the concepts meant to pay off in Justice League. But when audiences balked at BvS being too long and confusing, the studio allegedly mandated trimming Justice League to a manageable two hours, leaving little room for complex plot dynamics or character development.

So, where the Marvel films have become an intriguing network of interconnected stories and characters that invite and enable audience investment, the DC films have mostly been disposable popcorn entertainment, about as distinct a representation of the characters as any of the direct-to-video animated DC Universe movies, or the multitude of DC-based shows on the CW, which managed to pull off their own mega-crossover shortly after Justice League came out that many fans considered a much better example of how to present a satisfying superhero team-up.

The film itself was vastly overshadowed by rumors of production issues, as director Zack Snyder left the project following a family tragedy, and Avengers director Joss Whedon stepped in to guide re-shoots and post-production. That led to some fans trying to dissect the film to determine who directed what, with most guessing incorrectly. Then, irony of ironies, once the film came out, the fan base that decried Snyder’s vision as having muddled both Man of Steel and BvS suddenly demanded a mythical “Snyder Cut” of Justice League, as if he were suddenly their favorite filmmaker (a dichotomy somewhat echoed by the “Star Wars” fans who hated the unfamiliarity of The Last Jedi after criticizing The Force Awakens for being too familiar).

The Blu-ray offers no hint of whatever behind-the-scenes discord influenced what finally ended up on screen. For what it’s worth, Whedon is never mentioned in the bonus materials, and there’s plenty of footage of Snyder on set and praise from the cast for his direction.

Anyway, the film is fun, flashy and filled with action, though the abundance of CGI makes most of it look like it came from a video game. (I won’t even get into the controversy about Henry Cavill’s moustache grown for Mission: Impossible — Fallout having to be digitally removed because Paramount wouldn’t let him shave it for the JL reshoots.) And there are plenty of moments that comic book fans should enjoy, particularly when it comes to the homages to the classic versions of the characters.

Another highlight is the musical score from Danny Elfman, who mostly abandons the sound from the previous films in favor of something more akin to his traditional filmmusic sensibilities. In this case, that means straight-up re-using his own Batman theme from 1989 and John Williams’ classic Superman theme. Whether it serves the franchise will be open to debate, but it’s certainly helps fuel the nostalgia the film needs for the audience to embrace its version of the characters. (Though for some perspective, there were 21 years between the 1960s Batman show and the 1989 Tim Burton movie where Elfman debuted his theme, and then 25 years between Batman Returns and the theme’s return in Justice League; it’s no surprise some fans might have found it a bit jarring).

On top of all that, Justice League also serves as a decent set-up for the upcoming Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Flash (Ezra Miller) movies, and with a little tweaking to the DC formula a team-up sequel with the same characters and some new additions wouldn’t be unwelcome.

With rumors the film was heavily edited from its original intentions, there has been a lot of speculation about what deleted scenes were out there. Notably, the Justice League home video versions do not include an extended cut of the film, as happened with previous DC entries BvS and Suicide Squad. Instead, the Blu-ray includes just two short deleted scenes, running a total of two minutes, tying into the “Return of Superman” subplot.

The rest of the extras consist of about an hour of behind-the-scenes material, segmented into shorter featurettes. Most interesting for fans of the lore will be the “Road to Justice” featurette that traces some of the history of the characters.