It's no secret that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice remains one of the most divisive film in the comic book movie genre, with many fans calling it too dark, grim, and joyless. However, the release of Zack Snyder's Justice League has made a lot of DC fans re-examine Warner Bros. role in overshadowing Snyder's creative vision for both BvS and JL. In a new interview, Batman v Superman and Justice League Snyder Cut writer Chris Terrio admits the irony of his version of Ben Affleck's Batman being criticized as too dark and violent - when the studio wanted to take things even further!
In his first real tell-all interview about working on the DC Films Snyderverse, Terrio explained his frustration with the continued backlash to his version of Batman, who brands a criminal at the beginning of Batman v Superman and commits other violent acts throughout the film. The way Terrio tells it, however, he was ironically the one who had to challenge Warner Bros.' initial arc for Affleck's Batman - in which the Dark Knight is just as violent and branding criminals - but did not correct or redeem that violent vigilante justice in any way by the end of the film:
"The studio seemed to take this position after BvS that my writing was too dark and that this was their problem," Terrio tells Vanity Fair. "But what they didn't mention was that, for example, in the draft of the Batman/Superman script that W.B. had developed—[which was] the draft I was handed when I joined the project—Batman was not only branding criminals with a bat brand, he also ended the movie by branding Lex Luthor."
As we now know, a sequence at the end of Batman v Superman (Ultimate Edition) sees Ben Afflecks Batman sneaking in to visit Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor in jail. Lex has already communed with Steppenwolf as the Mother Boxes activate, galvanizing the plot for Justice League. After a heated exchange about the coming invasion, Batman makes Lex flinch by pounding a heated Bat-Brand into the wall beside Luthor's head. Apparently, that moment was actually a hill that Terrio had been willing to die on when comparing notes with the studio:
"That ending was a point over which I explicitly went to the mat with the studio again and again. I argued that Batman cannot end the movie by continuing this behavior, which amounted to torture, because then the movie was endorsing what he did."
Many supporters of Snyder have argued that the filmmaker always had a progression in mind from taking both Affleck's Batman and Henry Cavill's Superman from flawed beginnings as heroes to a more noble ideal by the time the events of Justice League were done.
It is indeed ironic that Snyder (and subsequently Terrio) now get harsh criticism for supposedly "ruining" Batman and Superman with dark violent behavior when the studio didn't even want the former to learn any kind of lesson or gain a new perspective. But the details Snyder and Terrio worked out were clearly purposeful, as Batman punching a wall - instead of Lex - is indeed the first big "reformed" action Bruce takes on the journey to becoming the more level-headed leader the Justice League needs. To Terrio and Snyder's credit, a lot of fans are now feeling much more satisfied with that character arc, after seeing Justice League's Snyder Cut.
Zack Snyder's Justice League is now streaming on HBO Max, as is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition.