One of the sticks used to constantly beat the SnyderVerse over the head with has been its inherent darkness. Not every comic book blockbuster has to hit the same notes as the family-friendly Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there are a lot of people who find Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zack Snyder’s Justice League too long for their own good, and the self-serious approach to the material and almost complete absence of any levity has been a point of consternation for many critics and casual viewers.
Fans who enjoy the SnyderVerse love it, as the relentless social media campaigning in the wake of HBO Max’s recent four-hour epic has made perfectly clear, but it’s proven to be a little more polarizing among general audiences. Batman v Superman in particular was crafted as a grand operatic superhero story of men wrestling with gods, but even Warner Bros. didn’t care much for the finished product.
Writer Chris Terrio boarded the pic at Ben Affleck’s suggestion to overhaul the original script penned by David S. Goyer, and in a new interview, the Academy Award winning Argo scribe revealed the draft he read when he first joined the project was a whole lot darker than the version he wrote.
“The studio seemed to take this position after BvS that my writing was too dark and that this was their problem. But what they didn’t mention was that, for example, in the draft of the Batman v Superman script that WB had developed, 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. 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.”
It’s typical of WB’s repeated mishandling of the DCEU that they would hold Terrio’s work on Batman v Superman up as being too dark for the mainstream, when he actually lightened the tone and saw Affleck’s Caped Crusader begin his arc of self-redemption that culminated in the Snyder Cut after he’d spent decades becoming increasingly cynical, ruthlessly branding criminals for daring to break the law in his city.