Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice almost had a much darker version of Batman than we ended up seeing in the film. In an interview with screenwriter Chris Terrio recently published by Vanity Fair, he gets very candid about how Warner Bros. was handling the DC movie shit show.
As you know, in the film, Batman is going around branding criminals, and while this was already a dark aspect of Ben Affleck’s version of The Dark Knight, the original script saw Batman branding Lex Luthor at the end of the film. This is something that Terrio actually fought against.
Terrio also defends his script for Justice League, stating that the theatrical cut of the movie “doesn’t represent [his] work” and reveals that he wanted to take his name off the movie after reading Joss Whedon’s rewrites. He explains:
“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/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. 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 continuing this behavior, which amounted to torture, because then the movie was endorsing what he did.”
So, while the studio has placed the blame on Terrio for making Batman v Superman so dark, the fact of the matter is it was a super dark movie before he even showed up.
The writer went on to discuss how much WB was struggling with the DC films behind the scenes, confirming that they didn’t have their shit together, as we all know. Terrio explains, “There was never any thought to how the world was constructed before they issued this edict” about the order of releases for the DC movies. “They said, ‘Conform to this schedule.’” He adds:
“The Wonder Woman script wasn’t even finished when I wrote Justice League. So I had no basis to write Wonder Woman other than Batman/Superman. Themyscira didn’t even exist. I was never shown anything on the page for it. I didn’t know whether people could talk underwater. That was a thing that I had to ask, because I didn’t know if I could do underwater scenes with Aquaman and Atlanteans. It was all just from scratch because there had been no [solo] character films. So Justice League needed to establish three of the characters; it had to create a long game mythology for the DC Universe. It had to resurrect Superman because he was dead at the end of the last movie. I just don’t know how you could do all that in under two hours [as the studio mandated]. Maybe the 2017 release proved that you couldn’t.”
You’d think a studio like WB would want to get their shit together and set up a solid plan before spending hundreds of millions of dollars on making these movies. I guess they were just too worried about wanting to catch up with what Marvel had already accomplished. They could have! But they just didn’t have the patience to play the long game.