According to Chris Terrio, Justice League blogger, Zack Snyder’s version of the DC team-up film was often lighter in tone than Batman V Superman.
Justice League was often intended to have a lighter feel than Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. One of the most frequent criticisms leveled at Snyder’s early DC Extended Universe films was that they took a grim, serious approach to the source material. This had an effect on their overall reception, as Man of Steel and Batman V Superman established themselves as controversial blockbusters that arguably underperformed at the box office. Snyder’s vision stood in stark contrast to Marvel Studios’ success in crafting lighthearted, exciting tentpoles. As a result, Warner Bros. meddled in the creation of Justice League in an ill-fated effort to make it more akin to The Avengers.
Of course, the theatrical cut of Justice League was so bad that it sparked the Release the Snyder Cut campaign, which eventually paid off. Justice League, directed by Zack Snyder, premiered on HBO Max in March to much more favorable reviews than its maligned predecessor. Since this was said to be Snyder’s final cut, many were taken aback by the film’s humor. Although Zack Snyder’s Justice League dealt with disastrous consequences of the end of the planet, it also had some moments of levity, several of which were originally attributed to Joss Whedon. This, it turns out, was always the intention.
Speaking with Vanity Fair, Justice League writer Chris Terrio discussed his experience with the film, explaining why he decided to write the Justice League script following his work on Batman V Superman: Terrio has been reflecting on Justice League’s tone since before Batman V Superman’s publication, confirming Snyder’s intention to make the ensemble film lighter. It’s a logical structure, particularly when considering his three DCEU films as a three-act narrative. The second act – Batman V Superman – will be the darkest, since it is usually the stage at which stories present their characters at their most vulnerable. In Batman V Superman, Superman’s appearance altered Bruce Wayne’s outlook, and he found himself on a dark road before realizing his mistake. The victorious third act is then the Justice League, in which Batman assembles a squad and they band together to fight Steppenwolf. Snyder’s Justice League sequels may have included some grim stories (see: the Knightmare future), but the continuation of the first three films in his initial five-film plan was obvious.
WB would have been better off remaining out of Snyder’s way on Justice League in retrospect, but studio executives panicked and attempted an unnecessary course correction. The irony is that the behind-the-scenes interference could have cost WB their best chance to compete with Marvel, as Snyder had a strategy that was scrapped but never replaced. The answer to Zack Snyder’s Justice League suggests that viewers will have been on board for subsequent installments, a hypothesis bolstered by the #RestoreTheSnyderVerse campaign launched in the aftermath of the film’s release. It’ll be fascinating to see where the DC films go from here, but WB will learn some valuable lessons.