Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice didn't quite live up to the expectations for Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, and certainly a large legion of fans. Among the criticisms and inevitable comparisons to rival comic book movie studios was that the Man of Steel followup was simply too "dark."
It's an overused term, but the idea of a ready-to-kill Batman choosing lethal-level violence over detective work didn't fly for everyone, but fear not for the Justice League movie and future DCEU flicks won't be as dark. They were never intended to be.
We visited the set of Justice League last week, just a few weeks into principal photography, where the message was clear: Warner Bros., Zack Snyder, and everyone involved with Batman V Superman heard you loud and clear. Their plans for the franchise were already heading in a direction some fans were clamoring for, and this time around, Batman has "renewed faith in humanity." He's learned from the example Superman has set and he's on a mission with the help of Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman to assemble a team of metahumans to prepare for what's coming.
"You know, it's about teamwork and creating this family and everything. So I think that it's definitely more positive and it's about building people up, you know. That's what this movie's arc is I think, " says producer Deborah Snyder who alongside fellow producer Charles Roven walked us through the War Room where conceptual art and props from Justice League were on display.
Later in the day, we observed some filming of a Gotham rooftop scene (more on this later!) and had the chance to chat with Ben Affleck, suited up in his Batman armor. As he points out, a lot of what each movie in the series is about ultimately, that comes down to the source material and the story being told. But in comparing BvS to Justice League, Affleck does acknowledge that it'll still have a similar tone but will absolutely have more room for fun.
Ben Affleck: There’s definitely room for more humor. It’s not going to be – DC movies I think, by their nature are a little more – gothic, or mythic rather, excuse me, than some comic book movies are. But that movie was very dark and heavy because it was really rooted in Dark Knight Returns which is a heavy, dark book. And this is not that. This is a step in evolution in that to bring together all of these characters who have had their origins. It’s about multilateralism, and it’s about hope and about working together and the kind of conflicts of trying to work together with others. It’s a world where superheroes exist, so there’s comedy in that necessarily, trying to work with other people and people trying to accomplish goals together is the root of all great comedy in my view. So there’s definitely, hopefully some fun in it. But it’s not unrecognizably these characters or these stories. It’s not turning it upside down.
When we spoke with Deb Snyder later in the day as well, while exploring the Batjet Hangar (more on this and what's inside it later!) we asked about Batman V Superman not necessarily being for kids (the extended home video version is R-rated after all) or being as fun as modern audiences seem to be clamoring for given Marvel's successes. Snyder explained that Justice League is "more inclusive" in that respect and concluded with the following about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice:
"I think the darkest where we’ve been is where we’ve been. "
Ready for a tad more lightheartedness in the interactions between DC's greatest heroes on the big screen?
Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.