New comments reveal how Zack Snyder grew the Justice League characters in the DCEU grew apart from the Rebirth comic run. The DC Films shared universe has had its fair share of issues, with a mixed critical reception to the likes of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, although just as damaging is the confusion over what the franchise's future is. Details on new projects tend to come from scooper leaks or trade reports rather than press releases, and official word we do get tends to be responding to negative press rather than trumpeting what's to come (see SDCC, where the big story was Ben Affleck staying on, rather than eight new confirmed movies).
The air was cleared recently by a Vulture report with interviews with DC higher-ups that discussed the changes behind-the-scenes at DC Films and what the current gameplan was. This painted a picture much grander than the Snyderverse story we've seen mostly in cinemas. However, it turns out one interesting detail was left out.
Related: What Should The DCEU Be Called Now?
Abraham Riesman, who wrote the Vulture article, guested on the Batman-On-Film podcast this weekend and discussed one quote from DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson that didn't make it into the article. According to the writer, Nelson said something "to the effect of" what Snyder envisioned for the characters of Superman, Batman et al. in his DCEU movies didn't match up with plans for the wider brand, but that DC Entertainment was more than happy for him to take that creative avenue:
"That was actually a quote that didn’t show up in the finished piece, but that Diane [Nelson] gave me. It was to the effect of ‘we are a director-driven place and Zack had a vision that didn’t necessarily sync up with what our vision of these characters is, but we respect that he wanted to go for that and that’s part of our philosophy’."
The most controversial thing about Snyder's two entries thus far in the DCEU has been his handling of comic icons like Supes, Bats and Lex Luthor, with his films showcasing attempts at deconstructing these modern myths that many feel miss what made them so famous in the first place. At the very least, few would deny that the Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne who showed off in Dawn of Justice were atypical interpretations. It now appears that fans weren't the only ones surprised by this; his ideas were different to the rest of the unfolding DC Universe, which was at that point undergoing a top-down reboot with Rebirth.
While Rebirth was a major change to the DCU status quo, this doesn't seem to have been a problem for the films because of the franchise's repeatedly-stated filmmaker-led ethos, with each director able to bring their own unique vision to their respective movie - just as how comic book writers can present their own takes on the characters in print. So, while the quote sheds some light on the internal opinion of the development of the DC shared universe films, it doesn't explicitly condemn any of the resulting Snyder films nor the wider enterprise. In fact, that Nelson was willing to approve a project like Batman v Superman on the back of an auteur pitch shows their faith in Snyder and really only instills faith in what the likes of James Wan can bring to Aquaman and David F. Sandberg Shazam!; the message is, once again, that they prioritize storytelling over branding.
It's worth noting that Riesman is paraphrasing Nelson so we don't know if these are her exact words, although his summary would seem to provide the overall message. Why it didn't make it into the article proper isn't known, although it could have felt overstated in the narrative Riesman presented. It also risks being seen by some as too apologist for the Snyder movies (remember the article was an attempt to clear the air), which is damaging to both those who like the films and the prospect of Justice League next month.
Update: Abraham Riesman has followed up on Twitter to clarify DC's feelings toward Zack Snyder. He specifies that there was no "harsh schism," and Nelson and others were "never disrespectful of Zack Snyder." As the article above states, DC movies are director-driven and WB's approach is to "always believe talent has the talent to bring their perspective to what they're creating with us." The place that Snyder and Nelson "didn't necessarily sync up" is merely related to the fact that DC was doing something different with DC Rebirth than Snyder was doing with the movies.
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018