‘Justice League’: Zack Snyder and Ben Affleck on Lighter Tone, Differences from ‘Batman v Superman’

     June 21, 2016

For a movie that started shooting mere weeks after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opened in theaters, word on Justice League has been incredibly quiet. Which makes the fact that Warner Bros. recently invited a small group of reporters to the London set—including Collider’s own Steve Weintraub—that much more interesting. Moreover, instead of holding the embargo to closer to Justice League’s November 2017 release, we’re allowed to tell you everything now, so prepare yourselves for a slew of information on Justice League and the future of the DC Extended Universe.

One of the more fascinating bits that Steve gleaned on set was just how different Justice League will be from Batman v Superman. It’s no secret that audience and critical response to March’s superhero smackdown was disappointing, with many lamenting the oppressively dark and somewhat joyless tone of the film. While Zack Snyder is still at the helm of Justice League, all involved seem to be keenly aware of just how Batman v Superman was received and are eager to show a different side of the DC Extended Universe with Justice League.


Image via Warner Bros.

As for why audiences didn’t respond to Batman v Superman as positively as hoped, producer Deborah Snyder thinks it has something to do with their unique spin on these iconic heroes:

“I think the main thing we learned is that people don’t like to see their heroes deconstructed. [laughs] I think that’s hard because it’s people we’ve grown up with and that we care about. They like seeing them in all their glory.”

And while Justice League will indeed be a very different movie, Deborah Snyder maintains this was really the direction they planned to go all along:

“Listen, I think every film is a learning experience. Right? And we hear what everyone has to say because we care what the fans say, at the same time, every story that we’re telling is a completely different story, and I think what’s really great is that where we were going is kind of what the audience is wanting. We just had to take the characters from somewhere to bring them up to where they are and that was kind of our journey.”


Image via Warner Bros.

So did Batman v Superman affect their Justice League plans at all?

“Well, listen, I think it’s all a creative process and you’re always changing and evolving as you go. We’ve been working on the script, we’re aware of things. I don’t know if we’re making those decisions [based on the reaction]. I know we wanted to always make this film to bring up these characters. So obviously I think it’s affected the process in some way, but it was also kind of where we were headed.”

For director Zack Snyder, he admits that the reaction to Batman v Superman took him off guard and has led to a mental adjustment when it comes to directing Justice League:

“You know, when Batman v Superman first came out, I was like, ‘Wow, okay, woof.’ It did catch me off-guard. I have had to, in my mind, make an adjustment, and maybe it’s my hardcore take on the characters as far as I love ’em, and I love the material. I do, I take it really deep. So I think the nice thing about working on Justice League is that it is an opportunity to really blow the doors off of the scale and the bad guys and team-building and all the stuff that I think I could justify as a big, modern comic book movie, if that makes any sense.”


Image via Warner Bros.

Building on what Deborah Snyder said about Justice League being the natural evolution of the DC Extended Universe, Zack Snyder explained that the source material used for Batman v Superman was inherently of a darker subject matter:

“I mean, when I say ‘hardcore,’ I mean sort of canon hardcore, you know? And I would say, yes, we have treated these characters—especially now as we have evolved them into the team, I think we’ve pushed them a lot more toward what I would consider more the sort of iconic… because that, frankly, was what the evolution was. I mean, not to give anything away or say anything that would be too telling of where we’re headed with the movie, but death is darker than, say, resurrection or team-building. It’s just a darker concept, like when you’re dealing with Dark Knight Returns or Death of Superman, those kinds of ideas. As opposed to, ‘Oh, let’s build a team and fight the bad guy!’ It’s a different energy.”


Image via Warner Bros.

Speaking specifically about the tone of Justice League, Snyder said the film will stand out as unique in contrast to both Batman v Superman and Man of Steel:

“I think I’m obsessed with tone in the movies. Tone has always been the main thing that I go after with a movie, and I really wanted the tone of the three movies to be different chapters and not be the same note that you strike like, ‘Okay, there’s this again.’ I really wanted that, and I do believe that since Batman v Superman came out and we’ve wrapped our heads around what Justice League would be, I do think that the tone has, because of what fans have said and how the movie was received by some, is that we have kind of put the screws to what we thought the tone would be and crushed it that little bit further.”


Image via Warner Bros.

Ben Affleck not only leads Justice League as Batman/Bruce Wayne but has been upped to an executive producer on the project, and when Steve caught up with Affleck on set, he reiterated that, given the subject matter, the tone of Justice League is inherently lighter:

“There’s definitely room for more humor. It’s not going to be—DC movies, I think, by their nature are a little more mythic than some comic book movies are. But [Batman v Superman] was very dark and heavy because it was really rooted in The Dark Knight Returns, which is a heavy, dark book. And this is not that. This is a step in evolution 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.”

Essentially, now that the superheroes aren’t strangers fighting one another, and now that Batman is no longer a brooding, grizzled, vengeance-driven crime-fighter, there’s room for more levity to come naturally from the central premise of Batman trying to assemble a team of very different superheroes. So while we can reasonably expect that Snyder isn’t pulling a 180 to make an entirely different movie than Batman v Superman, it sounds like there’s a natural progression that leads us out of the gloom and doom of the superhero smackdown.

For much more of our Justice League set visit coverage, peruse the links below:


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