Zack Snyder is the first to tell everyone he’s not a funny guy and that is no exaggeration. The DCEU director said as much on a recent podcast appearance where he discussed the dark tone he desired for DC cinema and the resistance he met from Warner Bros. His concepts were bleak and they wanted a funnier, lighter mood.
Snyder’s appearance was on the podcast run and hosted by Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joseph Russo — who would know a thing or two about high-concept comic book cinema and about dealing with a major studio — and he explained his quest with screenwriter Chris Terrio to develop ideas teased in Batman v Superman and get what he was pushing for in Justice League.
Their vision focused heavily on the Knightmare reality and Batman’s survival in that apocalyptic No Man’s Land. “Justice League was Chris Terrio and I. After [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice] we had talked about what Justice League would be… It’s called ‘Dawn of Justice,’ right?” Snyder said, which was a hint of where things were headed. “Justice League was where we were going.”
“I believe we had an outline for Justice League that we just kind of generated while we were writing ‘Batman versus Superman’ because we wanted to be sure we were supporting this long look with what we were writing,” the director explained.
“And there’s all this weirdness in Batman v Superman anyway that eventually would make its way into Justice League that I was really adamant about — you know, post-apocalyptic, or any of that stuff, I was really like, ‘I really want to do this,’” he continued. “When Darkseid destroys Earth,” there’d be ten years without civilization when Batman becomes a Mad Max-type character. “Like what is Batman in Road Warrior?‘’
That was “a big thing” Snyder wanted “to get to” but the script was too dark and weird for WB upon review. Then came the call to dial things back. “I’ll be honest. What happened with Justice League is […] the original script was much darker and weirder.”
“And then when Batman v Superman came out — and the studio was like, ‘It’s not funny enough. People want funnier movies. They want funny stuff in it’ — we did go back and lightened the movie overall,” Snyder recalled.
While he and Terrio went back and made the adjustments Warner Bros. wanted, Synder admits that he “preserved some of the more intense stuff” to keep a modicum of the tone intact, and in case the studio maybe wanted the original material eventually. A lot of it made it into The Snyder Cut on HBO Max, but not everything. “My cut of Justice League is a sort of in-between,” the director said.
“But we had this other script,” Snyder revealed. “I think in the original script, Lois and Batman got together briefly. And there was like this whole other thing that everyone was like, ’Oh my God, you can’t do that.'” Fans agree with that declaration of apprehension especially now after what he had pitched for Wonder Woman and the Amazons came to light.
No one is laughing at that but there could be a reason. It might be that Snyder and Terrio aren’t renowned for their comedy. As the former stated, “So, we had done the changes for the studio and — I mean, I’ll be frank — Chris and I are not the funniest guys in the world. We’re not like awesome joke writers. I’m just 100% honest about that.”
However, for Justice League, they found an interesting way around their deficiencies through one performer. “And we had Ezra [Miller]. And Ezra’s pretty funny,” Snyder said. “That was kind of his role to be the Flash, and kind of be young, and kind of be a little irreverent and not quite understanding, you know, and kind of like in awe of Batman and Superman. And he did a great job.”
Even in The Snyder Cut Ezra Miller made a noticeable difference as far as levity, though not to the degree seen in the theatrical cut that is the studio’s preferred canon. The latter reportedly has a greater influence on The Flash’s plot and all references to the Snyderverse in the upcoming film are allegedly dropped per details leaked from CinemaCon.