Screenwriter Chris Terrio says JUSTICE LEAGUE "not quite as dark as BATMAN V SUPERMAN"

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While I’ve certainly enjoyed a fair amount of screenwriter David Goyer’s work, some of the writing decisions he made on Man of Steel were quite sloppy. So I wasn’t too thrilled when it was announced that he would also be penning the upcoming Batman v Superman: Damn This Title Still Sucks After All This Time. But my spirits received a huge boost when after Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, it was revealed that he would be bringing his Oscar-winning Argo screenwriter Chris Terrio on board to take a new crack at the script. And apparently the suits at Warner Bros liked his work enough to also tap him to pen the script for Justice League: Part One, the first big DC superhero team-up movie that all of this is building to.

We haven’t heard much from Terrio about the story since then, as Affleck and director Zack Snyder appear to have become the production’s de facto mouthpieces, but now speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Terrio revealed that he never initially planned to also be writing Justice League.

“I initially thought I wasn’t the guy to do Justice League and went off to work on something else. But the first day I went to the set, I saw Jesse [Eisenberg] in a scene with Holly Hunter and I really did feel like I was watching some strange, great performance in an independent film. At that moment, I thought, ‘I’m not done with this yet. I want to go back and keep telling the story.’”

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A story that up until now has looked very dark and grim, much to the chagrin of some fans and the amusement of the rest of the meme-creating internet. This darkness of course began in the Goyer penned Man of Steel, which had a much more serious, less whimsical take on Superman than some had been expecting. Based on some of the footage we’ve seen thus far from the very brutal looking Batman v Superman though, Man of Steel seems like an episode of Barney in comparison though.

So where to from here? Even more darkness? Apparently not, says Terrio.

“Batman v Superman is a bit of an Empire Strikes Back or Two Towers or any similar middle film in a trilogy. The middle film tends to be the darkest one. I do think from Man of Steel through Justice League, it is one saga really. I expect Justice League will be tonally not quite as dark as Batman v Superman. From that point of view, I felt compelled to go back and try to lift us and myself into a different tonal place because I think when you write a darker film, sometimes you want to redeem it all a bit.”

If there’s one major difference between the superheroes of the Marvel and DC universes though, it’s that the A-listers in the Marvel universe are all still very normal and human in some way, whereas DC’s elite are almost godlike and mythological. There have certainly been several parallels drawn between the Justice League and other pantheons over the years, and Terrio is certainly going to be tapping into that for Batman v Superman as well.

“It’s almost archetypal. In Batman’s origin [the murder of his parents], the primary thing I was thinking about is the fact he falls. It’s the primary metaphor for Western literature: There was a moment before and then everything fell. That brings up questions of Superman.

I began to think Batman and Superman occupy different parts of the mythic imagination. In superhero stories, Batman is Pluto, god of the underworld, and Superman is Apollo, god of the sky. That began to be really interesting to me — that their conflict is not just due to manipulation, but their very existence. In the end, there’s a common humanity which I think is discovered at a certain moment in the film.”

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Tapping into that sort of epic storytelling can be a bit taxing though, as Terrio reveals that he probably won’t be penning Justice League: Part Two as well, as he needs to just take a break from all of this.

“I have written “Justice League Part One,” but I won’t necessarily write “Part Two.” This has been the most rigorous intellectual exercise I’ve had in my writing life. For “Batman v Superman,” I wanted to really dig into everything from ideas about American power to the structure of revenge tragedies to the huge canon of DC Comics to Amazon mythology. For “Justice League,” I could be reading in the same day about red- and blueshifts in physics, Diodorus of Sicily and his account of the war between Amazons and Atlanteans, or deep-sea biology and what kind of life plausibly might be in the Mariana Trench.

If you told me the most rigorous dramaturgical and intellectual product of my life would be superhero movies, I would say you were crazy. But I do think fans deserve that. I felt I owed the fan base all of my body and soul for two years because anything less wouldn’t have been appreciating the opportunity I had.”

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters in a week and a half on March 25, while Justice League: Part One is scheduled to start production in April for a November 17, 2017 release.

Last Updated: March 15, 2016

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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