‘Justice League’ Screenwriter Calls Theatrical Cut an ‘Act of Vandalism’
Chris Terrio wants to set the record straight. The credited co-writer on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League (and solo credited writer on the new Zack Snyder’s Justice League director’s cut) has been listening to fan and critic complaints about his work on DC Comics movies for years. In a new interview, he pushes back against a lot of the criticism. Or, at least, he wants to make it clear that in most cases he’s not responsible for the stuff people criticize.
In the case of Batman v Superman, for example, Terrio says he wasn’t the one who wrote a dark script. He came in and revised an existing script that Warner Bros. already had and tried to make it more coherent, and even a little lighter in some places. (The final Batman v Superman script is credited to Terrio and David S. Goyer.)
“It was already determined and storyboarded that Batman was going to be trying to kill Superman and that Batman was going to have gone down a dark road,” Terrio told Vanity Fair. In fact, in the original script, Terrio claims, Batman continued branding criminals until the end of the movie, including Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman’s final moments. Terrio says he was the one who fought to have the character “see the error of his ways and remember his better self in the course of the movie ... Otherwise,” he added, “what was the point?” He was also insistent that he did not give the film the “clueless” and “tone deaf” title Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
He had even stronger things to say about the initial theatrical cut of Justice League, which was started by Zack Snyder from Terrio’s script, but then finished by Joss Whedon after Batman v Superman was a critical flop and commercial disappointment and Snyder left the project amidst a family tragedy and growing dissatisfaction with his work from Warners executives. Terrio says the studio mandated the finished movie be under two hours, a nearly impossible task for a massive blockbuster introducing several huge superheroes to movie audiences for the first time and bringing Superman back from the dead and creating a Justice League all at the same time.
When Whedon took over the project, Terrio says he “didn’t realize how much of the film was going to be changed—or vandalized, in my opinion.” What was left of his writing in that theatrical work he describes as “a dinosaur skeleton of what had been a great, lumbering best.” He even wanted to take his name off of Justice League, but claims by the point he saw the film and realized how bad it was, it was too late to do so without causing major delays to the picture’s theatrical release.
Now that Zack Snyder’s Justice League exists on HBO Max you can see Terrio’s work at something like its intended length and judge it for yourself. (The Batman v Superman “Ultimate Edition” is there as well, restoring much of Terrio’s material that was cut out for the sake of a more manageable runtime, and at the cost of its narrative logic.) As for Terrio, he went on to work on the script for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Someday, I wonder if he’ll be giving a similar interview about his experience with executives on that movie.
Gallery — Every New Character Added in Zack Snyder’s Justice League: