Geoff Johns, the newly-crowned chief creative overlord of the DCEU, is probably the most powerful man in that universe — and a new interview given to the Wall Street Journal suggests he's been flexing that creative muscle to smoothen out a few early problems with Justice League. The main takeaway? If you like your Zack Snyder movies without too many Snyder-isms, you might well be in luck.
Punishment For Batman
One of the most controversial (read: out-there/downright demented) aspects of Batman v Superman was Zack Snyder's handling of the Caped Crusader: Under his watch, Batman became a sadistic son of a bitch who had no problem with (and in fact seemed to take pleasure in) brandishing criminals with a scorching hot bat-mark. That basically goes against everything Batman is, and though there was perhaps some logic to it (Bruce being left jaded by twenty years playing the vigilante), most fans would probably rather it was toned down in favor of some classic Batman fist-fight and combat sequences going forward.
Johns appears to have heard the criticism, promising something close to retribution for Batman's bad behavior when Justice League comes around:
"['Justice League' will] directly address Batman’s extreme actions [in Batman v Superman], such as torturing criminals and nearly killing the Man of Steel, rather than accept them as par for the course."
That seems much preferable to sweeping Batman's torturous side under the rug and asking us to forget it ever happened, and the idea of a redemption arc is something that worked pretty well for Superman in Dawn of Justice. Of the myriad ideas that movie had, taking us back to the climax of Man of Steel and looking at it from a civilian perspective was easily one of the smartest.
No More Knightmares
Considering Ben Affleck is an exec producer in the DCEU and working closely with Geoff Johns on the script and story of The Batman (in which Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke is the first confirmed villain), it seems the duo share a vision of Batman which perhaps wasn't totally in line with Zack Snyder's.
Another Snyder-ism you probably shouldn't expect to find in Justice League: Odd, surrealist sequences like the much-discussed, still-baffling "Knightmare" scene in which Bruce sees a vision of a post-apocalyptic wasteland scored with Darkseid's omega symbol, before The Flash pays a visit from the future (not necessarily the future of this Earth) to warn "You were right about him!"
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There was essentially no clarity to any of Bruce's dreams or visions. In the interview, Johns states that the director's more "controversial flourishes" won't be present in Justice League — but whether Snyder took criticisms of Dawn of Justice into account or Johns himself stepped in to steer the ship is anyone's guess.
Finally, Johns touched on the frequent criticism the DCEU attracts for being too "dark and gritty," a seemingly unshakeable hangover from Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, by promising that, going forward, the universe will be one of "hope and optimism":
"In the past, I think the studio has said, 'Oh, DC films are gritty and dark and that’s what makes them different.' That couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a hopeful and optimistic view of life. Even Batman has a glimmer of that in him. If he didn’t think he’d make tomorrow better, he’d stop."
Troubles with establishing tone have been arguably the biggest stumbling block faced by the DCEU thus far. Audiences (or at least critics) appear to have "grit fatigue" nowadays, and while you shouldn't expect DC to abandon their grey-and-blue color palette any time soon and start making tonally-brighter movies like their arch rival Marvel, perhaps the days of gloom for gloom's sake could be over. For audiences waiting for the DCEU to reach its potential, that's a very good thing.
Check out our breakdown of every easter egg you may have missed in the Justice League trailer below, and then tell me..
Does Batman deserve to be punished for his psychotic habits in BvS?