In the wake of the release of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” and the recent Ray Fisher feature article going into what happened on the Joss Whedon-directed reshoots, those involved in the original cut are now speaking up more about what went down.
One person who was in the mix of it all was screenwriter Chris Terrio who came onboard the DC film universe after his work on “Argo” for Ben Affleck.
Terrio’s not had much luck since then with three credits to his name – Snyder’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League” along with J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” all features with troubled and/or rushed production histories that have been on the end of heavy criticism from fans.
In a feature piece for Vanity Fair, Terrio spoke about his time with his two DC films and understandably he’s not happy with how he’s been put through the ringer on both movies.
“Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” widely met with a negative reception upon release, found itself improving in opinion with an ‘ultimate edition’ version adding a half-hour back into the movie. Terrio says the negative feeling towards the movie began when the official title was announced:
“I heard [the title] and I thought, It just sounds self-important and clueless in a way. Tone-deaf. The intention of the film was to do something interesting and dark and complex, not quite as Las Vegas, bust ’em up, WWE match as ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.’”
Then he saw the film in its finished form and realised a bunch of character development and motivation he wrote in were gone, effectively killing the entire film:
“So this house of cards that had been built in order to motivate this clash between America’s two favorite heroes made no sense at all. That was what happened with ‘Batman/Superman.’ The movie was always was going to be dark. There were always going to be people who just didn’t want to see that version of a comic book world, and I get that. But what hurt was the criticism that the script was not coherent, because when I turned in the script to the studio – which they, by all accounts, were happy with – it made sense.”
He then says in the wake of that film’s disappointment, there was a “mood of fear at the studio” and executives began making creative decisions regarding the films. When Snyder departed the production, that’s when everything fell apart and the script that he’d done was “vandalized” by those in charge:
“I went into such depression when the film was taken away and rewritten. But I didn’t even feel entitled to be depressed, because Zack and Debbie [Snyder] were dealing with their family tragedy. Measured against that, losing the film that you wrote seems like nothing at all. But it did hurt. It hurts to think that I cared so much about these characters and worked on nothing else for a very long time.
When those personal touches were removed from the film in the 2017 version, I was silent because I couldn’t really say anything, but of course it hurt. All that remained was a dinosaur skeleton of what had been a great, lumbering beast. It might’ve been a big, unruly beast, and obviously, it’s four hours and the movie is maximalist and it’s operatic and, sure, it’s a little crazy, but I think the movie is crazy in the best way.”
He also revealed he wanted his name taken off the theatrical version, but the film was already set and to remove his name would’ve caused delays on the film. Instead he says he never said anything about the project again until now and he never watched the theatrical cut again after that first viewing.
Ultimately WarnerMedia allowed Snyder to release his original version – spending a reported $70 million to do so and Terrio says he;s pleased with the new version which he says is much more faithful to his script and he doesn’t mind the criticism there because it’s actually of his and Snyder’s work rather than studio interference.
He’s not the only one talking though as cinematographer Fabian Wagner also recently spoke with Indiewire about the movie and says he wasn’t involved in Whedon’s reshoots:
“I think the guy who did our second unit did most of it. I was actually shooting a movie in the same studio space where they were doing the reshoots, so I only dropped in on the set once, which was a strange experience. It was very different than what I had experienced with Zack, so I wasn’t there for long. And obviously, I knew how many days they were reshooting [seven weeks], so that kind of sets off alarm bells. You think, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of,’ you know, ‘How’s that going to work?’”
Wagner goes on to say he “was devastated” by the theatrical cut: “This was a huge movie for me. It was an amazing experience to work with the Snyders and the whole team. I had a great time on that set, so to watch that movie was horrible.”
Thankfully the original version of what they both shot, the four-hour “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” is now out on HBO Max.