Often because of the public furor around 2017’s Justice League, we forget that the film before it i.e., Batman v Superman too courted some harsh criticisms both from critics and the general public. But as recently shared by the film’s writer, Chris Terrio, just like Justice League suffered from the impacts of having a director (Joss Whedon) whose whole vision was to merely create a money-earning blockbuster, Batman v Superman too became a victim of the “Wall Street guys.”
In a recent chat with Vanity Fair, Terrio talked at length about what went wrong with Batman v Superman, how Warner Bros. went ahead and made changes to the film without any regard to the story and without consulting him, and how their decisions came from the “boardrooms” that were making them based on “arbitrary metrics.”
He revealed that right before the film’s impending release date, an investors event was held where the entire cast and the filmmakers of Batman v Superman were made to walk around as if they were on show for the room filled with the people investing in the film at the Time Warner Center. This incident was enough to make Terrio realize that this was all being done to satisfy the investors that their money was headed to be a success.
“These guys were in charge because they controlled the money at the very top of the pyramid. They were making big decisions—not the film executives we’re talking about, but Wall Street guys,” he added.
He shared a particular moment from the day when one of the investors tried to tutor him (the writer of the film and someone who has won an Academy Award for writing) on how to write the character of Batman. While Terrio understands that keeping the investors happy is a must and sometimes you have to agree to whatever they are saying but the “distribution of power” when it came to Batman vs Superman was just not right as it was the investors and the studio “calling the shots” and not the filmmakers.
Thus, it soon became clear to him that the film will be subjected to their whims and fancies. He already knew that scenes that provided nuance to the story of Batman v Superman (something which it severely lacked when it came out) and the much-needed character development arcs would be removed to cut time while the stunt scenes and the special effects were the ones no one would touch as this was where the major portion of the investor’s money was being spent.
When Terrio had first completed the script of Batman v Superman, he was proud of it but when the studio went ahead and removed 30 minutes “that give the characters motivation for the climax,” he saw a film that “just doesn’t work.” And as we have all seen with the two versions of Justice League, something which even Terrio highlighted, you can stuff a film with as much VFX as you want but it will only be a complete success if it has a nuanced story and credible character development.
In fact, it wasn’t just the cutting and editing of the film for which Terrio was never consulted, as when it came down to formulating the title of the film, he was never informed that it was going to be Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Terrio found out about it on the internet, just like the rest of the world.
“I did not name the script. In fact, I found out what the movie was called along with the rest of the world on the internet. I was not consulted on the title of the film, and I was as surprised as anyone. I would not have named it Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” he added. “I heard it and I thought, it just sounds self-important and clueless in a way. Tone-deaf.”