‘Batman v Superman’ Writer Compares Heroes to Gods, Talks ‘Justice League’

By March 14, 2016
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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens in less than 2 weeks. Barring an unforeseen disaster at the box office (which would be REALLY surprising and unfortunate), it will officially get the ball rolling on the DC Comics Cinematic Universe. The film has its fair share of detractors for various (mostly silly, in my opinion) reasons, but it’s still expected to mark the true arrival of DC and Warner Bros. at the superhero box office as they try to get into the game that has been dominated by Marvel Studios (and, to a lesser extent, Fox) for the past decade. There’s a lot riding on this film, and assuming it delivers on the hype and hope of fans this will do for DC what The Avengers did for Marvel. So…yeah. No pressure, kids.

Oscar winning screenwriter Chris Terrio (Argo), who co-wrote Batman v Superman with David Goyer and has completed the script for next year’s Justice League: Part One, recently sat down with The Wall Street Journal to discuss his approach to writing both films.

It’s impossible to know everything in the DC universe, but I threw myself into it and tried to learn as much as possible and I found such intelligence in so many of the comics. Obviously Frank Miller is a well-known and respected writer who influences this film very directly. Also writers like Grant Morrison, who asks difficult philosophical questions in an extremely smart way. I tried to take in as much as I could while also keeping a little bit of an outsider’s eye.

If you’re going to follow anyone’s example, you could do far worse than Frank Miller and/or Grant Morrison.

It’s often been said that the biggest difference between DC Comics and Marvel is that Marvel’s heroes tend to be more human, while DC’s characters are portrayed as larger than life, even godlike (particularly in the case of Superman). Terrio’s approach to the characters seems to be an attempt at blending the two, with Batman and Superman characterized as gods who are rooted in humanity:

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.

While we’ve already seen Henry Cavill’s Superman in action, this is our first introduction to both Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Terrio took two different, but smart, approaches to introducing these two iconic characters:

After “Man of Steel,” I didn’t want to have this moment where you say, “Batman exists in this world, we forgot to tell you.” We’re saying, “No he’s been here the whole time.”

With [Wonder Woman alter ego] Diana Prince, I thought it would be better if we met her as a civilian first and involved her in the plot in a way that felt like a thriller. She’s a mysterious woman interested in the same things Bruce Wayne is. The fun of it is if you don’t immediately reveal her in superhero guise, you get to revel in the moment when she finally does reveal herself.”

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One of the bigger criticisms of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman has been the dark tone of both films. While Terrio admits Dawn of Justice will be no picnic, he does envision Justice League as perhaps a bit of a light at the end of this tunnel:

“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…I think when you write a darker film, sometimes you want to redeem it all a bit.

I really like the thought of these three movies as a trilogy of sorts. It will be fascinating to see, once Justice League: Part One is out, how this huge saga comes together. More importantly, it will be interesting to see how the audience reacts to seeing the entire story. Who knows, perhaps more people will start saying nice things about DC’s movies so I won’t have to be the only one.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25th, while Justice League: Part One is set for release on November 17, 2017.

Make sure to keep checking back for updates – right here on GeekNation.

Joe Ruggirello
Joe is a writer, retired comedian, and giant nerd. He's particularly fond of comic books, pro wrestling, and Godzilla. Oh, and that Star Wars thing. You can yell at him on Twitter @JoeRu23.