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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice wasn't a perfect film. Zack Snyder understands this. It's part of the reason why a longer cut of the movie -- dubbed the Ultimate Edition -- is working its way to theaters and will eventually be found on the DVD. There's always room for improvement, and Snyder's going to get another shot with his third DC movie, Justice League, due in theaters in 2017. The ensemble superhero film -- which finds Batman and Wonder Woman recruiting Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg on a mission to stop Steppenwolf -- will learn lessons from BvS. It will make tweaks. It will hopefully be more inclusive, and find a warmer reception from mainstream movie fans.
This was the concession made by both Zack Snyder and his wife (and producer) Deb Snyder when a small band of film journalists traveled to London to visit the set of Justice League and report back on the film's progress. They talked openly about how building the DCEU was a process, and how Batman v Superman was a necessary step to get them to where they wanted to be with Justice League. When asked what they learned from Dawn of Justice that will help them make Justice League a better movie, Deb Snyder told us:
I think the main thing we learned, I think people don't like to see their heroes deconstructed. And I think that's hard, because it's people that we've grown up with, and that we care about, and you know, they like, seeing them, I think in all their glory. ...
I think that those movies, both Man of Steel and BvS, for sure, were celebrations of kind of the darker comics, like Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns and the Death of Superman [story], and as I said, I think all these are kind of individual stories. And this one was always meant to be, I know I'm reiterating what I've been saying, but that's kind of how we saw it. This was kind of bringing them up. And akin to more traditional comics that everybody knows and loves.
That was a point that was repeated numerous times. That by design, Batman v Superman came across as a darker story because it was always meant to pit two top DC heroes against each other. But now that DC has evolved past that, they can focus on uniting a team, and celebrating who they are when they work together. Deb Snyder later clarified to us:
I think Justice League is much more inclusive. It's all about the characters, too. We have these two very young, you know, Flash and Cyborg characters and they're definitely lighter. I think they're going to appeal to a younger audience. I think Suicide Squad has its own audience, and I think Wonder Woman has its own audience and not just women, because I think the movie, I've seen a little bit of it, and Patty [Jenkins] is still working on her director's cut, but I think it's going to be broad reaching. I think the darkest... where we've been is where we've been.
We also had a chance to speak with Zack Snyder about lessons he learned from Batman v Superman. Read on to find out what he told us.
Seeing as how Justice League is Zack Snyder's third chapter in the developing DC Universe -- which is something he basically launched with Man of Steel back in 2013 -- we were curious to get his take on what Dawn of Justice taught him, and how it's informing his decisions heading into Justice League. To him, he views them as completely different movies, with completely different agendas and purposes. Snyder tells us:
Listen, if it's about putting more fun in the movie or, you know, embracing some of what I would call... I think it's all, it's in all the characters inherently, like this sort of larger than life kind of, you know, big fun stuff. Especially when you're dealing with Justice League. ... To finish my idea about what I was going to say about this sort of Batman v Superman sort of concept is that inherently, you've got to remember that like, the whole sort of thread of that [movie] was to draw those two into conflict. So I wanted to make sure that each of them was, and I felt like they were both evolving, in my mind anyway.
As far as the idea of drawing Superman and Batman in conflict, [it] meant that you really had to dig down on like the darker parts of them to make them fight each other. And I really do believe that with this movie, withJustice League, they've both been sort of freed of the shackles of the responsibility to be in a place where they would fight each other. And I think that that is liberating for us in some ways, in making the movie, because really now we have a single enemy, with a single sort of objective, and it's really about uniting the team. And that to me, is a really, is a fun activity.
When pressed a little further on the idea of corporate pressure, or fan reaction to Batman v Superman dictating the direction that Zack Snyder is willing to go with Justice League, the director candidly told us:
I don't think the birth of Batman v Superman was some corporate conspiracy to sell tickets or do whatever. I think it just became this great vehicle that had a lot of focus put on it, because of where it ended up in sort of the timeline. But I think that the studio has been amazing with me, and they have... they are a filmmaker-driven studio. They don't really do a ton of things by committee, and it's just been a great experience I've had with them, as a studio.
I do love the stuff. I love the material, and I do take it really... for me, it is personal. You know, it's a really personal movie, and I think that, when Batman v Superman came out, I was like, 'Wow.' It did catch me off guard. I have had to, in my mind, make an adjustment, just because of... maybe it is the sort of hardcore, my hardcore sort of take on characters as far as I love them and I love the material and I just, you know, I do, I take it really deep and so, you know, I think that the nice thing about now working on Justice League is it is an opportunity to really blow the doors off of the sort of scale and the bad guys and team building and all this stuff that I think is sort of, I could justify as big modern sort of comic book movie, you know, if that makes any sense.
These words can go two ways. They can bolster the faith of the DC fan base. Or they can bounce off the guarded shields of the comic-book haters. But from everything that we managed to see and learn on the Justice League set, it feels like Zack Snyder is trying to make the best possible Justice League movie, and his passion for the source material can not be questioned.