Batman V Superman's Writer Explains How Batman's Ending Could Have Been Way Darker

Ben Affleck as armored Batman in Batman v Superman

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Rather than follow Batman in the earlier years of his vigilante career, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice focused on Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne after he’d been fighting crime for over two decades in Gotham City. Thanks to the various traumas he suffered over the years, including being in Metropolis during the attack depicted in Man of Steel, this version of Bruce’s methods became much more brutal, from branding criminals to being willing to kill Superman. While Bruce saw the error of his ways by the time Batman v Superman concluded, writer Chris Terrio revealed that there was a point where the character’s arc had a much darker ending.

Chris Terrio, who previously collaborated with Ben Affleck on the Academy Award-winning Argo, recently spoke with Vanity Fair about his experience writing both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, as well as his take on the fallout from the latter movie being significantly changed for its theatrical release. Regarding Batman v Superman, here’s what Terrio had to say when asked if he felt blamed for the movie being considered too “grim and heavy”:

The studio seemed to take this position after BvS that my writing was too dark and that this was their problem. But what they didn’t mention was that, for example, in the draft of the Batman/Superman script that W.B. had developed—[which was] the draft I was handed when I joined the project—Batman was not only branding criminals with a bat brand, he also ended the movie by branding Lex Luthor.

Before Chris Terrio joined Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, David S. Goyer, who penned Batman Begins and Man of Steel, gave a first pass at the script. Eventually Goyer dropped off the project due to other commitments, but it sounds like there was already plenty of darkness infused into the story when Terrio came aboard. Case in point, Batman kept his branding streak going by leaving the mark of the bat on Lex Luthor, whereas in the final version of the movie, he only threatened to brand Jesse Eisenberg’s character and then punched the brand into the wall behind the incarcerated criminal. Was it still a badass moment? Yes, but it also showed that Bruce had evolved.

Chris Terrio noted how he “explicitly went to the mat” with Warner Bros over Batman branding Lex Luthor, arguing that the superhero couldn’t continue this behavior that amounted to “torture.” Otherwise, it would look like the movie was endorsing his actions. The screenwriter elaborated on his reasoning with the following:

It’s one thing if Batman begins the movie as a dark version of himself whom we don’t recognize, but he has to see the error of his ways and remember his better self in the course of the movie. By the end of the movie, he needs to be the Batman we know, and he has to be ready to go and create the Justice League. Otherwise, I said, what was the point?

This was just one of many aspects that Chris Terrio changed about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice when he rewrote the script, but it certainly did the trick of making it abundantly clear that Bruce Wayne was clearer-headed following Superman’s death. Besides, in the Ultimate Edition of the movie, the Dark Knight still got to exact a fitting punishment on Lex Luthor, as he made arrangements for the supervillain to be moved to Arkham, which is not one of the DC Universe’s better mental institutions, to put it mildly. Once that business was taken care of, Bruce was ready to start looking for other heroes to help him protect Earth, paving the way for the events of Justice League/Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Unfortunately for fans of Zack Snyder’s DC movies, there are no plans for the remaining two Justice League movies he’d envisioned to be made, either as theatrical offerings or for HBO Max. However, we’re not done with Ben Affleck’s Batman just yet. The actor will reprise the role in The Flash, and he’ll be accompanied by Michael Keaton’s version of Batman. While it remains to be confirmed if the Scarlet Speedster’s movie will be Affleck swan song as the Caped Crusader, at least this is another opportunity to see him in action and flesh out his relationship with Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen.

While we wait for more news about what the future holds in store for Ben Affleck’s Batman, browse through our upcoming DC movies guide to learn what else the DCEU has in development, and subscribe to HBO Max to catch up on past installments of the superhero franchise.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.