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Batman v Superman writer reveals Warner Bros. wanted the movie darker

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice screenwriter Chris Terrio has spoken out about his experience working on the movie.

The writer told Vanity Fair that he first looked at the script for the Zack Snyder-directed project at the request of Ben Affleck – the two had previously worked together on Affleck's triple-Oscar winner Argo. Terrio claims that Warner Bros. wanted the movie to be darker than the finished product turned out, and cited specific moments he pushed back on.

The writer explained that Batman attempting to kill Superman, as well as the vigilante using a brand, were already part of the plot when he started on the project. In the screenplay that existed before Terrio joined, Batman branded Lex Luthor at the end of the movie, which doesn't happen in the finished film. 

"That ending was a point over which I explicitly went to the mat with the studio again and again," Terrio said. "I argued that Batman cannot end the movie continuing this behavior, which amounted to torture, because then the movie was endorsing what he did." He explained that Batman needed to change for the better by the end of the film and be prepared to form the Justice League: "Otherwise… what was the point?"

A sequence at the start of the movie, which sees Superman save Lois Lane in a fictional African country, was also an alleged point of contention between Terrio and the studio. "I'm the one who had been saying that we can't make a joke out of Superman raining hell upon Black African Muslim characters in the desert, as Lois promises that Superman is not going to go easy on them because they punched her," Terrio commented. "But somehow I'm the person with the dark sensibility? I wanted to say, 'I've been saving you from yourselves! I've been working with the director to bring a voice of conscience and sanity to the almost perversely dark film you've been developing for years, but I'm the problem here?"

He added: "I was able to add material to the film and asked the movie to grapple with what that [battle] meant, so that it didn't seem like a casual scene of Superman intervening in this way without reckoning with the consequences of intervention." Terrio also said he excised Lois getting punched from the script.

As for the title, Terrio claimed it was a surprise, and not what he would have gone with: "I heard it 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." He said he doesn't know who chose the name, but did say, "I suspect it was the studio and I suspect it was marketing."

Terrio also criticized the decision to cut 30 minutes of the film from the theatrical cut: "I was proud of the script when I completed it, but it turns out that when you remove the 30 minutes that give the characters motivation for the climax, the film just doesn’t work." Those 30 minutes are restored in the Ultimate Edition of the movie, which recently got an IMAX remaster.

You can catch Batman v Superman streaming on HBO Max now, which is also the home of Zack Snyder's Justice League – and if you're caught up on both, check out how to watch DC movies in order for a super-movie marathon.

Molly Edwards
Molly Edwards

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for our Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after getting my BA in English.