The filmmakers are willing to admit that Batman v Superman didn’t connect with critics and audiences in the way they wanted it to. Producer Deborah Snyder explains that “every film is a learning experience” and proudly admits that “we hear what everyone has to say because we care what the fans say.” When asked what the biggest lesson they learned from BvS was, Deborah responds:

I think the main thing we learned is that people don’t like to see their heroes deconstructed. [Laughs.] I think that’s hard because it’s people we’ve grown up with and that we care about. They like seeing them in all their glory. Yeah.

Deborah says that while a lot of the recent superhero films have been bright and fun, “Man of Steel and BvS were sort of celebrations of those darker comics like Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and The Death of Superman.” And for Zack, he explains that the darkness was necessary.

I think Superman was on his way toward something… I wanted to get to a Superman that had a reason to be Superman, like a reason to feel the way he felt about humanity, that we all understand from the comic books as far as he’s pretty, as far as a moral compass goes, he’s pretty much the thing. But I feel like he had to go through something to be that.

Batman actor Ben Affleck agrees that Justice League is the next step in the evolution of this film franchise, and now “there’s definitely room for more humor.”

DC movies I think, by their nature, are a little more mythic than some comic book movies are. But [Batman v Superman] was very dark and heavy because it was really rooted in Dark Knight Returns which is a heavy, dark book. And this is not that. This is a step in evolution in that to bring together all of these characters who have had their origins. It’s about multilateralism, and it’s about hope and about working together and the kind of conflicts of trying to work together with others. It’s a world where superheroes exist, so there’s comedy in that necessarily, trying to work with other people and people trying to accomplish goals together is the root of all great comedy in my view. So there’s definitely, hopefully some fun in it. But it’s not unrecognizably these characters or these stories. It’s not turning it upside down.

Zack says that “the idea of drawing Superman and Batman in conflict meant that you really had to dig down into the darker parts of them to make them fight each other.”

And I really do believe that with this movie, with Justice League, they’ve both been freed of the shackles of that, the responsibility to be in a place where they would fight each other. 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 objective, and it’s really about uniting the team. That to me is a fun activity. …

Not to give anything away or say anything that would be too telling of where we’re headed with the movie, but death is darker than, say, resurrection or team-building. It’s just a darker concept, like when you’re dealing with Dark Knight or Death of Superman, those kinds of ideas. As opposed to, “Oh, let’s build a team and fight the bad guy!” It’s a different energy.

A lot of parents discovered that BvS was a little darker than their younger children may have been ready for, and Deborah Snyder admits that Justice League will be more inclusive for children:

Justice League is much more inclusive. I think also it’s all about the characters too. And we have these two very young characters, Flash and Cyborg. And you know, they’re definitely lighter. I think they’re going to appeal to a younger audience.

But according to Deborah, this was always part of the plan — to have different tones and different audiences for each of the DCEU properties.

And you know, 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.

But it seems weird that the filmmakers acknowledge this and still try to paint a picture that the fun and humor of Justice League was always planned, that Man of Steel and Batman v Superman were always leading towards happier times. Deborah Snyder affirms that this was all a planned evolution, even if it might not feel like one.

Every story that we’re telling is a completely different story, and I think what’s really great is that where we were going is kind of what the audience is wanting. We just had to take the characters from somewhere to bring them up to where they are and that was kind of our journey. … I think that MoS and Batman v Superman were kind of origin stories.  You kind of saw them really at points in their life that they were challenged. It was a darker movie. But this is a movie about coming together. It’s a movie about building them up. So this is really an arc that we started. We have to go somewhere. You have to start from somewhere to really get to that point. But I think we’re gonna see all the heroes in a way that people know them from the comic books.

Snyder admits that he’s consciously changing the tone for this film.

Yeah, I mean, I think I’m obsessed with tone in the movies. Tone has always been the main thing that I go after with a movie, and I really wanted the tone of the three movies to be different chapters and not be the same note that you strike like, “Okay, there’s this again.” I really wanted that, and I do believe that since Batman v Superman came out and we’ve wrapped our heads around what Justice League would be, I do think that the tone has, because of what fans have said and how the movie was received by some, is that we have kind of put the screws to what we thought the tone would be and I feel crushed it that little bit further.

But he carefully warns us that “by no means is this the whole movie.”

There are parts of the movie of course where they’re facing enemies and they have to get their stuff together. Look at the Batmobile, for God’s sake. You know, they’re going to be drawn into conflict. But I think the Magnificent Seven aspect of the movie, the team-building part of the movie, which — and you guys know I’m a fan of Magnificent Seven and team-making movies. So it’s fun for me to finally get to this point now in the progression of these three movies where we are building a team and making the Justice League, if you will.

As far as the rumors, Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder were both on set and working. It seemed like business as usual. Even Zack Snyder denies that there was/is any corporate pressure on this film, or Batman v Superman.

Yeah, I don’t think so. I would just say that, for me, Batman v Superman, I think there is a slight misconception about the shooting, anyway, about how much pressure there was on us and the pressure on the movie to perform in a certain way. From my point of view, and maybe just because I don’t know how to do it any other way, we make really personal movies. For me, anyway, I love the characters. I love comic books — maybe to a fault sometimes. Like, I dork out on these hardcore aspects of the comic books, because I’m a grownup and I love that part of it. I had a great time making the movie. …

But I think the studio’s been amazing with me, and they are a filmmaker-driven studio. They don’t really do a ton of things by committee. It’s just been a great experience I’ve had with them as a studio. But I do think that, for me, it’s been amazingly rewarding to work with these characters, because I just love stuff. I love the material, and for me it is personal, a really personal movie.

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