Joining fellow Justice League members in a post Snyder Cut world, screenwriter Chris Terrio has spoken out on Warner Bros' studio interference. After years of silence, the writer has revealed how WB has muddied the DCEU from Day One.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Terrio explained that the theatrical cut of his and Snyder's movie was pure “vandalism". The Oscar-winning screenwriter explained that the version fans saw in cinemas was the culmination of years of studio meddling.
Chris Terrio on Snyder Cut righting wrongs
Terrio explained that the recently released Snyder Cut of Justice League was a way of righting a cinematic wrong. Following the departure of Zack Snyder from the project in 2017, Terrio was pushed away from set.
“I was frankly shocked when I saw the Snyder Cut and saw how much of the original script was shot,” the writer said. “When those personal touches were removed from the film in the 2017 version, I was silent because I couldn’t really say anything, but of course it hurt. All that remained was a dinosaur skeleton of what had been a great, lumbering beast.”
2017’s theatrical version of Justice League was so different from what Terrio and Snyder had envisioned that the writer was thrust into depression.
“The film was taken away and rewritten. But I didn’t even feel entitled to be depressed, because Zack and Debbie were dealing with their family tragedy. Measured against that, losing the film that you wrote seems like nothing at all. But it did hurt. It hurts to think that I cared so much about these characters and worked on nothing else for a very long time.”
How Warner Bros sabotaged the DCEU
Terrio's interview doesn't just talk about the release of the long-awaited Snyder Cut. The writer explains that Warner Bros has been constantly meddling with the cinematic universe's journey since the very start.
With Batman v Superman – a title that wasn't decided by the film’s creators – Warner Bros was a constant hassle. Terrio was brought in to punch up a finished script at the behest of Ben Affleck. When the writer was brought on, the major events were already storyboarded. Essentially, most of the film's nuance was added by Terrio, most of which was cut from the cinematic release.
“It was already determined and storyboarded that Batman was going to be trying to kill Superman and that Batman was going to have gone down a dark road,” the writer said. “He was branding criminals, and it had certain dark elements that were non-negotiable.”
“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. As we learned from the two versions of Justice League, you can’t skip on the character and think the audience will give a shit about the VFX.”
Snyder Cut had to do too much
Terrio also expressed upset at Warner Bros’ desire to rush into a full Avengers-level universe. With just two movies in the bag, Warner Bros wanted a full team-up picture to compete with Marvel. While the Snyder Cut does effectively introduces the wider DC universe, the theatrical cut fails.
"The Wonder Woman script wasn’t even finished when I wrote Justice League. So I had no basis to write Wonder Woman other than Batman/Superman. Themyscira didn’t even exist. I didn’t know if I could do underwater scenes with Aquaman and Atlanteans," explains Terrio.
"Justice League needed to establish three of the characters; it had to create a long game mythology for the DC Universe. It had to resurrect Superman because he was dead at the end of the last movie. I just don’t know how you could do all that in under two hours. Maybe the 2017 release proved that you couldn’t.”
"I think it’s miraculous that Zack shot as much of [my] script as he did, because I know that there was constant pressure to simplify, to change, to do whatever it is that the studio wanted because there were rumblings that they didn’t want this version."
Zack Snyder's Justice League is now available on HBO Max.