It’s always darkest before the dawn, but in this case, the light will arrive two years later.
Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice divided fans and underwhelmed critics with its often angry, violent take on the titular title characters. Set visit reports are rolling in from London, England this week, filled with signs of hope and optimism that the forthcoming Justice League movie will include more, ya’ know, hope and optimism.
Journalists were shown a finished scene where Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) invites the Flash (Ezra Miller) to join the superhero team as they prepare against an extraterrestrial threat. The scene is reportedly full of charm and humor, as the two heroes banter back and forth.
“He’s a little bit more sardonic, humor, a little more irony. More of his, that sort of Bruce Wayne, wry, ironic gallows humor comes out,” said Affleck, in a wide-ranging on-set interview conducted simultaneously by multiple outlets. He sat for the interview still dressed in his Batman costume, sans cowl, with heavy dark eye makeup, joking that Christian Bale never would’ve been caught by the press with those “raccoon eyes.”
“He’s a little more man on a mission this time. As opposed to like he was [in BvS] so full of anger because of what happened at the Black Zero Event. That kind of character, that sort of rage that possessed him. And now he’s on a mission to get this group together. To constitute this League… He’s not like a ‘haha' jokey, but that sort of stuff comes out a little bit. A bit of his sort of darker humor stuff is present.”
The press were also invited to watch the filming of a scene which took place on the rooftop of the Gotham Police Department building, complete with a fully-lit Batsignal. J.K. Simmons, joining the cast as Commissioner Jim Gordon, chats with Affleck, Miller, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg), all reprising their roles from Batman v Superman. A wonderfully detailed set report from Birth Movies Death described Wonder Woman’s warm smile at the appearance of Cyborg, a positive sign that these characters actually like one another.
Man Of Steel introduced a Superman who killed his nemesis and laid waste to Metropolis in the process. While critics and fans pointed to Affleck’s portrayal of the Caped Crusader as one of Batman v Superman's strengths, this was nevertheless a Batman who sadistically tortured bad guys. Critics savaged Batman v Superman for its mostly humorless lack of charm and at times downright mean-spirited somberness (see: the choice to have Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen momentarily introduced only to be violently murdered in a throwaway scene… Just because?).
The in-production Justice League sounds like a bit of a course correction for the DC Movies Universe which has a number of interconnected movies on the way.
“There’s definitely room for more humor,” Affleck conceded. “DC movies I think, by their nature are a little more mythic than some comic book movies are. But [BvS] 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… [Justice League is] about multilateralism, and it’s about hope and about working together and the kind of conflicts of trying to work together with others.”
“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.”
There’s was also an update from the World’s Greatest Detective himself about the forthcoming Batman solo film, which he’s cowriting with DC's Geoff Johns and will also direct. “I have a script, we’re still working on it, and I’m not happy enough with it yet to actually go out there and make a Batman movie, for which I have the highest of standards, I would say. That’s something that would have to pass a very high bar for me. It’s not just like, 'Yeah, that might be fun, let’s go try this out.'”
There were costumes, concept art and props on hand during the set visit, as well as opportunities to chat with director Zack Snyder and his producing partner and wife, Deborah Snyder. “I think every film is a learning experience. Right?” she told Birth Movies Death. “And we hear what everyone has to say because we care what the fans say. At the same time, 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.”
Birth Movies Death’s Devin Faraci has been one of the most recognizable critics of the DC Extended Universe’s missteps. We highly recommend checking out his exhaustive set visit piece, A Hater Tours The Justice League Set.
Justice League stars Affleck, Henry Cavill (Superman), Gadot, Miller, Fisher, Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Simmons, Jeremy Irons (Alfred Pennyworth), and Willem Dafoe. It’s due in theaters November 17, 2017.