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SYFY WIRE justice league

Justice League writer had trouble with Amazons & Atlanteans because they didn't even exist in DCEU yet

By Justin Carter

Following well-publicized reports about Ray Fisher's treatment on the set of 2017's Justice League, the film's screenwriter, Chris Terrio, sat down with Vanity Fair to speak about his own experience. Terrio, who previously wrote 2012's Argo (for which he won an Oscar) and League's 2016 predecessor Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justicemade it clear in the interview how much the top brass rankled the production on his superhero films, so much so that he referred to Joss Whedon's version of Justice League as "an act of vandalism."

But Terrio says he had reason to be concerned well before that, with an early edict from Warner Bros. concerning the release order of the DCEU. "There was never any thought to how the world was constructed before they issued this edict," the screenwriter recalled. "They said, 'conform to this schedule.'"

In his words, Warner Bros. quickly settled on BvS, followed by Wonder Woman in summer 2017, Justice League that fall, and then Aquaman in 2018. League was already in production by the time BvS had released, but establishing multiple heroes for the first time was hard for Terrio. 

"I had no basis to write Wonder Woman other than BvS," he admitted, since Wonder Woman's script wasn't finished as he was writing Justice League. "I didn't know whether people could talk underwater...I didn't know if I could do underwater scenes with Aquaman and Atlanteans. It was all from scratch because there had been no character films."

To Terrio, there was no way to establish three heroes –– Aquaman, plus Cyborg and Flash –– in addition to setting up a new mythology for the DCEU and bring Superman back from the dead in a movie barely two hours long. "Maybe the 2017 release proved that you couldn't," he said.

SYFY WIRE has reached out to Warner Bros. for comment.

Having seen Zack Snyder's Justice LeagueTerrio openly admitted his surprise at how much of his original script was shot, which he considers "crazy in the best way." It's a stark contrast to his feelings on the 2017 release, which Whedon took over after Snyder left to deal with his daughter's death.

When Terrio saw Whedon's Justice League (while working on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), his reaction was so strong he immediately called his lawyer to get his name off the film. That didn't happen, since it would've had to have been delayed, and had already been delivered to theaters by the time he wanted it done. More importantly, Terrio didn't want to cause any more grief for the cast and crew. "I shut up and said nothing publicly. That movie doesn't represent my work, but I'm awfully happy that Zack's cut is the one that is higher on my IMDb page."

Justice League, both of the Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon variety, are available to watch on HBO Max.