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Zack Snyder's Second Unit Director Explains the Lighter Tone in 'Justice League'

DC’s various peons, minions, and Yes Men continue their attempts to climb their way out of the enormous pit that they’ve got themselves stuck in.

This time around it’s two creators from Batman v Superman—Second Unit Director Damon Caro, and Visual Effects Supervisor Bryan Hirota—who are desperately attempting to backpedal up the side of a cliff in a way that looks both nonchalant and as if tumbling into the gorge was a deliberate maneuver.

By this point, the moment of tragedy and destruction has long since past—as have any feelings of empathy or pity that casual observers might have towards those caught up in the accident.

Now, when Damon Caro claims that everything we’ve seen so far, including a dramatic shift in tone for Justice League, is a deliberate move to create a unified trilogy of movies, there’s nothing to do but laugh at his hubris.

Let’s take this quote in chunks to fully analyze its obvious lies:

“And the interesting thing is, on Man of Steel, in [Zack Snyder’s] head he had the storyline treatment of where they were going to go, and at the beginning of BvS it was even richer and deeper. The arc was BvS was the midway point and the darker movie. Hence what happens at the end; the whole tone of it was darker.”

Okay, supposedly all of this was planned in advance.

Yeah, right.

All this talk of having a dark middle act certainly makes this feel a bit like Caro is claiming that this will play out like the original Star Wars trilogy, doesn’t it? The first movie sets the scene, the second involves all the characters sinking to their lowest point, and the third is lighter in tone.

But surely DC aren’t trying to structure the next movie in their series as a direct parallel to Return of the Jedi, the least popular of the movies in the Star Wars trilogy?

No, actually, that’s exactly what they’re doing, and Damon Caro is happy to namedrop this inspiration:

“People try to say that it’s a response to the backlash, and I’d definitely say that criticisms were heard, but it’s not like we threw everything out and started with a blank slate. It’s a bit like Star Wars. Empire Strikes Back? Dark movie! But then Return of the Jedi is the rise and the rebuilding of hope.”


DC trying to copy the lighter, somewhat fluffier tone of Return of the Jedi sounds like asking a serial killer to babysit for a group of orphans. There’s just no way it’s going to end without a lot of tears.

But, supposedly, tears are what Caro is aiming for. The darker tone of BvS was entirely deliberate, so that the next movie can be hopefully and optimistic.

To emphasize this, Caro proves that he really doesn’t understand much about storytelling at all:

“If you play your story all at one level, there are no peaks and valleys, there’s no life. The great stories, the Greek tragedies, even life we have to be knocked down before we can build our way up.”

Uh, Damon? That’s not how Greek tragedies work.

What happens in a Greek tragedy is that a person in a position of power, through a fatal personal flaw (more often than not, it’s hubris), ends up sinking into terrible despair as everything around them crumbles.

There is not building back up in a Greek tragedy. There’s just more suffering.

As such, while the Zack Snyder DC movies could be described as a Greek tragedy, it’s also a great way to describe the creation of these three movies, as arrogant directors (yes, even Second Unit directors) and creatives drive a promising franchise into the dust rather than accept their mistakes.

At first, we thought that the DCEU was suffering from a terrible stroke of bad luck; Man of Steel was a potentially decent movie which didn’t quite land the way it was supposed to as audiences nitpicked its more controversial moments. It was a stumble and a trip that could be easily rectified, if only those in charge were willing to accept their mistake.

Then, when Batman v Superman hit, we realized that everything that had gone wrong with the first movie in the series was entirely intentional, and that DC were planning to continue on their merry journey into the abyss.

After that, there was a brief pause.

Then, with an attitude of “We meant to do that”, DC announced a glorious and deliberate tonal shift, the kind of which has utterly failed whenever it’s been attempted in the past.

So while at one point it might have felt a bit mean to point and laugh at DC’s continued refusal to admit fault, now, there’s nothing to do but laugh.

Because if we can’t laugh at what’s being done to the DC comic book heroes, we’ll just end up crying until we pass out from dehydration. 

Matthew loffhagen

Matthew Loffhagen

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