Ben Affleck's Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is more than a little brutal. He tortured and branded criminals, wielded a gun and no doubt sent more than a few bad guys to their graves.
For longtime fans of the character, that didn't seem right. Batman has long had a "no kill" motto (and a no gun motto as well), so to see him so willing to kill in his DC Cinematic Universe debut rubbed many the wrong way. That's not even mentioning the fact that Batman was completely willing to murder Superman via a kryptonite spear to the heart, had their mothers not coincidentally shared a name.
However, perhaps DC fans can at long last breathe a sigh of relief. Earlier this year, DC Comics chief creative officer Geoff Johns and Warner Bros. executive John Berg were put in place to oversee the DC film universe and to course correct for the poorly-received Batman v Superman. Talking with the Wall Street Journal (via iO9.Gizmodo), Johns reveals that one of those corrections will come in the form of the Justice League film tackling Batman's extreme tactics head-on. Johns says they aren't taking the character's actions as par for the course in the movie, though he doesn't dive into specifics.
It sounds similar to how Batman v Superman set out to address Superman's destruction of Metropolis in his fight against Zod in Man of Steel following the fan backlash regarding what appeared to be Superman's complete disregard for human life. However, taking a critical in-film look at Batman's brutal use of violence is just one way the Justice League film sounds like it will be trying to fix the DC movie universe.
"[I]n the past, I think the studio has said, ‘Oh, DC films are gritty and dark and that's what makes them different.' That couldn't be more wrong," Johns tells the Wall Street Journal. "It's a hopeful and optimistic view of life. Even Batman has a glimmer of that in him. If he didn't think he'd make tomorrow better, he'd stop."
Some of what Johns is talking about is already clear. In the Justice League trailer revealed at Comic-Con, the tone is far more optimistic and overall less deathly serious. Bruce Wayne smiles. There are jokes to be had. Some resemblance of fun looks to have been injected back into the characters, something present in the DC Comic Universe but, for whatever reason, failed to find a home in DC's films.
Can Johns save the DC film universe from mediocrity? Fans will know for sure when Justice League arrives in theaters June 2, 2017. Until then, at least there's reason to be optimistic.