Following Batman v Superman’s underwhelming box office performance, DC’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns was promoted to the position of creative head for WB’s DC Film franchise, overseeing the studio’s upcoming slate of comic-book movies. In addition to co-writing the new solo Batman film with Ben Affleck, Johns (who recently confirmed Joe Manganiello’s casting as DC villain Deathstroke) is heavily involved with Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and, in a new interview, the exec reveals how they’re making some adjustments to address complaints about Snyder’s Dawn of Justice.

There have been plenty of rumors and extensive reports about what’s going on behind the scenes in the DC movie universe, particularly regarding the fallout from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (which took a lashing from critics) and Suicide Squad (which reportedly suffered from studio interference in the wake of negative reactions to Snyder’s film). Amid all the chatter, one thing was abundantly clear: WB needed someone like Marvel’s Kevin Feige to help creatively steer the DC ship.

That person is Geoff Johns, whom WB promoted to head of their new DC Films banner, giving him a crucial role in the future of the franchise. While we have yet to see how his involvement will pay off, Johns offered some optimism in a new interview with the Wall Street Journal, in which he echoes a major complaint among fans by acknowledging that the DCEU has been a little too grim:

Mistakenly in 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. 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.

According to WSJ, Johns and WB decided to speed up their plans to bring that “optimistic view” to the DCEU following the negative reactions to Dawn of Justice.

Speaking of which, Johns says Justice League will directly address Affleck’s more violent and volatile version of Batman, who spent much of Dawn of Justice trying to kill the Man of Steel and straight-up murdered a handful of criminals along the way. Although the comic-book version of Batman has killed villains in the past, more conventional depictions have established that the vigilante hero typically avoids murder (otherwise he’d be no better than the bad guys).

Johns also says that Justice League won’t have any of Snyder’s “controversial flourishes,” like the nightmare apocalypse sequences (I can just hear some exec shouting, “And none of that flowery film school crap!”); instead, they’ll keep the focus on plot and characters — which addresses another major concern, as both Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were criticized for their meandering, occasionally incoherent plots.

Up next is Wonder Woman, which hits theaters next summer and scores a point for WB against Marvel, who won’t release their first solo female superhero film until 2019. With Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller (already a favorite thanks to scene-stealing cameos and his charismatic turn in that footage from Comic-Con), Justice League already looks a bit more lively than its predecessors, but we’ll find out for sure when it hits theaters next November.

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