When we turned the new draft in to the studio, we got a reaction that made me wonder if anyone at Warners had actually read previous drafts or the associated notes. The studio felt the movie played too young. They wanted edgier. They wanted Billy to be older. They wanted Black Adam to appear much earlier.
(I pointed out that Black Adam appears on page one, but never got a response.)
I expressed my frustration that I’d wasted months of my time and a considerable amount of the studio’s money on things that should have been discussed at the outset. I asked for a meeting with the executive in charge. He and I had one phone call, then I got a new set of notes that didn’t gibe with what we had discussed. (The written studio notes, I will say, were well-considered. I disagreed with the direction they were taking the movie, but they were thorough and self-consistent.)
In retrospect, I can point to two summer Warner Bros. movies that I believe defined the real issue at hand: Speed Racer and The Dark Knight. The first flopped; the second triumphed. Given only those two examples, one can understand why a studio might wish for their movies to be more like the latter. But to do so ignores the success of Iron Man, which spent most of its running time as a comedic origin story, and the even more pertinent example of WB’s own Harry Potter series. I tried to make this case, to no avail.
I was under contract to deliver one more draft. So I took them at their (written) word and delivered what they said they wanted: a much harder movie, with a lot more Black Adam. This wasn’t “Big, with super powers” anymore. It was Black Adam versus Captain Marvel, with a considerable push into dark territory and liminal badlands like Nanda Parbat. It wasn’t the action-comedy I’d signed on to write, but it was a movie I could envision getting made. The producer and director liked it, and turned it in to the studio while I was in France.