Monday, April 19, 2021

Justice League Snyder Cut: What the Sequels Might’ve Been

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Everyone can now watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max and judge for themselves which they prefer of the two incredibly different versions of the film that now exist. Fans can also now start thinking about all the tantalizing possibilities that the four-hour, two-minute-long new iteration dangles before our eyes. Many viewers are no doubt wondering, will there be a Justice League 2? The short answer is, no. And yet…
The Snyder Cut ends on an open note, a cliffhanger promising a coming war between the armies of Apokolips and the heroes of Earth. The epilogue introduces us to new heroes, enemies and some strange alliances. But will we ever see it? Snyder himself didn’t sound terribly optimistic about it during an interview at IGN FanFest. “That’s very hypothetical,” he said when asked if he would return to do a Justice League sequel. “I think that I would say I would believe it when I see it, and happy to cross that bridge when I see it approaching.”In an interview with the New York Times this week, Snyder sounded even more definitive. “They are 100 percent moving away,” he answered in response to a question about whether Warner Bros. is putting distance between the Snyder-verse and their current DC films. “They consider the theatrical cut of Justice League as canon. That’s their decision. I wish them all the best…”

But what if HBO Max sees blockbuster viewing numbers – a definite possibility – for Zack Snyder’s Justice League? What if, just as with the #ReleasetheSnyderCut phenomenon, the drum-banging for more of this version of the DC mythos becomes too loud for studio executives to ignore? What could/would we see?

Let’s delve deeper into what the potential/possible/probably-never-going-to-happen-but-who-knows-these-days Justice League sequel(s) would be about.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League Images

The Knightmare Becomes Reality

Snyder has said the story of Justice League 2 would be largely centered on the “Knightmare” world that is a key part of the final moments of the Snyder Cut. This is the same post-apocalyptic setting first glimpsed in the dream sequence in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. “It’s the fall of Earth, when Superman succumbs to Anti-Life,” Snyder said to the Times. “And then sending Flash back in time to change one element so that doesn’t happen. And then the big battle where we beat him.”

The story element about sending Flash back in time sheds some important light on things. We know from the conversation between Batman and Jared Leto’s Joker in the epilogue of the Snyder Cut that Darkseid’s takeover of Earth is tied in part to the death of Lois Lane. That connects back to the moment in BvS where Batman glimpses the Flash in a dream, and Barry Allen screams, “It’s Lois. Lois Lane… she’s the key!” What happened to Lois, and how it leads to Superman falling victim to the Anti-Life Equation, appears likely to have been the key story thread of the first sequel, the middle chapter of Snyder’s planned Justice League trilogy.

The now evil Superman, under the spell of the Anti-Life Equation and Darkseid, would become committed to finding Batman and taking his revenge for Lois’ death.


Snyder recently told Vanity Fair that in the sequels, when Darkseid arrived on Earth Superman would’ve asked Batman to guard Lois. Lex Luthor, meanwhile, would team up with Darkseid and tell him that “the key to Superman’s weaknesses is killing Lois Lane.” Batman would eventually fail in protecting Lois, leading to Superman’s falling under the thrall of Darkseid. Aquaman and Wonder Woman would die in the ensuing battles of Earth, while the now evil Superman, under the spell of the Anti-Life Equation and Darkseid, would become committed to finding Batman and taking his revenge for Lois’ death.

One thing that isn’t made clear by the Justice League Snyder Cut epilogue is where the scene lands in the Knightmare timeline. It ends with Batman and his motley crew of heroes and villains being discovered by Superman. Does this occur before the Knightmare scene in BvS, where Batman is captured and Superman confronts him? Could that scene actually be meant to take place after the epilogue here? Perhaps even in the third JL movie?

How Many Parts Is Justice League?

There have been rumors circulating for several years about a second Justice League chapter. Kevin Smith, always in the know on DC matters, said in 2019 the movie would have had the League taking the fight to Darkseid on Apokolips, leading to an Infinity War-like ending that would set the stage for the climactic third installment. The Green Lantern Corps, who aside from two brief glimpses don’t have a role in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, were reportedly part of that cosmic throwdown.

In the interview at Fan Fest, Snyder noted that his Justice League was always meant to set up not one, but two sequels. “It hints, as you would, at a potential other world. I’d plant the seeds as I had wanted to of what would come in the later films,” Snyder said.

Of course, once Snyder left the original production and Joss Whedon took over, resulting in the 2017 theatrical cut of the film, plans for any sequels were put on hold at Warner Bros. But then again, the Snyder Cut itself was hypothetical as well not that long ago…

Justice League Snyder Cut: All the Known Differences From the Theatrical Version

Villains and Allies in the Justice League Snyder Cut

The epilogue in the Snyder Cut is packed with surprising reveals. An escaped Lex Luthor meets with Deathstroke on a yacht, because when you’re Lex, even when you’re a wanted fugitive, you go on the run in style.

This scene is different than the post-credits moment in the theatrical cut of Justice League. Here, Lex reveals to Slade Wilson that Bruce Wayne is Batman. This would seem to be a set up for what was supposed to be a central storyline of Ben Affleck’s abandoned Batman solo movie. According to Joe Manganiello, the actor playing Deathstroke, that film would have seen the mercenary out to destroy both Batman and Bruce Wayne for his own reasons. Manganiello described the project as having “David Fincher vibes.” He told Yahoo! last year: “It was really cool, really dark and really hard. I was very excited for it.”

That’s what makes seeing him work alongside Batman in the Snyder Cut epilogue so surprising. The Knightmare scene at the end makes up the bulk of new footage Snyder shot once he got the greenlight from Warners to complete the film. In it, Deathstroke is sporting a mohawk in the scene and it’s clear he and Bats have settled their differences. They are part of a team that includes Mera, Flash, Cyborg and… the Joker.Jared Leto’s appearance in the film was a new element for this version, simply because Snyder didn’t want to end his tenure in the DC universe without having Batman and his arch-enemy meet. “[I] always wanted him to be in the Knightmare reality, and so it was a great opportunity,” Snyder told IGN. “When I talked to Jared and he was interested in doing it, I just felt like, okay, this feels like a thing I can’t pass up.”

Snyder said in that Vanity Fair interview that the studio didn’t want this additional Knightmare sequence initially. “They didn’t want me to suggest more films to come. They wanted me to cul-de-sac it as much as I could,” he said. He convinced them that the comic-book genre can’t just “end the story, regardless if we ever make [another] one or not.”

Then there are the two new members of the team we meet. The first is Ryan Choi. After Silas Stone, Victor’s father, dies, Choi became head of S.T.A.R. Labs’ nanotech division. If we’re following the comics, he’ll eventually become the Atom, one of the all-time great Justice League members.

Martian Manhunter Explained: The Hero Hiding in Plain Sight in the Justice League Snyder Cut

We had already gotten a glimpse of the Martian Manhunter earlier in the film (when he visits Lois Lane), but the shapeshifter finally reveals himself to Bruce Wayne after he awakens from his latest Knightmare. Just before the film concludes, the classic Justice League member (also known as J’onn J’onzz) tells Bruce, “I’m sure you know Darkseid is not finished with Earth. The Anti-Life Equation is here somewhere and we need to find it before he does. There’s a war coming and I’m here to help.”

That war would likely have included not just Darkseid but a host of other characters familiar to readers of the Fourth World saga that was created by Jack Kirby for DC (and expanded upon over the years by other creators). Indeed, in the final moments of the Snyder Cut’s climactic fight scene, we see Darkseid and his minions on the other side of the teleportation “Boom Tube.” Standing next to him are DeSaad and Granny Goodness, of Fourth World fame. Snyder said in another recent interview with YouTube personality Wonder Meg that his plans for the conclusion of his Justice League trilogy called for the third film to be “a New Gods invasion movie.”

His plans for the conclusion of his Justice League trilogy called for the third film to be “a New Gods invasion movie.”


The Death of a Batman and the Birth of a New Batman

Snyder has said that ultimately the Flash’s time-travel abilities would’ve been how the League saves the world from the Knightmare future, with him traveling back in time to warn Bruce Wayne about Lois’ impending death. Of course, that’s what we saw in the dream scene in BvS, but the Flash had arrived too far back in the past there.

But by the final film in the trilogy, the Bruce of the past would’ve gotten the message and sacrificed himself to save Lois, thus averting Superman’s fall and the dark future. And the new Batman who would take his place years later would’ve been… wait for it… Superman and Lois’ son. (We do see Lois take a pregnancy test in the Snyder Cut.) “He doesn’t have any powers, and then he was going to end up being the new Batman,” Snyder told Vanity Fair.

Will The Flash Movie Undo Knightmare?

We actually know much more about these hypothetical sequels than we do an actual, confirmed DC movie. The Flash solo film starring Ezra Miller is due out in 2022, and precious little is known about it outside of some killer casting news. OG Batman Michael Keaton is reportedly returning to serve as Barry’s sort-of mentor, in a Nick Fury kind of role. Also, Ben Affleck is said to be returning, which leads us to believe the “Flashpoint” storyline is in play (involving alternate timelines and the multiverse).

The Snyder Cut of Justice League goes a ways toward setting up a Flash sequel, if not necessarily this Flash sequel. There’s been quite a bit of upheaval behind the scenes with the first solo film to feature Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), with a variety of creative teams coming and going since it was first announced. But Snyder definitely sets up elements of whatever the plan was for Barry when his version of Justice League was in production. Kiersey Clemons is here as Iris West, who is saved by Barry in one scene. And Billy Crudup shows up as Barry’s dad, Henry. Both actors were meant to appear in the Flash movie at one point, though last we heard Crudup will not be back (and Clemons has re-signed to return).Additionally, originally Ray Fisher’s Cyborg was expected to return not only in the Flash film but also for his own solo film. Unfortunately, his very public battle with Warner Bros. has reportedly led to his not appearing in The Flash. And his solo film has long since disappeared from Warner Bros.’ schedule, despite his character having a much stronger and substantial arc in the Snyder Cut.

But given the nature of Flashpoint, what if the Flash movie is designed to undo the DC Snyderverse? Barry’s ability to rewind time helped Cyborg save the day at the end of ZSJL. Could his messing with the timeline in his own adventure be the way Warner Bros. puts a pin in the world Snyder created? Perhaps his Flashpoint adventure will simply alter the history of the DC Extended Universe in such a fundamental way that the events we have watched unfold since Man of Steel was released in 2013 simply aren’t DCEU history anymore?

In the end, it’s truly remarkable we know as much as we do about the likely-never-to-happen Justice League 2 and Justice League 3. Maybe the reason Snyder has been so generous with details about his hoped-for sequels is because he knows they’ll never happen, so why not let people hear about where he intended to take the story? Or, maybe, just maybe, he knows that by planting these seeds, he can mobilize his legion of fans into action once again.

#SnyderCutSequel, anyone?

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