This article contains spoilers for Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
There’s a whole lot going on at the end of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. For fans of Zack Snyder who were always on board with his unique vision for the DC Universe, the movie is a four hour feast, a celebration, and a vindication…but it ends with a tease for a Justice League 2 that promises to be even more intense and weighty than the director’s existing DCEU trilogy that began with Man of Steel.
The Justice League epilogue is perhaps the most buzzy and infamous part of the Snyder Cut. It’s the only portion of the movie that was shot completely fresh during the reshoots that took place in late 2020. It notoriously features the return of Jared Leto as the Joker, his first turn in the role since his appearance in 2016’s Suicide Squad movie. It also it brings back the “Knightmare” imagery from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in which Bruce Wayne had a horrifying vision of a possible future where Superman has turned evil and is working alongside alien invaders.
Unsurprisingly, it’s something that the studio resisted even after greenlighting the Snyder Cut for HBO Max.
“They didn’t want me to suggest more films to come. They wanted me to cul-de-sac it as much as I could,” Snyder told Vanity Fair. “I’m like, ‘Look, that’s just not the genre.’ It’s not the comic book genre to end the story, regardless if we ever make [another] one or not.”
Zack Snyder’s Justice League epilogue doesn’t just revisit that imagery, it expands on it and gives it new context. Now that we’ve seen the events from the end of the film unfold, we know what’s really happening. Just as he threatened after witnessing the defeat of Steppenwolf at the hands of the Justice League, Darkseid has brought his armada to invade Earth once again. And from the looks of things, he’s winning. In other words, the Justice League epilogue is like watching a scene from Justice League 2, a sequel that will probably never get made.
Here’s what it tells us…
Justice League 2 Story
As we can see, Darkseid and the armies of Apokolips have invaded the Earth. From the surviving team of heroes (and villains) working together, we can infer a few things, notably that Cyborg’s vision from the moment they resurrected Superman using the Mother Box has come to pass. Wonder Woman and Aquaman are dead, and Superman has turned evil, now being manipulated by Darkseid and the Anti-Life Equation after Batman failed to save Lois Lane’s life. Now, a new League consisting of Batman, Cyborg, Deathstroke, Flash, Mera, and the Joker are working to bring Darkseid down. If this sounds pretty out there, or like it has to be another dream sequence, keep in mind that it’s exactly the story that Snyder had intended to tell.
“It’s the fall of Earth, when Superman succumbs to anti-life,” Snyder told the New York Times in a recent interview. “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. When [the villain] Darkseid comes to Earth, in the movie that you’ll never see, the armies of Earth all unite again, as they did before.”
That Flash detail is key. You may note in the epilogue that Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) is wearing the same weirdly armored costume we saw him in when he appeared to Bruce Wayne in a seeming dream, shouting about Lois Lane and then wondering if he showed up “too soon.” Just as Barry learned he can manipulate spacetime using the Speed Force as they delivered Steppenwolf’s defeat, the dire circumstances we find Batman and friends in ultimately cause the team to send Barry back in time to “warn” Bruce so that he can be sure to save Lois’ life and thus prevent Superman’s turn to Anti-Life and Darkseid.
Just as we saw Lex in this film reveal Bruce Wayne’s identity to Deathstroke for some revenge, it’s Lex who sells out all of Earth by revealing a key detail about Superman to Darkseid. “Lex tells Darkseid that the key to Superman’s weaknesses is killing Lois Lane,” Snyder told Vanity Fair. “For whatever reason, Batman fails. Darkseid comes back and kills Lois.”
Superman had specifically asked Batman to keep Lois safe during the invasion, and it seems, according to the director, that while guarding her, they also had a romantic relationship. It’s a lot for Superman to process, as you can imagine, which leaves him open to the influence of Darkseid’s Anti-Life Equation.
We also know from the details Joker reveals in this scene that the only way to save Lois Lane is for Batman to die in her place. “You need me to undo this world you created by letting her die. Poor Lois.”
Of course, it all would have a happy ending, according to Snyder.
“This time there would be aircraft carriers and Special Forces guys, all the armies of the world would come together, as well as [Aquaman’s fellow] Atlanteans rising out of the ocean and the Themyscirans [Wonder Woman’s compatriots] coming off their island,” Snyder told the New York Times. “That was our big finale. But it’s a long drum roll and guitar solo to get there.”
Will Justice League 2 Happen?
The short answer? Probably not. Long before Snyder originally left the project in the wake of a personal tragedy and studio interference, Justice League was solicited as two movies with two release dates. Justice League 2 was originally scheduled for release on June 14, 2019 but needless to say…that didn’t happen.
The unfortunate reality is that Warner Bros. seems to have moved on from Snyder’s grandiose vision for the DCEU, despite the fact that they ultimately relented and “released the Snyder Cut” of Justice League. The director has long seemed resigned to the fact that his time in the DC Universe had come to an end, but he still offers fans a little hope.
“I always go, what is more likely…That Warner Bros. would ask me to make a sequel to Justice League?” Snyder told Entertainment Weekly. “Or that they would resurrect a three-year-old movie, spend millions of dollars to restore it to my original [vision], and then release it? I think that the sequel would have been a more likely scenario than what’s just happened. So, I guess in the face of that I say, ‘Who knows what the future holds?’”
And as we’ve seen with the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max, anything is possible.