Zack Snyder is lighting up the Bat-Signal all over again to “Unite the Seven” (well, not quite) with the long-awaited Snyder Cut of Justice League. Much like the Mother Boxes themselves, the director’s vision for the 2017 box office bomb was once the stuff of legend.
However, with Warner Bros. finally caving to fan pressure - and the studio throwing a hefty $70 million behind the project - Zack Snyder’s Justice League is finally landing on 18th March in the US and UK. (Read our Zack Snyder's Justice League review for our verdict.)
While it looks like this is the end of the road for the DC Extended Universe that Snyder started back in 2013 with Man of Steel, this wasn’t always pitched as the director’s final hurrah. Buckle up in the Batmobile for what really happened to Zack Snyder’s Justice League...
Will there be a Justice League sequel?
Back in the day, Snyder had mapped out a five-movie arc for Ben Affleck’s Batman. Alongside his debut in 2016’s Batman v Superman, there was going to be a Dark Knight-centric standalone and a trilogy of proposed Justice League movies. Justice League was only the start of the story, but following the tragic death of his daughter, Snyder stepped down to share directorial duties with Joss Whedon.
By the time Snyder left Justice League, he’d already started pulling together the various strands to form his vision for a superhero showstopper. Although the theatrical release was far from what Snyder had imagined - with Whedon reportedly reshooting around 60 per cent - he’s scooped up the snippets from the cutting room floor and woven them together to make the Snyder Cut.
Unfortunately, it seems this really is the last chance saloon for the DCEU under Snyder. Even though Deathstroke actor Joe Manganiello told the Happy Sad Confused podcast, “I think there's gonna be excitement over continuing what Zack was up to,” it’s not that simple. A massive development was the confirmed return of Suicide Squad’s Jared Leto for the Snyder Cut – it was in the wake of this that Snyder told Vanity Fair he’d always wanted to explore the death of Robin, but admitted “there probably won’t be” a next one when referring to Justice League 2.
All signs point to the DCEU we’ve come to know reaching its own endgame. Some hoped that a renewed interest in the franchise could kickstart a new era of the DCEU, but putting the final nail in the coffin, Snyder told I Minutemen that Warner Bros. has “no interests and/or appetite to do more of these movies.”
Justice League Snyder Cut sequel story
Despite Zack Snyder’s Justice League rounding off the story, the man himself warned Grace Randolph that it will end on a “massive cliffhanger” that was due to set up Justice League 2. Considering the end is nigh, Snyder has been quote-happy with revealing what he would’ve done next. The sequel was supposed to release in June 2019, but was pulled after the first movie tanked.
Further cementing the fact his trilogy will never happen, Snyder told IGN how Justice League 2 would’ve been primarily set in the apocalyptic Knightmare timeline. Although Steppenwolf remains the big bad of both cuts of Justice League, the Snyder Cut will introduce the looming presence of Darkseid. Actor Ray Porter had been on hold for a bigger part in Justice League 2 and was going emerge as the DCEU’s equivalent to Marvel's Thanos.
Following the death of Lois Lane, Darkseid would’ve corrupted Superman with the Anti-Life Equation, which led to the villainous Man of Steel seen in Batman v Superman’s Knightmare sequence. Taking a leaf out of the Final Crisis comics, Batman was also going to die before the credits rolled on Justice League 3.
Leaked storylines have made their way online (and quickly been deleted) after they were displayed at Dallas’ The Dreamscape of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. They show off details from both Justice League 2 and 3, with Snyder’s second movie reportedly featuring a killer Legion of Doom made up of Dr. Poison, Black Manta and Ocean Master, along with Captain Cold and The Riddler. Harry Lennix also confirmed he’ll be playing Martian Manhunter in Zack Snyder’s Justice League (via Collider), teasing his planned involvement with the axed trilogy of movies.
After Flash watched his teammates die brutal deaths, he’d then use the Cosmic Treadmill in Justice League 3 to try and undo the events of the bloody Justice League 2. This would’ve effectively made Justice League 3 the DCEU’s very own Avengers: Endgame and Affleck’s Batman into a sacrificial Iron Man. Even though it’s only a loose outline, it’s clear the Knightmare timeline was at the centre of the DCEU.
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Justice League reboot
So, what’s next? If the DCEU is dead in the water, is Warner Bros. destined to stop making DC movies? The rebranded Worlds of DC proves it’s quite the opposite, with a jam-packed slate merging the old and the new.
As well as the return of Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller for, respectively, Wonder Woman 1984 and the upcoming Aquaman 2 and The Flash, Margot Robbie is back as Harley Quinn for The Suicide Squad, there’s Ava DuVernay’s New Gods, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods. That’s before covering proposed outings for everyone from Batgirl to Nightwing, as well as a Justice League Dark series and whatever’s going on with Superman (after Henry Cavill repeatedly saying he’d be open to a return as the Metropolis Marvel, JJ Abrams is reportedly working on a Superman reboot.
Although some of the old guard are still attached to their roles, another spanner in the works is Robert Pattinson’s role in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Much like Snyder’s once-grand plans, Reeves is tipped to helm a trilogy of movies for a junior Caped Crusader. Those at the top are firmly behind the idea, with an HBO Max prequel series that focuses on the GCPD also greenlit. Although it would be easy to pitch a new Justice League with a younger line-up like Pattinson, there’s been no confirmation (yet) that Reeves’ movies will be connected to a larger franchise.
Affleck is tipped to reprise his role as Bruce Wayne in The Flash – however, he’s not the only version of the Dark Knight who'll be appearing. Michael Keaton is also attached to The Flash, suiting up for the first time since Batman Returns in 1992 – though reports that he’d be the new face of the Worlds of DC and serve as the franchise’s Samuel L. Jackson/Nick Fury figure across its own multiverse were later confirmed to be a misunderstanding and as it stands, Keaton is only back for one outing.
Looking at the bigger picture of what’s next for the Worlds of DC and a potential Justice League future, it’s not as simple as trying to slot a new Batman and Superman into the already convoluted roster. Any form of a “new” Justice League would require a complete reboot, and with so many projects already in the works with ties to the DCEU, expect that to be a long way off. Even if Zack Snyder’s Justice League marks the end of the director’s time with the franchise, it looks like the shadow of Snyder still looms large over the studio’s superhero slate.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League cut will be released on Sky Cinema and NOW TV in the UK on Thursday 18th March, with a release on HBO Max in the US.