Audiences have finally seen Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League — but as he tells it, that wasn’t the end of his vision for the superhero saga. Snyder had a story in his head for a trilogy of Justice League movies that would have covered the team’s entire war with Darkseid.
The filmmaker spent most of the years since the 2017 Justice League release commenting on what was snipped from his four-hour version, and what the future story would have involved. The Snyder Cut concludes with a cliffhanger teasing the next movie, simply because that’s how it would have ended in 2017.
“The end of the movie, where we left it, was what we had originally intended,” Deborah Snyder tells Polygon.
The director’s best and most recent thoughts on the subject came from the press tour for the Snyder Cut, and in an info-dump interview with Vanity Fair, where he outlined the entire story of his trilogy. While we now have the first part of his vision, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see Justice League 2 and 3. But that’s OK, because have all the bits and pieces he’s dropped over the years.
[Ed. note: Potential spoilers for Zack Snyder’s Justice League Parts 2 and 3, should they ever get made]
The easiest way to understand the story of the trilogy is through what Snyder has teased in the Knightmares. The post-apocalyptic visions that Batman has throughout Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were entirely absent from the 2017 theatrical version of Justice League. The visions are back in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and Batman’s not the only one who gets them, they also plague Cyborg as well.
These Knightmares show a terrifying future in which much of humanity is in ruins and Superman is evil. While these were just visions in the films released so far, they would have come true in the later Justice League movies thanks to the Anti-Life Equation, which we get a brief explanation of in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
The Anti-Life Equation is a magical spell used by Darkseid to control the minds of most of the people on Earth. While Superman would normally be resistant to something like the Anti-Life Equation, Darkseid, according to Snyder’s interview-driven storytelling, finds a way around Superman’s willpower through his biggest weakness: Lois Lane.
Apparently, when Superman went off to fight Darkseid, he tasked Bruce Wayne with protecting her. During that time, Snyder planned to have Lois and Bruce begin a brief love affair — an idea that was apparently rejected by the studio. Eventually Darkseid would realize that Lois was the key to Superman’s willpower and come to kill her. Once Darkseid arrives, Bruce hesitates in a crucial moment and Lois dies, opening up Superman to the powers of Anti-Life, and ushering in the apocalypse.
Darkseid’s apocalypse would have looked a lot like the very last vision in the Snyder Cut. Batman, Cyborg, Flash, and the ragtag band of heroes/villains would have ventured through the ruined cities, dodging Superman and trying to figure out how to fix the world. Oh, and the Joker is there now, too — although that wasn’t part of the original plan. “The idea with that,” says Deborah Snyder, “was Zack being like, ‘Listen, I’ve always wanted to do a scene with Batman and Joker, and this is my last shot at doing it. I want to take it now.’”
While the details are a little fuzzy on what happens next, eventually Batman and Cyborg would find a way to send Flash back in time to warn Bruce that Darkseid was coming and how to stop him. This scene actually takes place in Batman v Superman, as we see Flash appear and explain that Lois is the key. According to some recently revealed storyboards, the remaining crew may have fought Lex Luthor’s Legion of Doom, while Deathstroke — who makes a brief appearance on Luthor’s yacht in the film — would have been the primary villain of Ben Affleck’s once planned Batman movie.
After a bit of time-travel shenanigans, Bruce would eventually realize that he needed to sacrifice himself to save Lois and the world — which is what the Joker means when he wonders how many realities Batman had the “cajones” to die in.
With Lois saved, Superman would have never fallen under the spell of the Anti-Life Equation and he and the rest of the Justice League could take the fight to Darkseid. In the end, Wonder Woman would have led the warriors of Themyscira, Aquaman would have led the Atlantians, and Superman and Flash would have led the people of Earth in a “giant war” against Darkseid.
As an added tidbit, Snyder revealed the reason behind that mysterious “Force Majeure” brand pregnancy test in Lois Lane’s bedside drawer. As it turns out, the test came back positive and she and Clark would have had a baby at the end of the trilogy. Not only that, but he would have been named Bruce, and the series would have ended with them taking him to see the Batcave and revealing the kid as the new Batman.
Unfortunately, based on everything Snyder has said since the release of his version of Justice League, and of course everything he’s said in the years before it was announced, it seems unlikely that we’ll ever get to see the final two parts of his Justice League trilogy. Then again, we never thought the Snyder Cut would come out either so we’ll just have to wait and see.