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Explaining The Ending From Zack Snyder's Justice League

In a significant break from what feels like comic book movie tradition at this point, Zack Snyder's Justice League doesn't have a post-credit teaser scene. Instead, the final 20 minutes of the film serve as an extended preview of Snyder's ambitious plans for the franchise.

Justice League is one of the most popular franchises in the world. Aside from being converted into a major Hollywood motion picture series, the world-famous crime-fighting group also influences literature, such as the upcoming The New 52, which is DC Comics' attempt to reboot its entire comic book portfolio.

The popularity of Justice League has been widely adopted in video gaming as well, with many titles such as Justice League Heroes and Injustice 2, which is considered one of the premier fighting games in the world today. It even influences the iGaming sector as there is a slot game called Justice League that can be found on the online casino listing in South Africa, such as Europa Casino.

So when the original Justice League came out in 2017, and it turned out to be vastly different from the vision of original director Zack Snyder (he had to leave the project late on in production because of a family bereavement), there was an enormous outcry from fans around the world who demanded the Snyder Cut be released.

In the end, they got their wish (and then some) when the four-hour epic that is Zack Snyder's Justice League was released on streaming platform HBO Max in March this year. It was everything fans had been asking for and much, much more. If you thought there couldn't be that much new in the film, especially considering Snyder was only permitted to reshoot one scene, you'd be sorely mistaken. It's an entirely new film.

As it turns out, there were reels and reels of unused material that Snyder had already shot but went by new stand-in director Joss Whedon, who had instructions from the studio to make the film more light-hearted after the success of Thor: Ragnarok. Snyder's vision was clearly much darker, but nowhere is the distinction more apparent than at the end of the film.

The final 20 minutes of Zack Snyder's Justice League play out like an epilogue at the back of a fantasy novel in the middle of a 10-book epic, setting up characters for future trials and tribulations and hinting at a dark and lonely future that everyone (goodies and baddies) needs to work together to avoid. There is a lot to unpack, so let's get started.

The epilogue begins in what would have been a very familiar way to people who had already seen Whedon's Justice League, finding out that Lex Luther (Jesse Eisenberg) has managed to escape Arkham Asylum and is instead chilling out on a fancy yacht in the middle of the ocean with Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello), revealing to him that Batman (Ben Affleck) is Bruce Wayne. However, this was the one scene that Snyder decided to reshoot.

In Snyder's version, instead of Luthor and Deathstroke "starting a league of their own"; to combat the Justice League, Lex sets the assassin a very directed and personal collision course with the Bat. At this point in the film, Luthor knows about Darkseid's plan to destroy the world, which is alluded to when he states he has "more important things to do" than fight Batman".

The scene is a direct reference and set up for the scrapped Affleck solo Batman movie replaced by the Robert Pattinson film, which is a pretty strange decision considering the decision to axe the Affleck project made several years before the Snyder reshoot. The only real explanation is that Snyder was firmly sticking to his original vision, which, after all, is what the fans wanted all along anyway.

The second part of the epilogue takes us to a dark and terrible future after Darkseid has succeeded in conquering earth and laying waste to almost all of the planet's life. Even though Batman, Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the Atlantean Mera, Deathstroke, the Flash, and the Joker have formed a resistance group, there is very little hope.

Despite their status as allies, the Joker can't help but taunt Batman about all the loved ones he has lost from his parents to his adopted son, which is likely Robin. The Bat growls at Joker to be careful, to which he replies: "You need me, to help you undo this world you created by letting her die. Poor Lois, how she suffered so." Superman then rocks up with glowing red eyes looking ready to kill. At this point, Bruce Wayne wakes up from what was an apparent nightmare, although it is pretty clear it is a vision of the future.

Everything about this scene is set up for future Justice League sequels, from the increasing tension between Batman and Joker leading to a confrontation at some point to the suggestion that Superman has become one of the Justice League's greatest enemies because Batman was unable to save Lois Lane.

The scene is already significant for linking the threads that lead to the "Knightmare"; sequence hinted at in Batman v Superman when Flash uses his speed to travel through time to warn Bruce Wayne about Superman's potential to the dark side. It appears to take place as the heroes are preparing for the Flash to time travel. Snyder revealed to Vanity Fair that the original plan was for heroes to discover a way to reverse the dark timeline but that Bruce Wayne would ultimately die and be replaced by Bruce Kent, the powerless son of Lois Lane and Clarke Kent.

Unfortunately, at this stage, Snyder has confirmed there are no plans for any of the sequels that he alluded to and set up in his conclusion to Zack Snyder's Justice League. But, if we have learned anything from this whole saga, if the fans want something badly enough, there is a decent chance the studio might make it happen.