It’s no secret that when Zack Snyder set out to make Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he was establishing an interconnected universe with long-range plans. Man of Steel was a test balloon of sorts, and based on the relative strength of that film, Warner Bros. felt emboldened to go full-throttle with their DC properties in direct competition with the burgeoning Marvel Cinematic Universe. Looking back, Batman v Superman sets up a lot, from time-traveling Flash to nightmarish flashforwards that tease a hellscape on Earth created by iconic DC villain Darkseid. And yet, none of these plans will ever come to pass.
Batman v Superman performed solidly at the box office but suffered negative reaction from both critics and some fans. By the time BvS hit theaters, Justice League was already filming, and so Warner Bros. was forced to try to “course-correct” this franchise while the train was already speeding onward. As we all know, Snyder was fired off of Justice League during post-production, Joss Whedon came in to write new scenes, direct reshoots, and oversee editing (albeit with Warner Bros. calling the final shots), and when Justice League hit theaters, it landed with a thud—it was outgrossed by Warner Bros.’ horror movie It.
I’m of the opinion that WB should have just let Snyder finish Justice League his way, for better or worse. And while we’ll never see what Snyder had planned, we now have an idea of where things would have gone had Snyder made Justice League 2 and Justice League 3.
On the latest episode of his podcast Fatman Beyond (via Syfy), Kevin Smith revealed that when he visited the set of Star Wars: Episode IX, he spoke to people “who worked on both versions of Justice League” and got the lowdown on where the trilogy would have gone. According to Smith, these people had access to previsualization materials and other aspects of the Justice League trilogy plans—albeit acknowledging that plans certainly change over time, and this may not have been where the trilogy exactly went.
Smith says he was told that in Snyder’s version of Justice League, the fim’s ending was similar to the one we see now but with one major difference: as Steppenwolf zooms up the Boom Tube back to his home planet, defeated, Darkseid appears at the other end and glimpses the Justice League:
“[The League] saw Darkseid, and Darkseid saw them,” Smith said. “Boom tube closes, and that’s the end of the fucking movie. With them all knowing there’s something out there, and we have to go.”
Smith also says that the shot in the Justice League trailer of Jeremy Irons’ Alfred talking to an unknowon person offscreen was meant to be Green Lantern’s arrival, not the re-emergence of Superman. This would have opened the doors for a sequel set off-Earth:
“Justice League 2 was going cosmic as they take the fight to Apokolips … and the Lantern Corps was involved.”
The end of Justice League 2, however, would have been a defeat, with Smith referencing Empire Strikes Back and Infinity War, noting that Darkseid would have defeated the Justice League then gone back to Earth to desecrate the world, forming the hellscape we glimpsed in Batman’s Knightmare in Batman v Superman. This would have led to the third and final film being a showdown with Darkseid:
“That was going to be the entire third movie,” Smith said. “The heroes’ last stand against Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips — holy fuck!”
Alas, none of this will come to pass. Warner Bros. has no current plans to revisit the Justice League franchise, and with news that The Batman will introduced a new, younger Bruce Wayne, it appears we’re in line for a fractured timeline in which Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman still exist—owing to the success of their individual films—but Ben Affleck’s Batman is gone. Ezra Miller’s Flash status is still TBD as production on that standalone film has been delayed yet again owing to delays on Fantastic Beasts 3, which won’t start filming until late fall/winter of this year.
So yeah, that’s what Zack Snyder’s Justice League trilogy would have looked like. It admittedly sounds pretty interesting, and I would have liked to have seen what a Zack Snyder cosmic movie looked like, but the doom and gloom nature of Batman v Superman suggests fans may have gotten too exhausted by his tone and aesthetic by the time we got around to Justice League 2.
For now, Darkseid is on ice and Warner Bros. is simply taking it one movie at a time. Meanwhile, Snyder has moved on and is next making a zombie movie for Netflix. Perhaps one day he himself will open up about what he had planned.
Watch the video in which Smith reveals Zack Snyder’s Justice League plans below.