It’s been a long time coming, but four whole years after its cinematic release, Zack Snyder’s extended edit of Justice League is finally available to stream on HBO Max. With a running time of four hours, the movie includes a wealth of new material which recontextualizes a lot of character development and plot, as well as bringing back storylines which had been jettisoned completely—including a jaw-dropping final scene.
Following the Justice League’s showdown with the bad guys, which saw Wonder Woman decapitate Steppenwolf and Darkseid continue his evil scheming from afar, fans got to see what a “happy ending” for each of these superheroes looked like. Bruce Wayne helps Clark Kent get his family’s farm back and The Flash gets a job with the police department, while Cyborg, Aquaman and Wonder Woman continue using their powers to help people.
All of which would be a perfect note on which to end the movie. Instead, the film flashes forward to a post-apocalyptic future in which several members of the Justice League appear to be dead, Superman is now a potential villain, and Batman once again comes face to face with The Joker, played by Jared Leto. This is the actor’s first appearance in the DCEU since 2016’s Justice League, but as the scene plays out, it appears that the character may have a greater significance in future movies.
In a new video, Erik Voss over on the New Rockstars channel breaks down the at-times inscrutable ending, and explains that this future scenario was obliquely foreshadowed in Cyborg’s vision earlier in the film. He speculates that it most likely came about as a result of The Flash’s time travel tampering in Justice League and Batman v. Superman, with The Joker referring to multiple alternate timelines.
The scene also sets up the possibility of a temporary “truce” between Batman and his nemesis, and heavily hints that the two enemies will be forced to work together to solve whatever reality-shattering event caused this bleak future.
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