CS Soapbox: Zack Snyder’s Justice League Can Remain in Continuity
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is currently available to stream on HBO Max and by all accounts the long-awaited flick has been an enormous success thus far. So much so that fans have started a #RestoreTheSnyderVerse movement to continue Snyder’s vision. But where would it go? And could it remain among the DCEU’s continuity? I have some thoughts.
JUSTICE LEAGUE’S DANGLING PLOT THREADS
Look, as great as it was to get Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the experience -which came about due to incredible fan support- was ultimately bittersweet, especially since the film turned out to be really good. Snyder didn’t help matters by teasing fans with more of what could have been with a handful of scenes at film’s end, namely the Lex Luthor/Deathstroke scene, the Knightmare bit and the closing sequence featuring Martian Manhunter.
Snyder claims he included these scenes in the film to give it a comic book feel as a comic series is rarely given a definitive ending. Except, considering Snyder filmed the Knightmare and Martian Manhunter scenes last year, all signs point to the filmmaker’s not-so-secret desire to continue his universe. He has stated his willingness to return should the powers-that-be fund the project, and even withheld storyboards featuring plans for his follow up films from leaking to the public during a Justice League exhibition event in February. Clearly, the man is holding out hope for more.
THE RABBIT HOLE
How would it all work? The Lex Luthor teaser sets up Ben Affleck’s solo Batman movie which was going to see the Dark Knight go toe-to-toe with Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke and would likely have featured Batgirl. Considering WB is gearing up for a reboot of its Batman franchise with Matt Reeves’ The Batman next year, and remains weeks away from commencing production on Ezra Miller’s solo Flash film, which is rumored to feature Affleck’s Batman along with (we hope) Michael Keaton’s Batman from the Tim Burton films, there’s clearly no more room for more Batman on the big screen.
So, why not HBO Max?
The streaming platform would offer the perfect venue for Affleck and/or Snyder to complete their vision either via a limited series or a movie. Hell, at this point I’d even take Affleck’s vision in animated form.
But won’t an Affleck series complicate The Flash? Not really. WB has stated that the 2017 theatrical cut of Justice League is its preferred canon, meaning any theatrical film will feature decidedly different takes on the heroes in a manner similar to James Wan’s Aquaman, which went so far as to redesign the underwater world established in ZSJL and reconfigure the story to reinstate Mera’s deceased father (played by Dolph Lundgren in the finished film).
Put succinctly, everything on HBO Max can follow the SnyderVerse. Anything on the big screen can follow 2017’s Justice League. I mean, if that taco commercial taught us anything, it’s that we can most definitely have both.
Snyder can also continue his Justice League 2 and 3 films on the streaming platform and introduce new characters — alternate iterations of Black Adam, Batgirl, Supergirl, Green Lantern — who could also figure into the theatrical series of films via… wait for it… the multiverse!
Of all the things Snyder is keen to develop with his superheroes, the man remains adamant about producing the Knightmare storyline first seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. So much so that he filmed an additional scene for Justice League that saw Ben Affleck mingling with Jared Leto’s Joker.
Here’s where it gets fun.
Amongst Joker’s talk about reach arounds and boy wonders, the Clown Prince of Crime alludes to a multiverse when he tells his nemesis, “I often wonder … how many alternate timelines do you destroy the world because, frankly, you don’t have the cajones to die yourself?” Earlier, Steppenwolf explains how Darkseid was looking for the Anti-Life Equation, or “the key to controlling all life in the multiverse.” That’s a little too much smoke to ignore.
What if Snyder’s Justice League 2 and 3 (along with Affleck’s Batman series) continue down one path and somehow connect with the theatrical timeline, either via Flash’s powers or some other magical technique introduced at a later time? We could go as far as having Snyder’s Wonder Woman come face-to-face with her 1984 counterpart. Or, imagine a CGI-lipped Superman having a conversation with black-suited Superman… Yeah, that probably won’t happen.
The point is, characters introduced by Snyder in his universe can crossover to WBs theatrical slate of films and vice versa. Green Lantern, Shazam, Black Adam… why not? I love the concept of a multiverse in which Keaton’s Batman exists with Leto’s Joker or Snyder’s Deathstroke. Hell, bring the TV crew along! As Doc Brown would say, “This concerns them too!”
The Flash film is reportedly taking many of its cues from “Flashpoint,” a series in which Barry discovers alternate timelines, including one in which Thomas Wayne (mourning for the loss of his son Bruce) dons the Batman mantle, and would serve as a viable jumping off point for this particular path. Imagine if they tease the Knightmare world in The Flash? Or briefly hint at the possibilities of multiple Wonder Women, or different incarnations of Superman — Red Son, mullet Superman, or the unnamed Superman in the recently announced reboot set to be produced by JJ Abrams? The possibilities are endless.
What if Darkseid succeeds in attaining the Anti-Life Equation in the SnyderVerse and uses that power to control the multiverse entire, thus impacting DC’s theatrical slate?
Yeah, this concept isn’t new. Marvel is enacting its own multiverse with Spider-Man: No Way Home, which will see the return of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in their respective Spidey roles. The upcoming Doctor Strange sequel is literally titled In the Multiverse of Madness. To say nothing of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which initially brought the concept to life on the big screen to be milked by a hundred greedy producers. Even DC’s TV universe has dipped its toes in the multiverse pool and included Miller’s Flash in the process.
But, hey, if you’re gonna milk it, milk that sucker for all it’s worth! There’s a built in audience for Zack Snyder’s universe as well as DC’s theatrical films. Clearly, people want more of both, so, why not give them what they want? [In Eric Bana from Star Trek voice] “More of everything!”
Imagine if Knightmare Flash went and recruited Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam and Zachary Levi’s Shazam to combat evil Superman in the SnyderVerse? Or, if Henry Cavill’s black-suited Superman teamed up with Shazam to take down Black Adam? That’s the stuff of dreams and the type of wacky lunacy typically found in most comic books. And it would keep Snyder’s films somewhat relevant to DC’s theatrical slate and vice versa.
Everyone wins. What’s not to like?