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The filmmaker takes a deep dive into the conclusion of his resurrected superhero epic.

By clark collis
March 18, 2021 at 02:02 PM EDT
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Warning: this article contains spoilers for director Zack Snyder's version of Justice League and some adult content.

This is a very strange week to be Zack Snyder. Almost four years ago, it was announced the filmmaker was departing from Justice League, a movie he had essentially finished shooting and had plans to follow with two sequels. The project was taken over by a pre-disgraced Joss Whedon, who reshot most of the movie and then saw his version of the superhero saga savaged by critics and fans alike upon release. Following a grassroots fan campaign, Warner Bros. allowed Snyder to construct a four-hour version of his Justice League, which has just premiered on HBO Max to a mostly positive reception, with broad agreement that the so-called "Snyder Cut" is an improvement on Whedon's version. So, how is the director feeling?

"It's been pretty crazy," says Snyder. "Intense. Emotional rollercoaster. But I'm just happy about having the movie out. It's been a cathartic and healing process for us and this week has been a culmination of all of that."

There are many differences between the two iterations of Justice League and the films conclude in spectacularly different ways. While Snyder's movie still includes a version of the meeting between Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor and Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke (which concluded Whedon's film), it also features a post-apocalyptic sequence featuring Ben Affleck's Batman and Jared Leto's Joker among other characters, and a scene in which Bruce Wayne meets Harry Lennix's Martian Manhunter.

Below, Snyder talks us through the ending of his Justice League.

Zack Snyder's Justice League
Credit: HBO Max

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This version of Justice League has a three-part conclusion. How did you originally intend it to end?
ZACK SNYDER: Originally, it was virtually the same scene that Bruce has at the glass house, but it was a different character. I'm not going to say who at this point, but it was a different character who he talked to. There was another character there, but it was essentially the exact same scene with very similar dialog, talking about "There's a war coming and I want to join the Justice League," but it wasn't Martian Manhunter.

The post-apocalypse scene was the major new sequence that you shot. What was that like? You were reuniting with a lot of your cast and you've got Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke and Jared Leto's Joker.
I was ready for it to be crazier. Instead, everyone knew exactly what to do, everyone was very comfortable in this world. It was just like stepping back into a thing that everyone kind of knew how to do. So, the process was really quite seamless and fun.

It was always our plan that the next movies would be all about the fall of earth and how to fix that. The idea for the next movie was, Darkseid comes to earth, kills the pregnant Lois, that sends Superman into a spiral of grief that Darkseid takes advantage of, uses the Anti-Life Equation to bring him on to Darkseid's side, and that's really what makes the earth fall. Then, in the post-apocalyptic world, Flash has to run back in time, and Batman sacrifices himself so Lois doesn't die, and then Superman is able to fight Darkseid. That's kind of the pieces that were in play in there. The five-movie arc would end with the big battle for earth. The "ask" by the fans was, "Do your thing, we want Zack Snyder's version" and that meant I would do the best I can to say, "Well, this is what I would do."

Also, I thought it was rude if I was to finish my run with DC to never have Batman and Joker meet. I thought that was just a thing that shouldn't be allowed to happen. So, it was cool.

I believe this is the first superhero movie to feature mention of "reacharounds."
It may be! Jared kind of threw that out and I said, "It seems in character." Jared was like, "That's never going to be in the movie." I was like, "Oh, really."

Justice League
Credit: Clay Enos/Warner Bros.

How does Deathstroke go from clearly being Batman's enemy in the Lex Luthor scene to his seeming ally in the post-apocalyptic sequence?
Well, Deathstroke was to be the star of the Ben Affleck-Batman movie that he was planning to do. I love Joe. So, any chance to have Joe around. Joe's actually the star of my animated Army of the Dead prequel. So, I was like, "Joe, what about if Deathstroke's with them in the post-apocalyptic world? Something's happened and Batman and Deathstroke are buddies now!" [Laughs] He was like, "That's awesome!" So, yeah, that was cool. It was just a bunch of dorks, really.

Presumably, we would have seen much more of the Martian Manhunter in your planned sequels?
Yeah, he's a super powerful character, and we would hope that some Green Lanterns would show up, and we would have a whole smorgasbord of DC [baddies]. Darkseid, he's got a whole host of crazy characters that would have come with him to earth to fight.

And did you have plans for Zheng Kai's Ryan Choi?
Yeah. I had been pitching Warners to do an Atom movie with him in China, like a Chinese-cast superhero movie. That was my goal.

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