You can enjoy the DCEU films, but can we agree in unison now that the DCEU has amounted to a sizeable mess? Personally, I can’t even say that the DCEU is a hit-or-miss situation, because a majority of the content from this extended universe has been underwhelming — at best. Since the Warner Bros. acquisition by Discovery, CEO David Zaslav has made clear that their main priority is refreshing the franchise and granting it the resources it needs to match its potential.
It’s not fair to pin the failure of the DCEU on one person, but director Zack Snyder didn’t do the franchise many favors. Snyder left his DCEU responsibilities in 2017, during the production of Justice League, and passed the torch to Avengers director Joss Whedon. Many things contributed to Snyder’s exit — his daughter Autumn dying by suicide, the Atlas-weighted task to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, harsh criticisms of Batman vs. Superman, and subsequent studio interference in regards to story vetoes, constant production notes, and seemingly endless course correction.
Although Snyder left at (what was supposed to be) the high point of the DCEU, that in no way was an indicator that he was short of a creative path for our DC heroes. On the contrary, he had an elaborate plan for the DCEU that was wildly different than what we ended up seeing on the big screen. It wasn’t the best path, but a path nonetheless.
In an interview with GQ, Snyder is asked what would have happened next (in his “perfect world”) after the events of Justice League.
“Basically, Darkseid comes to Earth. Lex Luthor has found the Anti-Life Equation. He has teamed up with The Riddler, who has deciphered the anti-life equation, and Batman’s on their trail. The Riddler tells him, ‘I thought it was a riddle, but it turns out to be the end of the world.’ But Lex gives the anti-life equation to Darkseid upon his arrival, along with the information that ‘if you kill Lois Lane’ —now pregnant— ‘You will be able to control Superman, and he will succumb to the Anti-Life Equation.’ The Anti-Life Equation is a thing that allows you to control all will in the universe. So you can make everyone’s will your own. That makes them pretty pliable, as you can imagine.”
Snyder continues by outlining Darkseid’s arrival on Earth and his fight with Superman. Darkseid then moves towards the Batcave (where Lois Lane is hiding) and kills her, just as Superman arrives in an attempt to save her. Superman then falls victim to the Anti-Life by way of his grief and becomes a soldier for Darkseid — making Darkseid virtually impossible to beat.
Following the death of Lois Lane and apprehending of Superman, the storyline cuts to a distant future, where a mix-and-match group of superheroes managed to survive. This group’s plan was to obtain a Mother Box (a sentient computer), combine it with the intellect of Cyborg, and use Flash to go back in time and give Batman an edge in the fight against Darkseid in the hopes of saving Lois Lane and preventing Superman’s subjugation to the Anti-Life.
“In the meantime, while they’re hanging out—there was a scene that I had planned where Joker tells the story of killing Robin. We’d do a flashback to before the events of BvS to see a younger Bruce—not that much younger, still Ben—but we’d see what put him on that dark road. You see where his hatred for The Joker comes from and why he’s enshrined the Robin suit in the Batcave, as you’ve seen in BvS where it says, ‘Ha, ha, ha. The joke’s on you’ spray painted on the dead body of Robin.
Meanwhile, [back in the future] The Joker knows where a stash of Kryptonite is because they need that as a weapon. [They also need him] to get them to the Mother Box. But [they fail] and just as Superman’s basically killed everybody, Flash gets out of his reach, goes down the cosmic treadmill and ends up in the Batcave. But this time at the correct moment, because remember we saw him in BvS—he jumped at the wrong time because Cyborg tells us that there’s two times that he could jump through, and picks the second one this time, not the one that he chose before.”
Alright, hold onto your seats because this is where it gets worse. In this new timeline that was created, Batman sacrifices himself. This sacrifice buys Superman enough time to save Lois Lane and all of this builds up to a major battle with everyone and their mother involved — and I mean everyone.
“… the final act would be this giant war between Darkseid and all of his minions, all of the New Gods, the Fury, Granny Goodness, the whole pantheon of New Gods versus the Themysicarans who come off the island, Atlanteans rise out of the water. Wonder Woman is their new queen, and Arthur is the king of Atlantis. Then the armies of men all come together. That means the whole world, the whole army of the entire planet. They have a huge battle and they win. Then the end is this epilogue where it’s 20 years later, where Superman’s son has no powers. He’s born without the powers of a god, but then in the end, he would have become the new Batman.
The final scene would be Lois taking her son down into the Batcave and that kind of deal. So yeah, that was the epic plan. All those little Easter eggs about the future were all meant to point toward that eventual, giant battle. Then it would have been a reboot after that. You can just go back to the beginning again, where you could do a small movie with the new Batman or something.”
Times have been tough for the DCEU even recently with fans petitioning to have Amber Heard removed from the second Aquaman film and The Flash (Ezra Miller) getting arrested.
Photos via Warner Bros.