There's been a heavy push for Warner Bros. to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut of Justice League over the last two years, and if they do decide to release it, what happens to Justice League 2 and Justice League 3 that Zack Snyder was planning. The campaign from Snyder's fans has devoted its attention to getting his over 3-hour epic released and the effort is intensifying ahead of the anniversary of the divisive theatrical release.
To this point, there has not been a clear indication that Warner Bros. will let the public see the Snyder Cut though. Snyder has confirmed that his cut does exist, while Jason Momoa has repeatedly said that it is finished. In fact, the Aquaman star recently said that he's seen the Snyder Cut himself and that fans need to see it. Snyder has helped maintain interest in his cut by deliberately releasing images from his version of the film, which shows just how different his Justice League would look. While fans have been consumed by the idea of potentially seeing the movie as Snyder originally intended (and not the meddled version that hit theaters), there has not been much discussion about what happens next if it is released.
Prior to him leaving the project, Snyder and WB were moving quickly to build a sprawling cinematic universe inside of his ambitious plans. Man of Steel was the beginning of Snyder's plans in 2013 and its sequel evolved into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As the subtitle implies, the latter laid much of the groundwork for Justice League and anyone who has followed Snyder's work on the film knows that the Snyder Cut would also set up more movies. While these plans expanded to include Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, and plans for solo movies for all Justice League members, the Snyder Cut is only the middle of Snyder's plan.
Justice League Was Part 1 of 3
When Warner Bros. announced their DC slate in 2014, Justice League was listed as Part 1 and Part 2 scheduled to hit theaters in 2019. It has since revealed that Snyder had mapped out a five-film story that began with Man of Steel, and presumably included a third Justice League film. Even though he experienced some studio meddling with Batman v Superman when it came to the runtime, Warner Bros. did not enforce any major story changes. His plan was even still possible while Justice League was being retooled following the reception to BvS. Now, if Warner Bros. was to release the Snyder Cut though, they will presumably leave DC fans with major cliffhangers.
From what we know of the Snyder Cut (which grows with each passing day it seems), one of the most significant ways it would set up sequels would be through Darkseid's role in the film. The younger pre-god version of him known as Uxas was set to be featured in Snyder's history lesson scene, but Steppenwolf replaced him in the theatrical cut. Darkseid would've also been seen in another Knightmare scene. Snyder also planned to have Justice League end with Steppenwolf dying at the hands of Wonder Woman, leading to the entire League seeing Darkseid through a Boom Tube to tease their eventual conflict.
As for what Snyder was planning after Justice League, the direct sequel would've brought the Justice League face-to-face with Darkseid. Justice League 2 & 3 likely would've included members of the Green Lantern and potentially be a bit more cosmic focused before Darkseid takes over Earth to bring the Knightmare reality to fruition where his use of the anti-life equation would enslave humanity and eventually lead to Batman sacrificing his life to defeat the ruler of Apokolips. With a potentially epic story ready to go, the release of the Snyder Cut would only then fuel the desire from fans to see what happens next.
The Investment to Complete the Snyder Cut is Way Less Than A Whole New Movie
The biggest potential roadblock for Justice League 2 and 3 though would be the cost. The original Justice League movie had a massive budget that ballooned through the reshoots. While there would be a hope that sequels could avoid similarly troubled post-production processes, we're still talking about hundreds of millions of dollars to complete each additional Justice League movie. This would be a huge burden for Warner Bros. to take on to try to complete Snyder's five-film story and would put pressure on the sequels to perform well - all in the face of a franchise wide attempt to pivot away from Snyder's approach. Whether they'd get theatrical releases or find a home on HBO Max, they'd need to draw in a lot of viewers to warrant the cost.
This is not an issue for the Snyder Cut. It is true that Snyder didn't get to complete work on Justice League, but the Snyder Cut is still much closer to being completed than two more movies. Some estimations have a totally achievable $30-$40 million price tag on what it would take to finish the Snyder Cut. This may only be a fraction of the budget for a single Justice League sequel. If WB is interested in letting the public see Snyder's vision, this is a much more manageable investment for them than continuing the story on the big screen as Snyder intended. WB may not even have to put that much into it at this point, with Momoa teasing that Snyder may have completed the cut using his own resources.
The DCEU Is Moving in a New Direction
Even if the cost was a non-factor in what happens with what else Zack Snyder was planning, there is still the matter of what the DCEU has become since he's left. When he was still involved with DC, he was heavily involved in crafting the big picture. But, that has not been the case now for a few years. Instead of a universe revolving around Ben Affleck's Batman and Henry Cavill's Superman, the DCEU's identity has shifted under the leadership of Walter Hamada. Snyder's presumed stars are not currently associated with the DCEU, allowing for Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa's Aquaman, and Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn to become the foundational characters.
In the time since Snyder's exit, the new focus of DC Films has brought about more diversity in the genre and tones of their movies as well. Hamada spearheaded development on Shazam!, which is indisputably DC's most light-hearted movie to date, and moved ahead with Wonder Woman 1984 and Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). They are currently working on The Batman and The Suicide Squad, which will both be used to reboot these IPs, and have a number of other projects in the works that are distanced from Snyder's vision.
They are just now formulating a brand identity beyond his films, so continuing what Snyder began at this point could potentially confuse audiences again - or be an example of the creative freedom DC films have operated with recently. So, where does that leave Justice League 2 and 3?
How Justice League 2 and 3 Could Still Happen
The reception, success, and release strategy for the Snyder Cut of Justice League will play a factor, but there are several options that WB, DC, and Snyder could consider to bring this story to a close. The best-case scenario to see Snyder's original vision completed would be a theatrical release for Justice League 2 and 3, but a cinematic ending is unlikely. The Snyder Cut would have to do astronomical business, and even that may not be enough. Thankfully, the big screen is not the only avenue available.
HBO Max is widely believed to be a logical landing spot for the Snyder Cut as WarnerMedia attempts to carve out their place in the streaming war. They're in need of exclusive content from WarnerMedia's biggest brands, like Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, and DC. They've already announced a Green Lantern series, but that can't be the only DC content on the service. The potential success of the Snyder Cut could drive interest for the streaming service to be where Snyder's Justice League story continues. It's a long-shot, but even a re-structured, smartly budgeted live-action limited series would be the type of exclusive content that would drive subscribers to HBO Max.
The most realistic option for Snyder to tell the stories of Justice League 2 and 3 likely lies in other mediums though. A comic could be a great way for Snyder's faithful fans to see how the story would end and would cost significantly cheaper than any live-action continuations. The series could be written by Snyder and possibly even drawn by Jim Lee, who is known to have drawn art for Snyder's Justice League movies. Additionally, animated movies could be another fun avenue to explore what happens after the Snyder Cut. Snyder has directed animated movies in the past, so he could do so again or recruit Jay Oliva to do so. He helped storyboard Justice League, so Oliva is already familiar with the material, and he's directed some of the best animated DC movies, including the animated Justice League: War which served as a bit of inspiration for Snyder's Justice League.
While fans will have different preferences on how Justice League 2 and Justice League 3 should be made, there are clearly options that exist. Of course, the possibility of any of this coming to fruition still depends on Warner Bros. deciding to release the Snyder Cut. So, we'll have to wait and see how the Snyder Cut movement ends before focus turns on seeing the story that was planned to follow it.