Justice League will likely be remembered as one of the biggest missed opportunities in superhero movie history. Zack Snyder had a very specific vision for the DC Extended Universe, setting up plot points in Batman v Superman that he was going to pay off in Justice League. However, following the box office failure and negative critical response to BvS, Warner Bros. panicked and reworked the whole script.
The end result was a tonal mess that was completely disingenuous to the iconic DC characters and paid off none of BvS. In the years since, fans have been clamoring to see Snyder’s version of Justice League. Here are 10 Ways Zack Snyder’s Original Story Ideas Could’ve Improved Justice League.
10 Evil Superman could’ve challenged the character’s morals
We all know Superman as a clear-cut hero with a black-and-white view of right and wrong. Although Zack Snyder’s Ayn Rand-inspired take on Superman completely betrayed that, his moral compass was still a very important part of his characterization. The original version of the Man of Steel’s resurrection saw him reincarnated as an evil version of himself with a black suit.
This would’ve gone some way towards fixing the character in a weird way, because it would drag him out of his moral gray area and into a world of mindless villainy, after which he might’ve been inspired to strive for good.
9 The future setting could’ve set the DCEU apart
The central premise of Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio’s unproduced script for Justice League involved the heroes sending the Flash back in time from a post-apocalyptic future to warn Bruce Wayne and get him to prevent the disaster that ended the world. This would’ve helped to differentiate the DCEU from the MCU, which it was pretty blatantly trying to emulate.
Instead, Warner Bros. got worried about the response to Batman v Superman and removed all the originality and character from the initial script and simply tried to copy what worked in The Avengers – they literally replaced Snyder with Avengers director Joss Whedon when a personal tragedy forced him to step down.
8 A three-hour runtime could’ve fleshed out the Flash and Cyborg’s arcs more
It was reported that Zack Snyder’s original version of Justice League would’ve run for around three hours, but Warner Bros. saw the negative response to Batman v Superman’s two-and-a-half-hour runtime and demanded that Justice League be no longer than two hours.
This meant that a lot of the subplots and character arcs had to be condensed, and it’s not really fair, since the studio was rushing into a team-up movie with hardly any prior setup movies, so they were asking Snyder to cram a lot of story into Justice League. At three hours, at least it would’ve been able to flesh out the Flash and Cyborg’s arcs more.
7 Cyborg’s origin story could’ve made us care more about the character
The final version of Justice League skims over Cyborg’s origin story, but the original Snyder version gave him a much deeper backstory. In fact, Snyder has said that Victor Stone was the “heart” of his initial cut. He had Victor winning a football game for Gotham City University, arguing with his mother in the car about his distant father, crashing the car (killing his mother and leaving him incapacitated), and getting revived by his father as Cyborg using a Mother Box.
Cyborg isn’t as well-known to mainstream audiences as other characters who were getting their first big role in Justice League, like the Flash or Aquaman, and Ray Fisher wasn’t as well-known as Ezra Miller or Jason Momoa, so making him the “heart” of the movie would’ve made the audience invest more in his character.
6 The extended “Knightmare” sequence could’ve given us a unique cinematic take on Batman
There have been so many Batman movies at this point that filmmakers are running out of fresh takes on the Caped Crusader. We’ve had a gloomy, gothic take; we’ve had a campy, lighthearted take; we’ve had a gritty, grounded take.
And then Batman v Superman came along with a shocking flash-forward in which the Dark Knight headed into a post-apocalyptic city in the distant future and got attacked by Parademons. Extended in Zack Snyder’s original cut of Justice League, the “Knightmare” sequence could’ve been so outlandish that it would’ve given us an entirely fresh cinematic take on the Batman character.
5 A longer Earth invasion sequence could’ve sold the stakes more
In Zack Snyder’s original story for Justice League, Darkseid took the place of Steppenwolf in the “Invasion of Earth” sequence. Initially, the sequence was much longer; it included an appearance by the Old Gods, and involved a battle between Darkseid and Ares.
This could’ve been a breathtaking sight to behold, and a longer version of the “Invasion of Earth” scene could’ve helped to sell the stakes of such an apocalyptic event more than the final cut did. Warner Bros.’ final version brushed over the “Invasion of Earth” pretty quickly and it made it difficult to grasp the gravity of the situation.
4 Broken Cyborg could’ve given him a role in the plot
Zack Snyder’s initial story ideas for Justice League gave Cyborg something to do. He worked with Batman to send the Flash back in time on a quest to save the world. He would have also been broken, which would’ve been an interesting development for a character who is part-machine.
In the final version of the movie, Cyborg has an origin story that contradicts his appearance in Batman v Superman and is then basically redundant for the rest of the movie. And now, it’s looking unlikely that he’ll ever get his own solo movie in the DCEU, no matter how much Ray Fisher deserves one.
3 Lex Luthor could’ve been fixed
Jesse Eisenberg’s take on Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman was wildly controversial for completely failing the character and instead turning him into another knock-off of Heath Ledger’s Joker. The final cut of Justice League responded to this by mostly ignoring him, but if he’d been involved more, he could’ve been recharacterized.
And in Zack Snyder’s original script, Luthor played a much larger role, following on from his Darkseid tease in Batman v Superman. There would be plenty of opportunity for Eisenberg to calm down his performance, giggle a lot less, and be more of the cold, calculating criminal mastermind that Lex Luthor is supposed to be.
2 Batman could’ve been more of a detective
In Zack Snyder’s original vision for Justice League, Batman initially learned about the Parademons by visiting Lex Luthor in Arkham Asylum, possibly interrogating him, and taking the journal he’d been writing in, which contained information about the Parademons, among other things.
This is more faithful to the Batman character than what we eventually got (the Bat capturing Parademons and making them blow up like a kid with a magnifying glass at an anthill), since he’s renowned for his detective skills – in the comics, one of his nicknames is literally “the World’s Greatest Detective” – and yet, it’s rarely shown off on film.
1 Darkseid could’ve been a Thanos-level villain
At the end of Batman v Superman, an imprisoned Lex Luthor told Batman that “he’s coming” and “he’s hungry.” It seemed pretty obvious that he was referring to Darkseid, and as it turns out, Zack Snyder was planning to introduce Darkseid as the DCEU’s big bad in Justice League. Done right, he could’ve been a Thanos-level villain.
According to Kevin Smith, Snyder’s initial version of Justice League was intended as the first chapter of a trilogy that would culminate in a finale that sent the heroes into space for a “last stand” against Darkseid. At least the final battle wouldn’t have been the incoherent mess it ended up being.