The Justice League Snyder cut is officially en route, ladies and gentlemen. And fan reaction to Zack Snyder’s Justice League seems to be one of overwhelming excitement. The decision for Warner Bros. to roll the new version out on HBO Max is an intriguing one, to be sure. But it also opens up a potentially complicated situation for the DC Extended Universe.
The DC Extended Universe has moved on from ‘Justice League’
Following the success of Man of Steel, Warner Bros. wasted no time getting the DCEU up and running. The franchise’s second installment, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, introduced a slew of other characters. But rather than wade into a shared universe, the DCEU leapt right into it. Suicide Squad continued this trend, dropping in an all-new ensemble.
While both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad made money, neither hit the billion-dollar heights of DC’s biggest competition. Moreover, both films received poor reviews and divisive fan responses. It wasn’t until Wonder Woman in summer 2017 that the DCEU finally began to hit its stride. Of course, just a few months later, Justice League proved to be another setback.
The behind-the-scenes drama of that production and the disjointed theatrical cut proved to Warner Bros. that rushing into a superhero team-up might not have been the best strategy. Ever since, the DCEU has addressed Justice League by not addressing it at all. Rather, the franchise has turned to spin-off adventures like Aquaman, Shazam!, and Birds of Prey.
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The ‘Justice League’ Snyder cut could affect what is and isn’t canon
Although ignoring the formation of the Justice League might work for a while, the DCEU at some point will want to reunite the team. So far the franchise’s approach to course-correcting has been to turn its attention elsewhere. But with the Justice League Snyder cut now officially a thing, the film raises the question of which version will actually be considered canon.
Snyder himself told The Hollywood Reporter the new Justice League will be “an entirely new thing.” And Warner Bros. is reportedly investing between $20 million and $30 million in the production. So there’s a good chance it will be markedly different than what theatrical audiences saw. Of course, it will still conclude with Superman resurrected and the team united.
But what of the long-term plan to bring Darkseid into the DCEU? The cosmic baddie is the closest thing the franchise has to Marvel’s Thanos. The Justice League will inevitably wind up facing off against him at some point. While Snyder’s ambitious vision for the Justice League films probably still won’t pan out as originally planned, the DCEU needs to decide where it stands.
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The DCEU has a brief window of opportunity to make changes now
Perhaps Warner Bros.’ greenlighting of the Justice League Snyder cut indicates the studio hopes to course-correct the entire franchise. Since the film’s theatrical cut proved to be underwhelming, maybe the powers that be consider the Snyder cut the rare chance for a do-over. If that’s the case, this could be the DCEU’s chance to get its big-picture story back on track.
Sure, the Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Shazam! sequels will serve their respective characters well. Two of them are already card-carrying Justice League members, and the addition of Shazam feels inevitable. But there’s no way the DCEU will sit on its signature team forever. And when the next big event does happen, it will help if the franchise has a trajectory in place.
Judging by the theatrical Justice League post-credits scene, that may involve a villainous team-up of some sort. But Joe Manganiello — who plays Deathstroke in a cameo — teased the “original” end-credits scene. So who knows where the Justice League Snyder cut will leave its heroes or their Darkseid destiny. But the DCEU has a nice break right now to figure it out.
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