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Zack Snyder confirms Justice League was originally planned as five-movie arc

Every DC fan remembers the unmitigated disaster that was the Justice League movie crossover. A last minute change in director late in production saw Zack Snyder leave the project with Joss Whedon taking over and completing the movie, with the result that some insiders have dubbed it a "Frankenstein Project" to aptly describe the very different styles of the two directors mashed haphazardly together.

But the initial plan for Justice League and its fellow DC films looked wildly different, according to Snyder. The director was speaking during a live stream watch party when he opened up about Justice League, and what the DCEU was supposed to look like after the superheroes' big crossover.

The film famously saw photojournalist Jimmy Olsen (Michael Cassidy) meet his end, and Snyder explained that yes, he is indeed dead, and no, he won't be coming back to life like superheroes are notorious for doing. There is a method to the madness, though, as Snyder went on to explain that the death was meant to have consequences for future story arcs in the DCEU. Snyder, who was deep in the franchise at the time after directing both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, actually had plans to turn the DCEU films into a five-movie arc.

Snyder's initial plan laid out

Of course, after Snyder left the project to deal with a family tragedy, a rift was created between him and studio Warner Bros., and the remaining two films have never materialized, leaving Snyder with just the loose trilogy of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League. We're not entirely sure that's a bad thing, considering Snyder wouldn't be at the helm to complete his own vision.

Unfortunately, Snyder cut himself off after spilling the beans about Jimmy Olsen's death, refusing to dish more on what he had had planned across the rest of the films. What we can be sure of is that Jimmy's death was definitely meant to tie in to them. Neil Daly, a focus group moderator for the DC movies, spoke back in 2019 about how different Snyder's initial plan was from the final result (via Cosmic Book News).

If Snyder had his way, Justice League wouldn't have been released when it was, said Daly at the time. Snyder had hoped to start the franchise off with Superman (Henry Cavill) as the "reluctant hero" before leading up to his eventual membership in the Justice League. Sadly for Snyder, the studio was anxious to compete with and catch up to the Marvel Cinematic Universe by getting the superhero crossover film out as soon as possible, forcing the director to change his plans. Snyder, Daly said, had intended Justice League to be followed with a Man of Steel 2 and then a two-part Justice League follow-up, perhaps in a similar format to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. (For those keeping score at home, this would actually have worked out to six films, unless the two-part Justice League follow-up was considered to be a single project.)

A different account of Snyder's plan and the future of the DCEU

DC films storyboard artist Jay Oliva painted a slightly different picture back in 2018, suggesting that the first Justice League film was meant to be a two parter with a "fifth and final mystery movie" to complete the saga, according to Batman News.

Oliva declined to give any further details on the plan, taking to Twitter to respond to a fan's request for more information with a simple, "I cannot go into any specifics but it was epic, grand, emotional, joyful and unforgettable." Bearing in mind the disastrous reception for Justice League, Snyder's rift with the studio, and the ongoing call for Warner Bros. to release what has been dubbed "The Snyder Cut" of the film, it seems like the five-movie plan has been totally scrapped.

While there have been whispers of a sequel to Man of Steel, so far, it appears to be nothing more than the rumor mill churning hopefully, as Warner Bros. have made no announcement to date. Instead, the studio is moving forward with The Batman, with a recast Caped Crusader (Robert Pattinson) in a story which will take place outside the continuity of Snyder's films. What exactly the studio's plan is for that continuity now that Snyder is out of the picture hasn't yet been made abundantly clear to fans.