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That Explosive Epilogue Scene From The Justice League Snyder Cut Explained

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Contains spoilers for Zack Snyder's Justice League

When fans first watched Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, one particular scene stood out from the rest: A sepia-toned vision of an apocalyptic world where an evil Superman (Henry Cavill) kills a rebellious, gun-wielding Batman (Ben Affleck). Bruce wakes up from this "Knightmare" only to be shocked by the appearance of a man engulfed in electrical energy, desperately saying, "It's Lois Lane. She's the key."

Fans caught on pretty quickly that this was the Flash (Ezra Miller) coming from the future to warn Bruce about the dangers of an unhinged Superman. It was a set up for Justice League, but once Joss Whedon took the filmmaking reins from Zack Snyder, it was never revisited. Now, however, Zack Snyder's Justice League — which has long seemed like a dream itself — is bringing everyone back to this wasteland future in its epilogue.

It's a possible world in which Darkseid has taken over Earth by utilizing the Anti-Life Equation, which gives him the power to bend people to his will. Batman, Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Mera (Amber Heard), the Flash, Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello), and Jared Leto's Joker are all hiding out from a dangerous threat: Superman.

There's a lot packed into this scene, so here's what it all means.

What turned Superman evil?

Bruce Wayne has long been wary of Superman; it was the entire premise for Dawn of Justice, and that wariness ultimately aided Lex Luthor's (Jesse Eisenberg) plot to turn them against each other. He's since put those feelings aside to find faith in the Man of Steel, but the Knightmare proves that his fear wasn't entirely misplaced. Superman is now against him and, according to Mera, killed Aquaman, as well. So why has Superman gone to the dark side? Well, Lois is key.

Earlier in the film, when the remaining members of the Justice League resurrect Superman, he nearly destroys them until he recognizes Lois and comes back to himself. Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) suggests this is what Flash meant when he told Bruce that "Lois Lane is the key," but Bruce thinks there's more to it. Considering what Superman said in his first Knightmare — "She was my world and you took her from me" — he may just be onto something.

After the theatrical cut of Justice League came out, Snyder hinted that losing Lois Lane made Superman more susceptible to the Anti-Life Equation, the tool present-day Darkseid intends to use to control people (via ComicBook.com). He blames Batman for Lois' death. Joker seems to share some of this sentiment, since he suggests that if Batman would have sacrificed himself, things would have been different.

No matter who's really to blame, the team is truly in trouble once the mind-controlled Superman finds them. He's already proven that he can absolutely wreck the Justice League single-handedly, and there's little hope that this new version of the team — including land-locked Mera and her water travel canisters — can change that.

The Joker and Batman have a long history and a strained alliance

While Superman is the terrifying threat hanging over the characters' heads, it's the Joker and Batman who emotionally anchor the scene. Mera asks how Batman could possibly know how she's feeling — desperate for vengeance in her grief over Aquaman — but it's the Joker who replies. After being nemeses for so long, few know Batman better than the Joker. He remarks on Batman's long-lost parents, but it's the death of Robin the Boy Wonder that truly causes the animosity between them. It was hinted in Dawn of Justice that the Joker killed Robin, but never mentioned explicitly until now. Batman fires back at Joker by bringing up Harley Quinn's death and hatred of him in the end.

The Joker was not originally part of Snyder's Justice League, but was added in via last year's limited reshoots. Snyder said in an interview with Vanity Fair that he always wanted to have Affleck's Batman tangle with the Joker, so he took advantage of this opportunity. They're working together, but let's be clear: There is no newfound love here between them, despite what the Joker insinuated about an intimate affair. Batman is far past any "no kill" rule at this point and is eager to test out his darker morality on the Joker, but the clown is needed for their plan to undo the Knightmare.

What that plan is, however, remains unclear. The Flash is sporting his new super suit — complete with matching mustache — that he wore in Dawn of Justice, and he just displayed his time-traveling powers in the fight against Steppenwolf, so it seems this motley crew is hoping that warning past-Bruce about saving Lois will be enough to change the timeline.

We might never see whether or not that's successful, though, because at this point it's unlikely that Snyder will be able to make the additional two movies he originally planned for the series. Then again, we're all watching the Snyder Cut on HBO Max right now, so literally anything is possible.