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We Finally Understand The Joker Scene In The Snyder Cut

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Contains spoilers for Zack Snyder's Justice League

Zack Snyder's Justice League finally premiered on HBO Max last week and fans have been busy discussing and dissecting the film in the days since its debut. The Snyder Cut is loaded with Easter eggs for die-hard comic book fans and comprised of scenes that were either totally cut or heavily reconfigured in the Justice League film that was originally released back in 2017. It doesn't come as much of a surprise that some of the biggest and most noteworthy moments in the film have to do with its Knightmare sequences.

The biggest Knightmare sequence in Zack Snyder's Justice League comes during the epilogue and focuses on a handful of players from the DCEU, including Ben Affleck's Batman, Amber Heard's Mera, Ray Fisher's Cyborg, Ezra Miller's Flash, and Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke. The sequence sees the ragtag group doing their best to sneak across a hazy, broken dystopian landscape — the same one glimpsed briefly during Batman v. Superman's Knightmare sequence. It's during the Snyder Cut's climactic Knightmare scene that Batman has his first on-screen interaction with Jared Leto's Joker. The conversation that takes place between the two characters not only takes up most of the scene's run time but is also loaded with references to other DCEU films and storylines, and feels appropriately momentous considering the relationship that was previously established between the two characters.

The Boy Wonder in Zack Snyder's Justice League

"He knows exactly what it's like to lose someone he loves. You know, like a father, like a mother, like an adopted son. Isn't that right, Batman?"

That's the line, spoken by Jared Leto's Joker, that kicks off the conversation between him and Ben Affleck's Batman in Zack Snyder's Justice League. The line references three of the moments that proved to be the most formative for the Affleck version of Batman, with the first two obviously being the deaths of his father and mother. The third moment, however, is one that has not been shown on screen yet but was briefly referenced during Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The moment in question is the death of Robin, Batman's sidekick and so-called "adopted son." The character's death was referenced in Batman v. Superman when Affleck's Caped Crusader is seen staring at a Robin suit in a glass case. The words "Ha! Ha! Joke's on you, Batman" were seen spray-painted onto the suit, heavily implying that the DCEU's Robin had, in fact, been killed by Leto's Joker.

The death of Robin is referenced heavily throughout the Snyder Cut's climactic Knightmare sequence and is shown to be the main source of tension between Affleck's Batman and Leto's Joker. The latter even throws it into Batman's face again when he says that, if Batman isn't interested in a truce, he's happy to discuss why Bruce "sent the Boy Wonder to do a man's job." It's a moment filled with emotional weight and one that, just as the Joker intended, clearly has an effect on Batman.

Harley Quinn in Zack Snyder's Justice League

While the Knightmare scene's reference to Robin is notable, the conversation between the two characters doesn't end with Joker just throwing Robin's death in Batman's face again. Instead, Batman responds by referencing the death of Harley Quinn — an event that hasn't happened on screen yet and is implied to have occurred sometime in between the present-day events of Zack Snyder's Justice League and the future shown in its final Knightmare sequence. Batman describes how Harley died in his arms, and with her last breath, demanded that he kill Leto's Joker slowly — a request that Bruce says he still fully intends to fulfill. While it's unclear why exactly Harley wanted Batman to kill the Joker, it's possible to infer — given their breakup in last year's Birds of Prey — that not even the end of the world could manage to heal Harley and Mr. J's relationship in the DCEU.

But Robin and Harley Quinn aren't the only major DCEU characters referenced during the conversation between Affleck's Batman and Leto's Joker.

The death of Lois Lane in the DCEU

One of the biggest ways Jared Leto's Joker tries to emotionally manipulate Ben Affleck's Batman throughout the Knightmare sequence in Zack Snyder's Justice League is referencing Bruce's apparent role in creating the dystopian future. "You need me to help you undo this world you created by letting her die," Leto's Joker says, but who is the "her" he's referencing? None other than Amy Adams' Lois Lane. Zack Snyder has been candid about the role Lois Lane's death was supposed to play in his overall DCEU plans. Essentially, Lois' death would have been the thing that allowed Darkseid to take control of Superman and use him to bring about the ruined world seen in Justice League's Knightmare scenes. That means it's Lois' body that Superman is seen holding during the film's earlier Knightmare sequence, and according to Snyder (via Vanity Fair), Lois' death would have been the result of Batman failing to sacrifice himself to save her.That's why the Joker blames Batman for Lois' death and the apocalyptic scenario as a whole, saying, "I often wonder how many alternate timelines do you destroy the world because, frankly, you don't have the cojones to die yourself." It's an exchange that not only directly addresses some moments that have already happened in the DCEU, but also key twists that were still supposed to happen under Snyder's leadership. 

All in all, the conversation between Batman and the Joker in Zack Snyder's Justice League is a wide-ranging and impactful one. It shows two bitter enemies forced to work together in the most extreme of circumstances, regardless of their shared history and the taunts they lob at each other. That's how dire the situation has become: things are so hopeless that Batman is willing to work with the Joker in order to defeat a Superman gone bad.