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Why The Knightmare Scene Was Drastically Different In Zack Snyder's Justice League

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Contains spoilers for Zack Snyder's Justice League

Justice League, as it was released in 2017, was a critical flop. One factor to which fans attributed this was the fact that Joss Whedon took over from Zack Snyder midway through its production. Whedon, therefore, shouldered much of the blame for the film's shortcomings, whereas Snyder's vision for Justice League was widely perceived as compromised and unrealized. With that in mind, in the years after Justice League's theatrical release, a certain contingent of fans periodically got #ReleaseTheSnyderCut trending on Twitter in hopes of one day being able to see Snyder's version of the film.

Now the coveted Snyder Cut sits among the library of streamable films on HBO Max. Zack Snyder's Justice League is four hours in length, ensuring that almost every plot thread or slow-mo action sequence once planned by Snyder is included in this now-definitive cut. Despite such a formidable runtime, however, the Snyder Cut only features a single sequence for which Snyder and co. filmed new footage. As those who have seen or have been following the film are likely aware, that sequence takes place in a future timeline in which Superman is evil and the Joker is working alongside Batman to stop him. Since the scene occurs in Bruce Wayne's dreams, it's become colloquially known as the "Knightmare" in reference to Batman's Dark Knight moniker.

A glimpse at a franchise that never was

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Snyder explained in detail how his Justice League film was originally going to be the third in a five-movie series he kicked off with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. The Knightmare is a glimpse at what would have been the plot of the fourth film in that series.

When Whedon, therefore, was brought on to finish Justice League, his version of the film included no references to Snyder's planned five-film cycle. At the time, that was a logical decision, given that what would have been the third entry in that series was no longer made to Snyder's specifications. Upon Snyder returning to assemble his cut of Justice League, however, he convinced Warner Bros. to include the lengthy look at the fallout of a heel turn from Superman that now comprises much of its epilogue.

There are currently no plans for Snyder to direct the fourth film in his planned series. That said, there were also once no plans for Snyder to oversee a four-hour cut of Justice League. The Knightmare, therefore, could theoretically be a test run to gauge fan interest in seeing Snyder's story fully realized, or it could simply remain the time the Joker got to be in a Justice League movie.