Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Members Of The Justice League Knightmare Timeline Explained

If you click a link and buy a product or service from a merchant, we may be paid an affiliate commission.

Contains spoilers for Zack Snyder's Justice League

The Snyder Cut, as foretold in ancient tongues on scraps of papyrus and then later through the Twitter accounts of disappointed New Gods fans, is now streaming on HBO Max. Reviews are all over the map, but there's one aspect of the epic tale on which everyone seems to agree: it's longer. Gosh oh golly, is it ever longer. It took a while, but the comic book movie genre finally produced a motion picture that's longer than Spartacus and features the same number of tridents and messianic visual cues. Zack Snyder's Justice League goes and goes, and just when you think it's over, there's another scene where Batman shops for real estate, or Aquaman tells Willem Dafoe that he needs to get drunk in the bed of a truck, or Martian Manhunter doesn't apologize for sitting out the whole "end of the world" fight.

Of the film's Return of the King-level retinue of conclusions, one stands out as the most striking: the Knightmare sequence, in which Action Jacket Batman leads a team of super folk through the orange and orange wastelands of the post-apocalypse. They're a ragtag group with varying philosophies, forced into potentially fatal action by the ever-present threat of death. "What are they," audiences might well ask after laying eyes on the team, "some kind of suicide squad?" Yes and no.

Snyder has opened up in recent interviews and social media posts, explaining how the Knightmare team came together. Mixed in with a healthy portion of context clues, we have a pretty good idea of what the rust-colored future would have had in store for the darkest timeline's Justice League.


A Justice League is only as good as its Batman, and this bleak future's iteration of the team has a doozy. He's got goggles. He's got a rifle. Most of all, he's got a trench coat on over his Batman outfit, so he's low-profile, like when TMNT's Raphael would go to the movies.

We first saw Knightmare Batman (Ben Affleck) during the surreal dream sequence in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. There, we got our first hints at the potential grimness in store: a landscape pocked with Omega iconography and a Dark Knight with a bevy of firearms, gunning down jackbooted military personnel with Superman badges before getting his head kicked in by a parademon. When Batman wakes up, Superman (Henry Cavill) says, "She was my world, and you took her from me" before going all Temple of Doom on Bruce Wayne's fragile human rib cage.

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Zack Snyder explained what Knightmare Batman has been through at this point, stating that Gotham's favorite vigilante was essentially responsible for the state of the world. "Darkseid comes to Earth. Superman says to Batman, 'Guard Lois. This is a war between me and Darkseid. If you can help me as a friend, keep Lois safe,'" the filmmaker recalled in his description of a planned Justice League sequel. "For whatever reason, Batman fails. Darkseid comes back and kills Lois. [...] That's what the post-apocalyptic world is: Superman just searching for Batman to kill him to get his revenge for the death of Lois."

The eventual outcome would have been a rewritten past where Batman sacrifices himself to save Lois, and an unexpected new half-Kryptonian Batman takes his place.


That brings us to the Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) of the Knightmare world, a.k.a. The Sepia Speeder or the Fastest Man in Earth Tones. In Justice League's penultimate scene, he's rocking a familiar look, featuring advanced armor and stubble similar to what he was seen in during Batman v Superman's Knightmare epilogue.

Time travel and running quickly go together like peanut butter and chocolate in the DC Universe, and the war-torn world of the Knightmare sequence was pretty obviously leading up to some of that — Snyder said as much back when his cut of Justice League was still just a twinkle in HBO Max's eye. Explaining Flash's appearance in Batman v Superman, he speculated that, "Maybe it's a by-product of Flash cracking on the cosmic treadmill or whether it creates some sort of rift where it allows Batman to see into the future. It could be a combo of those things."

The idea would gestate into a plot which would see the Knightmare team searching for a Mother Box to power Flash's cosmic treadmill, allowing him to go back and change the past. It's alarmingly close to the denouement of 1978's Superman: The Movie for a filmmaker who thought that underpants were a bridge too far in terms of silliness.


The Cyborg (Ray Fisher) of the Snyder Cut's Knightmare universe is nervous, and for good reason. "We can't be out in the open much longer," he warns his team right before everyone keeps talking out in the open for five minutes. "He'll come for us."

Vic Stone might be necessary to Batman's plans, what with his ability to interface with Mother Box technology, but he has good reason to be scared. Thanks to his Mother Box-powered premonition from earlier in Justice League, he's already witnessed the horrors of this world. He saw Aquaman's (Jason Momoa) skewery fate brought to bear, and Wonder Woman's (Gal Gadot) funeral pyre. He probably had a better idea of what was coming than anyone else on the team leading up to the end of the world — a streak that he keeps up when his early warning detection system gets wind of Superman seconds before his arrival.

Visually, Cyborg gets one of the Knightmare world's more jarring alterations, adding a shoulder-mounted cannon to his already formidable frame. The implication is hard to miss: a guy whose entire body is essentially made out of guns needed another gun. It's easy to see why this new Justice League wanted a do-over so badly.


Zack Snyder's Justice League gave fans of the DCEU a scene that they probably thought they'd never lay eyes on: Jared Leto's Joker gabbing with Ben Affleck's Batman. It also begged important questions like "Where did Joker get his tattoos lasered off?" and "Why would Batman want the Joker around, anyway?"

Answers are hard to come by. As far as Joker's new look goes, there's a winking implication that this is an entirely different universe from the one seen in Suicide Squad – Joker questions "how many alternate timelines" there are where Batman failed to save Lois. His role in the Knightmare League is a little more fluid, though we get some hints.

Joker states that Batman needs him in order to undo the universe he created. But what sort of role would he play in the search for a Mother Box? Maybe Batman needs a master thief, and Catwoman isn't around anymore. Maybe Granny Goodness has a weakness for hand buzzer gags. Whatever the case, we know that Joker took some hits during Darkseid's takeover — it's revealed that Harley Quinn died bleeding in Batman's arms.


Joker got tattoo removal surgery. Cyborg got a gun. Mera got a British accent. And a gun.

Behind the scenes, Mera's addition to the Snyder Cut's auxiliary footage was among the most controversial due to the ongoing interpersonal conflicts of Amber Heard. Onscreen, however, her character has probably the most straightforward reason for being around. During Cyborg's dream sequence, viewers got an eyeful of Aquaman's grim fate, speared with his own trident by Darkseid. Mera is out for revenge, both as a patriotic citizen of Atlantis and the grieving ex of Arthur Curry. "I'll stab this through his heart for what he did to Arthur," she says, and it's a nice thought.

Mera is decked out in Atlantean armor, wielding what sure looks like Aquaman's old trident — implying that she's now the queen of Atlantis — and a rifle on her back. In an especially neat touch, she's also carrying around a water jug, which would be helpful for a hydrokinetic in the Dust Bowl world of the apocalypse.


Of all the unrealized promises of the DCEU, Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke was among the most painful to watch disappear into the abyss of development hell. The nerd icon of a performer was clearly excited in the days ramping up to his proposed spot as the big bad of Ben Affleck's proposed Batman movie before the project was scrapped.

Deathstroke has undergone the decolorization characteristic of Snyderization in the Knightmare universe's timeline, swapping in an all-black ensemble instead of the classic orange number seen in the film's first epilogue — a weird choice, considering how well-camouflaged his old costume would have been in the tangerine world of the future. Also, he has a mohawk.

Deathstroke may not have gotten his day in the big screen sun, but comic fans know who he is: the world's greatest assassin, and a spectacular foil to Batman, especially in the Dark Knight's less murdery iterations. It would have been a blast to find out how their opposing approaches to life wound up tethered together at the end of the world, and even better if we'd had their backstories explored in a Batfleck solo outing. For now, we'll just have to make due with the hope of a Justice League follow-up or, barring that, Manganiello's D&D dungeon video tours as a consolation prize.