Zack Snyder's Justice League

Zack Snyder’s Justice League Ending Explained

Dept. of Self Indulgent Epilogues


Click here for our spoiler free review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Major spoilers here. Obviously.

So you’ve finally seen it, the long demanded, long awaited, long thought mythical Snyder Cut, and you have some questions. What is the anti-life equation? Who is Darkseid? What is going on in Bruce Wayne’s dream? Why is the Joker even in this? Is this all in the comics? Will there be a sequel? Why is it four hours long? The ending of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is very, very different from what came before. In fact, there is so much that happens in the movie’s X minute epilogue that we felt it requires a rather detailed explainer. So here now is a full breakdown of all the big reveals and just what it all means. But first…

What Happened at the End of Josstice League?

Zack Snyder's Justice League

A quick reminder. By the time the Whedon cut hit our screens in October 2017, it felt like Warner Bros. just wanted the whole thing to be over and done with. Then CEO Kevin Tsujihara mandated that the film serve as a wrap up to Zack Snyder’s vision for the DCEU. From what was supposed to be an epic two-parter (possibly even a trilogy), Justice League was stripped for parts and then hastily reassembled into a two hour train wreck with barely any context to the original narrative, and a jarring tonal shift that felt completely out of step with everything that had come before.


Once they stop the three Mother Boxes from unifying and defeat Steppenwolf, the team stand together in a Justice League hero pose while looking over the abandoned Russian town that now looks like it’s been hit by the Genesis Device and is miraculously covered in lush greenery. Bruce Wayne buys the bank that repossessed the Kent farm and returns the property to Martha. (MARTHA!) Barry visits his dad in prison and tells him that he has a job at the Central City Police Department Crime Lab. Silas Stone is very much alive and seems to be working with Cyborg to help him master his abilities. Aquaman returns to the sea. And the movie ends with Lois Lane narrating an article she’s writing for The Daily Planet that’s intercut with scenes of our heroes going about their lives.

The ending of the Josstice League plays out as something of a hard stop. Yes, the post credit tag may serve to hint at other stories further down the road, but the general message of the movie is that Superman is back, the world is saved, life goes on. The end.

How Then Does Zack Snyder’s Justice League End?

Zack Snyder's Justice League

Well, there is still a big old CGI slugfest between Steppenwolf and the Justice League, only this time, both Batman and The Flash do a whole lot more. The final showdown ends up playing out as more of a team effort rather than just everyone biding their time and holding the bad guy at bay until Superman shows up.

They defeat Steppenwolf. They destroy the Mother Boxes. The stop the invasion. The main arc of the movie ends with Darkseid readying his armada to once again attack Earth – the old fashioned way, with space ships – in order to claim the Anti-Life Equation.

Finally, instead of a Lois Lane voice over, we get a Silas Stone voice over that narrates the end of the movie.


Just What Is the Anti-Life Equation?

In this movie, the big bad Steppenwolf is on a mission to conquer thousands of worlds in order to curry favour with his former boss (and nephew), Darkseid. At first, Earth is seemingly just another backwater planet to be seized and subjugated, but when Steppenwolf discovers that our planet is home to Darkseid’s long sought after Anti-Life Equation, he begins preparations for a full on New God invasion.

So what then is this Anti-Life Equation?

In the comics, it is a mathematical formula that is said to allow those who knew it to dominate the will of any sentient race. It is a MacGuffin that is rather similar to Marvel’s Infinity Stones. Much like Thanos’ relentless quest for the stones, the Anti-Life Equation is Darkseid’s ultimate prize in universal domination.

The formula, which reads, companionship + understanding + assurance + joy + altruism ÷ respect ÷ commendation ÷ sympathy x innocence x dignity x success x acceptance y = n where y = despair and n = caution, love = truth, death = rebirth, and self = light side, typically manifests itself as a series of fiery alien symbols and glyphs. As is seen in the movie.

So, Who Is Darkseid and Was He in the Previous Version of Justice League?

Zack Snyder's Justice League

Created by the legendary Jack Kirby, Darkseid (pronounced “dark-side”) is the tyrannical ruler of a planet called Apokolips whose ultimate goal is to conquer the universe by eliminating all hope and free will in sentient beings. Which Is why he wants the Anti-Life Equation. Darkseid is one of Superman’s greatest foes as well as the Justice League’s archenemy. And no, he wasn’t in the Joss Whedon cut. In fact, Whedon made a point to remove almost all of the backstory involving Darkseid and the New Gods, except for one expository flashback in which Wonder Woman explains the history of the Mother Boxes to Bruce Wayne.

Why Is All of This Important?

Why? Because the ending of Zack Snyder’s Justice League seems to set up a sequel that delves into a future in which Darkseid successfully invades Earth and reduces it to a yellow tinted wasteland.


Is That What Batman’s Dream Was All About?

One of the most controversial moments from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was the dream sequence (dubbed “Knightmare”) in which Bruce Wayne receives a premonition of an apocalyptic future that’s ruled by a despotic Superman. In it, evil Superman tells Batman: “She was my world, and you took her from me.”

In the past, Zack Snyder has said that it was his plan to have Darkseid murder Lois and for Superman to succumb to the Anti-Life Equation. In this version of Justice League, Snyder doubles down on his “Knightmare” ambitions, giving us a glimpse into that alternate future, and what a potential Justice League 2 might have looked like. According to Snyder, the plot of his sequel would have involved the surviving members of the Justice League looking for a way to jump back in time and warn Bruce about this dark future. Something we presume would tie back into that unexplained Flash cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Zack Snyder's Justice League

In the dream it appears like all of our heroes have been fighting Darkseid, Evil Superman, and their forces for a while. The Justice League, or what’s left of it, are all looking a little worse for wear. Flash is in the same armour he’s wearing during that BvS cameo. Cyborg is wearing an old shredded bedsheet. Deathstroke (who we just saw talking to Lex Luthor about forming an Injustice League) is now fighting alongside Batman and Co. Mera leads us to believe that Aquaman is either dead or one of Darkseid’s mindless slaves.

And then there’s the Joker…

Why the Hell Is the Joker in This?

Who knows? That entire conversation between Batman and the Joker felt like it belongs in a completely different movie. In fact, the Joker was never supposed to be in Justice League, but was a last minute addition to the reshoots that took place last year.

How many dead eyes can you look into before you die inside yourself?

Besides the pseudo-philosophizing that the Joker does, he also happens to drop a lot of plot points. We learn that Robin is dead and that the Joker killed him. We also learn that Harley Quinn died in Batman’s arms and that she asked him to kill the Joker for her. Slowly.

We are also lead to believe that Joker is somehow key to saving the world. We aren’t told why or how. We’re only told that Batman can’t/won’t kill the Joker because he needs him.

You need me to help you undo this world you created by letting her die. Poor Lois. How she suffered so?

The Joker also seems to imply that the only way Batman can save the world is to sacrifice himself. He asks Bruce how many worlds have died because he didn’t have the cojones to die himself.

Watch and listen to an excerpt from The Goggler Podcast about the Joker’s cameo in the epilogue in question.

Wait, if Superman Turns Evil, Doesn’t That Undo Everything That’s Happened in the Last Two Movies?

And therein lies the biggest problem with the epilogue to Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

If Superman does indeed turn evil, then it completely undoes the message of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in which Batman realizes that he is, in fact, the villain of the piece. He is proven completely wrong about Clark at the end of the movie and that revelation is the driving motivation for all of Justice League.

In fact, Superman’s death in BvS, and Bruce’s bad judgment, is why he eventually resolves to be a better man. Having the whole “Knightmare” sequence come to pass would make all of that growth irrelevant.

Who or What Is The Martian Manhunter?

After Bruce wakes up from his “Knightmare,” he is visited by none other than J’onn J’onzz or The Martian Manhunter, who was one of the seven original members of the Justice League. The Martian Manhunter tells Bruce that Darkseid is coming and that he is here to help. He says that he is tired of standing on the sidelines and feels that it’s time to get in on the fight. He too wants to sign up and be a card carrying member of the Justice League.

The big reveal here is that General Swanwick (Harry Lennix), who we’ve seen in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, has been The Martian Manhunter in disguise all along.

The character has previously appeared in Smallville (Phil Morris). He is also a main player in CW’s Supergirl (David Harewood).

Who Is The Guy That Takes Over From Silas Stone at Star Labs?

Silas’ replacement at Star Labs is Ryan Choi. In the comics, Ryan is a longtime protégé of Ray Palmer who eventually ends up taking on the mantle of The Atom.

Is Lois Pregnant?

Zack Snyder's Justice League

Yes, she is. For one, she stares at that pregnancy test in her drawer for far too long. For another, it is hinted at in the conversation that Bruce and Clark have at the end of the movie. Bruce pats Clark on the back and says:

Bruce: Congratulations by the way.


Hold up. We Know That Superman Is Alive Again. but How Does Zack Snyder Explain Clark Coming Back From the Dead?

Zack Snyder's Justice League

He doesn’t!

Does Any of This Happen in the Comics?

Kinda. Sorta. All of the characters featured in this movie are from the comics, but this particularly dark take on Superman isn’t what you’d call canon. The closest thing to it in the comics would be DC’s adaptation of the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us, which takes place in an alternate universe where the Joker tricks Superman into killing Lois Lane, so Superman murders him, takes over the world, and becomes a fascist dictator.

In the comics, stories like this one tend to take place in different worlds and other dimensions. They lean towards subjunctive history, the kind of “what if” thought experiment that’s often a fun diversion from canon. What if Superman was Russian? What if Clark was adopted by the Waynes? What if Batman was a knight in King Arthur’s court? And the like.

Are There Any Post-Credits Scenes?

There aren’t. But the epilogue gives us an extended version of the chat that Deathstroke has with Lex on his yacht. Here, they talk about forming an “Injustice League” before Lex reveals Batman’s secret identity and sends Deathstroke off to kill him. (Does this mean that Deathstroke is Batman’s archenemy in the Snyderverse? The Teen Titans are not going to be happy about that?)

For an in depth look at Zack Snyder’s Justice League, you can listen to our podcast here.

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