Snyder Cut ending explained — what the heck was that epilogue?

justice league snyder cut ending explained
(Image credit: DC/Twitter)

Now that you've seen the Justice League Snyder Cut ending/epilogue, it's time to go in on what happened. Yes, the 4-hour epic ends in only the way it could: a big crazy moment that will either have fans screaming for more or just yelling "WTF?"

Of course, what follows is massively spoiler-y, so either watch the Snyder Cut already or accept that you don't have those four hours in your day or week. 

With that out of the way, let's break down what the Snyder Cut epilogue, the true ending of the film.

First off, let's gloss over the Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) scenes, since it's covering ground that the 2017 Justice League already gave us. Lex escapes Arkham, and Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello) arrives to chat with the super-villain on a yacht. The two talk of forming an antithesis to the Justice League (the Legion of Doom, perhaps?), and Lex reveals Batman's secret identity as Bruce Wayne.

Then, we jump cut to a completely different version of the DC world. 

Snyder Cut's Knightmare dystopia

We start with a Mad Max-like desert dystopia. Darkseid's parademons are flying everywhere, and a massive ship is setting a major metropolis ablaze with fire. Then, Batman emerges from behind a vehicle, armed with a huge gun. This is the reality teased in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Cyborg, Queen Mera, Flash and (gasp!) Deathstroke are all allied with Bruce, and on some sort of mission. Yes, Slade Wilson has somehow put down his grudge against Batman — that's how bad Darkseid has made things for citizens of the Earth.

Snyder Cut

(Image credit: Warner)

After Mera rages about someone who hurt (or likely killed) Arthur (that's Aquaman), we get some infighting within our heroes. Mera doesn't believe that Batman can understand how she feels, questioning if the caped crusader has ever loved someone. And then we get the moment that some fans have waited for since one of the last trailers dropped.

With a familiar laugh from off-camera, we learn that The Joker (Jared Leto edition) is also a part of this ramshackle caravan. And the clown prince of crime rattles off a list of references to dead loved ones from Bruce Wayne's past. The two get testy, with Joker needling Batman about his past. 

Robin's death is revealed to have taken place, as has Harley Quinn's. Joker even claims Batman needs him to stop Darkseid — which makes some sense, why else would they be coexisting like this?

Snyder Cut epilogue ending explained — the group in happier times

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

But before they can throw down, and after Joker says Batman "let" Lois Lane die, we discover that not all is right within the Justice League. Cyborg realizes they've been found, and a caped being crashes to the ground. It's Superman, and he's very angry. Joker laughs again, Kal El's eyes go red and ... Bruce wakes up. 

Yes, he was just continuing the horrific visions colloquially referred to as the Knightmare (get it, Dark Knight + nightmare). In this world, Superman reigns supreme and Batman has an insurgency. The Knightmare term is not exactly a canonical name — though Snyder himself has used the term.

Meet Martian Manhunter

Bruce Wayne wakes up from this nightmare — or was it a vision of his future? Either way, let's rewind to earlier in the movie when the Justice League had some help in its quest to bring back Superman. 

The Martha Kent who talked Lois Lane into living her life again wasn't actually Martha. When her eyes glowed red, she morphed into a different being who then morphed into Secretary of Defense Calvin Swanwick (Harry Lennix) — who has been part of the DCEU since Man of Steel. He then left, with many screaming that the fan theory was true: Swanwick is galactic do-gooder Martian Manhunter. 

Now this being is back to talk to Bruce Wayne, and remind him that the threat of Darkseid is not over. This conversation isn't necessarily about the Knightmare, but it sure feels related. That if they can't find the anti life equation that Darkseid wants, only doom will follow. 

What does all this mean?

In production notes Warner Media shared with the press, Snyder acknowledges how this epilogue creates opportunities, rather than closes the door. "It does open doors, I know. The main notion is that Joker killed Robin. The revelation of the scene is that Harley is dead, and Batman was there in that moment. As well as that somehow Joker has to help Batman fix the world. Which is all part of this post-apocalyptic nightmare reality we were gunning toward in the second and third movies."

These endings definitely set up sequels. But the bad news is that there are no plans for a continuation of the events of The Snyder Cut. In an interview with Beyond the Trailer, Snyder himself referred to this movie as sort of a standalone. It's not canon for the DCEU movies, and Snyder's also referred to the Snyder Cut as taking place in something like an Elseworlds continuity.

Snyder Cut epilogue ending explained: Superman's mad

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

That means you shouldn't expect these events to continue in upcoming and announced DC movies such as The Batman, The Flash and Aquaman 2. When asked about a sequel, Deborah Snyder told Inverse that "Right now, Warner Bros. and DC are going in a different direction with the films they have in development."

That said, if The Snyder Cut proves to be a success internally for Warner Bros. Pictures, we wouldn't be surprised to hear that there's going to be a sequel. A Snyder-Verse could stand alongside the DCEU series of movies, it doesn't sound entirely impossible. Yes, it's confusing, but we don't see a future where studios don't consider a profitable blockbuster just because it's weird.

Especially since Snyder seems to know exactly what his Justice League points to. When asked about Martian Manhunter (in the productions notes), he said "Traditionally, in genre, the coda takes you to the next film or into the next universe. ... For years, I have been thinking about having Swanwick’s alter ego be Martian Manhunter. I really saw him as a springboard ... And at the end, I’ll bring him back to launch a dark side war." Ominous words, if ever there were.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.