With an underwhelming theatrical release and a popular director’s cut, Justice League will inevitably get a sequel, whether or not Zack Snyder is involved in its production. The Justice League is the main superhero team in DC Comics as well as the biggest possible team-up franchise for WB’s DCEU movies. Unlike their counterparts at Marvel, who released individual superhero films to build up to their team installments, the DCEU quickly initiated its crossover films and now has a stronger focus on standalone movies. Despite this, another Justice League movie will be made sooner or later and, depending on Zack Snyder’s involvement, there are several ways it could continue its predecessor’s story.
The DCEU began in 2013 with Man of Steel, an epic retelling of Superman’s origin story, and a film with numerous references to both the Superman comics and the larger DC universe. Rather than developing a direct sequel to Man of Steel, Zack Snyder and WB released Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a crossover film that introduced the DCEU’s iteration of Batman. The film also included Wonder Woman in a supporting role and brief cameos for Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman, building towards the six heroes uniting in 2017’s Justice League, but not before Wonder Woman, Diana Prince’s origin film that same year.
The theatrical cut of Justice League unfortunately didn’t live up to expectations. The film was financially unsuccessful and was generally seen as underwhelming by critics and viewers alike. Due to a personal tragedy, Zack Snyder stepped down from the film during post-production, with Joss Whedon changing it with reshoots and rewrites. Behind the scenes claims from the cast revealed a problematic work environment after Whedon joined, and fans eventually began an online campaign to release Zack Snyder’s cut of the film. With Justice League cast members sharing the sentiment, Zack Snyder’s Justice League was completed and released on HBO Max, receiving generally favorable reactions from both fans and critics.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League was a success, with DCEU creatives like Patty Jenkins and Jason Momoa seeing it as the canonical iteration of the Justice League. This success will inevitably bring renewed interest in the Justice League as a franchise. While WB’s DC films have, for the most part, focused on solo adventures and the DCEU multiverse, the Justice League as a film property is simply too big to not be continued. Both iterations of the film teased plot threads for potential sequels, and given the franchise’s gravitas, the inevitable Justice League sequel will be made with or without Zack Snyder.
To the dismay of some of DCEU films’ most devoted fans, Zack Snyder’s Justice League appears to be his final film in the DCEU. Snyder had long-term plans for the second and third Justice League, but whoever takes the reigns of the next film is not obligated to adhere to them. Both cuts of Justice League teased Lex Luthor creating a villainous answer to the heroes’ team (likely the DCEU’s version of the Legion of Doom). The formation of Luthor’s team of villains would likely be the focus of a Justice League sequel, and it could include a roster of established antagonists, such as Black Manta, Mister Mind, or Cheetah.
If Zack Snyder returned to make his planned Justice League sequels, he’d continue to explore the post-apocalyptic alternate “Knightmare” future teased in his previous films, as well as conclude his ultimate conflict between the heroes of Earth and the forces of Darkseid. In addition to following up on his Lex Luthor tease, Snyder would have had Batman sacrifice himself to prevent Superman’s corruption and help defeat Darkseid. Even if Zack Snyder doesn’t return to the DCEU, a Justice League sequel will be made sooner or later, and Snyder’s plans for the franchise are sure to have a strong influence on future installments.