Which DCEU characters could be dead in the Justice League Snyder cut’s Knightmare sequence? With precious few theatrical releases going ahead in recent times, 2021 looks set to become the most memorable year in recent cinematic history, packed with highly anticipated and long-awaited films from every genre. Nevertheless, one of next year’s most exciting movie events won’t be in theaters. Dissatisfied with the controversial 2017 theatrical edit from Warner Bros. and Joss Whedon, DCEU fans demanded Snyder’s original Justice League be completed, and that wish will be fulfilled with a 4-hour miniseries planned for HBO Max in 2021.
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Featuring new footage, cut characters and dropped storylines, the Snyder cut is effectively a different movie compared to the original Justice League, but one of the most drastic changes will be the Knightmare timeline. First introduced by Snyder in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne envisions a post-apocalyptic future where Superman is a villain ruling over Earth with an iron fist. Operating as a desperate, gun-toting Batman, Bruce leads a rebellion, but is captured by the Man of Steel’s army while trying to obtain a shipment of Kryptonite and executed by Clark himself. While Snyder clearly had big plans for his Knightmare future, the 2017 Justice League failed to see them through, and hastily rounded off the storyline in unsatisfying fashion.
Fortunately, Zack Snyder has confirmed the Knightmare’s return for his upcoming Justice League do-over, and with 4 hours to fill, there’s plenty of time to explore the DCEU’s post-apocalyptic future. But while things look decidedly bleak for the Justice League after Superman goes off the rails, which characters are actually dead in the future?
The Batman V Superman Knightmare scene makes no mention of Diana Prince, nor does the Amazonian appear in person. In a world where Superman has turned into a ruthless dictator, Wonder Woman is hardly likely to take a sabbatical, so where could she be? A major clue came courtesy of the Snyder cut trailer, which offers an Easter egg-filled glimpse of the DCEU’s Knightmare timeline. Among the rubble, the broken “Justice League” arch of the superhero group’s HQ can be seen, strongly hinting that either Superman or Darkseid defeated Batman and his friends. The same shot also features Wonder Woman’s shield lying beaten and broken on the ground near the damaged arch, foreshadowing the possibility that Diana might’ve been killed, and explaining her absence from Bruce’s insurgency group.
Naturally, Zack Snyder has refused to confirm Wonder Woman’s fate in the Knightmare, but the director did reveal that she “isn’t around” in the future. This ambiguous statement could allude to Diana’s death, but might also mean she upped-sticks and headed back to the safety of Themyscira after Superman turned bad. Given Diana’s noble personality, the prospect of her running away is extremely unlikely. Wonder Woman would surely rather die than abandon mankind to the rule of Darkseid, and this is perhaps what became of her, demonstrating the strength of the Knightmare’s villains.
If a hero as strong as Wonder Woman can be defeated in the Knightmare future, what chance do the rest of the Justice League stand? Barry Allen’s survival is confirmed, as it’s Flash who travels through time and warns Bruce about the impending apocalypse. Zack Snyder has also confirmed that Cyborg was also involved in the time-bending plan to change history, revealing early designs for a Cyborg Knightmare suit. Sadly for aqua-fans, there’s no sign of Aquaman in Darkseid’s future, and once again, the demise of Arthur Currie is teased in the recent Snyder cut trailer. Along with Wonder Woman’s shield, Aquaman’s trident can also be spotted protruding from the debris of Wayne Manor, hinting that he too might’ve been a casualty of the battle for Justice League HQ.
While it’s plausible that Wonder Woman would forsake a smashed-up shield before escaping to Themyscira, Aquaman’s weapon has a symbolic and cultural significance to Arthur, and it’s strange that he would leave the trident behind willingly, especially since it appears to be intact. The only explanation is that Aquaman is sleeping with the fishes.
Lois Lane’s death is seemingly responsible for the Knightmare future coming to pass in the first place. When evil Superman confronts a chained Bruce Wayne and ominously states “she was my world… and you took her from me,” the obvious inference is that Lois Lane has somehow been killed. At the end of the Knightmare, Barry Allen appears from a wormhole and warns Bruce that Lois is the key, meaning the death of Lois Lane led directly to Superman’s fall from grace. How Lois dies and Bruce’s part in that remain unknown, but rumors persist that the Justice League Snyder cut will mark the death of Lois Lane, forcing Flash and the remaining Justice League members to rewrite history. In 2017’s Justice League debacle, Bruce uses Lois to calm down a raging post-resurrection Superman, tying off the DCEU’s Knightmare thread in canon, but the Snyder cut will explore the true meaning behind Flash’s warning.
As well as Wonder Woman’s shield and Aquaman’s trident, the Snyder cut trailer’s Knightmare shot also includes a Joker card fluttering in the breeze. Unlike the abandoned weapons of the Justice League, a mere playing card hardly implies Joker’s death. The Crown Prince of Crime was probably leaving his calling cards around Gotham City even before the apocalypse – no sense changing the habit of a lifetime. But, symbolically, the card could signal that Joker is no more; the usual DC villains have been replaced by an overarching evil from another world, rendering all other criminals obsolete. This would also explain why Batman keeps a playing card on his rifle – to remind him of the good old days when he only had to worry about men dressed as clowns.
On one hand, Joker is the archetypal cockroach, surviving until the very last. However, Batman’s nemesis is unlikely to find the Knightmare to his taste, and probably wouldn’t fall into line as part of Superman’s regime. In the post-apocalyptic landscape, the institutions Joker traditionally fought against are gone, spoiling his fun, meaning he possibly kicked the wrong hornet’s nest and was killed by Clark Kent. Recent reports of Jared Leto’s Snyder cut return could prove otherwise.
With no mention or appearance of Jeremy Irons in the Batman V Superman Knightmare scene, the butler’s fate remains ambiguous, but there’s certainly reason to believe he’s no longer serving tea and ironing Batman’s cape. The Knightmare shows Bruce’s Bat-cave bunker, and what appears to be the base camp of his rebellion, while the Snyder cut trailer highlights the destroyed Wayne manor and (possibly) the ruins of the lake house Ben Affleck’s character called home. Alfred Pennyworth is nowhere to be seen in any of them, and in such dire circumstances, he’d surely be at Bruce’s side… if he were still alive. Bruce might’ve been tempted to send Alfred somewhere safe, but where on Earth would be protected from the reach of Superman and Darkseid? The Knightmare vision takes place only 5 years on from the present DCEU, so Alfred’s death is unlikely to have been natural either. Maybe Clark took revenge for Lois by killing the one person Bruce Wayne cares about?
Martha Kent’s potential role in the DCEU Knightmare is an interesting one. There’s no reference to the character in Batman V Superman‘s future, nor is there any Easter egg in the Snyder cut trailer. Living in Smallville, Martha is also situated far from the Knightmare locations glimpsed so far. But would Superman have turned bad if his mother was still alive? The infamous moment in Batman V Superman where Bruce and Clark bond over their mothers’ names establishes Martha Kent as the emotional core of Superman. While the death of Lois Lane would obviously deliver a huge emotional blow to Clark, could Darkseid truly corrupt the Kryptonian if his mother were still alive to support him through the grief? Similarly, could Martha Kent stay holed up on her farm knowing her son was terrorizing the world? The fact that Superman has been darkened so thoroughly suggests he might’ve lost Lois and Martha during the 5-year gap.
Regular People (Many)
Aside from the named DC characters, it’s worth noting that the Knightmare future has evidently claimed countless human lives. From the decimated city landscape to the fiery terraforming technology scouring planet Earth, it’s highly likely that most of the population has been killed in this timeline. The exact percentage remains unknown, but fans can safely assume that all semblance of governments, armies and institutions has been removed. The Justice League Snyder cut can reveal more about the Knightmare death toll.
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