'Zack Snyder's Justice League' Ending Explained: The Big Changes Made to the End of 'Justice League'

Zack Snyder's Justice League is a mammoth four hours long. The last movie to come out that was as epically long was The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003 (also on HBO Max), this means that there is plenty of time for a lot of endings.

As well as keeping much of the 2017 version of Justice League's ending, in which Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor visits Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke (played by Joe Manganiello) in order for the pair of them to team up, the so-called 'Snyder Cut' ends with two new endings that were meant to serve to set up the fourth and fifth of this five-movie saga—movies that, per Snyder himself, are no longer happening.

The new endings begin with a dream sequence dreamed by Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) in what is known as the 'Knightmare' timeline. In this, Bruce is joined with Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Deathstroke, The Flash (Ezra Miller) Mera from Aquaman (Amber Heard) and the Joker (Jared Leto).

In this scene, Cyborg warns that if they are detected, "he" will come from them. "He" turns out to be a red-eyed Superman (Henry Cavill), who has hunted down his former Justice League pals and is ready to kill them.

zack snyders justice league superman
Henry Cavill as Superman at the end of 'Zack Snyder's Justice League.' HBO Max

Why Superman has turned evil is teased by the Joker, who tells Batman: "You need me...to help you undo this world you created by letting her die."

Though the scene does not say who "her" is, we can bring together various pieces to work it out. Earlier in the film, time disturbances caused by the Flash traveling close to the speed of light cause Cyborg to have a dream of his own in which Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) are dead at the hands of Darkseid (Ray Porter), as is a charred corpse that Superman is grieving over.

Common sense dictates this is Lois Lane (Amy Adams)—after all, who else would cause Superman to grieve—and this is confirmed by Snyder in a lengthy piece with Vanity Fair in which he details what would have happened in the next two films had they went ahead.

In this interview, the director explains his vision for how the characters got to the Knightmare. "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,'" he said.

Batman fails, however, and in Superman's grief, Darkseid is able to control him and turn him into a weapon.

Once Superman arrives in the dream/premonition, however, Bruce wakes up and finds himself in the presence of the Martian Manhunter (Harry Lennix), who thanks him for putting together the Justice League and also tells him he will soon be in touch to help Bruce prepare for the arrival of Darkseid on Earth.

Per Snyder in Vanity Fair, he originally wanted to feature another Justice League member in this scene, with the Green Lantern in the place of Martian Manhunter.

However, he says Warner Bros. have their own plans for the character, so another member of the original Justice League appears in his place.

As it is, though, the ending corrects one of the biggest problems with the first movie. The tagline of that movie was "Unite the Seven", but only six Justice League members appeared. The appearance of the Martian Manhunter, meanwhile, makes him the seventh member of the League to appear in the movie.

Zack Snyder's Justice League is streaming now on HBO Max.