Justice League for Warner Bros and DC Films was a failure at every level with substandard earnings, negative reviews and the way it killed the DCEU or DC Extended Universe. Zack Snyder, who had directed Man of Steel and Batman v Superman for WB, was hired to helm the first live-action version of DC’s team-up movie.
Midway in the production, Snyder was either fired or he left the project after a family tragedy. Joss Whedon, director of The Avengers who was already onboard as a writer, was hired to finish the movie. The resulting project, while enjoyable for diehard fans of the team in comics and animated series, was a nearly incomprehensible mess for everyone else.
“The original Justice League that Chris [Terrio] and I wrote, we didn’t even shoot… The actual idea, the hard, hard idea, the scary idea, we never filmed because the studio was like ‘That’s crazy,'” Snyder said during a Q&A after the screening of Batman v Superman.
The Knightmare sequence in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had Bruce Wayne dreaming about Darkseid, basically DC’s Thanos, invading earth and making it into a wasteland. Superman in that reality had become a tyrant after Lois Lane was murdered by Darkseid, a bit like the Injustice storyline, and Batman was leading the last remaining insurgents working to free the earth from Superman’s despotic rule. There was also scenes like Ezra Miller’s Flash going back into the past to tell Bruce about Superman and his future, further encouraging him to fight the Kryptonian.
Justice League then would likely have had Darkseid as its villain, instead of his general and uncle Steppenwolf.
Snyder added, “It’s a long story. The truth is that, the Knightmare sequence in this movie was always my idea that all of that would eventually be explained … and that we would end up in the distance future, where Darkseid has taken over Earth and where Superman has succumbed to the Anti-Life [Equation] … There was a few members of the Justice League that had survived in that world, that they were fighting. Batman broke a pact with Cyborg because something happened… They were working on an equation to jump Flash back to tell Bruce…”
Snyder further said that Cyborg would have sent the Flash in the past to warn Bruce and prevent the murder of Lois Lane at the hands of Darkseid.
The plan does sound great, but it is understandable why Warner Bros was apprehensive. Batman v Superman pitting two of the most popular superheroes against each had still been absolutely excoriated by critics and the same thing happened with Suicide Squad. Only Wonder Woman was an out-and-out success. They were clearly wishing to play it safe.