In the background, Superman floats down to a broken stone archway emblazoned with the words “Justice League.” His eyes are glowing red embers, similar to Darkseid’s—an indication that he is being controlled by the villain through the Anti-Life Equation. He’s holding Batman’s cowl like the head of a slain foe.
All of this is a prelude to the more expansive dream sequence at the end of #SnyderCut, but even that comes after two scenes that require explanation.
The #SnyderCut Ending Decoded
Actually, it should be endings, plural, since there are quite a few of them.
At the very, very end of the movie, Harry Lennix appears as the alien observer known as Martian Manhunter, who descends from the heavens to meet with the freshly awakened Bruce Wayne. He congratulates Batman for uniting the heroes of Earth. Originally, Snyder says, Martian Manhunter was supposed to be a different character.
“We shot a version of this scene with Green Lantern, but the studio really fought me and said, ‘We really don’t want you to do Green Lantern,’” Snyder said. “So I made a deal with them, and they let me do this [instead].”
Okay, but which Green Lantern did Snyder want to use? “It would be John Stewart,” Snyder said. John Stewart (with an H) is the character who took over the mantle of Green Lantern in the 1970s, becoming DC’s historic first Black superhero. Reynolds’s Green Lantern was another character, known as Hal Jordan.
Snyder expressed regret that the studio prevented him from bringing Stewart to the screen for the first time. “They were like, ‘We have plans for John Stewart and we want to do our own announcement.’ So I said all right, I’ll give you that. So [Martian Manhunter] was the compromise,” he said.
Lennix previously appeared in both Batman v Superman and Man of Steel as a U.S. military commander known as General Swanwick. In the #SnyderCut, this military character is revealed to be a disguise for this powerful figure from a neighboring world. “The whole thing is that Swanwick, the whole time, has been Martian Manhunter,” Snyder said. If the filmmaker had been granted access to Green Lantern for this cameo, the Swanwick reveal presumably would have come in one of his future Justice League stories.
There’s a short scene preceding this reveal that feels like another coda: Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor escapes from an insane asylum and makes contact with Joe Manganiello’s masked assassin Deathstroke, who is in an ongoing war against Batman. Eisenberg gives him the critical piece of information that Batman is the alter ego of Bruce Wayne.
This scene was originally planned as a post-credit sequence that would set up Deathstroke as the key villain in Affleck’s planned stand-alone film, as Manganiello explained in detail to Vanity Fair. But even before Justice League finished shooting, that Batman movie fell apart when Affleck withdrew from the project.
Now it serves only to set up that final dream sequence, which reveals that Deathstroke and Batman have formed an alliance in the apocalypse.
Bruce Wayne’s Final Dream, Explained
Just before his close encounter with Martian Manhunter, this is the premonition Batman experiences:
Aquaman heroine Mera (Amber Heard), Cyborg, the Flash (in the same costume he wore in his time-traveling Batman v Superman appearance) and Deathstroke (now with a white mohawk) traverse the futuristic fallen world with another unexpected ally: Jared Leto’s Joker. Affleck’s Batman is still alive at this point. Cyborg warns that if their presence is detected, an undefined “he” will come for them.