The Snyder Cut of Justice League is officially out into the world, bringing a culmination to years of fan campaigns. The four-hour HBO Max epic also serves as the biggest showcase yet of Zack Snyder's DC Films storytelling, and it is littered with quite a lot of Easter eggs and noteworthy homages along the way. That was true all the way up until the film's final act, with two of its final scenes working in major references to the iconic 1986 comic storyline The Dark Knight Returns. Spoilers for Zack Snyder's Justice League below! Only look if you want to know!
The film's epilogue revolves around an audio message from Silas Stone (Joe Morton) to his son, Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), which was recorded long before Silas sacrificed himself to help the team's fight against Steppenwolf (Ciran Hinds). As Silas' message — about hope, connection, and growth — played, audiences saw each of the League members going back to their respective lives. For Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck), this involved beginning to turn the grounds of Wayne Manor into a new meeting place for the team, as well as continuing to guard over Gotham City as the Batman. When guarding over Gotham, he could be seen doing so while standing on top of a massive tank — one that looks pretty similar to the tank Batman drives in The Dark Knight Returns.
The scene that followed, which established that Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) had escaped from captivity and wanted to form a working alliance with Slade Wilson/Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello), snuck in another Dark Knight Returns nod as well. While the place that Lex had been kept at is traditionally referred to in DC canon as the "Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane", the Snyder Cut referred to the establishment as the "Arkham Home for the Emotionally Troubled." Not only does the name change help destigmatize mental health — something that Snyder himself has been a personal crusader for — but it also takes the name that the sanitarium has in The Dark Knight Returns.
These certainly aren't Snyder's first homages to The Dark Knight Returns across his DC films, with 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice drawing a heap of parallels to the comic. These included (but aren't limited to) the very conflict between Batman and Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman's armored suit in the film, and the long-standing rumors that Jena Malone would be playing Carrie Kelley in the film.
"The thing about The Dark Knight Returns that really inspired me about this movie is that when I read that comic book series in '86, I was floored by it because I felt like it promised me something," Snyder said in a 2016 interview. "It challenged my fundamental notions of Batman in an amazing way. I was like 'holy sh-t, this is something else.' It really sort of inspired me to reconnect with Batman as a character and comic books in general."
What do you think of the homages to The Dark Knight Returns in Zack Snyder's Justice League? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Zack Snyder's Justice League is now available to stream exclusively on HBO Max.