Justice League director Zack Snyder details his planned SnyderVerse spin-off about the Snyder Cut's Ryan Choi (Zheng Kai), who goes on to become the Chinese superhero known as the Atom. Kai, whose role as a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist was cut from the theatrical version of Justice League released into theaters in 2017, would have led a China-set DC Comics adaptation with a Chinese cast and international appeal. The Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice filmmaker envisioned The Atom spinning out of his definitive version of Justice League, where Kai's role is restored as a nanotechnology expert and colleague of Dr. Silas Stone (Joe Morton).
"I had always had this idea that we would make a movie, the Ryan Choi movie, an Atom movie in China, with Chinese-English and Chinese language," Snyder told Beyond the Trailer. "I think that, frankly, I think Netflix is really good at this. We've just done it with the Army of the Dead prequel, Army of Thieves, where it's an English, and French, and German movie."
The Matthias Schweighöfer-directed prequel to Snyder's Las Vegas-set zombie movie is a "super international film" that "feels international, and I think [Army of Thieves] was kind of what I had in mind for Ryan."
"We would make a movie set in China, really get the Chinese fans and be inclusive, and make it about a Chinese character," Snyder said, "and not that this Chinese character is in the movie, but we're in his movie. That's how I wanted it."
And Kai, also known as Ryan Zheng, is "so charming and just amazing," Snyder said. "I love him. He was a joy to work with."
Snyder's Justice League — which only recently released on HBO Max as a four-hour, R-rated director's cut — was to be a launching pad for numerous standalone films in the DC Extended Universe, including Ray Fisher's Cyborg and a Ben Affleck-starring and directed Batman solo pitting the Dark Knight against the scorned assassin Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello).
Despite Snyder's plans for spin-offs and a Justice League 2 and 3, Zack Snyder's Justice League screenwriter Chris Terrio says studio Warner Bros. had no blueprint for its shared universe beyond Batman v Superman spin-offs led by Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa).
"[Then-Warner Bros. chairman Kevin Tsujihara] as far as I can tell, and the brass at the very top decided the order of the films. I was not consulted on the order of the films, even though I was the person writing Justice League," Terrio recently told Vanity Fair. "They just determined that it was going to be Batman/Superman, and then Wonder Woman, then Justice League, and then Aquaman. So there was never any thought to how the world was constructed before they issued this edict. They said, 'Conform to this schedule.'"
Zack Snyder's Justice League is now streaming on HBO Max.