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Zack Snyder's Justice League Sequel Plans Superman Wouldn't Truly Turn Evil

Superman seems to turn evil in a hypothetical apocalyptic future, but Zack Snyder’s Justice League sequel plans show that the DCEU’s Superman would never truly become a villain. This dystopian scenario, called the “Knightmare” is a potential future in the DCEU, in which the Apokoliptian warlord Darkseid finally obtains the Anti-Life Equation and conquers Earth, turning Superman into his pawn in the process. While the visions of this future in Justice League and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice depict a Superman who appears to be a tyrant driven by grief, Snyder’s sequel plans show that Superman, like his DC Comics counterpart, isn’t capable of inflicting such horrors willingly.

Inspired by the popular Injustice video games, the Knightmare features a tyrannical Superman who leads a Regime of Darkseid loyalists and hunts down any surviving heroes and their Insurgency faction. Bruce Wayne’s vision of the Knightmare in Dawn of Justice and The Flash’s brief cameo strongly implies that Superman turned to villainy following the death of Lois Lane. This was the case in Injustice, where The Joker murdered Jimmy Olsen and tricked Superman into killing Lois with a hallucinogenic variant of Scarecrow’s Fear Toxin. Superman executed The Joker in retaliation, and in his grief, gradually became Earth’s dictator, subjugating the planet under autocratic rule.

Related: Why Another Justice League Movie Is Inevitable (With Or Without Snyder)

Cyborg’s vision of the Knightmare scenario in Justice League seemed to imply Superman’s corruption as well, but Zack Snyder revealed, in his planned Justice League sequels, that his Superman would never truly turn evil. Lois Lane dies during Darkseid’s conquest of Earth, breaking Clark’s heart and weakening his resolve. Taking advantage of this, Darkseid uses his newly-acquired Anti-Life Equation, a formula used to eradicate free will, and brainwashes Superman into serving him. While the Knightmare is a possible future for the DCEU, Superman’s murders and conquests in the name of Darkseid were the results of brainwashing that even he couldn’t resist.

The DCEU’s Superman is a fundamentally different character than the one who leads the Regime in Injustice. If any event, even the death of the woman he loves, could turn Superman into the antithesis of his ideals, then he was never truly a hero in the first place. The same can be said for an unfortunately large number of other Justice League members, who join him in subjugating Earth and leading Batman and the rest of the universe’s heroes to found the Insurgency resistance movement. This proves that at least some of this continuity’s heroes truly believed in their altruistic ideals.

The DCEU’s Superman, on the other hand, is intrinsically incapable of becoming a tyrant of his own free will. Lois Lane’s death is the potential catalyst for his fall from grace, but it’s hardly the direct cause of it. Losing a loved one wouldn’t turn Superman evil if he’s written in-character, so Snyder cleverly created a scenario where his Superman remained true to the comics, but could still hypothetically become a villain through mind-control. The Anti-Life Equation could be used on any other Justice League member and similarly turn them into a perversion of themselves.

Although there are no plans for Justice League sequels to be filmed and released, Snyder revealed what would happen in them to give viewers an idea of his overarching DCEU storyline. The Knightmare scenario would come to pass, but Batman and Cyborg would help The Flash travel back in time to warn Bruce that Lois’ death would leave Superman vulnerable to Darkseid’s brainwashing. In the final film in Zack Snyder’s Justice League saga, Batman would sacrifice himself to prevent Superman from falling under Darkseid’s control, thus saving Earth and allowing Superman to remain the altruistic hero that he truly is.

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