Justice League: Why Batman Needs the Joker in the Snyder Cut’s Knightmare

Is Batman hanging out with Joker to get his hands on a Mother Box in the Justice League Snyder cut? After several years of campaigning, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is almost here thanks to HBO Max. The fallout from 2017’s theatrical release is still unfolding, but at least fans can now experience the DCEU superhero team-up as it was originally intended by Zack Snyder before reshoots drastically altered the tone, story and characters. Clocking in at a mammoth 4 hours, there’s plenty of room for surprises, and one character fans didn’t necessarily expect to see is Jared Leto’s Joker from Suicide Squad.

Joker’s 2016 franchise debut was received about as warmly as Batman Forever‘s bat-nipples, and Leto’s time as the supervillain appeared to be over until Snyder gave him another shot in his long-awaited DC epic. Sporting a complete (and much improved) visual makeover and a more unique swagger, first reaction to Leto’s new Joker has been overwhelmingly positive. The iconic Clown Prince will feature as part of the Snyder cut’s Knightmare timeline – the post-apocalyptic future glimpsed by Bruce Wayne in Batman V Superman. The Snyder cut trailer shows the two fated enemies coming face to face in Darkseid’s wasteland, but offers no clue as to why they might be meeting.

Based on comments from Zack Snyder himself, the new-look Dynamic Duo might have a Mother Box to thank for their budding friendship. Back in 2020, Snyder revealed he was toying with the idea of releasing a Joker comic supplementary to his version of Justice League. According to the director, the story would center around Leto’s Joker doing what he does best and stealing a Mother Box later used to power The Flash and Cyborg‘s time traveling cosmic treadmill, allowing the Justice League to go back in time and prevent the Knightmare ever coming to fruition.

The scene between Batman and Joker in the Snyder cut trailer suggests this proposed comic arc might’ve been transitioned to live-action. Breaking tradition, the pair aren’t at each other’s throats in the Knightmare; Batman doesn’t seem to be hunting down Joker, and Joker doesn’t seem to be trying to kill Batman. Curiously, Leto’s villain also laments how the world has changed under Darkseid’s rule, and doesn’t appear to find the apocalypse very amusing. With Joker’s smile faded and Batman more desperate than ever, it’s entirely possible that the Caped Crusader would approach his most infamous enemy and ask for help retrieving one of the fabled Mother Boxes, thus undoing Darkseid‘s damage. In a world where allies are few and far between, there’s no one better than Joker to recruit for a heist mission.

If the Snyder cut’s Batman and Joker sequence doesn’t extent to a full-on robbery of Darkseid’s most secret vault, the original comic idea might’ve been shortened for live-action. Perhaps Joker has already taken it upon himself to swipe a Mother Box, and willingly hand it over to Batman, knowing this is the only way to return to the old days of robbing banks and gassing the innocent citizens of Gotham City.

Of course, there is a more meaningful reason for Joker’s appearance in Zack Snyder’s Justice League beyond simply procuring a MacGuffin. In his Joker comic idea, Snyder describes how the heist sequence between Batman and Joker would facilitate a flashback to the death of Robin – the tragic event that haunts Batfleck throughout his DCEU run. If Justice League is intended to conclude Bruce’s story, confronting the trauma of Joker murdering Robin is vital, and the best way to do that is confronting the villain himself. Whether Bruce puts his anger aside for the greater good, uses his time with Joker to move on from Robin, or even betrays Joker and kills him (knowing he’d be resurrected if the time travel plan works), their coming together could resolve the biggest dangling thread of Batman’s DCEU story.

The thought of Batman and Joker possibly working together in Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a shocking one with major ramifications, but the alliance does make sense. Their unlikely combination would highlight how much of a threat Darkseid poses, and both could argue that once the timelines are reset, their partnership never happened. Either way, Snyder’s plan for a Joker comic gives a strong idea of what Jared Leto could be up to in Zack Snyder‘s Justice League.

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