The following post contains SPOILERS for Zack Snyder’s Justice League and also hypothetical spoilers for sequels that were never made. If a spoiler falls on the internet but the movie was never made, does it still count as a spoiler?

Four years of fan campaigning ends today, with the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the director’s fabled cut of the DC Comics superhero saga. But the so called “Snyder Cut” was never supposed to be the end of the story.

Before it was released in a compromised, two-hour version that was finished without Zack Snyder’s input by Joss Whedon, Snyder had envisioned Justice League as the middle chapter of “five-part trilogy” that began with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman and then concluded with two more Justice League movies. Obviously the final two movies were never made. Odds are they never will.

Still, you get a glimpse of them in the new material that Snyder shot last year specifically for his Snyder Cut — specifically the sequence set in the “Knightmare” future where Darkseid has conquered the world, Superman is his lackey, and Batman leads a handful of stragglers to try to stop them. In Zack Snyder’s Justice League, this future is presented as a nightmare in the minds of Victor Stone and Bruce Wayne — if it is the actual future for these characters, the film never quite explains how it comes to pass.

That’s because that would have been the subject of Snyder’s never-made Justice League 2. The director described his canceled plans to Vanity FairYou’ll have to go there to get the full story, but the short version: While Superman was dead between Batman v Superman and Justice League, Bruce was supposed to have fallen in love with Lois Lane, and the two would have had a brief affair. That was supposed to set up this massive conflict between Batman and Superman:

The intention was that Bruce fell in love with Lois and then realized that the only way to save the world was to bring Superman back to life. So he had this insane conflict, because Lois, of course, was still in love with Superman. We had this beautiful speech where [Bruce] said to Alfred: ‘I never had a life outside the cave. I never imagined a world for me beyond this. But this woman makes me think that if I can get this group of gods together, then my job is done. I can quit. I can stop.’ And of course that doesn’t work out for him.

Warner Bros. apparently nixed the Bruce/Lois/Clark love triangle even before Snyder’s original Justice League production. But with or without it, in Justice League 2 Darkseid was supposed to have killed Lois — who was also pregnant — which sent Superman over the edge. He goes bad, kills most of the Justice League, and helps Darkseid destroy the Earth. That would pretty much bring you to the point you see in that Knightmare sequence in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Undoing all that damage would have then been the subject of Justice League 3, with Batman and his ragtag League sending Flash back in time to try to warn the heroes about Lois’ death. (You already saw one such attempt in Batman v Superman.) While Batman fails to protect Lois the first time, the second time he sacrifices his life to save her, and that allows for a very different outcome, with all of the heroes of Earth teaming up to stop him in one final battle. But wait! There would have been more! Lois’ kid, who Snyder strongly implies in the article would have been Bruce’s and not Clark’s, grows up and inherits the Batcave and all of Batman’s tech to become the next Batman.

Phew. That’s one heck of a five-part trilogy. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is now available on HBO Max.

Gallery — Things We Actually Liked Better in the Original Justice League Cut:

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