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Justice League Snyder Cut: Everything you need to know before watching

A reminder of what's been going on with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others before the events of this HBO Max superhero epic.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
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Sean Keane
4 min read
Justice League lined up in Snyder Cut

Pardon me, who are you guys again?

Warner Bros.

Zack Snyder's Justice League (aka the Snyder Cut) hit Max on Thursday, bringing the director's original vision for the DC superheroes to the streaming service. The much-anticipated expanded flick comes more than three years after Joss Whedon's theatrical cut disappointed fans, and these characters have shown up in several movies since, so you might be a little confused about where Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and friends are at as this four-hour epic kicks off.

The Snyder Cut picks up after the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a movie that came out nearly five years ago and followed 2013's Man of Steel. I bet you remember "Martha," Batman killing people, and that's about it, right? 

Suicide Squad takes place between BvS and Justice League, but it's so removed that you don't really need to remember what happened. Aquaman, Shazam and Birds of Prey all take place after Justice League, so they don't factor into these events. Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984 both take place before Man of Steel, so we'll briefly touch on those movies here.

With all that timeline tomfoolery done with, let's look at each major character's situation as Justice League begins. If you haven't seen Batman v Superman, the rest of this article contains SPOILERS.


Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman face off against Doomsday, which won't end well for one of them.

Warner Bros.


He's dead, which is rough. After using a kryptonite spear to fatally impale Doomsday -- a monster created with the DNA of bad business baddy Lex Luthor and Kryptonian villain General Zod -- Superman is weakened to the point where Doomsday kills him in its dying moments.

Supes really should've thrown the spear to Wonder Woman, who's a trained badass, not susceptible to Kryptonite, and seemed to be having a great old time in that fight. But: heat of the moment, needing to re-create a comic book scenario... whatevs.

Everyone is supersad that Superman is gone, particularly Lois Lane (Amy Adams is excellent in these movies). People build a big memorial in his honor in Metropolis, while his body is secretly buried in Clark Kent's hometown of Smallville, and his adopted mother Martha gives Lois an engagement ring her son had planned to propose with, which was surely a gut punch.

After everyone pays their respects to their fallen friend, the dirt on top of Clark's coffin levitates. Gee golly, I think he's coming back.

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After spending all of BvS muttering threats at Superman, filling Supes' face with kryptonite gas and waving the kryptonite spear under the man of steel's nose -- when two sentences would've sorted everything out -- Batman realizes he should actually team up with his fellow superheroes. Pity he helped weaken Superman to the point where he was vulnerable to Doomsday's killing blow.

Bats mostly runs away while Superman and Wonder Woman fight with the Kryptonian beast, which is wise since he would've been reduced to paste with a flick. He realizes that he's better as a coordinator and planner than someone who battles superhuman villains, so he decides to put a team of heroes together, using his Bruce Wayne riches.

Wayne had a visit from a future version of speedster The Flash, who warned him that Lois was somehow important and that he should fear Superman. He also had a dream of a dark future where Superman has turned mean and evil and murder-y.

Conveniently, Batman also found a bunch of files on his fellow heroes, known as metahumans, on Lex's hard drive. The villain even designed logos for them, which was a nice, nonsensical touch.

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Wonder Woman

The immortal Amazonian goddess left her secret island of badass warrior women to help end World War I. She lost the man she loved in the process and has been secretly living among humans as antiquities dealer Diana Prince (with regular superhero-ing on the side). 

After Superman's death, Wayne convinces her to help him form a team of heroes. 

The Flash

We had only a glimpse of the present day version of Barry Allen prior to Justice League, in the form of security footage as he zipped around a store to stop a robber. We got no explanation about the future version who visited Wayne.


We'd seen only a teeny tiny bit of Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash prior to Justice League.  

Warner Bros.


BvS gave us only a moment with Victor Stone, in footage showing his father using an alien cube to rebuild Victor's mutilated body as a cyborg named Cyborg. This extraterrestrial object will play a major role in Justice League.


In Lex's files, we see underwater footage of Arthur Curry wrecking an NSA drone snooping around after him in the Pacific Ocean. He's the half-human son of a lighthouse keeper and an Atlantean queen, but he's rejected his Atlantean heritage.


In his office, Lex Luthor had a painting of demons rising from the depths, because he loves foreshadowing. 

Warner Bros.

Lex Luthor

After the morally bankrupt businessman fails to get Batman and Superman to kill each other, we see him communing with a towering alien being just before Luthor's arrested (this scene is only in the extended Ultimate edition of BvS, not the theatrical one).

Once he gets busted, his lovely flowing red locks are shorn and he ends up with the character's signature bald look. Batman shows up to threaten Luthor and tell him he's being sent to Arkham Asylum -- traditionally a deeply unpleasant place to stay. 

However, Luthor subtly reveals that he knows Bats' secret identity and warns that Superman's death signaled to some alien threat that it's a fine time to wreck Earth. Uh ohs!

With that, you're all caught up. Now you can spend less of the Snyder Cut's four-hour runtime thinking "Who's that again?" or "What's their deal?" and more time thinking "This is better than that sad mess we got in 2017."