July 20, 2024


Travel Finishes First

Justice League’s Flash Time Travel Homages Christopher Reeve’s Superman

The Flash uses time travel to save the world in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which is also a nod to Superman’s time reversal in his 1978 movie.

Warning: SPOILERS for Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League ended with Flash (Ezra Miller) time traveling to save the day, which also serves as an homage to what Christopher Reeve’s Man of Steel did in 1978’s Superman: The Movie. The Snyder Cut restores Zack Snyder’s definitive vision for Justice League, which involves the superheroes coming together to stop Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) from conquering the Earth in the name of his master, Darkseid.

Superman: The Movie is the great-granddaddy of superhero event films. Directed by Richard Donner, Superman: The Movie melded witty characters and a sweeping story that delved into the Man of Steel’s mythology with state-of-the-art special effects that made audiences believe a man can fly. In the film, Superman foils a plot by Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) to detonate a nuclear missile that would sink the West Coast. The Kryptonian hero uses his speed and might to repair the damage the nuclear blast caused to the San Andreas Fault, but he wasn’t able to save Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) from being killed by a landslide. In his anguish over Lois’s death, Superman did what his father, Jor-El (Marlon Brando), forbade him to do: The Man of Steel flew around the world at superspeed and reversed time so that Lois didn’t die. With both Lois and the country safe, it was a total victory for Superman, especially after he sent Lex Luthor to prison.

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Related: How Zack Snyder’s Justice League Fixes Superman’s Revival Scene

Reversing time was also the key to the Justice League’s victory in the Snyder Cut. During the final battle, even Superman’s arrival and thrashing of Steppenwolf didn’t give the superheroes an instant win. Flash was racing around in circles building up momentum as Cyborg (Ray Fisher) found himself trapped within the Mother Boxes’ Unity. But Flash was too late to stop the Mother Boxes from completing the Unity and opening a Boom Tube to Apokolips, which allowed Darkseid to witness what transpired: The unified Mother Box exploded in a blast wave that killed the Justice League and would have devastated the Earth. Flash had no choice but to break his “one rule” and go faster-than-light; the Scarlet Speedster ran faster than he ever had, entered the Speed Force, and reversed time so that Superman and Cyborg together were able to separate the Mother Boxes and stop the Unity. All that was left was to send Steppenwolf’s decapitated corpse back to Darkseid to let the Lord of Apokolips know the Justice League would stop him if he tried to invade again.

Superman Turned Back Time

The Flash’s time travel was a subtle nod to Christopher Reeve’s Superman, who was the last DC movie superhero to use his “forbidden” power to change time itself in order to turn a defeat into a victory. However, Flash’s nobility actually trumps Superman’s; Barry Allen broke his rule in order to save the world. Superman violated the rules of time and space because he wanted to bring Lois Lane back to life, even though he was specifically warned by Jor-El not to use his powers to change human history.

But then again, Superman: The Movie’s heart was the love story between Superman and Lois Lane, and the Man of Steel’s world-spinning to alter time is in keeping with the film’s romantic theme. Since Lois was also going to die along with the rest of the world in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, in a way, both acts of reversing time were about saving Lois. After all, as Flash said in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, “Lois is the key!”

Ironically, Richard Donner predated Zack Snyder in getting his cut of a superhero movie restored. Donner was fired before he could complete Superman II but, in 2006, the Donner Cut was finally released after fans clamored to see it. Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut also ended with Superman reversing time to save Lois, which was the original ending the director planned for the sequel before it was lifted and made into the ending of Superman: The Movie. So, it’s fitting that Zack Snyder’s Justice League features a time travel ending that also respectfully nods to Richard Donner and his classic vision for Superman.

Next: Zack Snyder’s Justice League: All Endings, Cliffhangers & Setup Explained

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