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"I had a dream. It was the end of the world. I think it's something more... something darker
"I had a dream. It was the end of the world. I think it's something more... something darker." ―Bruce Wayne, Zack Snyder's Justice League
This article or section is about the Knightmare future. This is a potential future that may not necessarily follow the primary timeline.

"Uh… I had a dream, like, I don’t know, almost like a premonition. It was the end of the world..."

The Knightmare was a lengthy conflict that occurred in an alternate future in which Batman's insurgency fought to overthrow Superman's regime, after the death of Lois Lane at the hands of Darkseid left Superman susceptible to the Anti-Life Equation, allying himself with the forces of Apokolips and becoming the tyrannical ruler of Earth.

Superman would ultimately prevail in defeating the insurgency, prompting that possible future's version of the Flash to go back in time using the cosmic treadmill to warn a present version of Batman. However, due to the main timeline's version of Barry Allen altering reality, causing the Flashpoint event, this timeline was mostly likely averted.


"She was my world. And you took her from me."
Superman to Batman[src]
Darkseid watches as Superman cries over Lois Lane's corpse

Darkseid confronts Superman after murdering Lois in the Batcave.

At some point in a possible alternate future, Darkseid murdered Lois Lane, which Batman was unable to prevent. Consumed with grief, Superman was left susceptible to the influence of the Anti-Life Equation, and Darkseid manipulated him into believing that Batman's inability to prevent this made them mortal enemies. Superman allied himself with the forces of Apokolips, and Darkseid proceeded to make Superman into a dark tyrannical ruler of the planet.[1] Earth was successfully terraformed by the Mother Boxes, after which point Darkseid scorched an omega symbol into the dried up harbor of Gotham City.

The regime was founded to aid Superman in his totalitarian rule of Earth, mercilessly killing anybody who opposed him. Batman promptly founded the insurgency in order to combat this new threat, thus beginning a long conflict.[2]

The war was long and hard, transforming Earth into a primordial hellscape of an apocalyptic wasteland. Among those who were killed in this future were Aquaman and Wonder Woman, whose respective weapons could be seen lying broken in the ruins of the Justice League's headquarters. Their deaths left their respective homes of Atlantis and Themyscira devastated and vulnerable to attack by Darkseid's forces.[3]

At some point, Harley Quinn died in Batman's arms, with her final words being a request for Batman to kill the Joker slowly.


"I'm sorry."
"Get down! Get down now!"
―An undercover agent of the regime, and Batman[src]
Knightmare in IMAX

Batman stares out at a ravaged city.

After years of conflict, a war-weary Batman, now living in a bunker and wearing a desert-altered version of his suit, received word from his insurgency allies that they found a piece of Kryptonite, the only remaining hope of defeating Superman. The insurgency planned to bring the Kryptonite to their base, which Batman awaited cautiously optimistic. However, on the way to the bunker, the insurgents were intercepted by soldiers of Superman's regime, who destroyed the Kryptonite before continuing on their way to the base.

Upon their arrival, Batman met with them and asked to see the Kryptonite, which they had switched out for a decoy of green light bulbs. Once they revealed this, a remorseful regime soldier apologized to Batman and held him at gunpoint. He followed through with their commands as the undercover regime stormtroopers revealed themselves to Batman and the insurgents. They executed them, as Batman watched helplessly.[2]

Batman chained up

The final insurgents, awaiting Superman.

Angered, Batman began a killing spree and gunned down multiple stormtroopers, while helping some of his surviving insurgents escape the area. Although he managed to take down most of the regime's soldiers, while Parademons invaded the area and abducted many of his allies, Batman was eventually overwhelmed by the remaining stormtroopers there, who could barely restrain him. He snapped one of their necks, but then was brutally, but barely, beaten by the other stormtroopers. Seeing the damage that Batman was inflicting on the stormtroopers and their inability to restrain him, a Parademon knocked Batman unconscious from behind.[2]

Superman Knightmare IMAX

Superman approaches a helpless and restrained Batman

Once Batman was detained, Superman was informed. Filled with a mixture of anger towards his former friend and a sense of triumph that justice for Lois would finally be done, he flew to the bunker where Batman was held. Meanwhile a chained-up Batman regained consciousness in the bunker, where he found himself among his few remaining insurgents, chained up as well. Superman himself then landed in the bunker, and his soldiers reverently knelt before their leader. He approached Batman, swiftly murdering the other insurgents with his heat vision before unmasked the visibly horrified vigilante. He expressed his anger at Bruce for letting "her" die, as she was "[his] world." Superman gave Batman one final look of hate, and ruthlessly killed him by ripping Batman's heart from his chest, thereby ending the conflict.[2]


"Bruce! Listen to me now! It's Lois! It's Lois Lane! She's the key! Am I too soon? AAAAH!! I'm too soon! You're right about him! You've always been right about him! Fear him! Find us, Bruce! You have to find us!"
Flash to Bruce Wayne[src]
The Flash appears in Bruce's dream

Future Barry in an altered Flash suit.

With the aid of Cyborg's calculations,[4] the Flash was able to use the cosmic treadmill to run back in time to warn Bruce Wayne of the dangers that Darkseid could pose.[5] However, as he reached the Batcave, a dismayed Flash realized that he traveled too far back in time by accident, to a time before Batman had met him or even knew who he was. Nonetheless, the Flash issued his brief warning of the war, and stressed the importance of Batman finding and founding the Justice League.[2]

Not believing this experience to be a dream, Batman initially used this as an additional justification and motivation in his quest to take down Superman. However, after Superman's death proved Batman's initial thoughts invalid, he finally heeded to the future Flash's warning, and requested Wonder Woman's assistance in founding the Justice League.[2]

More than a year later, circumstances led Bruce and Diana to finally form the League with three other members. In the course of their mission to fight off the forces of Apokolips led by Steppenwolf, the League came to the mutual decision to use one of the Mother Boxes to revive Superman. One of the Kryptonian Service Robots began voicing a warning about the process, hinting that the action would solidify a certain future. Upon activating the resurrection process, League member Victor Stone was made privy to a vision of the Knightmare, seeing Superman's fall to Darkseid's influence and Earth's various factions destroyed and conquered by Darkseid's invading forces. He became scared as a result, voicing his apprehension to the plan. However, the Flash misheard Victor's warning and proceeded to charge the Mother Box, reviving Superman. The Kryptonian Service Robot mentioned that "The future has taken root in the present", possibly hinting that they had opened the door once more to a future where Superman would fall to Darkseid's influence.

As the League's members later gathered in the Batcave to plan their attack on Steppenwolf, Bruce Wayne recalled the events of the future Barry Allen's time travel over a year prior, and the implications of Barry's words with regards to Lois Lane being a "key". While Wonder Woman asserted that he meant that she was the key to Superman's heart, Batman was firm in his belief that it could mean something darker at play.

After the League battled and failed to prevent Steppenwolf from initiating the Unity, it seemed as if the Knightmare would come true, albeit in a very different form where the League's members would all be killed from the outset. However, the Flash interfered, reversing time just enough to revive and allow the League to triumph over Steppenwolf's forces. Even in the midst of their success, Darkseid was determined to find another way to invade Earth and obtain the Anti-Life Equation, as he ordered DeSaad to gather their forces.

Knightmare Timeline

The Knightmare appears in a dream of Bruce Wayne's once more.

Sometime after the League began formalizing plans to create a headquarters in the ruins of the former Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne encountered another vision of the Knightmare once more, one that focused on his involvement in the conflict and ultimate failure to protect Lois, thereby pushing the events of the Knightmare into play.[3]


  • The name "Knightmare" has not been used in any of the films, but is used in the book Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Tech Manual, action figures and video games to refer to it, and it has since gained widespread media usage, even by Zack Snyder himself.[6]
  • The Knightmare bears some resemblance to the 2013 DC and Netherrealm Studios video game Injustice: Gods Among Us.
    • In the game, the Joker tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane and their unborn child, along with Metropolis, resulting in Superman angrily killing the Joker against Batman's wishes. Full of grief and anger, Superman then became malevolent and delusional, establishing the One-Earth regime, with himself as High Councilor and some members of the Justice League (along with "conditioned" criminals) joining his regime, while others joined Batman's insurgency against him.
    • During the end of the Knightmare, Superman drives his hand through Batman's heart in a fashion similar to how he did to the Joker in Injustice. Both versions of Superman shared the same motive of killing who they considered responsible for the death of Lois Lane.
  • Notes on concept art of the Knightmare by Jim Lee state that it takes place five years after the end of Zack Snyder's Justice League, placing it in 2022.


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