One of the most talked-about parts of the final marketing push for Zack Snyder’s Justice League was Joker saying “we live in a society,” but that line wasn’t in the final movie. Snyder’s four-hour cut of Justice League utilized all of the usable footage he shot during principal photography way back in 2016 along with approximately four minutes of additional scenes, which were filmed in fall 2020 as part of Snyder’s reshoots – the ones he never got to do himself.
A handful of people returned to complete those scenes, including Ben Affleck as Batman, Amber Heard as Mera, Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, and Ezra Miller as Flash – but the person who brought the most intrigue leading up to the Snyder Cut’s release was Jared Leto, who reprised his role as Joker for the first time since David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. Leto’s scenes take place entirely in the Knightmare future in which he’s part of Batman’s team to undo the apocalypse.
While Snyder posted some images of Leto’s Joker online, the first footage of Joker’s role in Zack Snyder’s Justice League came in a trailer, where Joker said, “We live in a society where honor is a distant memory. Isn’t that right, Batman?” Interestingly, the first part of that line was replaced in the final cut. The main reason behind its absence in the film is that it was likely never intended to be used in the scene at all. Instead, it was created entirely for marketing purposes, to be used in trailers and generate hype on social media.
The “we live in a society” line itself comes from a meme on social media that’s typically tied to the Joker. Its use in the film didn’t make sense when the trailer released, given the context of the scene wasn’t known, but now it seems it had no real purpose outside of promoting the Snyder Cut. Joker is one of the most well-known and popular characters in entertainment history – his first solo movie even grossed more than $1 billion at the box office – so using him to market Zack Snyder’s Justice League was a no-brainer. And in order to do that, HBO Max needed dialogue of his to use.
Although quite a bit of the Snyder Cut had been revealed beforehand, including major spoilers like Martian Manhunter’s inclusion, Joker’s role was entirely new. The only way it would be spoiled is through the trailers, and since the entire sequence involving Joker was a spoiler – building off Aquaman’s death to talking about Joker killing the DCEU’s Robin – they seemed to resort to using marketing-only dialogue. On top of that, they brought the meme full circle by actually having a version of Joker say it. In the end, Zack Snyder’s Justice League maintained the secrecy around Joker’s conversation with Batman and got a big boost in marketing by having the Clown Prince of Crime in the trailers.
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