By Drew Mollo
SPOILER ALERT (Fair warning if you haven’t watched the movie)
I just saw Justice League recently and honestly I enjoyed most of it. Sure there were certain things about it I wasn’t fond of or things that are more results of the well-publicized re-shoots but that’s not what this article is about. This was a comic book movie and upon watching the film I could see elements that were inspired by DC Comics story arcs about the famous superteam. So if you enjoyed the film and you’d like to read stories to give you an idea of what happened or who the heck Steppenwolf was, I recommend you checking these out.
1. Justice League by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee: The comic series that basically ushered in the New 52 in 2011 tells a new origin story of how the team got together set five years in the past. Batman is chasing a Parademon and runs into Green Lantern. After the creature explodes, they decide to ask Superman before they all realize these creatures are merely scouts for a bigger invasion. Meanwhile, a Mother Box provided by the Flash decides to go haywire in S.T.A.R. Labs around the same time Silas Stone is having an argument with his son Victor. When the Mother Box opens a Boom Tube full of Parademons, the explosion mutilates Victor’s body while fusing it with all sorts of alien technology (thus eventually making him into Cyborg). The appearance of Parademons attracts the attention of Wonder Woman and later Aquaman as well. The heroes battle back the Parademons and eventually their master, the Lord of Apokolips known as Darkseid. The film had many references to this storyline especially with the use of Parademons, Mother Box’s, and even a direct reference to the evil God himself but its primary influence was that the upcoming invasion was catalyst for getting the Justice League together.
2. Jack Kirby’s the Fourth World: Created by legendary writer/artist Jack Kirby in the 1970s, Kirby imagined a group of entities he called the New Gods who lived on two separate planets. The Gods in New Genesis lived in an idyllic paradise ruled by the Highfather and the Gods in Apokolips suffered in a mechanical polluted dystopia ruled by the tyrant Darkseid. Once beings of a single world, these two worlds were constantly in conflict over Darkseid’s quest to find the Anti-Life Equation which would gain him complete control of all living beings thoughts which was opposed by Highfather and his forces. Although it was intended to be limited series, Kirby’s characters were so successful that DC Comic’s eventually had them interact with other well-known superheroes. Darkseid and his forces including his son Kalibak and his uncle Steppenwolf would become foes of Superman and the Justice League and other New Gods like Orion or Mister Miracle would become allies and eventually members of the Justice League. Characters like Steppenwolf, Parademons, Darkseid and others would not exist if not for the incredible imagination of Jack Kirby. Although Steppenwolf was the main villain and Darkseid was only mentioned in Justice League, the fact that Steppenwolf and his ravenous Parademons were teleported away instead of destroyed suggest this war is far from over.
3. The Return of Superman by Gerard Jones, Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson and Roger Stern : After Superman was killed by Doomsday, the world mourned their loss and eventually four new characters appeared all claiming to be Superman. As the multiple Superman comics explored and played with the idea that one of them could be a new Superman, it was revealed that Superman’s body was taken by the Kryptonian robot called The Eradicator and placed in a regeneration matrix. While the four Supermen’s identities were revealed, the original Superman emerged alive although greatly depowered. When he revealed his presence and helped the other Supermen fight Cyborg Superman and Mongul who destroyed Coast City, he revealed his true identity to Lois Lane by referencing something only the true Clark Kent would know. After they defeated the villains, Superman’s powers had returned and he used the black Kryptonian battlesuit that had earlier protected him to fashion a new take on Superman’s traditional costume. While some of his powers were the same or stronger than before, Return of Superman is also famously known for giving Superman the mullet that he was portrayed with for most of the 1990s until his wedding to Lois Lane in 1996. Its central influence to Justice League was the idea of using Kryptonian technology among General Zod’s ship along with the Mother Box to revive Superman body to help unite the League and give them an advantage against Steppenwolf and his forces. Thankfully Superman’s mullet did not translate over to the big screen and remained an unfortunate comic book footnote.
Considering DC Comic’s track record over the last few years, I can more than understand everyone’s skepticism and debate over this film. While it’s not fair to compare it to other comic book team films like Marvel’s The Avengers, I thought the film established these characters and had them work together against a common enemy. Hopefully plot threads and questions for some of these characters can be answered in any of the upcoming solo films so I hope you enjoyed the film and if you didn’t, hey at least it wasn’t as bad as Batman vs. Superman, right?