Now that Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg have teamed up in Justice League, the DC Universe is ready to blast off—assuming its smaller-than-anticipated opening weekend hasn’t thrown a spanner in the works. But if Warner Bros. decides to extend the DC Extended Universe a bit longer, here’s all the clues in Justice League to what may be coming.
Every DC movie up until, and including, Justice League has had its heroes fighting a villain with superhuman powers. Zod, Doomsday, Enchantress, Ares, and now Steppenwolf have all been beings that a normal human couldn’t defeat. So how can human big bads stay in the game? By teaming up, of course.
In the final post-credits scene of the film, Lex Luthor has escaped prison and asked Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke, to join him on his massive yacht. Once there, Luthor suggests maybe they should create a league of their own—an obvious allusion to the Legion of Doom, the society of supervillains that first appeared in the Super Friends cartoon, but has gone on to become a regular feature of the DC comics. Obviously, this suggests that future DC films will focus on a group of supervillains that join forces to combat the Justice League’s rise.
Presumably, these villains will be a little more Earth-bound than cosmic threats like Steppenwolf was, but maybe the standalone Deathstroke movie that’s currently in the works—or perhaps even The Batman, if Slade is still part of it—will shed some light on the creation of Lex’s new “League.”
As Steppenwolf explains the Mother Boxes and Unity to, well, the audience, he mentions they will make the Earth ready for Darkseid by turning the planet into a replica of Darkseid’s homeworld, Apokalips. At one point, he even mentions that the process will allow him to become one of the “New Gods.” Darkseid, of course, is DC’s biggest, baddest bad guy out there, one of the aforementioned New Gods of Jack Kirby’s “Fourth World” of cosmic supercharacters, and in the comics Steppenwolf is a member of his Elite, a ruling council of Apokolips’ cruel rulers.
The fact that Steppenwolf has such close ties to Darkseid is never explicitly stated in Justice League—but that one mention, and the tease above from Batman v Superman, lets us know that he’s out there somewhere in the DCEU.
When Superman died at the end of Batman v Superman, the world mourned. That mourning not only carries over into Justice League, it morphs into despair. And though the film only shows him back for what’s probably less than a day, Lex Luthor’s acknowledgement of his return and Lois Lane’s words about hope certainly make it seem like Superman’s return is a morale boost to the entire world. This is likely a result of Warner Bros. trying to lighten up the movie during its production, after complaints that Batman v Superman was too dour. Whatever the cause, by the end of the film the DCEU looks like it’s going to be a happier place following Superman’s resurrection.
Casually announcing a movie is one thing. Actually putting characters in a movie is a whole other thing. So though Warner Bros. has made it clear a Green Lantern Corps. movie is in the works, we finally got a tease for the ring-powered protectors of the galaxy during a flashback to Steppenwolf’s first invasion of Earth. Amazons, Atlanteans, humans, and even gods fight back against his forces, but several Lanterns also fly into battle using their light-based contructs to fight the alien invasion.
It’s a welcome reminder that, eventually, this universe is going to get cosmic at some point, even if Green Lantern as a character wasn’t part of the League in this movie. Plus, one of the Lanterns falls at Steppenwolf’s hand in the flashback, and we see a ring fly off into the sky. In the comics, a Lantern ring is autonomous, and capable of flying around and searching for a new wielder when its current owner expires, granting them the former job of the deceased Lantern. Hal Jordan famously got his ring from the crash-landed Green Lantern Abin Sur—could the movies instead re-work it so the ring we see in Justice League eventually makes its way into his hands in Green Lantern Corps.? It seems like a weird choice, but also a choice a DCEU movie would make.
Justice League doesn’t directly address whether or not Ben Affleck will continue to play the Dark Knight—or how a new solo Batman film would fit into this world, especially since the actor spent much of the movie’s press tour vaguely hinting at his uncertain future with the franchise. But the movie does include a scene where Batman and Wonder Woman talk about how he “can’t do this forever.”
In fact, there are also at least two scenes where Batman’s body basically breaks. After over 20 years of fighting crime in Gotham, Bruce Wayne may be ready to hang up the cowl, even if the League he helped create has only just stepped into the light. Maybe this could all be setup for the Nightwing movie, with Dick Grayson taking Bruce’s place?
Minus whatever happens in Wonder Woman 2 (which is rumored to take place in the ‘80s), after World War I the Amazon princess had not revealed herself to the modern world until the events of Batman v Superman—and Bruce specifically makes a point in Justice League of taunting Diana that she’s spent a century hiding from the world of Man after losing Steve Trevor. But now, by the end of the movie, she’s openly helping people in the world, embracing her powers and responsibility. (She also doesn’t wear a mask, so you have to think that museum job is gone.)
The next DC movie scheduled for release is Aquaman, so it’s no wonder he’s left so mysterious in Justice League. But when Arthur heads to Atlantis in the movie, we get a brief but intriguing snapshot of what we’ll see from the character in his standalone movie... which is a lot of drama for the future king of Atlantis.
We learn that Arthur’s not done the best job of keeping in touch with Atlantis, and that he’s built up an antagonistic relationship with the kingdom due to his mother abandoning him to the surface world as a child. Even his relationship with Mera, his future wife and Queen of Atlantis—who appears in Justice League but is never actually named as such—is frosty at best. Leaving home, parental issues, yeah, there’s gonna be plenty for Arthur Curry to unravel come December 2018.
Though they might not have a lot of significance moving forward, several major pieces of information about the past of the DC universe are revealed in Justice League. In the flashback where the Atlanteans, Amazons, and humans team up to fight Steppenwolf, we learn that the Atlanteans have been around for centuries (we already knew that about the Amazons thanks to Wonder Woman) and that, at some point, they were at least partially living on land. It also seems like, at one point, Themyscira was a place the Amazons could leave, but now for some reason they cannot. Each story seems fairly crucial to the hero of those peoples, and we’ll likely learn more about the Atlantean side of things in Aquaman. But considering Wonder Woman 2 will likely focus on Diana’s continuing exploits after leaving for Man’s world, we probably won’t get much more about the history of the Amazons.
When we first meet Barry Allen in Justice League, he already has a lot of knowledge about his powers. He hints at his lightning-filled origin, he calls the state his power creates the “Speed Force,” and he’s had the time and money to make himself a suit. Justice League basically gives us the cliff notes of the Flash’s origins—which is probably good news for the Flashpoint movie. If it’s at all close to the major, reality-altering event it is in the comics, the movie wouldn’t have time to deal with Barry’s backstory while he’s off, well... ruining the timeline.
In Justice League, Cyborg is an essential asset. Without him, the heroes wouldn’t have found or stopped Steppenwolf, period. However, all throughout the movie, we see that he doesn’t quite have control of who, or what, he is yet, and there’s a constant undercurrent—even if it’s never really brought to the fore—that there’s a roiling battle within Victor for control over the Mother Box technology infusing his body.
At the end of the movie, we see Victor confidently morph his body armor into something that’s a little less Michael Bay Transformers-y and into something that’s more of an approximation of his classic Cyborg armor from the comics. It appears he now has more control over his tech following Steppenwolf’s defeat, but the battle over his own body will probably be an important part of the character’s struggle in his standalone movie.
The Shazam movie is currently in the works, with Zachary Levi playing the adult form of the powerful hero Billy Batson transforms into with a shout of “Shazam!” In the comics, Shazam got all of his powers from a variety of gods and mythological beings from the Greek pantheon, as well as, er, King Solomon from the Bible. We saw brief glimpses of the Olympian side of things in Wonder Woman, but Justice League’s flashback battle gives us the lightning-wielding Zeus, the “Z” in Shazam’s name. (Ares, who we’ve already met in Wonder Woman, is also part of the fight, and so is bow-wielding goddess of the hunt Artemis, whose Roman name is—wait for it—Diana.) Expect to see some or all of these gods in the Shazam movie.
This is a guess, but stay with us. Lex’s notebook contained drawings of the Mother Boxes. He researched about the metahumans, he knows about Deathstroke, he has at least an inkling of Darkseid, and in a very strange scene deleted from Batman v Superman, we see him directly communicating with Steppenwolf about the Mother Boxes. It’s a safe bet that Lex knows a lot more than the Justice League about what other threats are out there—you know, besides himself.