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What’s the Deal with Darkseid?

The DC universe has no shortage of great villains. If anything, DC villains can often overshadow their heroic counterparts both in their designs and actions. So far in the DCEU films, we’ve had several antagonists but few that have left a positive mark. Michael Shannon‘s scene-chewing General Zod was a lot of fun, as was his right-hand woman Faora, but the rest have been underwhelming to say the least. Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor was an erratic departure from source material, Doomsday was rushed and too early, and the entire cast of Suicide Squad was a jumbled, underutilized mess. David Thewlis‘ Ares in Wonder Woman was alright (its other two villains, General Ludendorff and Doctor Poision were also fine, if not oddly campy) but again left little impact. What the DCEU desperately needs now is a great, memorable villain. And with Justice League right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to introduce… Steppenwolf?

I’ll admit, I was surprised by Justice League‘s choice of antagonist. Sure, Steppenwolf is a threat worthy of the League (and will be played by the underrated Ciarán Hinds) but he’s not the big bad we all expected. That distinction falls to his nephew, Darkseid!

Fan art by George Evangelista, Steppenwolf (left) and Darkseid (right)

Created by the legendary Jack Kirby in 1970, Darkseid is a New God and the dictatorial, fascist ruler of Apokolips, a slave planet of fire and rock. He frequently seeks out the Anti-Life Equation, which when translated from comic book whatnot generally means that he wants to eliminate free will and wipe out all known life in existence. He has a number of underlings and lieutenants, like the aforementioned Steppenwolf, as well as his torturer Desaad, murderous son Kalibak, and taskmaster Granny Goodness. It is unlikely that we’ll see any of his sillier aspects explored in DCEU movies (like Goodness’ band of Female Furies, for example) but one never knows.

He’s been featured many times in previous media, mainly in animation, as a foe of Superman and the Justice League. In the DC Animated Universe shows, he was voiced by the chilling Michael Ironside and in the animated movie Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, he was voiced by Andre Braugher– my personal pick to play him in the DCEU. Finally, in live-action, Darkseid was somewhat featured on the last season of Smallville, but did not physically appear.

At the moment, it is unclear how he will be introduced and used in the DCEU. The logical progression from fighting his uncle in Justice League would be to have the League (possibly an expanded one) fight Darkseid in JL 2 but he could also reasonably appear in a Superman solo sequel. Part of what makes Darkseid a great villain is that even with all the power he has, he spends most of his time planning and plotting. He lets his underlings do most of the dirty work and only gets up to fight himself when absolutely necessary. Make no mistake, Darkseid is quite literally a god, but then again so was Ares in Wonder Woman, which makes gauging Darkseid’s strength a bit tricky. Even so, whenever he shows up, I imagine it will take a whole team of heroes to stop him.

Back in 2014, a quote floated around from Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn about the similarities between Darkseid and the MCU’s overarching villain, Thanos. It’s completely fair to say that these two have plenty in common, perhaps enough in common to disorient the average moviegoer. It was a good decision for the DCEU to hold off on Darkseid until later in their film universe. After all, though Thanos has already made three brief appearances, the MCU has waited almost ten years to feature him as a main antagonist. It would be wise for the DCEU to give us a glimpse of Darkseid in Justice League, but hold off on fully introducing him until closer to 2020.

When he does finally make a full appearance, Darkseid can be a very versatile character. He’s powerful enough to warrant a unique and creative mixing of heroes to fight him. Apokolips would be an interesting setting, not to mention the worlds and characters of the New Gods in general. His goals are vague enough to be crafted to fit most stories and guarantee plenty of action movie destruction. Though I’m eager to see him fully formed in live-action, I know he will be worth the wait.

What are you hoping will happen with Darkseid in the DCEU? What other villains should appear? And please, please tell me that someone else out there wants to see Granny Goodness! Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!

About the author

Jonathan Hazin