How Justice League Explains The History of the DCEU

One scene in Justice League holds the keys to the entire DCEU.

This article contains Justice League spoilers.

Justice League crams an enormous amount of DC Comics mythology into its relatively modest two hour runtime. But there’s one scene in particular, and it’s just a brief flashback, that finally breaks the DCEU wide open. Up until now, we’ve only seen little corners of the DC Universe in these movies. 

When you’re talking about what makes the DC Universe the DC Universe, there are a few key ingredients. In addition to the usual breed of superheroes and supervillains, there are alien races, ancient societies, and the simple fact that mythological gods and legends are as real as your neighbor. There’s a legacy of heroism that stretches back for centuries, and that’s hard to explore in a relatively new cinematic universe. We’ve had many of these explored individually in the DCEU movies leading up to this, but Justice League does more than give us proper introductions to Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg, it unites all of the key elements of DC Universe history and expands the DCEU in ways we didn’t think possible. And it does it all in just a few short minutes. 

There’s a great Lord of the Rings-esque battle sequence involving the armies of men, Atlantis, Themyscira, and others taking on Steppenwolf and the hordes of Apokolips. In that group, I’m pretty sure we see some gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon. One guy in particular would seem to be Zeus, throwing lightning at the opposition. While Zeus would make sense (after all, Ares was a key antagonist in Wonder Woman), there’s a chance that it’s not Zeus at all, and rather someone even more important to the DC Universe.

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Is Shazam in the Justice League Movie?

Could the bearded lightning-thrower actually be Shazam? I initially dismissed this since lightning projection isn’t traditionally part of his power set, but ever sine Geoff Johns and Gary Frank rebooted the character in 2012 it has, so this would make sense.

This could either be the ancient wizard Shazam who bestows his powers on a worthy champion from time to time, although in many versions of the story, he was a hero himself in ancient times. So this could either be the wizard or one of the people who becomes the heroic Shazam avatar (one of whom is Black Adam, who will eventually be played by Dwayne Johnson, and the other is the character formerly known as Captain Marvel, who will be played by Zachary Levi in the upcoming movie). If this is the case, it adds another important element that has been missing from the DCEU that is something most people associate with DC Comics: the concept of legacy heroes. 

Who is the Alien Green Lantern in Justice League?

We do get a look at a key piece of DC cosmic mythology during that battle that has nothing to do with the already established alien worlds of Krypton, Apokolips, or New Genesis with the first DCEU appearance of a member of the Green Lantern Corps. While Hal Jordan or John Stewart are still nowhere to be found in the DCEU, we do know that the Green Lantern Corps has been around and engaged in the fight against Apokolips since ancient times. Who is this alien GL?

This would appear to be Salaak, the Green Lantern of Space Sector 1418 (for the record, Earth, our solar system, and probably a few others, are Space Sector 2814). If it isn’t actually Salaak, it’s probably another GL from the planet Slyggia who patrols Sector 1418. It doesn’t look like he survives, which makes me think that either Salaak won’t make it to the Green Lantern Corps movie, or this is just a different resident of Slyggia.

Is There a Justice League Dark Connection?

There are several parallels to the Lord of the Rings saga in Justice League, and nowhere is that more apparent than when we learn the history of Steppenwolf and the Mother Boxes. Steppenwolf is looking to unite the Mother Boxes, which have been split among the races of man, which sounds an awful lot like the various rings of power were distributed between the races of Middle-Earth. But here, instead of elves, dwarves, and men, we have Amazons, Atlanteans, and, of course, men. The fact that two of the Mother Boxes ended up with the ancestors of Wonder Woman and Aquaman is sensible enough, but when we’re talking about the ones entrusted to men, there might be another key piece of DC mythology, which itself was spun out of one of our classic stories.

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While not credited as such, that is almost certainly King Arthur on the right, which isn’t necessarily a DC connection, but then the fella in the horned helmet looks very much like the DC version of Sir Bors “the Laughing Knight.” If you’ve ever read Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory (and if you haven’t, you really should), they were a key part of fighting off a very different kind of invasion in their day, alongside the Shining Knight (who doesn’t appear in this movie). It’s a loose connection, but in just a few seconds, Justice League manages to also tie in elements that could be useful if they ever get that Justice League Dark movie off the ground. Or better yet, they should just make Seven Soldiers of Victory

And while I admit this is cheating as it doesn’t directly come from this flashback scene, there’s also a throwaway line from Diana about how “the age of heroes…would never come again.” From what we see on screen, she might just be referring to the time when the armies of Themyscira and Atlantis fought side by side with mythological gods against cosmic New Gods. But I do wonder if this could also mean that there was another age of heroes, one that would have happened after the World War I events of Wonder Woman and before the events of Man of Steel. Could the DCEU have had a Justice Society in the days of World War II? It’s a longshot right now, and there’s nothing else to indicate that’s the case, but given how much else they’ve managed to cram in here, I have to wonder.