Among all the other revelations that the first trailer for Zack Snyder’s Justice League brought us, giving us the clearest, most official look at the DCEU’s Darkseid might be the most exciting. The most powerful villain in the DC Universe, and one of the best in comic book history, has waited 50 years for his cinematic debut. A criminally long time for a character that ranks among Jack Kirby‘s greatest creations and one who has become central to the cosmology of the DC Universe.
Darkseid had been teased in Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in a number of ways. The most prominent being the “knightmare” sequence, where Bruce Wayne dreams of a post-apocalyptic wasteland overrun by Darkseid’s parademons and ruled by a corrupted Superman. The ground in this sequence bears the omega symbol mark which has long been associated with Darkseid, the power he wields, and his quest for the “anti-life equation.”
Darkseid was teased again during the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ending, when Lex Luthor was rambling on about how a “bell” had been “heard.” While directly, this can be applied to Steppenwolf, the actual villain of the Justice League movie, it broadly applies to Darkseid as well. Since, after all, who is Steppenwolf but the herald of the hordes of Darkseid (and his nephew…although in the comics he’s his uncle).
It’s not clear how large Darkseid’s role is expected to be in the Snyder Cut (nor is there any word on who will voice the character). But since this is no longer confined to being feature length, and will instead be a four hour HBO Max miniseries, it’s possible there’s room for him to take a pretty significant role.
The main shot of Darkseid we see in the trailer doesn’t quite look like the classic Jack Kirby design (or the one who appeared in the Super Powers toy line and cartoons for that matter). Instead, there are design elements from other incarnations of the character, most notably the version who appeared in Grant Morrison, JG Jones, and Doug Mahnke’s Final Crisis as well as the New 52 incarnation of the character by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee (whose first story together on the Justice League comic was the primary inspiration for Snyder’s movie).
Note the omega symbol on his chest (matching what we saw in the “knightmare” sequence in Batman v. Superman), as well as the weapon he’s holding, both of which also feel like hallmarks of the Jim Lee design of the character. That background sure looks like he’s on Apocalypse and not Earth, so maybe we’ll only see Darkseid in flashback, but perhaps if that’s the case, we’ll get more of the backstory for how the New Gods are supposed to operate in the DCEU…and maybe they’ll actually give Steppenwolf some actual motivation in this version.
We’ll find out when Justice League: The Snyder Cut arrives on HBO Max in 2021.