You can tell what Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s primary goals were by looking at the two parts of the title. The first was delivering a conflict, both physical and ideological, between the Caped Crusader and Man of Steel. The second was laying the building blocks for the rest of the DC Extended Universe. However you felt about the fight between the two heroes, you can’t deny that the movie spent a lot of time including DC Comics Easter Eggs and set ups, from Wonder Woman’s presence to the graffiti-covered Robin costume. There was particular attention dedicated to the Justice League, which moviegoers will see in action next year.
On top of concluding Batman and Superman’s first live action, cinematic story, the movie also paved the way for how DC's greatest heroes will come together, and who they’ll likely fight in the near future. In case you didn’t catch all the clues about what’s to come, we’ve thrown together this in-depth analysis on the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ending, and how it leads into Justice League: Part One and maybe beyond!
Warning: there will be spoilers aplenty for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice from this point forward!
What Was Lex Raving About?Although he was still intelligent, manipulative and dangerous, Batman v Superman’s Lex Luthor was way more eccentric and unhinged compared to previous media versions, and he only got worse when the movie ended. Following Doomsday’s defeat, Luthor’s crimes were exposed and he was sent to prison, where he was finally rid of that horrible hairdo and given the classic bald look. While in his cell, he was threatened by Batman, who told Luthor he’ll always be watching him. Undeterred, Luthor told Batman that Superman’s death has left the world vulnerable, and now that the "bell’s been rung," there a mysterious individual on his way. Someone who is "hungry." Surprised by Lex’s babbling, Batman pulled his disappearing act, but he later alluded to Diana that he has a feeling the team he wants to form will have to fight an unknown threat.
By itself, Lex’s crazy comments don’t make a lot of sense, but when you take into account the movie’s bizarre visions, they all point towards the Lord of Apokolips, Darkseid. Bruce’s "Knightmare" had the Omega symbol burned into the ground, which is the symbol Darkseid uses to mark those vulnerable to his corruption, and those winged creatures snatching Batman’s allies were Parademons. To the casual viewer, this dream showed a bizarre future where a corrupt Superman ruled with an iron fist. But to the hardcore fans, it was clear that Darkseid initiated the destruction across Earth shown in Bruce's "dream." It’s hardly surprising, given what he's done in the comics and other media stories.
Then there was future Flash’s cryptic warning to Bruce immediately after the Knightmare ended, where the Scarlet Speedster mentioned that Lois Lane was "the key" and how Bruce had to "find them." Considering that Flash can travel through time and space when he runs fast enough, we can deduce that he came from the "Knightmare" future and was trying to prevent those events from ever happening. Presumably if Lois can be kept alive, Superman won’t be corrupted, and the "them" refers to the other powered people on Earth (more on that in the next section). So when you pair this warning and the Knightmare future with Lex Luthor’s ravings to Batman in the closing moments of Dawn of Justice, we can deduce that Darkseid will eventually find his way to our neck of the woods. How exactly Luthor knows about Darkseid wasn't made clear, but it’s likely that he stumbled across something while scouring the Kryptonian ship’s archives.
Now that Darkseid has been foreshadowed, when will we see him in the flesh? The first guess would be Justice League: Part One, and just like in the opening arc of the New 52 Justice League series, the superhero team first joins forces to battle the Lord of Apokolips and his army. However, it’s been rumored that another villain (perhaps Brainiac) might instead be the team’s first antagonist. If that’s the case, much like how Thanos isn’t becoming the MCU’s main antagonist until the Avengers: Infinity War movies, we may not see Darkseid fully unleashed until Justice League: Part Two in 2019. Whenever he ends up appearing, it’s going to take everything the Justice League has and more to defeat him, or at least send him back to Apokolips via Boom Tube.
As for Bruce’s "Knightmare," we can presume at this point that it’s a future that won’t come to pass. Because of those dreams (speaking of which, we still don’t know who or what is responsible for them) and Flash’s warning, Bruce kicked off a series of events that were enough to alter the course of time, and I suspect Superman’s death played a large part in that. Unfortunately, just because one dystopian future has been prevented doesn’t mean another one can’t take its place. Whenever Darkseid shows up, it’s possible that his invasion will result in Earth still being ruined, and the League will be fractured, either with certain members dying or switching their allegiance to Darkseid. Taking a cue from the Flashpoint storyline, Barry Allen will go back in time to try to prevent these events from happening, giving us a nearly-exact recreation of his cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and that horrible future from ever existing.
On the other hand, maybe the timeline has changed enough that things won’t be as bleak. Darkseid will still arrive to wreak havoc on Earth, but the Justice League will prevent him from taking over, and they’ll still be friends in the end. One also wonders if Lex Luthor might somehow find himself assisting Darkseid during Earth’s invasion, given how much he knows about the Lord of Apokolips. If that happens, Luthor better make sure he’s on his best behavior, since any attempt to screw over Darkseid results in disintegration from his Omega Beams.
So, how will the Justice League form? Read on, for our theories.