SPOILER WARNING: The following feature contains spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. If you have not yet seen the film, and don’t wish to have any key details or moments ruined through description, you may want to click away to another one of our wonder articles.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice laid a great deal of groundwork in regards to the future heroes of the DC Cinematic Universe, but it also did its part to showcase some serious villainy. Of course, Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor played a central role, and there’s some history between The Joker and Batman that’s literally showcased, but today we’re here to talk about the character who is merely hinted at and alluded to: Darkseid.
In one of the movie’s final scenes, Lex Luthor warns Batman that someone is coming and that’s he’s hungry, and while never mentioned by name, it’s clear to all comic book fans that the villain with the shaved head is referencing the leader of the planet Apokolips. Because of these hints, it seems pretty clear that the villain is going to be playing a key role in the future of the DC Cinematic Universe – and with that in mind, we thought it would be helpful for us to put together a guide that will help you get to know Darkseid a little better. Read on!
He’s an alienLike Clark Kent/Superman, Darkseid isn’t from around these parts. Rather, he is a member of the species known as the New Gods, and grew up as the son of King Yuga Khan and Queen Heggra on the planet Apokolips - named Prince Uxas. Desiring rule over the planet, Uxas killed his brother Drax when his sibling was attempting to claim the mystical Omega Force - and taking the power for himself he was transformed into the rock-like figure he appears as in most comics.
Following the death of his parents (he actually killed his own mother), Darkseid became the supreme leader of Apokolips, and rules the planet with an iron fist. He controls a team of flying shock troops known Parademons that are sent in swarms to do his bidding, but as you’ll find out in the next couple of pages, he doesn’t really need big, huge armies to win his battles for him. What I’m trying to get at is…
He’s extremely powerfulThe fact that Darkseid is member of the race known as the New Gods should give you a sense of how powerful he is. In blunt terms, he is easily one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe, and will be an incredible challenge for the entire Justice League to defeat, even working as a group.
It’s hard to pick a place to start in the discussion of Darkseid’s powers simply because he has so many – from the disintegrating Omega Beams that come out of his eyes to the fact that he is both telepathic and telekinetic. He can teleport himself and others through time and space, willfully change his density and mass, and create psionic versions of himself. Oh, and I can’t fail to mention that he is an immortal who has lived for hundreds of thousands of years. Now you can begin to understand why he has been able to keep an iron grip on his rule in Apokolips for so long.
He has one specific mission in lifeDarkseid is obviously extremely powerful, but what he's really all about is taking power away from others. In fact, what the alien supervillain's entire life is basically goal oriented towards his finding what is known as the Anti-Life Equation. Should he actually acquire this mathematical proof, it would allow him to have absolute control over the minds of all sentient beings. It earned its name because someone not having free will might as well not be alive.
Upon discovering the Anti-Life equation, the idea is that Darkseid can feed it into an individual’s mind and leave them completely devoid of all hope and believing that there is no purpose to freedom or existence. Of course, it’s at this point where the New God steps and picks up the puppet strings. In the comics, it’s the search for the Anti-Life equation that winds up bringing Darkseid to Earth, but we don’t know at this stage if that will be the case in Justice League/the DC Cinematic Universe.
He was inspired by one of the worst people in human historyBefore you start making jokes about the story that the design of Darkseid’s face was inspired by Jack Palance, that’s not what I’m talking about. Instead, I’m more talking about the character’s perspective on reality and personal goals. In creating the villainous, tyrannical character, Jack Kirby took direct inspiration from none other than Adolf Hitler, and saw Apokolips as a vision of Nazi Germany.
Darkseid didn’t come around in DC Comics until a few decades after the end of World War II and Hitler’s death, but the fascist leader still had a definite impact on popular culture – as he does today. Darkseid rules over his planet much in the same way that Hitler ruled over Germany, not only in militarizing society, but warmongering and constantly looking for more territory to conquer. Obviously the New God having incredible powers differentiates him from Hitler just a bit, but the psychology of the character and his justifications for his actions are what have made him an incredibly interesting presence in comics since the 1970s.
He directly inspired an important Marvel villainMarvel Studios has spent years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe building up the live-action version of Thanos, a giant purple alien voiced by Josh Brolin who wishes to collect a series of special stones that will give him god-like abilities. He was introduced with serious dramatic effect in the post-credits of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, and will be the central villain of the upcoming two-part event film The Avengers: Infinity War. What you may not know, however, is that he was directly inspired by DC’s Darkseid.
Thanos made his first appearance in Marvel Comics three years after Darkseid debuted, and while creator Jim Starlin didn't initially intend the characters to be similar, he was pushed in that direction by editor Roy Thomas – who felt that Starlin’s drawings looked like DC’s Metron (another New Gods character who was actually inspired by Star Trek’s Spock). Like Metron, Thanos was also drawn into a great throne, but Thomas suggested that Starlin give the character more muscles and look more like the leader of Apokolips.
How he may fit into the DC Cinematic UniverseNow let’s get back to why we’re talking about Darkseid today. Lex Luthor’s in-jail ramblings suggest that he’s not only been in contact with the Darkseid of the DC Cinematic Universe, but that the god-like alien will soon be paying Earth a visit. Given that there is a full slate of franchise movies set to come out in the next four years, we can’t set a watch to his arrival just yet, but a fair bet is that he’ll appear in 2017’s Justice League Part One, or 2019’s Justice League Part Two.
Adding further intrigue is that we may have already gotten a glimpse at what the DC Cinematic Universe will look like after the invasion of Darkseid. Of course, I’m referring to the "Knightmare." There’s been a good amount of debate about whether Bruce Wayne is simply dreaming or getting a glimpse of the future, but one thing is for sure: those things flying around sure look a hell of a lot like Parademons – the airborne troopers Darkseid sends out to do his bidding. We’ll just have to wait and see how it unfolds.