When Warner Bros announced its initial slate of DC Extended Universe movies in late 2014, Justice League 2 was among the bunch, and at the time the plan was to release it in 2019, two years after its predecessor. Justice League 2 was taken off the schedule last year, and now following Justice League's underwhelming commercial run in domestic theaters, as well as receiving mixed reviews overall, the sequel doesn't seem to be as sure a thing anymore. Justice League certainly left several hanging plot threads to be addressed in a follow-up, and while the odds may not be as favorable towards getting Justice League 2 off the ground (especially given all the other DCEU movies in development), there's one primary reason why Warner Bros should work towards making this particular project happen: we need that Darkseid payoff that has already been teased in two movies.
As the ruler of Apokolips and the primary villain from Jack Kirby's New Gods mythology, Darkseid has antagonized the entire DC Comics universe for decades, but he's most frequently battled Superman and the Justice League. We first learned of his presence in the DCEU during Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice when Batman experienced his Knightmare; the swarms of Parademons and giant Omega symbol burned into the ground made it clear that Darkseid had laid claim to our world. But rather than have Darkseid invade Earth for real like he did in Geoff Johns' "Origin" Justice League arc, the Justice League movie instead sent his uncle Steppenwolf to retrieve the three Mother Boxes. (Given the negative reception towards Steppenwolf's look and personality, no doubt having Darkseid serve as the movie's main antagonist would have been a significantly better decision, but hindsight is 20/20.) Steppenwolf briefly mentioned his tyrannical nephew in Justice League, finally putting a name to the man behind the curtain, so to speak. And that's it. We never see him, hear him or get any kind of indication of who he is other than that Steppenwolf is desperate to please him.
But it didn't have to be that way. Earlier this year, Darkseid was rumored to have a "presence" in Justice League, and we recently learned that in an earlier cut of the movie, Steppenwolf would have tried to tempt Superman into joining his army, and during this vision, we would have seen Darkseid and snippets of Batman's Knightmare. So Steppenwolf would still have served as this story's main antagonist, but at least it would have been clearer that Darkseid was out there and posed an even greater threat to the entire universe. It was also reported back in August that in Justice League's original ending, Steppenwolf was serving as the Silver Surfer to Darkseid's Galactus, and with Justice League ending on a cliffhanger, Justice League 2 would have seen Darkseid coming to Earth and battling Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg (and any other potential new recruits) himself. Ideally we can still get this, though with Justice League's post-credits scene showing Lex Luthor and Deathstroke deciding to form a league of their own, that nefarious group will potentially fill in as Justice League 2's main antagonists if the sequel does move forward.
The Justice League has assembled a unique rogues galley over the decades, from Starro to Professor Ivo to Vandal Savage. But few can compare to Darkseid, one of the most powerful beings in existence. Just like The Joker is to Batman, Lex Luthor is to Superman, etc, Darkseid is essentially the League's arch-nemesis, and thus, like Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, could serve as the overarching villain to the entire DCEU. It would be a huge waste to build a shared DC world, put in the hard work to introduce the Justice League and not have them fight their greatest opponent on the big screen. That would have been like if the X-Men never fought Magneto in the X-Men film series. And look, even if we assume that Justice League 2 will definitely happen sometime down the line, there's still no guarantee that Justice League 3 will ever be made. Warner Bros and DC can't afford to hold Darkseid for a third movie that may never happen, so it's better that we finally see him step into the spotlight in Justice League 2.
The easiest way to deliver a great Darkseid-centric Justice League 2 is to have him lead an invasion of Earth just like Steppenwolf did, but make it 10 times more horrific. Along with his own Parademon forces in tow, he would also bring some of his senior underlings with him, like Desaad, Kalibak and the Female Furies. With this approach, the groundwork could also be laid for a New Gods movie that depicts Darkseid's conflict with Highfather and the New Genesis forces either thousands of years ago or in the present day. However, if the DCEU brass is still intent on using the Injustice Gang, there is a way to have the best of both worlds. Perhaps Darkseid is subtly manipulating that team from behind the scenes for the first half or two-thirds of Justice League 2, and only after those villains have fallen does he finally step in to take matters into his own hand. Either way, you can guarantee that when Darkseid arrives, the Justice League would not just be protecting Earth, but also work towards sabotaging his plans to enslave the universe, even if it's just temporary.
Some of the Justice League's greatest stories over the years in comic books, television and direct-to-video movies have involved their conflict with Darkseid, so it would be a shame to never see this depicted on the big screen. Two movies now have foreshadowed the threat that Apokolips' leader poses, and it's necessary to deliver on this sooner rather than later. With the right actor and proper characterization, Darkseid could not only avoid suffering the same critical backlash that Steppenwolf received, but he could also potentially become one of the greatest comic book movie villains ever. At the very least, this needs to happen so that Smallville's smoky Darkseid doesn't remain the only live action adaptation of the character.
Justice League is still playing in theaters, and the DCEU will continue on December 21, 2018 with the release of Aquaman. Don't forget to browse through our DC movies guide to see what other projects this franchise has in development.
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