In a jam-packed line up of superhero films of the past and to be, Justice League's Steppenwolf isn't exactly memorable. While the 2017 DCEU film had heroes including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and Flash sharing the big screen for the first time, the villain won't be joining the likes of Thanos or Joker in popularity anytime soon. Creating Steppenwolf for Justice League was a complex process nonetheless, and the character went through some changes during development. His design originally looked much different from the helmeted alien seen in the final product. Check out this costume concept art by the film's illustrator that didn't make it in.
The image was recently shared on Instagram by Justice League costume concept illustrator Jerad S. Marantz, who showed off a much more visually complex, menacing look for the alien. Steppenwolf ended up resembling that of Josh Brolin's Thanos and wore armor, including a horned-helmet, instead of it being clearly part of his body, as in the other design. The reason why Steppenwolf ended up looking less frightening and elaborate in Justice League than the artist might have envisioned could come from any number of technical roadblocks, budget constraints or other issues in post-production might have stinted this incredible design from making it into the movie.
Jerad S. Marantz has shared several other concept artwork in the past, giving fans an insight into the advanced process that goes into creating these characters. He has also worked on Deadpool 2, some of the X-Men films and the upcoming Shazam! Artistry aside, the Justice League villain was a weak point of the film, as Steppenwolf was a less than compelling character who was visually unappealing, contributing to a overall rough CGI look not up to par with other big franchise films. He isn't the first DCEU villain whose appearance has been criticized, as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice's Doomsday didn't get the warmest reception either.
With the DCEU aiming to compete with the MCU in quality and success, paying attention to the little details of artwork and CGI is more important than some might think. With peeks from talented artists such as Jerad S. Marantz, who has also helped create Cable in Deadpool 2, for example, perhaps it's clear that fans can look elsewhere from the art department when passing down their qualms with the franchise. With recent news of Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck's potential departures from the Justice League as the most coveted roles on the team, the future of the DCEU is uncertain.
However, the DCEU still has some bright spots. Wonder Woman was a massive success last year and has a sequel on the way, and titles such as Aquaman and Shazam! are coming close to release. As theDCEU should learn with Steppenwolf, the villain can sometimes be just as important as the hero, even if they play a small role in the film as a whole.