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Warning: SPOILERS for Zack Snyder’s Justice League are ahead!
While his name was only mentioned once in Justice League’s theatrical cut, Darkseid was featured prominently in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, with Ray Porter bringing the character to life. Arguably the Apokoliptan dictator’s biggest moment to shine in the four-hour tale happened in the history lesson sequence, when he came to conquer Earth and discovered the Anti-Life Equation. But in the present day Snyder Cut narrative, Steppenwolf informing Darkseid and DeSaad that the Anti-Life Equation resided on Earth was treated like brand-new information.
So what’s the deal? Did Darkseid simply forget about Earth containing the Anti-Life Equation because so much time had passed? Luckily, Zack Snyder cleared up the matter on Vero when a fan asked about the Justice League villain not remembering this important tidbit of information. Here’s what the filmmaker said:
He almost died when he returned to apocalypse he was in a fight for power and much time passed before he was in a position of power again and by then all who had been with him had been Slayed
Darkseid was certainly worse for wear when he left Earth thousands of years ago, as the Olympian god Ares nearly killed him. Had those Parademons not dragged their master back to one of the Apokoliptan ships, he surely would have died on the battlefield. So that’s bad enough on its own, but as Zack Snyder also noted, Darkseid also had to deal with a power struggle upon returning to Apokolips. Going off certain lines of dialogue in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it wouldn’t be surprising if Steppenwolf was among those who betrayed him, hence why he was still being punished in the present day.
So by the time Darkseid regained the throne, he’d lost many allies. Combine that with how close he was to dying after his Earth invasion and him focused on laying waste to hundreds of thousands of other worlds, and it’s understandable why Darkseid forgot that the Anti-Life Equation resided on our blue orb. Had Steppenwolf never come to Earth to retrieve the three Mother Boxes and form the Unity, who knows how many more years would have passed before Darkseid would have rediscovered the Equation’s location.
Unfortunately for the Justice League and the rest of humanity, Darkseid’s memory has been refreshed, and with Steppenwolf having failed his mission, the ruler of Apokolips ordered DeSaad to prepare his forces for another assault on Earth. Like his comic book counterpart, the DC Extended Universe’s Darkseid is desperate to obtain the Anti-Life Equation so that he can destroy free will and take over the multiverse. In the Knightmare future, Darkseid seizes the formula and starts using it on Earth, with Superman falling prey to its power following Lois Lane’s death.
Had Zack Snyder been able to fulfill his original five-movie plan, Darkseid would have successfully conquered Earth in Justice League 2 and ushered in the Knightmare reality, only to finally get his comeuppance in Justice League 3. Alas, despite Zack Snyder’s Justice League earning much better critical reception than the theatrical cut and the #RestoreTheSnyderVerse campaign being in full swing, Warner Bros has no plans to continue this Elseworlds continuity, at least for now. However, those of you wanting to see more of Darkseid in a cinematic setting are in luck, as Ava DuVernay is directing a New Gods movie that he’s confirmed to appear in, although it’ll presumably be a different iteration of the character.
On the off chance you’ve made it this far, but haven’t actually watched Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it’s available on HBO Max, which you can sign up for with this link if you’re not already subscribed to the platform. Those looking to the future can turn to our upcoming DC movies guide to learn what this superhero franchise has coming down the creative pipeline.