Justice League was the result of four years of build up from the DC Extended Universe of movies. It started all the way back in Man of Steel in 2013, and all the pieces were carefully put in place through Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman to create a tapestry that would be faithful to the DC Comics universe. It might have started squarely with Superman in a world fearful of superheroes, but now we have a true cinematic universe filled with beloved characters from the comic books that inhabit a brighter, more hopeful world.
No matter how you ultimately felt about the movie, whether it was your favorite DCEU film or whether you felt like it didn’t live up to your expectations, there is no denying the fact that the superhero ensemble movie managed to position a lot of pieces on the board for the future. It might have been a conclusion of sorts, but it was also very much a beginning, in more ways than one. After four years of build up, the film managed to set in motion the next four, and beyond. Today, CBR revisits Justice League to list 15 ways that the movie sets up the future of the DCEU.
15. A NEW, BIG BLUE BOYSCOUT SUPERMAN
From the moment we met him in Man of Steel, we knew that Clark Kent was a darker character than the one we knew from the comics. His search for purpose and acceptance continued in Dawn of Justice, a movie that saw him sacrifice himself. Finally, he was brought back to life about halfway through Justice League. But the man who returned was different than the one we knew, reborn with a new sense of clarity.
As we saw in the final confrontation between Steppenwolf and the Justice League, Superman returned as a bright and hopeful character, one who looks to inspire mankind, as well as his friends, to be the best that they can be. With the character development of Superman complete, we can finally see him be the beacon he was always meant to be – hopefully, in a sequel to Man of Steel.
14. THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS ESTABLISHED
After Cyborg, Aquaman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman, there is only one major DC superhero left to introduce in the movie universe, and that is the Green Lantern. Many were hoping that he would appear in the film as the secret seventh member of the team, but that wasn’t the case. However, we did get something, in the form of a flashback sequence.
The scene in question showed a big battle between humans, Atlanteans and Amazons against the forces of Steppenwolf, and one of the soldiers fighting against Apokolips was shown to be a Green Lantern. The officer died, but his ring flew off, seeking a new replacement. With this quick cameo, the Green Lantern Corps was firmly established in the DCEU, and we can’t wait to find out where they have been.
13. BATMAN LOOKING FOR A REPLACEMENT
In Batman v. Superman, we came to learn that Batman had been active in Gotham City for two decades. He had fought many battles, and he had lost people too. He’s older than the rest of the Justice League and, as the only human, he recognizes that he isn’t necessarily at the top of his game when in the company of these god-like superheroes.
Bruce might be dedicated to his fight, his crusade, but he also knows that his age is a factor. He might not state his next course of action directly in the film, but it seems to hint at the possibility of him looking for a younger replacement who could step into the mask and cowl. And with movies for both Nightwing and Batgirl planned, it just seems like he might find some worthy allies.
12. AQUAMAN CLAIMING HIS ATLANTEAN BIRTHRIGHT
When we first meet Arthur Curry, the man who would be Aquaman, he finds himself secluded in a small village where he helps the people by bringing food. Arthur lives far away from the main population, choosing instead to remain on his own – and for good reason. Arthur is in fact the King of Atlantis. Although, as we come to learn in his short visit to his Kingdom, it’s not a position he is fully committed too.
However, as Arthur joins the Justice League and his fellow superheroes become his friends, Arthur’s heart softens, if only a little, for such a man. He realizes the strength in numbers, and the importance of leadership. The last we see of Arthur, he dives head first into the water, seemingly ready to claim his birthright – something we should see very soon, in next year’s Aquaman film.
11. DEATHSTROKE AS A MAIN PLAYER
One of the biggest surprises of Justice League was seeing a full-fledged Deathstroke appear on-screen in the after-credits scene of the film. Although the cameo was short, it was very telling. First, it showed us that Slade Wilson was already firmly established as the villainous mercenary, and that there would be no origin needed for him. Second, we also learned that his reputation preceded him.
The simple fact that he was the first ally Lex Luthor sought out after escaping from prison is very telling, in that it shows how much Deathstroke is known to the criminal underworld. With actor Joe Manganiello already cast in the role, the DCEU has just established Deathstroke as one of the main players of its movie universe and we certainly hope we will see him in action sooner rather than later.
10. BARRY ALLEN GETS A JOB TO ABSOLVE HIS FATHER
At the start of Justice League, we meet Barry Allen while the young nascent superhero goes to prison to visit his incarcerated father. From their conversation, we learn that Barry is a bit directionless. He’s a loner, and he doesn’t have many friends. However, that all changes when Bruce Wayne finds Barry and invites him to join the ranks of the Justice League.
As the team faces hardships and challenges, Barry is transformed by these events and inspired by his friends, and emerges as a different man, ready to face some new challenges. At the end of the film, we learn that Barry has just taken on a job as a crime lab technician, effectively taking the first steps into settling into his comic book-accurate job and absolving his father of a crime he didn’t commit.
9. WONDER WOMAN STEPPING OUT OF ANONYMITY
In Batman v. Superman, we learned that Wonder Woman had been living in the shadows for the better part of a century. She too was closed off from humanity, and though she might have never given up the mantle of Wonder Woman, she saved people from a distance, keeping her identity a secret. But after the events of Justice League, it looks like Diana might be ready to step out of anonymity.
In fact, at the end of the film, we see Diana stop a group of criminals in broad daylight and, instead of leaping away, she actually stays to interact with the people on the street. This means that Wonder Woman is finally ready to step into the public light, and to become a beacon of hope, strength and inspiration much like Superman. Hopefully, Wonder Woman 2 will explore this new shift.
8. A NEW PURPOSE FOR WAYNE MANOR
While the mythology of Batman has always seen him operate from the batcave located under Bruce Wayne’s family mansion, we came to learn in Batman v. Superman that Wayne Manor was abandoned and broken. This time, Batman was operating out of a cave located under Bruce’s own home at the edges of a lake. However, Justice League ends with Bruce ready to dust off and reopen the doors of his mansion.
In fact, accompanied by Diana, the two of them walk in the mansion, talking about the future of the League. They envision a large round table, and the perfect place to set it up. It becomes clear that Bruce intends for his mansion to become the headquarters of the Justice League — a different kind of Hall of Justice, but one that makes a whole lot of sense for this universe.
7. SHAZAM WAS ACTIVE THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO?
Justice League features an exciting flashback sequence that shows the Amazons fighting alongside both humans and Atlanteans in the hopes of defeating the invading forces of Apokolips. In this fight, we also saw a Green Lantern lend a helping hand, and a few other super-powered deities who many believed to be Greek gods, but remained nameless in the film.
One of them hurled lightning at the Parademons, and many took to identify this hero as Zeus. But there is another hero in DC’s pantheon who has the power of Zeus’ lighting, and that is Captain Marvel, aka Shazam. With a Shazam film coming very soon, could Justice League have discretely set up the history of the ancient wizard? If circumstances were that dire, we could easily see him descend from the Rock of Eternity to help in the fight against Apokolips.
6. CYBORG, AGENT OF S.T.A.R. LABS
Through the course of Justice League, we saw Victor Stone come to grips with his situation as a man who is now part machine. He started wary of the world and angry at his father, lamenting his status as something akin to a monster. But, thanks to his friends in the League, Victor was able to become a superhero in his own right, an experience that gave him purpose and direction.
Throughout the film, we learned that Cyborg already knew some of the people at S.T.A.R. Labs, where his father worked, indicating that Victor had visited the place before. Near the end of the movie, we see that Victor has returned to S.T.A.R. Labs, where he is learning to modify and control the metal on his body. This seems to setup Cyborg as an Agent of S.T.A.R. Labs – the first of, possibly, more to come.
5. DIANA IS FINALLY READY TO MOVE ON
In Batman v. Superman, we saw that Diana Prince had partly closed herself off from humanity. But in her own movie, which took place almost entirely in 1918, we came to learn why that was: Diana met a man, a soldier named Steve Trevor, who inspired her to fight for the world. But when she lost him, a part of her prevented her from staying long enough to connect with anyone — a loss she carried for a hundred years.
It’s something we learned through Diana’s exchanges with Bruce Wayne in Justice League, something that led to a bit of friction between the two. But through their work alongside the rest of the League, and thanks to Bruce, Diana came to realize that she could move on from Steve. This opens up a lot of possibilities for a Wonder Woman sequel, one that could see her find a new love interest.
4. THE FLASH LEARNING TO PUSH HIS SPEED
In Justice League, we meet a Barry Allen who is just getting used to his speed. He uses it to save people, but he hasn’t exactly pushed it to its limits yet. This all seems set to change thanks to the mid-credits scene of the film, a scene that saw Superman and The Flash race each other, a classic comic book staple come to life on the big screen.
While the scene was incredibly crowd-pleasing, it also subtly set up the possibility of The Flash learning to push the limits of his speed thanks to Superman’s help. This could in turn lead him to learn more about the Speed Force, and eventually to discover that he can travel through time. With this power, Barry could then be inspired to save his mother, as well as his father, in one fell swoop – and create Flashpoint as a consequence.
3. THE INJUSTICE LEAGUE
In the after-credits scene of Justice League, we come to learn that Lex Luthor has escaped from prison. Not only that, he also has a very particular plan he wants to set in motion, something that becomes apparent when he meets up with Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke. As exciting as it is to see these two villains interact on-screen, the bigger surprise came when Lex told Slade exactly what he was up to.
In answer to the formation of the Justice League, Lex wants to create a league of his own, a team of super-villains to rival the superheroes. This sets up a lot of possibilities for the future, namely which other members could join, whether we have seen them before in movies like Suicide Squad or whether they would be entirely new. Where will this Injustice League show up next?
2. BATMAN CONTINUES HIS SEARCH FOR LEAGUERS
Batman v. Superman ended with Bruce Wayne making a vow to follow in Superman’s footsteps and form a team of superheroes to help save the world. We saw him find information about potential recruits in the mid-credits scene of Suicide Squad, and we finally saw him approach them in the first half of Justice League. Some proved easier to convince than others but eventually, Bruce recruited Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman to his cause.
The League proved successful in stopping Steppenwolf, and Bruce truly saw the potential in his team. As the movie reaches it end, we see him give a new purpose to his mansion, while discussing the growth of his team. The table he envisions needs room to grow, and this seems to set up Bruce’s continuing efforts to recruit many more Justice League members.
1. THE ARRIVAL OF DARKSEID
In the flashback sequence that showed us Steppenwolf and his Parademons fighting against Amazons, Atlanteans, humans and heroes, we came to learn that the forces of Apokolips have been looking to invade Earth for a very long time. Steppenwolf failed the first time, and he attempted to redeem himself by invading once again. Once again, though, his efforts were thwarted by the formation of the Justice League.
Now, with the Earth twice out of their grasps, Apokolips might not be looking to fail a third time. Darkseid, the planet’s leader and ultimate force of evil in the universe, was mentioned by name by Steppenwolf, indicating that he is truly out there. This unmistakably sets up the arrival of Darkseid, who will surely be looking to prove the old adage that if one wants something done right, one has to do it oneself. And this is why we, above all else, need Justice League 2.
What did you think of Justice League? Let us know in the comments!
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