after years of false starts and anticipation, zack snyder’s justice league has finally brought dc comics’ premiere super-team to the big screen. while the film has garnered a mixed reaction from critics and audiences, it’s still a landmark event that has opened up the dc extended universe in several new directions. while the actual league might consist of ben affleck’s batman, gal gadot’s wonder woman, ezra miller’s flash, jason momoa’s aquaman, ray fisher’s cyborg and henry cavill’s superman, the characters and places around them helped make the dceu feel a little bigger. since half of the league’s heroes haven’t starred in films of their own yet, justice league introduced or re-introduced some players who are almost certain to take on major roles in future dc productions.
now, cbr is counting down the biggest cameos you can’t miss in justice league. whether they’re iconic supporting characters or footnotes from dc’s history, all of these cameos fleshed out dc’s cinematic universe. some of them even answered burning questions or marked cinematic debuts of major future players. in this list, we’ll be looking at how these characters were used on the big screen and scouring their comic book histories for hints about where they might show up next.
spoiler warning: the following article contains comprehensive spoilers for wonder woman, batman v superman: dawn of justice and justice league, in theaters now.
15. commissioner gordon
since he was created by bill finger and bob kane alongside batman in 1939’s detective comics #27, jim gordon has been one of batman’s closest allies. in film, pat hingle’s commissioner gordon had an underserved role throughout tim burton and joel schumacher’s batman films. gary oldman’s gordon had a much larger role in christopher nolan’s dark knight trilogy, where he served as a long-suffering general in batman’s never-ending war on crime.
in justice league, j.k. simmons made his debut as the dceu’s commissioner gordon in a few scenes. while he’s more restrained than his pitch-perfect j. jonah jameson from sam raimi’s spider-man trilogy, simmons makes gordon an instantly familiar figure. between the bat-signal and gordon’s willingness to share information about a series of kidnappings with the league, this gordon seems to have his usual strong working relationship with batman. regardless of who wears batman’s cowl, simmons’ gordon will almost certainly assist him in director matt reeves’ upcoming batman film.
14. green lantern
traditionally, a green lantern has been one of the justice league’s founding members. between hal jordan, john stewart and earth’s other lanterns, the intergalactic green lantern corps has almost always had a presence on the league. when ciarán hinds’ steppenwolf claimed that earth wasn’t protected by a lantern in a justice league trailer, fans were enthused by the possibility of an unannounced green lantern role in the film.
while none of the famous lanterns appeared, an unnamed green lantern made a quick appearance during the ancient battle between earth’s forces and steppenwolf. after making a few energy constructs, the lantern was killed in combat, and the ring flew off to find its new bearer. while that lantern’s identity is still a mystery, the moment confirmed the existence of the glc in dc’s cinematic universe. more familiar glc members will likely appear in green lantern corps, set for a 2020 release.
13. lex luthor
jesse eisenberg’s lex luthor was one of the many divisive parts of zack snyder’s batman v. superman: dawn of justice. while some embraced eisenberg’s eccentric take on the evil mastermind, others dismissed his manic performance as one of the 2016 film’s worst qualities. by the end of that film, an incarcerated luthor had gained his trademark bald look and given batman an ominous warning about steppenwolf’s forthcoming attack.
by the end of justice league, eisenberg’s luthor has somehow escaped captivity and found his way aboard an impossibly luxurious yacht. in the movie’s post-credits scene, a chilly, more calculating luthor meets with the assassin deathstroke to suggest forming “a league of their own.” given luthor’s comic book history, this could be the start of the legion of doom, the injustice league, the secret society of supervillains or another famous bad guy team.
in patty jenkins’ wonder woman, connie nielsen’s queen reigned over the amazons with a mix of strength and regal compassion. while hippolyta is an actual character from greek mythology, she’s been the mother of wonder woman since william moulton marston and harry g. peter introduced her in the dc universe in 1941’s all-star comics #8.
in justice league, hippolyta and the amazons suffer a rare defeat at the hands of steppenwolf and his parademons. despite their best efforts, the apokoliptan alien stole a mother box that had been entrusted to the amazons after they fought alongside the army of atlantis and human tribes. these scenes serve as a reminder of how powerful and influential the amazons were in the ancient history of the dceu. as it stands, hippolyta’s warning to diana about steppenwolf’s return also marks her first communication with wonder woman since her daughter left themyscira.
11. henry allen
for decades, henry allen, the father of the flash, didn’t really have a substantial role. after he was created by john broome and carmine infantino in 1962’s the flash #126, he was largely a secondary character until 2009’s flash: rebirth. in that geoff johns and ethan van sciver miniseries, time-travel shenanigans left the doctor in prison, convicted of killing his wife.
while cw’s the flash has explored this story extensively with john wesley shipp’s henry, billy crudup’s henry allen is just beginning his journey. although he tells barry allen to stop visiting, he’s overjoyed when his son tells him that he got a job with the central city police department. while crudup’s henry allen seems like a natural candidate to show up in the flash’s solo movie, flashpoint, in 2020, crudup isn’t a stranger to cinematic superheroes. in 2009, he also played doctor manhattan in zack snyder’s watchmen.
after years of teases, joe manganiello gave deathstroke the terminator his cinematic debut in justice league‘s final post-credits scene. even though he’s the deadliest assassin in the dc universe, slade wilson was originally a teen titans villain, who was created by marv wolfman and george pérez in 1980’s new teen titans #2. since then, deathstroke has grown into a major threat who’s single-handedly taken out the entire justice league.
in justice league, manganiello’s deathstroke answers a summons from lex luthor in his short cameo. their brief interaction hints at some level of existing familiarity between the villains. deathstroke was originally set to be the villain in a ben affleck-directed batman movie. after matt reeves took over that film and rewrote it, wilson’s role was called into question. while that batman role is still unclear, manganiello’s deathstroke is now set to star in his own feature, possibly directed by gareth evans.
9. silas stone
as seen in batman v. superman: dawn of justice, joe morton’s silas stone used the mother box to save his son victor by turning him into the mechanized hero cyborg. in comics, silas was created by marv wolfman and george pérez in 1980’s dc comics presents #26. while he saved his son’s life, silas’ actions put a constant strain on his relationship with his son. they seem to be closer in the dceu, where the s.t.a.r. labs scientist seems set to continue helping his son in cyborg, scheduled for 2020.
morton’s turn as silas nods to a few of his previous roles. in 1992, morton portrayed robotics engineer miles bennett dyson, whose work laid the foundation for skynet in terminator 2: judgment day. justice league isn’t morton’s first dc role either. from 2001 to 2002, morton made a few appearances in smallville as kryptonite researcher dr. steven hamilton.
there’s more than one artemis in wonder woman’s world. for the most part, dc’s main artemis is a fierce amazon warrior who briefly took over wonder woman’s mantle shortly after her debut in the 1990s. a version of that artemis appeared as one of diana’s fellow amazons in 2017’s wonder woman, where she was portrayed by ann wolfe.
a different artemis, the olympian goddess of the hunt, has a role in justice league. while she’s a major figure in greek mythology, this daughter of zeus was introduced to the dc universe by william moulton marston and harry g. peter in 1943’s wonder woman #3. in justice league, aurore lauzeral’s artemis used her legendary golden bow to take down one of steppenwolf’s ships in an ancient battle. in roman mythology, artemis evolved into the goddess diana, wonder woman’s possible namesake.
7. marc mcclure
in richard donner’s 1978 film superman, marc mcclure played jimmy olsen, daily planet photographer and superman’s pal. over the next decade, mcclure was the only actor who appeared in every superman film and 1984’s supergirl. in justice league, mcclure encounters a cinematic superman again as office ben sadowsky in a quick cameo after the man of steel’s resurrection.
even though it seems fairly minor, mcclure’s cameo is one of the first times that a dc movie has directly acknowledged a cinematic forerunner. while marvel studios’ films are famous for cameos featuring stan lee and other luminaries, dc movies haven’t always embraced their history. between mcclure’s cameo and a joke from jeremy irons’ alfred about the plot of batman returns, justice league has bucked that trend. on dc’s more cameo-friendly tv shows, mcclure guest-starred as the kryptonian dax-ur in smallville in 2007 and appeared in the dc-related comedy powerless in 2017.
as the ruler of the olympian gods, zeus has usually been one of the more powerful characters in the dc universe. although he’s a figure from greek mythology, zeus made his retroactive dc debut as one of captain marvel/shazam’s sources of power in 1942’s america’s greatest comics #5, by dave berg. since then, zeus has also been cast as the creator of the amazons and wonder woman’s father.
in the dceu, zeus played a similar role in wonder woman, where he was also responsible for defeating ares. in justice league, zeus was a pivotal part in the even earlier ancient battle against steppenwolf. sergi constance’s zeus led the olympians and used his legendary lightning in direct combat against the alien from apokolips. in this scene, the old gods of antiquity directly take on one dc’s new gods in a moment loaded with symbolic meaning.
5. s.t.a.r. labs
although it doesn’t have the same mainstream named recognition as marvel’s s.h.i.e.l.d., s.t.a.r. labs has become the connective tissue that brings the dceu together. the science and technology advanced research laboratories were created by len wein and curt swan in 1971’s superman #246. s.t.a.r. labs has grown into a dc staple since then as a regular source of dc’s scientific weirdness.
while s.t.a.r. labs has played a central role in tv’s arrowverse on the flash, the research organization was one of the first parts of the dceu introduced by zack snyder in 2013’s man of steel. as 2016’s batman v. superman showed, silas stone worked for the organization, which had a mother box in its possession. in justice league, several s.t.a.r. labs staff members were kidnapped by steppenwolf and rescued by the league. in conjunction with kryptonian technology, s.t.a.r. labs’ mother box was also used to help resurrect superman.
4. king atlan
over the years, king atlan’s role has changed within aquaman’s mythology. when he was introduced by peter david and esteban maroto in 1990’s atlantis chronicles #5, he was aquaman’s father and an immortal sorcerer who was a member of the atlantean royal family. in 2013, geoff johns and paul pelletier reimagined atlan as atlantis’ first king, who eventually went mad and returned to fight aquaman eons later as the dead king.
the dceu’s version of atlan seems to split the difference between those two versions of the character. in justice league, julian lewis jones portrayed the king as a warrior during the ancient battle between the forces of earth and steppenwolf. as a behind the scenes photo from director zack snyder revealed, jones’ costume looks like an armored version of aquaman’s famous orange-and-green costume, complete with an a-shaped belt buckle.
as the main antagonist in wonder woman, david thewlis gave ares, the olympian god of war, an unexpected face. while he naturally has origins in greek mythology, ares made his dc debut under his roman name mars in 1942’s wonder woman #1, by william moulton marston and harry g. peter. since then, he’s been one of wonder woman’s most fearsome foes as he’s encouraged violence throughout the dc universe.
in justice league, thewlis’ ares made a fleeting appearance during the flashback to the ancient battle between steppenwolf and the combined forces of the amazons, olympians, atlanteans and mankind. before he was cast out of mt. olympus, ares helped his fellow olympians in combat, where the violence around him would’ve, theoretically, put him at the peak of his powers. despite this cameo, ares is likely still dead after his demise in wonder woman.
2. crispus allen
although he was a relatively late addition to the force, detective crispus allen is one of the more recognizable faces in the gotham city police department. created by greg rucka and shawn martinbrough in 2000’s detective comics #742, allen went on to play a major role in the critically-acclaimed gotham central. after crispus was murdered by the crooked cop jim corrigan, crispus returned as a human host for the spectre, dc’s spirit of vengeance. after a few years as one of the most powerful beings in the dc universe, allen vanished after dc’s 2011 reboot.
in justice league, kobna holdbrook-smith’s crispus allen makes a brief cameo as comissoner gordon walks through gotham police headquarters. while andrew stewart-jones’ crispus only had a brief role in the first season of tv’s gotham, the dceu’s crispus could return as a gotham cop or as a supernatural figure in the long-gestating justice league dark.
while she’s been around for decades, mera, the queen of atlantis and aquaman’s wife, didn’t really come into her own as a hero until fairly recently. after her 1963 debut in jack miller and nick cardy’s aquaman #11, mera served as a supporting character who occasionally was written off as insane or sent to another dimension. since having a prominent role in the 2009 crossover blackest night, mera has taken on a more active role in the dc universe, where she recently joined the justice league.
in justice league, amber heard’s mera made her cinematic debut alongside aquaman’s home atlantis. despite her water-manipulating abilities, steppenwolf defeats her and the other atlanteans who were tasked with guarding a mother box. heard’s mera is set to have a much larger role in the next dceu film, james wan’s aquaman, which is set for release on december 21, 2018.
keep it locked to cbr fot all the latest news on the dceu, comic books and pop culture! let us know what your favorite justice league cameo is in the comments!
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