[Needless to say, potential SPOILERS for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice ahead]
DC Comics fans are still reeling from the release of the latest full-length trailer for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, in which Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman all line up to do battle with an enemy that’s been… well, hotly discussed and rumored for some time. His name is Doomsday: a hulking, bony monster from another world. At least… he used to be.
We’ve already taken a closer look at the trailer for story beats and hints that viewers might have missed, but hidden within the trailer (not particularly well) seems to be enough evidence to piece together just how this version of the Kryptonian bruiser comes to be. And it calls on nearly all the core plot beats of Man of Steel, too.
To explain the likely origin being shown for this new take on Doomsday, allow us to lay out all the key facts that help separate rumors from actual facts, and gossip from what’s really being teased by the filmmakers.
Is This Actually Doomsday?
First things first: we can say almost unequivocally that Dawn of Justice‘s hulking enemy isn’t actually Doomsday. That is, the version of the character that first comes to mind when you utter the name around comic book fans: in short, the grotesque, un-killable behemoth engineered by a mad Kryptonian scientist during the planet’s ancient days. Originally known as ‘The Ultimate,’ the creature slowly made its way across the galaxy to Earth, seeking to destroy all life, having been killed, re-killed and killed again to have his cloned form perfected (making “life” a pretty terrible concept).
It was only the superhero Booster Gold claiming that “Doomsday is coming” in the “Death of Superman” comic arc which gave him his name, not long before he would end Superman’s life in a fistfight for the ages (but not really). We’ve gone over the obvious changes to the character’s origins this time around, but even in the comics since the character’s first appearance, the name has even been applied to cloned versions for the sake of convenience.
The origin story teased in the new trailer appears to be a similar case: whether or not Lex Luthor actually dubs this creature ‘Doomsday,’ the fact that he is a brutal beast with protruding bone (and Kryptonian origins) makes it a serviceable title. But we doubt he’ll actually wind up killing Superman this time around, no matter how similar he may be to the comic book source material.
Will each hit or injury result in more bone erupting through his skin? Will each wound re-write his genetic code in real-time, making him immune to future attacks? We’ll have to wait and see. But the questions about where he comes from can seemingly be put to rest.
Lex Luthor’s Master Plan
Thankfully, the creature’s actual creation seems to now be revealed in total, after early rumors simply claimed that Lex Luthor would “use General Zod’s corpse” to engineer his superpowered bruiser. Those rumors were confirmed once earlier trailers showed Lex taking possession of the body, and unzipping the bodybag to reveal Zod’s corpse – but the actual how of Lex’s plan has been up for discussion. The trailer seems to put our minds at ease – closing up some loose ends from Man of Steel in the process.
It all begins with the massive, spotlit structure seen in the quick cuts of footage, apparently located at ground zero of the Metropolis battle, directly opposite the memorial statue and park that’s been erected in the time since. This is the first time the structure has appeared in marketing, with the location itself as intriguing as the arcing electricity snaking across its surface like some high-tech reimagining of Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory. It’s a surprisingly apt comparison, considering Lex’s claims that “the devil will kill god” since man (Batman?) has proven unable to complete the job.
But take a closer look at the building and you’ll notice it isn’t a permanent building at all, but the pressurized containment ‘bubbles’ typically erected over archaeological or otherworldly artifacts in your typical science fiction story (including Thor and The X-Files, for example). So the question isn’t what it is or why it’s located in the heart of Metropolis, but what exactly is it hiding?
A Kryptonian Structure?
The answer is most likely offered in the shot that directly follows the structure’s reveal, with Lex dropping the aforementioned “devil” line. Considering the moment being built toward and his words, viewers might be too distracted to actually examine the location of the show. There stands Lex with a calm Superman standing not far behind him, with the surrounding architecture looking like a direct match to the Kryptonian spaceships seen in Man of Steel.
What seals the deal is the out of focus – but still completely recognizable – form of a Kryptonian sentinel robot, first seen attacking Clark when he first boarded the crashed Kryptonian Scout Ship buried deep within the Arctic in Man of Steel. It’s easy to miss, but with the robotic guard dog almost killing Lois Lane in the last movie, and the two upgraded versions seen assisting Jor-El prior to Krypton’s destruction, they’re hard to forget.
Exactly why Superman seems to be just fine with whatever Lex is doing inside a crashed spaceship belonging to his people is a question we can’t yet answer. But the Kryptonian technology seen next to Earth computer monitors sets the stage for the mad science clearly underway. And one thing we do know is exactly where this particular ship came from.
The Crashed Scout Ship
That’s right: it’s the exact same Scout Ship Clark first commandeered, which General Zod attempted to pilot into Metropolis in Man of Steel‘s climax, as his Black Zero craft was destroying the city in tandem with the World Engine on the opposite side of the globe. Superman foiled that plan when he defeated said World Engine and smashed directly into the Scout Ship, eventually using his heat vision to bring it down out of the sky.
For those who stopped paying attention to the ship at that point, the film actually showed it smashing through a handful of skyscrapers on its way down, eventually burying itself into the rubble below the crater of the Black Zero (which, by this time, had been sucked into the Phantom Zone). If the Superman memorial is located in that same crater, then the Scout Ship would likely be half-buried not far away – exactly where the containment bubble now sits.
How Man of Steel Already Showed Lex’s Plan in Action
So, what use would Lex Luthor have for the downed ship? Obviously he would want to dissect any Kryptonian technology still contained inside, since he’s already able to acquire Zod’s corpse on top of it. But if Lex is still putting on the airs of a generous philanthropic do-gooder helping to rebuild Metropolis, it would work as the perfect excuse to claim authority over the ship buried in the destruction.
Lex has also been happy to work for and alongside the military to advance his own plans, so claiming to be researching the Kryptonian ship to advance Earth’s own technology by uncovering the artificial intelligence powering the ship, or just trying to find a way to kill Superman would make sense. The military may have been assisted by Superman in Man of Steel, but fear of outsiders or “false gods” is still a major theme in Snyder’s movie universe. But as dishonest as that might make Lex’s motives, it doesn’t seem quite devious enough for this version.
The Genesis Chamber
For those who may have forgotten, Zack Snyder’s vision of Krypton isn’t all good, with Kal-El (Clark Kent) the first natural birth to take place in the empire for years. Instead of relying on natural reproduction, Krypton’s mastery and arrogance had extended to procreation as well, with children no longer carried by loving parents, but engineered. Warriors, Scientists and Political leaders were all chosen for such specific lives, and grown from DNA contained within the Codex (lessening the freedom of Kryptonian children and the bonds to their parents).
It wasn’t an isolated event, either. In the first Superman movie in DC’s Extended Universe, it’s explained that Krypton used the system to spread across distant worlds, sending Scout Ships just like the one discovered by Clark in the Arctic ice to those planets, terraforming it to meet Kryptonian needs, then firing up its artificial birth system to begin population. And it was all made possible by the ship’s Genesis Chamber.
It was this very Genesis chamber aboard Clark’s Scout Ship (earlier assumed to be his new Fortress of Solitude) that General Zod sought to take for himself. While the World Engine and Black Zero terraformed the planet, he used Jor-El’s command key to bring the Genesis chamber online, ready to start churning out Kryptonian embryos of his choosing. The only thing he needed was the Codex now stored in Superman’s blood, kicking off their final fight.
When the Scout Ship was destroyed, Superman knew that in doing so, he was destroying the Genesis Chamber (still completely intact after millennia) and any chance of preserving his race along with it. Audiences got to see the glass holding back the amniotic fluid shatter, but what actually happened to the technology contained within? As far as the films showed, it was buried with the surrounding ship.
Lex Luthor A Mad Scientist?
Now, let’s take a closer look at the mad science being performed by Lex in the trailer. Specifically, the scenes which also feature electricity doing its best Frankenstein impression, which implies it’s happening aboard the downed Kryptonian ship as well.
Under close examination, it’s almost completely clear that audiences are being shown the broken/withered/half dead Genesis Chamber now serving a darker (literally) purpose. The central stalks and blank embryo birth pods are visible beneath the tacked-on power lines and tubing – clearly a sign of the work that has been taking place in the time between Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice.
Nobody ever actually explained how durable Kryptonian technology was, and even if the ship was decimated, it’s well within the realm of possibility of a man as brilliant as Lex Luthor to examine the system, and force it back to life in an unsavory fashion. Of course, he would still need genetic information to enter into the embryo – obviously taken from General Zod’s corpse. Who knows, the comic book version of Lex has shown him unable to resist adding a batch of his own DNA into the mix as well, so anything is possible.
Lex admits in the same trailer that he’s willing to conjure something truly evil if it means killing Superman, further raising suspicions as to why Superman is standing idly by as he brings his creation to life. But add this twist to the scenes of Superman kneeling before Lex, and it’s obvious the Genesis Chamber wasn’t the only insight into Krypton he gleaned from the crashed ship.
On a narrative level, this chain of events would also give Superman some extra motivation in the fight: he was willing to let his people perish just to preserve their memory and honor, so what would he do to Lex Luthor for literally using his people’s genetic material and technology to create an abomination? Once he’s dealt with the beast, obviously.
The Underwater Genesis Pod
As an added bonus, we can now offer one explanation of the strange scene in a previous trailer, showing an unknown underwater object being salvaged. The shape and texture of it is enough to imply it may be an intact Genesis pod, possibly blown clear of the ship’s destruction while Superman was hammering his way in and shredding it to pieces.
Again, that’s pure speculation on our part, but the evidence does seem hard to refute (or exciting, at the very least). Plus, it’s a clever and unexpected way of tying the events of Dawn of Justice into Man of Steel, continuing a central plotline while using it to explain how Doomsday could really be seen as a Kryptonian creature.
But if his body, bones, and heat vision (firing in savage blasts out of every orifice in his head) are any indication, the process wasn’t executed flawlessly. So unless Lex is going to be returning to the drawing board, we wouldn’t bet on more cloning any time soon. To the Superboy and Bizarro fans, we offer our deepest sympathies.
That’s our theory and explanation for how Dawn of Justice‘s Doomsday comes to life using Zod’s DNA and Kryptonian tech, but we want to hear yours! So be sure to share your thoughts and reactions in the comments, and if you would be on board for this new origin story.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will see theatrical release on March 25th, 2016, followed by Suicide Squad on August 5th, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23rd, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17th, 2017; The Flash on March 23rd, 2018; Aquaman on July 27th, 2018; Shazam on April 5th, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14th, 2019; Cyborg on April 3rd, 2020; and Green Lantern on June 19th, 2020. The Superman and Batman solo films have release dates TBD.