The world got a tsunami of information this week as a select group of outlets, including Screen Rant, revealed details of their recent visit to the set of Justice League. The sequel to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is currently shooting at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, and what is happening within those walls has the internet buzzing.
One of the most talked about scenes from Batman v Superman was the ‘Knightmare’ sequence, in which we see Batman fight for survival in a hellish, post-apocalyptic landscape. The combination of the Omega symbol and volcanic activity was a clear message to fans: Darkseid and the planet Apokolips are very real in the DCEU. Whether the scene was a dream or not, it’s clear that Darkseid’s home planet will play a significant role in the future of our heroes.
So let’s take a look at this alien world’s history and ways that it may play into the expanding DC Extended Universe.
It’s commonplace to hear that superheroes are today’s modern mythology. Unlike the science-gone-wrong origins found in most Marvel Comics’ characters, DC Comics has classic mythology woven into the fabric of their universe. According to DC lore, the gods of classic literature were very real and were known as the Old Gods, battling in the cosmos ages ago. The result of their wars was the destruction of their planet, Urgrund. The exploding planet split into two new worlds: the enlightened New Genesis and the fiery Apokolips.
In 1971, legendary comic creator Jack Kirby and DC were looking to create a new form of superhero story, one that had never been explored in comics at the time. Combining mythology with cosmic elements, yet keeping the same Good vs. Evil form of storytelling that had defined their superheroes resulted in a planet that came to represent Hell in space. The ruler of the hellish Apokolips is Darkseid, a maniacal king with a backstory that is fit for a Game of Thrones style series and the ultimate antagonist for… the entire universe – primarily because he is solely motivated by finding the Anti-Life Equation, or the way to dominate and crush all life as we know it. At least he has a dream.
Despite the apocalyptic decor, Apokolips is one of the most technologically advanced planets in the universe. The planet is typically depicted as having a volatile and dangerous landscape, complete with volcanic fire pits that spew fiery exhaust. However, this is often contrasted with cities and buildings that have a steampunk or futuristic sensibility.
One of the more notable scientific developments is the Boom Tube, which can teleport travelers anywhere instantaneously. However, most of their technology results in mass destruction, making the planet a de facto intergalactic weapons manufacturer in many ways. We have already seen some of this advanced technology on the big screen, in the form of Mother Boxes, which will play a significant role in the Justice League movie.
The dystopian and oppressive world of Apokolips has a strict caste system, primarily populated by Lowlies at the bottom of the social ladder. Lowlies/Hunger Dogs/slaves are often depicted as malnourished or hopeless humanoids, many of whom have been kidnapped from their respective homeworlds and essentially forced into slavery. Darkseid is the unquestioned ruler of Apokolips and keeps order with his personal army, known as Parademons, which were glimpsed in Batman v Superman. He also has his own form of the Secret Service, the Female Furies, who are a collection of the planet’s greatest warriors. It’s unclear if we will get the chance to see the societal structure of Apokolips in Justice League or beyond, but we can rest assured that we’ll get to see a lot of Parademons on the receiving end of beatdowns.
Audiences will, at the very least, get an impression of Apokolips in Justice League through the increased presence of Parademons, as well as the technology seen in both the Mother Boxes and within the body of Cyborg himself. However, after Snyder caught many off-guard with his Heavy Metal inspired opening of Man of Steel, it would be shocking if the director didn’t put his further stamp on the war-torn world of Apokolips.
In our set report, director Zack Snyder made a point to highlight Jack Kirby as being a strong influence on the cosmic side of the Justice League. He explains:
“[Jack] Kirby’s crazy in a great way, and there’s a lot of influence, you know, sort of New God-y, kinda the New Gods stuff, and we were digging on that – and that’s the Mother Boxes and that sort of Apokoliptian world and all that stuff. I mean, you can’t really do that stuff without some – I don’t know if I can call it ‘weird.'”
At this time it hasn’t been officially confirmed that we will see the infamous planet in Justice League, but judging from the director’s giddiness over the New Gods and producer Deborah Snyder’s promise that “we go back and tell the story of the Mother Boxes, so everyone knows the history,” it does seem to be an inevitability. There’s also the fact that Steppenwolf, one of Darkseid’s Elite (a collection of Apokolips’ greatest warriors) is the main antagonist of the movie, so it would make sense to show his place of origin. It’s an enticing idea, since many of the visuals that Kirby designed have not yet been realized cinematically and Snyder has made a reputation (among other things) for bringing comic book pages come to life. Will it be a mind-blowing experience? Or just plain “weird?”
When you expand your universe, it’s only natural to visit other worlds. Apokolips is one of the most infamous locations in all of comics and is ripe for adaptation on the big screen. The large canvas that DC Comics paints its stories on is one of its primary strengths, that deserves to be embraced and celebrated in the DC Extended Universe as well. Seizing the opportunity to take audiences on an adventure from Gotham City to the Fire Pits of Apokolips just may be the original experience that fans have been hoping for.
Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.