The DCEU can be praised for a number of different things, but its ability to sneak in details that add insane replayability to each instalment is one of its finer qualities. From a small poster in the background or a neon sign that confirms a fan favorite character's presence in the universe to a split-second character tease that sets them up for a future movie, it all makes for great DC fan viewing goodness. And it's not even limited to just universe-building through easter eggs either. There are so many different details implemented in each film that it's difficult to keep track of them all.
Then there are other components of these films that viewers may have missed, but in a different way than you're thinking. Rather than a small background detail that went unnoticed, there are those moments that audiences didn't respond to or took issue with that were simply misinterpreted or pre-judged before given proper thought.
This list will go over both examples of those DCEU moments or details that you most likely missed, especially on that first viewing. If you’ve got your own examples of crazy secrets that aren’t listed here, be sure to let us know in the comments below. For now, let’s use our analytical abilities and go over 20 things in the DCEU you likely missed.
20 Callback to the Past (Man of Steel)
Many took issue with Man of Steel for its stark differences from the original Christopher Reeve Superman movies. Little did people realize that Reeve made a quick (but impactful) cameo in the film during a key scene. As Superman is getting ready to take out the World Engine, there's a great amount of pressure on him coming from the machine. You see Clark's skin vibrating and taking on different shapes, and even at a certain point, morph into Christopher Reeve's face before Clark finally flies upwards.
This was the perfect way of showing respect to the actor who many consider the embodiment of Superman without overdoing it.
Subtle, but perfectly effective. Zack Snyder made a strong statement with his characterization of the Superman character in MoS, but this moment should prove that there's no lacking of respect for the trailblazing done by Christopher Reeve and everyone involved with Superman.
19 More To Martha (BvS)
Yes yes, the moment's been talked to death. Yet there are still people who are adamant that Batman's change of heart came from Clark's mom simply sharing his own mother's name. They refuse to look deeper into it and what could've motivated this shift in both judgement and mentality. However, if you continue paying attention to this scene and recognize the flashbacks to the night of Bruce's parents passing, then you'll recognize how the scene's about recognizing Clark as another human being and less about the coincidence of the matching names.
Until now, the movie has set up Bruce’s arc as someone stuck in the darkness because of what had happened to him in the past, as well as what happened in Metropolis. Consumed with rage, only through Lois’ desperation was Bruce able to recognize that if he continued, he’d be doing to Clark what Joe Chill did to him.
18 Like Father, Like Son (MoS / BvS)
When comparing Russell Crowe's Jor-El to Henry Cavill's Kal-El, you can definitely see the influence one has had on the other. Their demeanor, as well as their ability do what's right, even if they face opposition, are greatly similar.
They have one specific similarity though that you likely didn't even notice or think of, specifically, the way that their lives ended (temporarily ended, in Clark's case).
Jor-El's life ended at Zod's hand with a fatal stab wound to his left side from a sharp blade attached to Zod's right arm. How did Clark go? Well, he died when Doomsday (a re-animated Zod) stabbed him through his left torso using a blade-like bone (also on his right arm). This isn't the only example of parallelism in this universe, but instead one of many that shows how screenwriters David Goyer and Chris Terrio intended to show that heroism requires serious sacrifice.
17 Zack Snyder and His Love of Recreating Paintings (Multiple Movies)
While many know Zack Snyder as a visuals-focused director, they likely don't know just how much thought and attention he puts into many of his shots. Specifically, you may be surprised at just how many paintings he incorporates/recreates in these films. Shots like Lex Luthor on his rooftop looking to Gotham City (which is a recreation of the "Napoleon Bonaparte" painting) or his recreation of "Descent From The Cross" following the climactic end of the Trinity's fight with Doomsday.
He also loves using paintings to express ideas and messages, like with Lex's "Monkey Detonator" shirt in his BvS introduction (indicating that he's a danger to himself and others) or the "Balance of Terror" painting hung up in Lex's home, teasing the devastation or horror that's on the horizon. Some directors pay homage, while others attempt to recreate classic paintings. Snyder does all that AND uses them for some quality subliminal messaging.
16 Harley Quinn's Bat (Suicide Squad)
For a character that's relatively new to pop culture, Harley Quinn has a strongly-established history in the minds of many DC fans. Her popularity only continued to grow with appearances in the Batman Arkham series and appearances in DC animated movies. This established history is part of the reason why the character was such a big hit in 2016's Suicide Squad.
While the movie did pay homage to her roots through that jester outfit, it's actually the bat she uses throughout the movie that carries even more history.
It’s plastered with words that are never fully legible, but after some digging, it turns out that the bat has a direct quote from the 22nd episode of Batman: The Animated Series where Harley sings a song to the police. It also quotes part of the nursery rhyme Harley sings to Joker at the end of Batman: Arkham City.
15 Kryptonian Head-plosion (Man of Steel)
While there have been several brutal moments in the DCEU so far, this is one that likely flew under the radar for most viewers (and censors as well). In the middle of the Smallville fight in Man of Steel, when one of the army's jets shoots at the giant Kryptonian, he leaps towards the jet and seems to grab the pilot's head, leaving behind a quick (blurred-out) bloody spurt.
Although Zack Snyder's filmography is full of gruesome R-rated movies, this is the only semblance of his violent filmography sneaking into the DCEU movies as all other violence is relatively low-key in comparison (outside of that BvS warehouse scene). It may seem like an unnecessarily violent moment, but it's a representation of just how (mostly) unstoppable the Kryptonians are. Faora may have super speed, but Nam-Ek has some Mountain-level head-plosion capabilities (for all you Game of Thrones fans).
14 Joe Chill's Evidence is in the Batcave (Justice League)
Everyone handles trauma in their own way, but Batman takes on troubling memories differently than most. Even moving past the whole "dressing like a bat" thing, there's the fact that he keeps the weapon that killed his parents in a glass display in the Bat cave.
Visible during a League meeting at the Cave, Diana walks past a display where there's a gun inside extremely reminiscent of the one seen in BvS's intro.
Another small detail easily missed, but a perfectly plausible one as Bruce would likely see the weapon as significant in some capacity. Whether that's in a metaphorical "don't forget past traumas that made you what you are" kind of way or simply a reminder of what he's fighting for, it feels perfectly in-character for him to keep the gun close-by. It undoubtedly does lead to some awkward conversation when people ask about it, but hey, who's judging?
13 Hall of Justice Cameo in Knightmare (BvS)
In light of recent leaks regarding Zack Snyder's deleted Darkseid storyboards for Justice League, this easter egg has become even more prominent. The entire Knightmare sequence is chock full of easter eggs (is that a Joker card on your gun Batman?), but this one undoubtedly snuck past many of us. After Batman opens the large metal door and walks up to the ledge overlooking Apokolips, there's a destroyed structure in the left side of the background. Examine the design of the building and you'll recognize that building as the home of the Justice League.
In this teased alternate reality, the physical crumbling of the Hall of Justice makes sense as the Justice League seems to have been disbanded completely (likely following Superman's turn to the dark side). There's a low chance of an Injustice live-action movie ever being a thing, but sequences like this keep the hope alive.
12 "God Never Saved Me From Daddy's Fists and Abominations" Parallels (BvS)
By no means the only example of parallels being used in DCEU movies to indicate arcs and story beats, but an important one that isn't obvious unless properly thought about. During Lex's rooftop monologue, he discusses how his hatred of Superman is due to the abuse he took as a child ("God never saved me from daddy's fists and abominations").
However, following the birth of Doomsday (a product of two foreign genetic codes mixed i.e an "abomination") and DD's attempt to punch Lex into non-existence, Superman saves Luthor from his fate.
In a moment of irony, while Lex tried to play God, he was (in a sense) saved by the being he deemed "God."
In any other scenario, Lex would likely appreciate that extreme coincidence. However, considering how he feels about Superman, it's unlikely he'd give Clark the satisfaction.
11 The Open Pod (Man of Steel)
Who would've thought an open pod in the background could hold so much significance? While exploring the frozen Kryptonian ship, Clark comes across four cryogenic pods. Three of them have lifeless corpses inside, with the fourth one being curiously empty.
The open pod on the Kryptonian ship is one of those easter eggs you KNOW would come up in a MoS sequel. Any possibility of there still being a living Kryptonian for Clark to meet is too interesting to not capitalize on. Screenwriter David Goyer even admitted that it was something that could open the door for a sequel (if one ever happens), and Snyder agreed. Who exactly the Kryptonian would be is still unclear and unpredictable, but it doesn't seem illogical that whoever it ends up being would either be a fierce ally or an intense antagonist. Hopefully we can get answer in MoS 2.
10 Joker's "Grills" (Suicide Squad)
Oooh boy, that initial Jared Leto Joker reveal was a hotbed of controversy. Many critiques came up (primarily for the tattoos), but it was his metal teeth that angered many who felt that David Ayer ruined the character. Since this Joker was to be more of a "gangster," people took one quick look at the teeth and assumed that they were grills that would make Lil Jon proud.
However, upon closer examination, it's clear that those metal additions were taking the place of missing teeth knocked out of his mouth.
Considering how hard Batfleck hits criminals, it makes sense that any physical encounter ended with a tooth or two out of place. Combined with that "Damaged" tattoo on his forehead, Joker clearly places plenty of importance on the physical damage he endured. Certain fans may not like the look, but it’s another example of showing (not telling) Joker’s history.
9 Harley Quinn Had Something To Do With Robin's End (Suicide Squad)
Never say that Harley Quinn isn't dedicated to her one and only Joker. She'll help him break out of Arkham Asylum, go through physical transformation, and even help "dispatch" Batman's allies. Visible during the character intros in Suicide Squad, while going through Harley Quinn's rap sheet, the charge of "assisting in the murder of Robin" comes up.
Presumably a tease to Jason Todd's Robin (to go alongside the burned Robin suit in BvS), this indicates a troubled history between not only Batfleck and Joker, but Harley as well. Yet, due to the subtleness of this detail, it's unclear just how accurate it is. Could Harley have just taken the charge to impress Joker or did she legitimately assist in the act of taking out Robin? So many questions that will go unanswered until either Suicide Squad 2 or The Batman. Either way, answers are needed.
8 Ares Looks Like a Wimp For A Reason (Wonder Woman)
Throughout all of Wonder Woman, viewers were likely greatly curious at just how Ares would end up being. Most (myself included) expected Ludendorff to be him, only for him to be a complete red herring to the real God of War. No, it's not Kratos or any big imposing presence, but rather the mild-mannered Sir Patrick.
What begins as a solid plot twist became a point of criticism for some who felt that Ares shouldn't look so ridiculous and wimpy.
While the mustache in the helmet is a somewhat silly look, it furthers the movie's themes of humans being capable of both evil and heroism. He had to look wimpy for the twist to work. If they changed his face during the final fight, then it would've dehumanized him and took away from the angle that the story was pursuing. This Ares is not a brute, he’s a strategic corruptor.
7 The Football Game And Gotham's Missing QB (BvS)
It's difficult to connect relevance between BvS's plot and the football game being watched by the two cops in the beginning. Much like several additions of the Ultimate edition of BvS, it's something that will make sense later. Specifically, the fact that Gotham is getting beaten so badly isn't because of any important character's presence, but rather his absence.
Gotham's losing by such a wide margin because they just lost their star QB Victor Stone (who eventually becomes Cyborg). Following a massive accident that (presumably) takes his life, they no longer have their best player. Justice League was going to have flashbacks of Victor playing for Gotham pre-accident, but those scenes ended up getting cut. Here's hoping that fans get to see a fully-human Victor in a future film.
6 Clark Gets Saved by Aquaman (Man of Steel)
Another example of Man of Steel being more of a universe-builder than people expected comes with the oil rig scene. Following the sequence that sees Clark saving men from a burning oil rig, he falls into the water. Seemingly doomed to just float until his final breath, he's then approached and saved by two sea creatures. Viewers must’ve wondered why these animals would be so close to a collapsed oil rig.
However, when you think about a certain superhero who commands the sea and would be able to control these animals, their presence is plausible.
Confirmed by Jason Mamoa in an interview when talking about his talks with Zack Snyder, he stated that Aquaman is the one who saved Clark from drowning. There are many other fan theories to be confirmed/denied, but here's one that can be crossed off the list.
5 Doctor Poison Creates Beginnings of Bane's Venom (Wonder Woman)
Out of all the DCEU installments, Wonder Woman has the least amount of "universe-building" examples as it had a more self-contained story. Yet, that doesn't mean the movie didn't have some fun teases to potential future villains. The most important tease comes from the character of Doctor Poison and her strength-enhancing gas.
Ludendorff uses it on multiple occasions and it seems to give him enhanced capabilities (in every sense). Specifically, he becomes a better fighter, gains super strength, and has improved reflexes. Hmm doesn't that sound an awful lot like the Venom serum that the Batman villain Bane uses? There's no way that Doctor Poison's creation isn't a tease to what could eventually become Bane's Venom as it fits all the criteria of what makes him such a worthy adversary for Batman. Here's to Doctor Poison's legacy living on in the form of a hard-hitting luchador.
4 Booster Gold and Blaze Comics (Man of Steel)
While it's unlikely that the DCEU would ever include a character with a Deadpool-like personality who loves money and fame, it doesn't mean they've closed the door on the idea.
During a massive collision between Zod and Superman during their final fight, a bright neon "Blaze" Comics logo is visible in the background.
This is the one and only mention of Booster Gold seen in the DCEU so far, but with the significant success of movies like Deadpool, it doesn't seem far-fetched that WB would take a chance on the property in an effort to leap on that kind of property. How exactly Booster would be brought into the universe is a mystery, but he could easily become a fan favorite among audiences if brought in.
3 Janus Cosmetics (Justice League)
The opening of Justice League with Batman taking on a parademon gave fans a quick glimpse of the more-stylized Gotham City that could serve as a suitable backdrop for future Batman standalones. And if viewers paid close attention to that background, specifically during the part when B-Man traps the Parademon against the wall, they'd have seen another example of "character's existence confirmed by neon sign." This time, it was a sign for Janus Cosmetics, well-known for being attributed to the character of Black Mask.
An antagonist not-yet-seen in live-action, Black Mask is a fan favorite that many hope to see get a proper interpretation on the big-screen. The Batman director Matt Reeves has plenty of options for which personality from Batman's Rogues gallery will be the main antagonist and JL seemingly has offered up BM as a potential option.
2 Gorilla Sign Language (Justice League)
DCEU Barry Allen may be known for rambling, but it's important that you pay attention close attention to them. Sometimes he rants about brunch, other times he has some humorous shoutouts to villains he's taken on. When discussing his qualifications with Bruce in Justice League, he mentions that he speaks sign language, only to then correct himself and say "Gorilla sign language."
With Gorilla Grodd being thrust into the spotlight recently thanks to his appearance on CW's The Flash, this is a great reference for Flash fans.
It will likely also serve as a premonition for Grodd's emergence in the DCEU in any future Flash movies. Sure, it may seem unlikely that the DCEU would use Grodd when he already has appeared so often in Flash, but if Deathstroke's cameo at the end of Justice League tells us anything, it's that DC isn't afraid of using characters from the CW-verse.
1 All of the Watchmen References (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman)
If you were wondering just how much Zack Snyder loves Watchmen, just pay close attention to each of his DCEU-directed movies. There are references all over the place to Alan Moore's graphic novel. For example, the famous smiley face symbol appears on a parking garage during MoS's final fight, there's a copy of Watchmen in Lois Lane's bookcase, and use of the phrase "Who watches the Watchmen?" (The phrase is visible in news article Clark reads about Batman, as well as on the wall during the Bats-Supes showdown).
Even though his adaptation of it was divisive, it's clear that Snyder's love for Watchmen and his live-action version of it has not dwindled in the years following its initial release. I wonder if he will give Man of Steel and Batman v Superman the same treatment and shout them out in future products. Let’s hope these Snyder easter eggs live on forever.
How many of these did you already know about? Let us know in the comments!