Spoilers for Justice League.
After a number of teases, Justice League finally brings the world of Jack Kirby's New Gods into the DCEU with the debut of Steppenwolf. Though monstrous CGI villains have become de rigueur in superhero films, Justice League still chose to follow-up Batman v Superman's Doomsday and Wonder Woman's Ares with the hulking and monochrome Steppenwolf. Given Justice League is coming right on the heel's of Diana's epic grudge match earlier this year, fans may be more than a little confused by how much Steppenwolf resembles the God of War. And when it comes to their backstory and powers, they're not dissimilar.
Created by one of Marvel's chief architects, Jack Kirby, Steppenwolf made his debut in 1972's New Gods #7. The uncle of DC uber-villain Darkseid, Steppenwolf is a fearsome warrior and battle commander who leads the forces of his nephew. As such, he's one of the most powerful beings on Apokolips, which is saying something given the ample power the evil New Gods wield. Steppenwolf utilizes a variety of weapons in the comics, but his most favored is his electro-axe. He also commands some of Apokolips' most powerful troops, including the dog cavalry which ride on massive alien canines.
Related: What Was Steppenwolf’s Plan?
Though Steppenwolf doesn't possess any special abilities, his combat skills mixed with his super-strength and durability make him a good warm-up for when the League faces Darkseid. And when it comes to his film adaptation, most of his changes are superficial.
Considering Steppenwolf goes toe-to-toe with Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman in Justice League, it's clear that his strength and resilience from the comics have been carried over to the film. Indeed, though he's certainly capable of being worn down and injured, he easily withstands some pretty seismic attacks from Superman. Given that, one can only imagine how difficult that vastly more powerful Darkseid will be when he shows up in the future.
In Justice League, a special axe is also Steppenwolf's weapon of choice. The film, however, seems to give it lava-like properties as it burns and melts through everything it touches and pulses with a molten glow. The effect is the same as in the comics, though, with the weapon capable of wreaking all sorts of havoc and easily cutting through anything it comes up against.
The New 52 saw an arc where Steppenwolf actually invades Earth-2, with a battalion of Parademons at his beck and call. Justice League mirrors that story, giving the villain command over vast hordes of the flying monsters. While they seriously augment his threat level, Steppenwolf's undoing is his lack of control over the creatures. All told, the Steppenwolf of the DCEU is fairly true to his comic roots, with only his colorful armor sadly falling by the wayside for his adaptation in Justice League.
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