The DC megavillain Darkseid was entirely cut from the theatrical version of Justice League, making the movie worse in the process. Zack Snyder has finally revealed an image of Darkseid from his original version of the movie, confirming a major part of the character's intended role in Justice League, and while the movie was plagued by many other issues, removing Darkseid hurt the film on a number of levels.
Zack Snyder was well into post-production of Justice League before he was replaced by Joss Whedon, who conducted significant rewrites and reshoots, fundamentally changing the movie, but it's not clear exactly how far along Snyder was with his cut, other than the fact that he got all the footage he needed during principal photography, and a significant amount of VFX work had also been completed.
Part of that original plan included several Darkseid appearances throughout the film, making the threat against the Justice League and the rest of the world more menacing than just Steppenwolf, as well as setting up for Justice League 2. Without that major component, the movie is almost completely lacking in significance, with no gravity to the threat posed by Steppenwolf, and no clear path forward for the franchise.
- This Page: Justice League Isn't Too Soon to Introduce Darkseid
- Page 2: Steppenwolf Doesn't Matter Without Darkseid
Justice League Isn't Too Soon to Introduce Darkseid
It's common for people to compare the course of the DC Extended Universe to the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe developed, so the idea of Darkseid appearing in the first Justice League has caused many to think it's "too soon" for Darkseid because it took the MCU 19 movies to introduce Thanos, but that's not a fair comparison and Darkseid is more than appropriate for the Justice League's first outing.
First, the thing people don't realize about Thanos' introduction is just because it happened in the 19th movie doesn't mean there were 19 movies of setup. Thanos only had a post-credits tease at the end of the Avengers movies and an actual small role in Guardians of the Galaxy. The Avengers tease merely acknowledged that he existed, the Avengers: Age of Ultron tease was outright retconned by Avengers: Infinity War, as was much of his Guardians of the Galaxy appearance. In fact, most of Thanos' character development happened in Avengers: Infinity War itself, not any of the movies leading up to it.
Second, Darkseid's introduction is of a totally different nature than Thanos'. Snyder's Justice League's plot was extremely similar to Geoff Johns' Justice League: Origin comic run and Jay Oliva's Justice League: War animated movie, which told an origin story for the Justice League where they come together to fight against Darkseid. So, while Darkseid is one of the biggest DC villains, he's also been integral to the origin of the Justice League in recent comic book canon.
Zack Snyder wasn't trying to make the DCEU into a DC version of the MCU. The way he was developing his 5-part Superman/Justice League story actually has far more in common with The Lord of the Rings than it does with the way the MCU is structured. In the Lord of the Rings movies, the immediate threat is the Nazgul, under the command of an even larger looming threat of Sauron, and each member of the nine-person fellowship that forms in opposition to Sauron are all introduced in the first movie, which is around 3 hours long, and it's not lacking for character development. Gandalf is even killed off in the first movie, and the absence of a solo origin movie for him doesn't make that death any less tragic.
The MCU has been massively successful and serves as a great example of how a large universe can be formed over a long period of time, but franchises like The Lord of the Rings also exist to show there's another way to tell massively epic mythical stories with large casts and a looming villain.
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