WARNING: This article contains potential SPOILERS for Justice League
As much influence as the film may have on the future of DC's movies (or as little), fans have known for some time that its own story would begin in the past... as in, thousands of years in the past. While the movie was still in production, Snyder and co. spoke at length about the ancient prologue of Justice League, in which the empires of Earth united to fend off an attack from Steppenwolf and Apokolips. It helped to establish the goal of the movie's villain - to retrieve the Mother Boxes left behind - and made him more than one-note in motivation. But now that more of that ancient battle is being shown, the scene may add more to the fabric of the DC movie universe than expected.
There's a good chance the detail may have slipped by (or blown by) fans on first viewing of the latest Justice League promos and marketing spots, since the shots of leaping Amazons and a scorched Earth aren't getting any less captivating. But taking a closer look at the first battle between Earth and Apokolips, and it isn't just Wonder Woman's aunt slaughtering Parademons... her father, Zeus, may also be making his movie debut.
Zeus Helped Defend Earth?
Fans have known to expect the opening battle scenes to include armies of Mankind, the Amazons, and the Atlanteans (before their kingdom was submerged beneath the ocean). But in recent weeks, the actual make-up of those massive armies has been placed into the spotlight. First came the shot that seemed to confirm Steppenwolf turned humans into Parademons. Then came behind the scenes photos showing the King of Atlantis would be fighting in the battle, and that several ethnicities of Earth would be represented on the human side of things. Most recently, undisputed superpowers were added to the mix, in a handful of shots like the one pictured above: depicting a bearded man in classical clothing, unleashing divine lightning upon the enemies of this ancient world.
Since Wonder Woman already introduced him into the history of DC's Earth - emphasizing how deeply he cared for and protected his creations - Zeus becomes the most obvious explanation. The lightning attack even closely resembles the version depicted in artwork from Wonder Woman, also showing Zeus closer to 'heroic nude' in clothing than the flowing robes of more popular modern interpretations. Since this battle is truly ancient, set thousands, if not tens of thousands of years in the past (if not more) it's also possible that Zeus was alive and kicking at the time. He was clearly alive in physical form long enough to fall in love with Hippolyta, and leave her with a daughter to protect the world from his warmongering son.
So, is this evidence that Zeus will also be on hand to help push back the Apokoliptian invaders, perhaps one of any number of Old Gods? Fans can hold out hope that that's exactly the case - maybe even with Poseidon backing his own people of Atlantis - but it's a different part of Zeus's role in Wonder Woman that may hold another answer. Specifically, the gifts he passed down to Diana... which may be shared by his other offspring.
Could Hercules Be The Answer?
Based on appearance alone, and the use of lightning as a sign of divine parentage in Wonder Woman, Hercules should probably be thrown into the conversation as well. Some might resist that idea altogether, citing the fact that it was Patty Jenkins and Wonder Woman that dove headlong into the mythology of Diana's powers and parentage, while Batman v Superman steered clear. Yet even ignoring Zack Snyder's writer and producer credit on Wonder Woman, Jenkins has said his vision for Wonder Woman matched her own. And if that vision included wielding the powers of Zeus - as she did in Batman v Superman - then it only seems right to double-down on her gift, showing it's run in the family for millennia. In fact, it was part of what made Hercules such a devastating warrior when he tested his might against 'monsters' in a time before time.
From a meta-narrative perspective, it's a clever twist: re-frame the mythology and legends of ancient civilizations as stories handed down, oral evidence of an attack that actually happened. Even if the figure catching Steppenwolf by surprise isn't Hercules specifically, but a demigod like Diana among countless others (judging by the headgear of the leaping warrior above, perhaps even those from other European mythology), it reinforces the story already told in the films themselves. The Justice League trailer where Diana informs Bruce Wayne that "the age of heroes" has come and gone. It's a phrase that resonates with the "Golden Age" of Greek mythology, when heroes walked the Earth with Gods. And waged war against them, as Justice League seems more and more likely to show.
Would you be on board with this glimpse back into Earth's heroic past, when figures of myth and legend united in a fight guaranteed to immortalize their names? Or are the DC heroes of the actual Justice League outlandish enough on their own?