How will the movie do it?
Because Superman doesn't have a proper Fortress of Solitude in the DCEU, Cadmus has yet to be established, and the four alternate Supermen are extremely unlikely to make an appearance in Justice League - unless Warner Bros. has run one of the best anti-spoiler campaigns in the history of movies (doubtful) - the exact mechanics of his resurrection won't be the same, but there's a few key similarities we can highlight, but first, lets take stock of some important things we've learned about Superman and Kryptonians in the DCEU.
Man of Steel's opening sequence is surprisingly (or not, depending on how much foresight you want to give Zack Snyder) pertinent here. One of the very first things to happen in the DCEU is Superman's birth, which is an upending of generations of Krypton's practice of artificial breeding. Where most Kryptonians are basically grown for predetermined societal roles, Kal-El is the first natural birth in millennia. After his mother, Lara, gives birth, his father, Jor-El, steals the Kryptonian Codex, an ancient skull that contains the entire Kryptonian genetic code, and bonds it to Kal-El's cells before sending him, Krypton's last hope for a future, to Earth.
When Zod eventually comes to earth, it's the Codex he wants. He has a Scout Ship with a Genesis Chamber capable of producing a new generation of Kryptonians, but he plans to destroy Earth and "harvest the Codex from [Kal-El's] corpse" to accomplish this. In order to save Earth, Superman kills Zod, but the Kryptonian general and the birthing chamber still have a part to play in the story.
In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Lex Luthor's mad desire to be superior to Superman has him board the crashed Scout Ship to learn from its archives, eventually taking general Zod's body and placing it in the remains of the Genesis Chamber where he has it reanimated as the grotesque Kryptonian Deformity, Doomsday. While it plays out differently than the Death of Superman comic in that Batman and Wonder Woman are also present in the fight, and Superman uses the kryptonite spear to defeat Doomsday, at the end result is the same - they both die. The government gives Superman a soldier's funeral, while Clark Kent is given a more traditional ceremony back in Smallville. As far as everyone knows, Superman is dead, but as we all saw in the last shot of the movie, some of the dirt on his casket levitated, signaling there's still some life there.
So, how does this all culminate in Superman's grand return? Well, looking at General Zod's transformation into Doomsday, we may be able to infer the basics. If the Genesis Chamber can give Zod life again, it could ideally do the same with Superman, the only issue was Zod's transformation into Doomsday. While an evil Superman has been teased, a Doomsday Superman scenario is likely off the table. This is where we come back to the Codex. Superman's cells have all the data required for the Genesis Chamber to create Kryptonian life, so that could be what the genesis chamber needs to heal his body without also mutating him like Zod (who obviously lacked the data from the Codex). If the dirt lifting off his grave at the end of
If the dirt lifting off his grave at the end of BvS was an indication that he maintained some shred of life, then ideally all that's necessary is a little old-fashioned Kryptonain regeneration. Is a blood sacrifice also necessary if you aren't creating another Doomsday? Who knows, but it would seem weird (and rustle some feathers) if Batman or any other hero's blood is used to bring Superman back to life, but Lois Lane... well, she's the key. If someone needs to contribute some blood to the process, it'll most likely be her.
Once his body is restored, will his mind be intact? This may be the source of that "dark moment" Danny Elfman referenced, where it's not clear if Superman's mind is that of Clark Kent, or closer to a mindless beast like Doomsday. Again, this is likely where Lois comes in.
Exactly how he goes from his grave to the Genesis chamber on the Scout Ship is another matter entirely. Without Eradicator or Cadmus like the comics, somebody has to actually dig him up. We know Batman has been the one trying to assemble the rest of the team, and the shot from the second trailer hinting at Superman has Alfred saying "he said you'd come," likely indicating Batman has reason to expect the return. As the World's Greatest Detective, it makes sense that Bruce, like Lex Luthor before him, might board the Kryptonian Scout Ship (there's even a shot in the second trailer of him overlooking Heroes Park, where the Scout Ship rests) to learn its secrets, but as Ray Fisher recently revealed, Cyborg's integration with a Mother Box just might make him the most intelligent person in the galaxy. If he has a library of cosmic knowledge pertaining to non-terrestrial races, then it's possible he contributes some key information about the process by which Superman can be revived.
Of course, this could all be wrong. There's also a chance that Steppenwolf is the one that revives him, hoping to use him as his own soldier against Earth, only for Superman to turn on him, but considering what appears to be the breadcrumbs of the Codex and the Genesis Chamber in Man of Steel and BvS, it's hard to imagine those story elements will be wasted or refer to something else entirely.
The elephant in the room is Clark Kent. While Superman's resurrection would be a miracle, it's easy to explain away because he's Superman. Meanwhile, Clark Kent had a public funeral and a proper obituary in the Daily Planet, so it remains to be seen if/how that specifically gets addressed in Justice League, but with Lois wearing his engagement ring, it wouldn't be out of the question to see Lois and Clark tie the knot in the final moments of Justice League - provided Clark Kent actually gets a public resurrection.
- Justice League (2017) release date: Nov 17, 2017
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Cyborg (2020) release date: Apr 03, 2020
- Green Lantern Corps. (2020) release date: Jul 24, 2020