Heads up: This article contains minor plot spoilers and character details for Justice League. If you're a bit of a freak about these things, turn away now.
Last week, I wrote about the secrets of the six members of Justice League, and what director Zack Snyder needs to do to bring the fight to Marvel's Avengers. This week, I thought it would be fun to shine a spotlight on the slightly less A-list Justice League characters who, so far, haven't been paid much attention, from the heroes' allies, like Mera, Queen of Atlantis, to the villains — why is Lex Luthor back, and what do we know about Steppenwolf? Let's find out.
Who Are The Villains Of Justice League?
Whatever you thought of Jesse Eisenberg's frenetic, hyper-Millennial take on the classic Superman villain in Batman v Superman — a genius reinvention or a total bastardization — the fact remains that the DCEU is not done with Lex Luthor. Eisenberg is confirmed to return in Justice League, raising two questions: How, and why? Snyder has been super hush-hush about Lex's role in the movie, telling reporters during a set visit in June that giving away any details would constitute a major spoiler.
Here's my personal theory: Luthor will be broken out of Belle Reve prison (Batman having threatened his transfer there at the close of Batman v Superman) by Steppenwolf, the trusted general of Darkseid with whom he made contact while swimming in that gloopy red substance on board the Krypton ship, post-Doomsday birth. Lex warned that "the bell has been rung," so presumably he has information that could prove valuable to Steppenwolf. While the Justice League will probably defeat Darkseid's uncle and right-hand man (without killing him), Lex will be a fugitive on the run, biding his time to wreak revenge on Batman and co.
One thing we do know for sure is that the Justice League's chief objective is the collection of a series of Mother Boxes buried many moons ago by ancient Atlanteans and Themyscirans. The one thing that would make Lex useful to the great warrior from Apokolips is intelligence on where those Mother Boxes are hidden. Considering Lex knew the names and whereabouts of various metahumans, it's not exactly a stretch to imagine that he'd know a thing or two about the Mother Boxes — especially given that he saw one of them in action, regenerating Victor Stone into Cyborg at STAR Labs.
Outside of DC Comics, Steppenwolf isn't the best known supervillain, but he is powerful and alien enough (immortal with super-strength, and a master swordsman who wields a distinctive electro-charged axe) to test the Justice League to the limit of their abilities. As of the last time Deborah Snyder spoke about it, no actor had yet been cast as the New God (the role is motion capture), but they were "close."
Steppenwolf will bring with him to Earth his army of Parademons, who are seemingly responsible for the kidnapping of nine top scientists across America. At one point early in the movie, Wonder Woman, Batman and The Flash team with Cyborg and go underground into a tunnel that links Gotham with Metropolis, setting up a huge battle between (two thirds of) the league and the Parademons.
But what are they? Essentially, Apokoliptian military troops who aren't especially intelligent (some incarnations don't have speech) but are loyal to their master, and can fight, endure pain and fly, thanks to their armor. We got a glimpse of them during the Knightmare sequence in Dawn of Justice. You know, the one that made absolutely no sense. They have also been known to breathe fire, just because.
What About The Good Guys?
So, that's the villains covered. But what about the good guys? Let's begin with Mera, wife of Aquaman and Queen of Atlantis, who is expected to have a much bigger role in James Wan's solo Aquaman movie than in Justice League. No pictures have yet been revealed of Amber Heard in the role, but we do know she'll be wearing a comic book-faithful costume which becomes gradually more translucent as it moves up toward the breastplate, which is bound to go down well with large segments of the audience.
Amber Heard is still a bit of an unknown quantity at this point, but Mera is an interesting heroine and Justice League provides a good opportunity for her to prove herself. Another Atlantean we're set to meet is Nuidis Vulko, a politician who pops up frequently in Aquaman comics and is generally a good guy. Again, not a lot known, but you don't cast Willem Dafoe unless you have big plans for him.
Jim Gordon is an essential part of any Batman story, and after the way Bruce was behaving in Batman v Superman — brandishing villains with scorching Bat marks and that juvenile, senseless feud with the Man of Steel — the Commissioner is sorely needed to keep him in check. DCEU creative overlord Geoff Johns has promised Batman will be punished for his sadism, and Gordon could be the man to enact justice. Check out the first, noir-ish photograph of J.K. Simmons's Gordon on the rooftop of the Gotham PD HQ, where he'll meet with the League (minus Aquaman) early in the movie to discuss that Parademon problem.
If Gordon is needed to keep tabs on Batman, it's Lois Lane who'll keep Superman in check. Nobody yet knows what exactly Lois Lane will be doing in this movie, but with Superman out of the picture for a good chunk of the movie, this could be a great opportunity for some strong character development. Of all the Justice League characters, Lois is historically one of DC's most iconic, and as an investigative journalist it would make sense if she had a role to play in the hunt for the Mother Boxes. Also, revenge against Lex Luthor for tossing her off a rooftop like a cigarette end might be appreciated. Just sayin'.
And last but most certainly not least is Alfred Pennyworth, Batman's loyal butler and guardian, returning to keep his charge armed with the latest in high-tech weaponry, and to offer advice which inevitably won't be acted on. Alfred's dry sense of humor was one of the few sources of levity in Batman v Superman, but perhaps we'll get more of an idea of what drives the ex-military man in Justice League.
Justice League hits theaters November 17, 2017.