Another two hours were added to the run time of Zack Snyder’s cut Justice League means more time for the vicious Steppenwolf and his masters. The Snyder Cut also contains a lot more Darkseid than the theatrical release – that is, Darkseid is actually in it now.
Snyder’s full cut uses a number of concepts from the strange subsection of the DC Universe known as the Fourth World. Some ideas, like the anti-life equation, are pretty much like those in the comics. Others, like Mother Boxes, might as well be original creations.
Let’s take a look at the comic book origins of the big bad guys from Snyder Cut and their big dice.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Justice League and Zack Snyder’s Justice League.]
Who is Darkseid?
Darkseid is a god of fascism created by World War II Jewish veteran Jack Kirby after leaving Marvel Comics (where he built a large chunk of this universe from scratch) to work for DC. The stone-faced ruler with ambitions to rule the universe was the supreme evil force in a strange pantheon that arose after a previous pantheon (heavily referred to as Norse gods) destroyed in disaster and the divine energy had been released by their death, they merged into something else: new gods.
Darkseid rules the planet Apokolips, a hellworld covered by a single ruined city and dotted with fire pits that spew heat and flames right from their core. He is served by Desaad, his administrator, Granny Goodness, his chief general and administrator of his Parademon armies and other elite torturers, mad scientists, warriors and assassins.
But for Darkseid, his current power is only a temporary stopgap, a force that pales in comparison to his ultimate goal: to find the anti-life equation.
What is the anti-life equation?
Given the name and the fact that a very powerful super villain wants it, it’s easy to assume that the anti-life equation is the secret to creating a great and deadly weapon that can threaten the universe. But anti-life isn’t the secret to killing people really well.
Exactly what the equation has always left abstract, but legend has it that once a being has mastered it, it can bend all thoughts in the universe to its will. Darkseid’s goal is not to kill everyone in the universe, but to control them. The name “anti-life” is a model on Kirby’s side: a person does not really live when someone else controls them, and free thinking is the best defense against evil.
In Kirby’s comics, Darkseid doesn’t come to earth as an army, but with charlatans and spin doctors – he drew one as a pastiche by the evangelistic preacher Billy Graham – who try to make humanity less resilient to the idea of serving Apocalips, often turning them against their neighbors in fear and anger. His parademonic armies are not zombie soldiers, but brainwashed mortals who have been beaten into blind obedience since their earliest childhood and fed in exhibition halls adorned with maxims such as “YOU ARE NOT AN ANIMAL – IF YOU KILL FOR DARKSEID” and “YOU ARE NOT” ARE A LIAR – IF YOU LIE FOR DARKSEID. “
Even so, all of these methods, along with the ability to control all thoughts in the universe forever in an instant, are a breeze.
What does Darkseid need Mother Boxes for?
in the Justice LeagueMother boxes appear to be a tool that Apokolips’ forces use to create other planets like Apokolips. When three mother boxes are brought together they form what is called The Unity, which turns the population of the planet into parademons and the planet itself into a fiery hellworld like Apokolips.
In the comics, mother boxes are banned on Apokolips because they are both very useful and very loyal to their owner. A mother box is an intelligent machine that works like a magical personal assistant and is roughly the size and shape of a small brick. In eerily forward-looking ways, characters even refer to their mother box, just as we are talking to smart speakers these days, referring to them as the “mother box”. We don’t say “let me ask my Alexa,” we say, “let me ask Alexa,” even though we know there are millions of Alexa devices out there and they are all slightly different.
Here are some things a Mother Box can do: manipulate matter, perform complex calculations, heal wounds, calm the mind, speak in a repetitive “ping” sound that only the owner can understand, known as boom tubes Open interstellar teleportation tunnel.
Here are some things a mother box can’t: turn everyone on a planet into parademons, or bring Superman back to life. And if you put three of these together, they won’t turn into a doomsday device. That’s just a bit of a creative license from Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
But, after an interview with Vanity Fair, the Mother Boxes would have reappeared in a possible sequel to Justice League, in the apocalyptic future alluded to in Batman’s many “Knightmares”. There, at a time when Darkseid had used the anti-life equation to make Superman his pawn, the surviving Justice League members would have used the mother boxes – combined with the speed skills of lightning – to turn back time and stuff to shape apocalypse had never happened.