New Gods in The DCEU

Imagine a science fiction saga set in the vast reaches of space, far away from our home planet. Picture a story about a galactic war between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Envision individuals on the side of light and darkness who possess vast technological and fantastical abilities. Chances are you thought of STAR WARS. But before there was “A Galaxy Far, Far Away,” there was Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.

New Gods in The DCEU
THE DEATH OF THE NEW GODS #1 cover. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

The comics about Jack Kirby’s Fourth World tell a legend of monumental proportions. The Fourth World is a tale of differing philosophies, the meaning of life, and deities in our mortal plane. It mainly focuses on the characters known as the New Gods. This invention by Jack Kirby is one of the most enduring and original concepts to come out of DC Comics. To celebrate Jack Kirby’s 100th anniversary, DC is honoring the man with one-shots about The Fourth World. However, DC should go the extra mile. Now is the perfect time to make the New Gods an integral part of the DC Cinematic Universe. Here are the main reasons why including the New Gods in the DCEU is a fantastic idea.

READ: Check out our review of the first of the Jack Kirby centennial one-shots, THE NEW GODS SPECIAL #1!

Story of the New Gods

For anybody who isn’t familiar with The Fourth World, it has a long, vibrant, and sometimes complicated history. Jack Kirby writes that weird, powerful beings, known as the New Gods, exist on two planets: New Genesis and Apokolips. These two planets are polar opposites of one another. The Highfather rules New Genesis, which worships peace and life whereas Darkseid rules Apokolips, which worships war and death. Each planet soon finds that they cannot tolerate the culture of the other, and a great war breaks out between the two civilizations. After a costly war, Darkseid and The Highfather eventually decide that they need to sign a truce. To ensure that the other honors the truce, Darkseid and The Highfather do a son-swap. Darkseid gives The Highfather his infant son, Orion, and the Highfather gives Darkseid his own infant son, Scott Free.

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World comics take place when Orion and Scott Free have grown up and once again the tension between the worlds of the New Gods is at an all-time high. It is then that Orion receives an enigmatic prophecy from the metaphysical representation of the consciousness known as “The Source.” The Source tells Orion to travel to Earth to stop Darkseid, who has sent his agents to acquire the enigmatic “Anti-Life Equation.” It is here that Orion battles his father Darkseid and his minions in a war for existence itself.

New Gods in The DCEU
Orion fights Darkseid. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

Orion’s quest to fight his father is an epic, mythical journey which would be stunning to see unfold on screen. It’s more similar to the legends of the Ancient Greek heroes like Hercules or Perseus than it is to a traditional superhero story. This fits perfectly into the DCEU because heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash are already god-like characters evoking classical myths. With previous movies MAN OF STEEL, BATMAN V. SUPERMAN and WONDER WOMAN, the DCEU has already touched upon grandiose storylines, and so DC could easily fit the New Gods in the DCEU.

The New Gods as Heroes

Another reason DC should include the New Gods in the DCEU is that their heroes are so vibrant and fascinating. I’ve already discussed Orion, but he is such a compelling character. Orion is the literal embodiment of rage and war. He assumes the appearance of a beautiful New Genesis youth but really his appearance is a grotesque representation of his Apoklopitean origin. Even though Orion’s nature is to fight and kill, he has been taught by The Highfather to love life. This causes an inner conflict within Orion which is fascinating to watch unfold.

READ: Find out about the New Gods in our ComicsVerse analysis of Jack Kirby’s invention!

There are so many other fascinating, emblematic characters in the New Gods pantheon. Scott Free A.K.A Mister Miracle and his powerful wife, Big Barda, are representations of freedom and strength, respectively. Then there is the elusive Metron, who sits on his floating Mobius Chair acquiring all the knowledge of the world without intervening in its events. The Forever People are a team of New Gods whom Jack Kirby wrote as a dedication to the flower children of the 1960s. Then there is the Black Racer, Kirby’s representation of death, who rides around the universe on his silent skis. To say the least, there’s a plethora of interesting New Gods at DC’s disposal to include as heroes or characters in their future movies.

The New Gods as Villains

Perhaps the most noted contribution that the New Gods have made to the DC Comics Universe is as villains. Darkseid quickly became a staple of DC Comics after his introduction in FOREVER PEOPLE #1. He was included in the 1970s cartoon SUPER FRIENDS as a villain to the Justice League of America. In the DC Universe, Darkseid became the “big bad” as the Justice League oppose his plot to conquer the universe and eliminate free will altogether. Darkseid wishes to do this by finding the Anti-Life Equation which supposedly proves that life is meaningless. Over time, Superman has replaced Orion as Darkseid’s arch-nemesis.

What makes Darkseid such a great villain is that he does not do evil out of vindictiveness. Darkseid truly believes that anti-life is superior to life. To prove this, Darkseid forms a society on Apokolips full of tyranny, control, and the absence of freedoms. Jack Kirby directly based Apokolips’ authoritarian society on Nazi Germany. On Apokolips, Darkseid has raised a massive group of foot soldiers known as Parademons who know nothing but loyalty to their master.

New Gods in The DCEU
Darkseid’s Elites. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

Darkseid also has several other henchmen known as Darkseid’s Elite, who enact their lord’s will throughout Apokolips. They include villains like Granny Goodness, who tortures orphan children to ensure their service to Darkseid; Desaad, who is Darkseid’s chief advisor but covets power for himself; and Kalibak, son of Darkseid and brother to Orion, who inspires violence to impress his father. All of these enemies are extremely powerful, high-level threats even without Darkseid’s backing. They also all have extremely creative looks and personalities. Including some of Darkseid’s Elite as future villains would be smart for the DCEU. Having villainous New Gods in the DCEU would definitely diversify themselves from the MCU which has at least four villains who are just businessmen in suits.

The Pre-Established Role of the New Gods in the DCEU

The DCEU has already introduced the New Gods in BATMAN V. SUPERMAN. In that film, there are numerous references to Apokolips and Jack Kirby’s Fourth World. Firstly, Lex Luthor has the prophetic line where he says that “Devils don’t come from Hell beneath us, they come from the sky.” This initially refers to Superman, but by the end of the movie, it refers to the coming of Darkseid’s Parademons. Bruce Wayne also has a vision of Parademons teaming up with Superman to convert Earth into Apokolips. Finally, there are numerous references to Mother Boxes which New Gods use to travel between dimensions.

New Gods in The DCEU
Steppenwolf in BATMAN V. SUPERMAN. Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

The most obvious connection to the New Gods in BATMAN V. SUPERMAN only appears in the extended edition. In this version, we find out that Steppenwolf, Darkseid’s uncle and lead general, has contacted Lex Luthor and has learned about Earth’s existence. Last year, it was confirmed that Steppenwolf will be the main antagonist of this year’s JUSTICE LEAGUE. From the trailers for the film, we know that Steppenwolf will be attacking Earth with an army of Parademons. This event will serve as the catalyst for the formation of the Justice League.

The New Gods Future In The DCEU

I desperately hope that Darkseid isn’t the villainous mastermind of JUSTICE LEAGUE. I think it would be a wiser move to have Steppenwolf attack Earth against the wishes of his master. Then DC can save Darkseid and use him for later installments. Darkseid is too great of a villain to throw away with one movie. Instead, there are many ways DC could spread the New Gods across the DCEU.

READ: Steppenwolf features heavily in the new JUSTICE LEAGUE trailer. Here’s our review for the new Comic-Con preview!

Firstly, JUSTICE LEAGUE should end on a cliffhanger, where the audience learns that Steppenwolf preludes a greater threat in the form of Darkseid. This is similar to how we found out in AVENGERS that Loki was serving Thanos. DCEU directors can then build up to Darkseid over several films until the Justice League is established enough to face him.

After this, there are a lot of other opportunities to develop the New Gods in the DCEU. The announced sequel film to MAN OF STEEL would be a perfect place to fit some New God characters. In the comics, heroes like the Forever People and Mister Miracle often support Superman in his adventures. Then there is Intergang, a secret society supported by Apokolips. Intergang often serves as a powerful foe to Superman. It would be a clever move to have Intergang as a force of opposition to Superman in his next movie.

What DC really should do is green light a New Gods film. There have been rumors that Warner Bros. has talked to George Miller of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD fame about directing NEW GODS in the DCEU. George Miller would be a phenomenal choice to direct Kirby’s masterpiece. Miller proved that he could capture visuals and action like no other director with FURY ROAD. George Miller could successfully capture the epic scale that The New Gods film would require while not losing track of the characters at the center of the story.

Final Thoughts

If Warner Bros. wants its STAR WARS or STAR TREK or even LORD OF THE RINGS, the New Gods is it. The New Gods have the potential to become a cinematic treasure due to its rich history and themes which deal with the metaphysical and the divine. There is so much gold that DC could mine from these Jack Kirby’s Fourth World stories. Hopefully, JUSTICE LEAGUE marks the beginning of a long history of the New Gods in the DCEU.

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