The DC Comics universe is filled with great villains, from Lex Luthor and Darkseid to The Joker and Poison Ivy. But the villain for Warner Bros.’ Justice League movie isn’t exactly a character well-known by anyone other than fans of the great Jack Kirby’s work. Steppenwolf is the character Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg fight in the new movie. So just who is this guy?
We have seen Steppenwolf in the DC Extended Universe before. He was in a scene cut from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but then posted on YouTube after the film’s theatrical release. In that scene, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is seen inside General Zod’s Kryptonian scout ship, seeing a computer “hologram” of Steppenwolf with three Mother Boxes.
Here’s what you need to know about Steppenwolf and who will be playing him in the movie.
1. Ciaran Hinds Is Playing Steppenwolf in ‘Justice League’
The actor tasked with bringing Steppenwolf to life Ciaran Hinds, a Northern Irish actor best known for playing Mance Rayder on Game of Thrones and Gaius Julius Caesar in Rome. He also voiced the Troll King in Disney’s Frozen. Other credits include Munich, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Road to Perdition< Silence and Bleed for This.
In an interview with The Michael Ball Show, Hinds said he never met the rest of the Justice League cast or even saw what Steppenwolf looks like on the screen. His whole performance was done as motion capture. Hinds explained:
I didn’t even have a costume when I was doing it. It’s all done in motion capture. So… they stick a helmet on your head, they put two cameras around, and they capture all your expressions, facial expressions. So basically, they’re going to concoct some kind of construction and they will use my facial expressions – eyes, mouth, voice – they’ll turn into this murderous, avenging Steppenwolf from the planet Apokolips, apparently. Who’s bent on Hell on Earth.
Hinds told Ball that his entire performance was filmed in front of a green screen. He had no direct interaction with Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot or the other members of the cast.
2. Steppenwolf is Darkseid’s Uncle & Was Created by Jack Kirby
Steppenwolf was introduced in the March 1972 issue of New Gods and was created by comic book legend Jack Kirby, the same genius who co-created Captain America, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Hulk for Marvel.
In the early 1970s, Kirby signed a contract with DC Comics, where he was given full creative control to create his own universe. Characters from the Fourth World were first introduced in issues of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, then were given their own titles. Kirby wrote and drew New Gods, Mister Miracle and The Forever People himself.
The Fourth World was a universe unto itself. It consisted of two main forces – the good New Gods of New Genesis, and the evil lords of Apokoplis, who enslaved their own people. The fiery hellscape Apokolips was ruled by Darkseid, while the New Gods lived a happy life under the leadership of Highfather. Darkseid was always after the mysterious Anti-Life Equation and sought to expand his realm by taking over Earth. But the New Gods, sometimes with the help of Superman, tried to stop him.
One member of Darkseid’s team was Steppenwolf, his uncle. Kirby drew the character with a giant axe, while more modern artists have featured him with a sword.
3. Hinds Describes the Character as ‘Old, Tired’ in ‘Justice League’
In a March 2017 interview with The Independent, Hinds described Steppenwolf as “old, tired” in Justice League.
“He’s old, tired, still trying to get out of his own enslavement to Darkseid, [but] he has to keep on this line to try and take over worlds,” Hinds said of his character.
The 64-year-old Hinds admitted that he was completely unfamiliar with the character when he got the role. “I never read any of those comic books as a kid,” he told The Independent. “So it’s all fairly new to me.”
4. Steppenwolf Leads an Army of Parademons to Earth to Get the Mother Boxes
Remember those weird creatures Batman fought in his nightmare in Batman v Superman? Those were Parademons, who will attack Earth for real in Justice League. They have been seen throughout the Justice League trailers.
In the film, Steppenworld will lead an army of the creatures to Earth. They first appeared in the debut issue of New Gods and are Darkseid’s own troopers. In the comics, they can fly and breath fire. They also have the power to explode and turn other beings into new Parademons.
Early images of LEGO sets show that Parademons will attack Atlantis, so Aquaman (Jason Momoa) will have to defend his throne from Steppenwolf. Atlantis has one of the Mother Boxes Steppenwolf is after. Those LEGO sets also reveal that Superman will be back in action for the big final fight with Steppenwolf.
5. Steppenwolf Comes to Earth to Find the Three Mother Boxes
Steppenwolf and his horde of Parademons come to Earth with the goal of getting three Mother Boxes. The Mother Box is another major part of Kirby’s Fourth World universe. Without them, the Forever People and the New Gods couldn’t reach Earth.
The devices are “living computers” used by the New Gods mainly for their ability to create Boom Tubes, a portal that takes them to different dimensions.
A Mother Box can also use the power of “The Source.” The best way to describe what the Source is is by comparing it to The Force of Star Wars, which was released six years after the New Gods started. In the Fourth World, it’s the mysterious energy that created life in the universe. It’s believed that the Source created the “Godwave,” which gives the New Gods their powers.
We won’t know how much of this Kirby mythology will be used in Justice League until we see the movie on November 17. Even if this doesn’t all get in one movie, it’s clear that ideas Kirby created over 40 years ago have yielded a gold mine for the filmmakers.