Those who have seen Zack Snyder’s Justice League know that Steppenwolf is not the worst of the League’s troubles. Ostensibly the movie’s big bad, the bristly warrior from Apokolips plays second, no, third banana to the film’s true villain. That honor goes to the power-hungry cosmic despot Darkseid, a New God gifted with extraordinary strength and an appetite for destruction. When Darkseid shows up, worlds die. And that is his MO: killing worlds and taking what he wants in his quest for universal domination.
Darkseid rules the planet Apokolips with a stony fist, but he was not always as powerful as he is when he fights the Justice League. There are many interpretations of the character, too many to include in one post. However, we can start with some basics to clear up any questions you have!
Darkseid’s Not-So-Humble Beginnings
Originally named Uxas by his parents, the Old God Zonuz (later called Yuga Khan) and the New God Heggra, Darkseid set about murdering the Old Gods to claim their power for himself. Zonuz harnessed the power of Anti-Life at the height of his reign, a power that Darkseid has sought for years.
Darkseid eventually came to rule Apokolips after killing his older brother, Drax, his father, and sending the sadistic Granny Goodness to murder Heggra. Fellow New Gods Desaad and Steppenwolf often assist him in his conquests, scouring and scorching planets for whatever they deem worth taking.
Now, Darkseid is a frequent problem for the Justice League, almost always requiring the League members to rally their troops and launch all-out attacks on the genocidal New God. A being of such staggering power requires nothing less.
Thank the King, Not the Gods
Created by writer/artist Jack “The King” Kirby, Darkseid made his first cameo appearance in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 (1970) before appearing fully in Forever People #1 a year later. He is one of the DC multiverse’s most powerful beings and a terrifying adversary for the Justice League.
Kirby had many inspirations for the character. He fashioned Darkseid from the likeness of actor Jack Palance, infusing him with a personality reminiscent of Richard Nixon and Adolf Hitler.
A giant in a growing industry, Kirby was responsible for creating-or in some cases co-creating-many of the superhero genre’s most timeless, most iconic characters. Darkseid is absolutely one of them.
How Does Comic Darkseid Differ From Zack Snyder’s Darkseid?
Aside from looking sloppier and more Minecraft-ian than his comic book counterpart, Zack Snyder’s take on Darkseid does not stray super far from his origins. Sure, we don’t actually know just how much he was going to deviate from his comic version because we probably aren’t ever going to get a sequel to Snyder’s Justice League. That fact, coupled with Darkseid’s temporary status as “mastermind in the shadows,” makes it difficult to tell if Snyder was going to completely change the character’s history or if he was planning on sticking close to his origins.
Ray Porter portrays Darkseid in the Snyder Cut, and honestly, he does a bang-up job laying waste to innocent planets. He does not necessarily look the part, but he definitely feels the part. That is more of an indication that he was the right choice for the character than anything else could have been.
What Could Have Been
Zack Snyder’s interpretation of Darkseid may not have looked as intimidating or as formidable as he could have, but actor Ray Porter brought a malice and a menace to the character that ended up making him a terrifyingly effective choice for the part. Hopefully, DC saves him for another project down the line.
We may never know what this Darkseid could have been, but his role in Snyder’s Justice League gives us a great idea of where the character was headed narratively. It is a shame that Snyder likely isn’t returning for a second go at the Justice League. He set up so many exciting things, and Porter seemed to be enjoying the role immensely.
If a Justice League 2 were to happen, then it would need to dive into Darkseid’s history. Positioning him as a strangely well-meaning warlord like Marvel did with Thanos may not work, but some juicy backstory would deepen and darken his character in compelling ways.