It was firmly teased in March’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and has now been confirmed by director Zack Snyder: the fingerprints of comic book creator Jack Kirby will be all over next year’s Justice League movie. But what kind of — as Snyder put it — “fun, DC-weird tech” can audiences expect when Batman and Wonder Woman return to the big screen?
While BvS featured mysterious winged creatures and unknown boxes with unusual properties, both of which seemed familiar to longtime comic book fans — as well as a deleted scene that teased an even-stronger connection — it wasn’t until last week’s Justice League set visit that director Zack Snyder confirmed the influence that Kirby’s Fourth World creations will have on the movie.
“Kirby’s crazy in a great way, and there’s a lot of influence, you know, the New Gods stuff, we were digging on that — and that’s the Mother Boxes and that sort of Apokoliptian world and all that,” he said, as quoted by Comic Book Resources. “The kinda scope-y sci-fi cool, what I think is fun stuff. I think inherently when you start to talk about a bad guy that would justify the Justice League, you have to have a good threat that’s fun and kinda crazy. And the Mother Boxes are always fun, DC-weird tech, you know?”
Which of Kirby’s creations have we already seen in Batman v. Superman? The answer is “more than you might think…”
A Mother Box has already appeared in BvS; it’s the shape-shifting cube that does… something to Victor Stone in one of the metahuman surveillance videos found on Lex Luthor’s private server. In Kirby’s original comic book mythology, they are living super-computers powered by something called “Element X” that have almost supernatural powers, including the ability to communicate almost telepathically with their users and, at times, control their users’ emotional states. (They can also ensure their users can survive in space, act as early-warning detectors of danger and re-arrange matter into other forms when necessary.)
It’s unclear how much of this will be used in movie mythology, however; one set visit claimed that the movie’s Mother Boxes will be objects of unspeakable power created by mythical beings before they disappeared and delivered to Earth for safe-keeping. First Appearance: 1971’s Forever People No. 1.
Again, movie audiences have met the Parademons: they were the winged monsters in Batman’s nightmare sequence. In Kirby’s original conception, the Parademons were armored soldiers with little will of their own beyond obedience to their cause — namely, serving Darkseid, the ruler of Apokolips. In DC’s New 52 remagining, they became re-animated or “processed” corpses of Apokolips’ enemies, outfitted in armor that not only resurrects them but makes them loyal to Darkseid. Think Stormtroopers from Star Wars, except they can fly and are even more dangerous to their enemies. First Appearance: 1971’s New Gods No. 1.
Again revealed on the Justice League press junket: the horned figure seen in the “Communion” deleted scene from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice released on YouTube after the movie made it to theaters is, indeed, Steppenwolf, uncle of Darkseid, ruler of the planet Apokolips.
In Kirby’s original storyline, Steppenwolf killed the wife of the ruler of New Genesis, igniting a war between that planet — populated by super beings called the New Gods — and Apokolips, only to be quickly killed himself. He was later resurrected by another writer and became a general in his nephew’s army. Sadistic, egotistical and a skilled strategist, he has been suggested as the primary villain in the first Justice League movie. First Appearance: 1972’s New Gods No. 7.
One important piece of Kirby’s DC technology that was teased in BvS is the “boom tube,” an artificial wormhole created using the Mother Box technology that allows characters to move between locations quickly and easily (Doing so, however, creates a sonic boom, hence the name of the “tube” in question).
It’s possible — but still unconfirmed — that it was a Boom Tube that enabled the Flash’s appearance at the end of Batman’s nightmare sequence… assuming that wasn’t just part of the nightmare, of course. In current DC comic book mythology, Cyborg’s robotic form was created with the assistance of Mother Box technology, allowing him to open Boom Tubes at will. First Appearance: 1971’s Forever People No. 1.