As the film heads into production (it's reportedly shooting now) and the dust clears from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice's theatrical release, Zack Snyder and his cast are shifting their focus to Justice League: Part One.
The first half of a planned, two-part epic, the film stars Batman V Superman's Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot alongside Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, and Jason Momoa. Those six comprise the Justice League proper, but other cast members -- such as J.K. Simmons as Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon and Willem Dafoe in an as-yet-undefined "good guy" role -- have been added as well.
What isn't known at this stage is just what menace the Justice League might be facing -- a fact that will impact the shape of the film, obviously.
There were some pretty overt hints in Batman V Superman, but given the two-part nature of the film, it's hard to know whether the teased menace of Darkseid will be around from the get-go or whether there will be a proverbial appetizer before the main course in Justice League Part Two.
So we decided to put together a list of likely candidates who could square off against the Justice League in their first film when it hits theaters next November...!
A favorite at Warner Bros., early rumors about the Justice League films indicated that Brainiac would be the first film's villain, while Darkseid would be the second.
Brainiac was almost one of the villains (along with Doomsday) in Superman Lives, the planned-but-not-made Tim Burton film, and would have been the villain in Bryan Singer's follow-up to Superman Returns, had that film been made.
With the heavy foreshadowing of Darkseid in Batman V Superman and the (spoilers) death of Superman in that film, it feels a little less likely that we'll see somebody who's primarily a Superman villain taking on the team in his absence -- but who knows? Certainly the fact that he was the villain at the core of Convergence -- where he was a god who was manipulating all of time in all of the multiverse -- sets him up as a potential foil for the League.
There's an argument to be made (and I apologize, but I can't remember who made it, or even whether it was another writer or a reader commenting on our site) that the "he's coming, and he's hungry" tease from Lex Luthor indicates Brainiac, since Brainiac essentially comes to worlds to "feed" on their knowledge.
Mongul, the leader of a mobile planet full of potential cannon fodder minions known as Warworld, is a solid candidate.
Not only becuase he has all the requisite power to hold his own against anybody on the League, but he's got an army of disposable cannon fodder aliens, handy to both keep more powerful heroes busy and also so that nobody complains when they're killed en masse (see also: The Avengers).
That said, a despotic ruler of a world with an army of anonymous uglies is probably too close to Darkseid to really cut it.
Unless, of course, Mongul is there working with somebody else...!
In the comics, Superman's death was followed by a group of people who all appeared to either impersonate him, or at least try to alleviate the void left behind by his passing. Four different characters wore the "S" shield for a time and vied to be thought of as the "real" Man of Steel.
Ultimately, one of them turned out to be anything but heroic. Hank Henshaw -- an astronaut who was given powers by a twisted version of the Fantastic Four's origin and blamed Superman for his bad luck, vanished in Superman's rocket and then reappeared years later having used the Kryptonian technology to create himself a cyborg body using some of Superman's DNA.
Without Superman, and with all the Kryptonite used up by the events of Batman V Superman, it would be really difficult to overcome Cyborg Superman -- especially if, as in the comics, he came with Mongul in tow.
Of course, a third-act revival for the Man of Steel could turn the tide, providing a pretty dramatic story.
This one seems like the obvious choice; we've seen hints that Apokolips will invade, Fire Pits, and even Parademons, the never-ending horde of flying cannon fodder Darkseid uses in his armies.
...And, yes. We've seen the Omega symbol that generally means Darkseid is responsible for it all.
But there's more to it than just that...!
There's always Darkseid's father.
As we've noted, Justice League is a two-part story and rumors have often said that Darkseid will be the baddie of the second movie, not the first.
That could leave anybody on this list to fill the first movie...or it could just be Yuga Khan, Darkseid's father. He's just about as awful as Darkseid, and in some ways even more powerful since he had a direct connection to the Source...but Darkseid eventually kills him and turns out to be an even more evil bastard -- something that could make for a solid twist at the end of Part One.
And as has been noted before, that creepy being in the "Communion" deleted scene, seen communing with Lex Luthor, certainly looks like Yuga Khan.