The newest film in the DC Extended Universe, Justice League, hit theaters this weekend, reuniting Batman and Wonder Woman. Along with Cyborg and The Flash, the pair battles the monstrous Steppenwolf. After seeing the film, you might be wondering how the movie version of the villain compares to the Steppenwolf in the comics. Voiced by Ciarán Hinds, the Steppenwolf in Justice League does have a number of similarities to his comic book counterpart, though as some have noticed, he's also somewhat confusingly similar to the most recent villain in the DCEU — Ares from this summer's box-office hit Wonder Woman. Justice League spoilers ahead.
According to Collider, the DCEU's Steppenwolf was actually first introduced in a deleted scene from Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice that was released online in 2016. In the clip, Lex Luthor (played by Jesse Eisenberg) communicates with Steppenwolf through some sort of hologram communication device while aboard a Kryptonian ship. When authorities raided the ship to capture Luthor, the screen that had shown Steppenwolf went blank, leaving fans to assume that Steppenwolf would be back in a future DCEU film.
In Justice League, fans learn that Steppenwolf had actually first came to Earth thousands of years ago in an attempt to secure what he considered his rightful place as ruler of the planet. As Collider notes, Steppenwolf used three things known as Mother Boxes, which when combined form a powerful weapon that is able to transform Earth into a wasteland uninhabitable by humans, to begin laying waste to the planet. However, he is forced to retreat when the Amazonians, Atlanteans, and humans unite in resistance. Oh, and the Green Lantern also makes a quick appearance in this scene in the movie. The Amazonians and Atlanteans each take a Mother Box to protect, and the humans hide the third box in the hope that it will never be found.
As the events of Justice League unfold, viewers see what happens when Steppenwolf successfully re-locates all of the Mother Boxes when he returns to Earth after hearing word of Superman's passing. Remember, Superman died and had a funeral in the end of Batman vs. Superman.
Fans have pointed out that Steppenwolf looks noticeably similar to Ares, but his backstory, and the way it's presented in Justice League is also oddly similar to the flashback in Wonder Woman where Diana's mother tells her the tale of how the humans and Amazonians teamed up to defeat the God of War. It's a little confusing, yes, but how does Steppenwolf's history in Justice League compare to the comics?
Well, although the movie does make reference to a number of characters and items from the comics, the story doesn't appear to come directly from any DC comic. As Movie Pilot explains, Mother Boxes aren't rare and powerful items in the comics like they're portrayed in Justice League. They're apparently quite common and can be held with a single hand. According to Movie Pilot, what the movie refers to as Mother Boxes actually seem more like what are known as Father Boxes in DC comics.
However, besides his backstory, the Steppenwolf we see in Justice League does bear a number of similarities to the comic book character. For example, they both wield a powerful axe that is capable of melting everything it comes in contact with.
According to ScreenRant, the Steppenwolf of the DCEU movies is fairly true to the character's comic book roots. In the New 52 comic series, there's even a story arc that involves Steppenwolf invading Earth-2 (one of the divergent realities that branched from the core New Earth after the Infinite Crisis in the comics) with a battalion of flying monsters. That concept is very clearly represented in Justice League with Steppenwolf commanding an army of flying zombie-like creatures that are motivated by fear.
Despite his backstory not being straight from the comics, it does seem like the Steppenwolf in Justice League is a portrayal that fans of the comics will certainly recognize.