Wonder Woman, Batman, Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman are all coming together in Justice League. And while most of the promotion for the movie has focused on the new superheroes and the expansion of the DCEU (DC Extended Universe), very little has been teased about the Justice League villain, Steppenwolf. Briefly shown in a few of the main trailers and clips, Steppenwolf is being kept under wraps. So seriously, just who is this mysterious Justice League villain?
Unlike the multiple villains in Batman v Superman (Lex Luthor, Senator Finch, Doomsday), there is only one main villain in Justice League: Steppenwolf. As one of the New Gods in the DC Universe, he poses a major threat when he arrives on Earth in Justice League. (He has to be, if it warrants Bruce Wayne rallying up a rough team of superheroes.) A literal god, he's not easy to defeat, even by Wonder Woman. As teased in the trailers, Steppenwolf towers over Diana, and wields a giant sword and axe. If his intimidating stature and impressive weapons tell us anything, it's that he's not going to be easy to take down. The villain, however, is more than just a physical threat to the newly formed Justice League, he's also crucial to the continuation of the DCEU mythology kickstarted in Batman v Superman, specifically concerning Darkseid.
In the comics, Steppenwolf lives in the Fourth World, a realm separate from the Earth Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg call home. His home planet Apokolips is led by Darkseid, his nephew, who is, according to Nerdist, obsessed with conquering other worlds. Suffice it to say that whatever Steppenwolf is doing on Earth in Justice League, it's not good for our superheroes. In fact, fans might have already seen what a Steppenwolf-ruled Earth would look like.
Remember the Batman v Superman nightmare sequence, aka Bruce's vision of a apocalypse-like reality, in which Superman has turned evil? Well, with the introduction of Steppenwolf to the DCEU, the sequence takes on a whole new meaning. And the nightmare was peppered with references to known DC villain Darkseid, and, thanks to a message form the Flash (either from the future or an alternate universe/Earth,) is clearly a warning of a future Batman has to prevent. Though Darkseid himself is not shown in BvS, the sequence is full of the Parademons of Apokolips, winged soldiers who work for in the comics. These are the same parademons that appear to be surrounding Steppenwolf in Justice Lague trailers. Not only do the parademons connect Bruce's vision to the events of Justice League, they also connect Steppenwolf to Darkseid, which could be a major hint as to a future DCEU villain. (It's also worth noting that Steppenwolf appears in a BvS deleted scene connecting him to Lex Luthor.)
Based on what we know about Steppenwolf, namely that he serves Darkseid, his solo presence in Justice League raises a few questions. After all, would Darkseid really send Steppenwolf to conquer Earth for him? (Would the powers that be at DC really make the main Justice League villain a middle man?) Assuming Darkseid does not show up in Justice League, then it could stand to reason that Steppenwolf's arrival on Earth isn't all about colonization. According to Inverse, Steppenwolf is on Earth to recover three Mother Boxes, described by the site as "sentient supercomputers." The Mother Boxes are hidden across the globe, with one in Themyscira, one in Atlantis, and, finally, one being used by Cyborg. This would explain shots in the trailer that appear to show Themyscira being invaded by parademons, as seen below, and why this super team up is necessary in the first place.
Steppenwolf is certainly a formidable villain for the Justice League, but it's still entirely possible that he's just the appetizer before the main course. Could Justice League be teasing us with Steppenwolf only to surprise fans with Darkseid? Or will Darkseid only come into the DCEU later — for Justice League 2 perhaps? Only time will tell.