Top 5 DC villains bigger than Darkseid that future 'Justice League' films can build up to
While Darkseid is a classic Justice League-level threat, he is not the biggest villain that the League could face
Earlier today Zack Snyder released a full-color image of Darkseid (Ray Porter) on his Twitter page, with the words, "He's coming... to HBO Max." This has reignited the debate as to whether or not Darkseid should be appearing in the first film at all - some fans believe that he should be built up to, like Thanos (Josh Brolin) was in the Avengers films. However, Darkseid isn't the only villain in the DC Comics universe -- and the 'Justice League' films can build up to so much more.
First, however, it's worth noting that just because Darkseid is making an appearance in the first 'Justice League' movie via the Snyder Cut, it doesn't mean that the films still can't build up to a big confrontation with him. Thanos himself appeared in the very first Avengers movie, portrayed by Damion Poitier, in a short after-credits scene, and no matter how many additional scenes the Snyder Cut adds, Darkseid is likely to have a limited appearance himself in the extended cut. If, however, the DCEU decides to avoid 'Avengers' comparisons and build up to an even bigger villain, there are a wealth of options available.
The Injustice League
The Injustice League was teased at the end of 'Justice League' in a meeting between Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello). The only thing that is more intimidating than one villain is an entire team of them. The bringing together of an Injustice League would actually require proper build-up, unlike Darkseid, whose motivations and plans are simple: He has an army and he wants to conquer all. Building up to an Injustice League would actually accomplish something that the MCU has failed to do -- a cinematic crossover with the films' greatest villains, instead of just the heroes.
The Crime Syndicate
The Crime Syndicate is another evil team of note. The upcoming 'The Flash' movie would be the perfect place to introduce the Multiverse, which in turn could build up to the most dangerous villains of all: an evil, twisted version of the Justice League. We haven't seen the classic Dark Mirror trope since 'Spider-Man 3,' and there may be no bigger challenge to the League than their very own selves, turned bad. Plus, it's a rare chance for DC to show that no matter how grimdark its heroes get -- there are always worse.
Of course, the most ambitious DC could possibly get would be to do the Crisis on Infinite Earths. One of comics' biggest events in history, and now one of the most ambitious television crossovers ever produced over on the CW, getting to see a film version would be the classic story's ultimate culmination. Pitting the League against a cosmic foe dedicated to wiping out all life on every plane of existence is the kind of threat that makes even Darkseid seem like small potatoes.
If the Crisis on Infinite Earths wasn't enough, the DCEU could go even one step further. It was recently revealed in the comics that the Anti-Monitor was born to an even greater cosmic villain -- Perpetua. The creator of the Multiverse, Perpetua seeks to create a universe that worships doom, a world where the strongest claw their way to the top. Bringing in Perpetua could see the League not only fight to save the Multiverse, but also battle the Dark Multiverse, the Injustice League, and the Anti-Monitor, all combined.
There is a danger, however, in expanding the scope of the movies too much. Going too cosmic may lose the DCEU's connection to its audience. The League's greatest challenge may just come from the one person they never expected -- Batman himself. Given that the 'Justice League' movie began with Batman going head to head with Superman, we've already seen a Batman who is willing to battle god-level opponents to keep the Earth safe. It's an older Batman with much less to lose.
There are two storylines that the films could follow or even a combination of the two. The 'Tower of Babel' sees Batman's contingency plans to take down the League stolen from him and used against the JLA, while 'Infinite Crisis' saw Batman's plans to weaponize citizens against metahuman threats hijacked by his own AI, Brother Eye, and used to create an army even the League would be hard-pressed to defeat. The journey that would bring Batman to that point, however, is one worth exploring over the course of several films and is a worthy end to a crossover arc.
Darkseid may not be the DCEU's third act villain despite the way he's been set up. The Snyder Cut may be introducing Darkseid, but fans should pay close attention to the film: it may be setting up something bigger. The Snyder Cut of 'Justice League' releases on HBO Max in January 2021.