We now live in a post-Endgame era and in spite of the fact that I think the film is the cinematic equivalent of four Big-Macs stacked on top of one another, it will forever define the 2010’s. It is the actualization of the dreams of comic book fans for over a decade, to see the characters and stories they cherish so much on paper come to life on screen. The bar is set, the genre is at the height of its renaissance and cookie-cutter old school superhero films won’t cut it anymore like 2003’s Daredevil or Elektra.
No, that’s dead and gone for we’ve seen the biggest and grandest of that. So now filmmakers, studios and writers will have to either subvert that trope or build it up to be a franchise. Ironically enough, there’s just no room for small potatoes. Which is why I find what Marvel and DC are doing now so utterly fascinating. They’re moving away from telling safe and relatable stories of everyday folks becoming extraordinary into exploring esoteric but nonetheless epic stories of gods and immortals.
Forget the kid from New York getting bit with a special bug or playboy millionaires donning armour. Marvel is going to make a film about a society of enhanced immortals who dwell above the realms of man. What?! That’s insane. If they had attempted to do this in another time before the genre was established, they’d have a freaking Jupiter Ascending on their hands. Now though, it seems oddly enough the right time to start exploring into this untapped well of comic book lore. Recently we’ve touched on the scope and ambition of Marvel’s Eternals and how excited we all are about it. Not as excited though as when we heard that DC will be doing a bloody New Gods film! I’m not a DC fanboy, really a lot of the films in the past have left sour notes in my mouth. New Gods just might be the DC Extended Universe’s (DCEU) greatest undertaking yet and here’s why!
The War In Heaven
Right so before we dive into the history of the New Gods and DC’s 4th World, it should be prefaced that we’ll be using the generally accepted idea of the DC Multiverse established by Grant Morrison. We won’t be going too much into the nitty-gritty of storylines like The Great Darkness Saga, Final Crisis or Darkseid War. We certainly have no interest in debating which of those aforementioned stories take place or contradict which timeline. Cool? Cool. The key to understanding the New Gods and in fact the whole of the DC Universe and Multiverse is the Source, a multiversal spirit that is responsible for all life. And I mean all life.
Out of the Source came the old gods, who may or may not have been deities from Earth like the Greek or Hindu Pantheon. Anyway, they all lived on a world outside of the DC Multiverse known as the 4th Dimension within a space known as the Sphere of the Gods. In the wake of a cataclysmic war, that world was split in twain. Thus forming two new worlds and creating the New Gods. One of the worlds formed from the destruction of the old one was New Genesis, a veritable Garden of Eden populated by a group of benevolent New Gods led by the wise and protective Highfather. The other is Apokolips, a burning hellscape ruled with an iron first by the tyrant Darkseid and his many minions.
The two worlds warred for aeons over the fate of the multiverse. One to protect it and the other to remake it in his abominable image. That is until a truce was met between Darkseid and Highfather. Both of them agreed to exchange their sons as a sort of mutual hostage situation. The son coming from Darkseid being Orion and Highfather’s child, Scott Free aka Mr Miracle. It is a truce that Darkseid wholly intends on breaking by launching proxy wars in multiple universes to get ever closer to New Genesis.
There is a prophecy however that Orion would one day be the one to defeat Darkseid once and for all. This divine cold war will undoubtedly heat up and when it does, it may spell the death, and perhaps rebirth, of everything in the DC Multiverse. Holy donkey balls, does that sound like one heck of an epic! At the risk of sounding like a DC fanboy, the Eternals ain’t got shit on the New Gods in terms of scale. I mean the possibilities and implications for the introduction of the New Gods are endless!
Safe for appearances in the old school cartoons like Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League and Young Justice, the New Gods haven’t exactly been the most popular of DC’s properties. That could all change if Warner Bros. plays their cards right and begin to introduce these beings into the DCEU bit by bit before the film hits. We’ve already gotten a glimpse at the forces of Apokolips with Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons in that awful 2017 Justice League film. Rushing a team-up film when you’ve barely established your characters was a boneheaded move on their part but New Gods could rectify all that given the proper momentum.
They could open the film with a war between New Genesis and Apokolips before revealing how both sides have been involved in the events of the DCEU thus far. From there, they could begin to establish not only the Apokoliptian connections with the heroes of the DCEU but also how the Genessians will play a part in helping, or using them as well. They could pay a visit to Earth and begin forming alliances with the superheroes. Why stop at one universe though?
In 2012, DC Comics had an amazing story arc Earth-2 that saw an alternate universe in which Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman died protecting the Earth from Darkseid’s invading forces. They were not as lucky as the main Earth-Prime Justice League who successfully repelled the Apokoliptian armies before beating Darkseid to a pulp. In Earth-2, a new team of heroes had to rise up to take their place with a black Superman named Val Zod, nature powered Green Lantern and Hawkgirl leading the charge in their absence. At some point, the forces of New Genesis intervened in the war for Earth-2 but ultimately failed with the entire world being destroyed by Apokolips.
The heroes and survivors were left adrift in space looking for a new home. 2017’s Justice League showed us the best case scenario (which wasn’t so great in terms of cinematic quality) in which the heroes of presumably the main universe defeated Steppenwolf and Darkseid’s army. The CW has already introduced the idea of alternate Earths and heroes. It’s time for the DCEU to actually catch up and really expand their franchise into new worlds and new heroes. This could be a golden opportunity to set the DCEU on a bright new future…while also erasing some of the sins of its past.
New Creation And Canon
Some of you might be unfamiliar with this concept but in the world of DC Comics, every few years the publication introduces an event that shakes up the status quo. A “crisis” if you will. Writers will use these crises as a way to either tidy up lore, tweak characters’ backstories or if you’re Grant Morrison, introduce a whole lot of sci-fi pseudo-spiritual mumbo jumbo. Allow me to illustrate. During the event known in 1985 as Crisis on Infinite Earths, the entire Multiverse was destroyed, starting DC’s new line of comics off with a clean slate.
Then in 2005, DC decided that they wanted to start telling new interesting stories involving different worlds so they introduced another world-shattering, canon-shifting event Infinite Crisis which reintroduced the Multiverse. Then there was Final Crisis, that saw Darkseid take over the world and…all the Supermen in the Multiverse fought a vampire that feeds on stories? Forget I said anything.
Then, of course, there’s the popular Flashpoint crisis that saw the establishment of the New 52 line of comics after Barry Allen screwed up the timeline, making all our heroes dark and gritty. So this is where things get very, very interesting and very, very relevant. So during the New 52 run from 2011 to 2016, a lot of the history of popular characters like Superman and Batman were wiped clean, which upset a lot of fans. Along with that, the new versions of the Justice League seemed a lot darker and grimmer their previous counterparts. They became bleak and at times even depressing to read.
So writer and producer Geoff Johns decided to bring the hope and magic of the old comics with the comics under a new print as DC Rebirth. He essentially laid the entire blame for this dark era of DC comics on Dr Manhattan from Watchmen who messed with the timeline. Right now, he’s working on restoring a new status quo. You may also notice that DCEU films are moving away from their darker roots with Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman into a more light-hearted and hopeful ground with films like Aquaman and Shazam. There is a jarring shift in the DCEU that has remained unaccounted for, a dissonance within the franchise.
Perhaps it’s time for the DCEU to experience its very own crisis. An event that could give the DCEU a new starting point, not unlike what Days of Future Past did with Fox’s X-Men franchise. What better way to sow the seeds of this crisis than in New Gods? The film could take place outside of the main timeline and it involves cosmic beings who can manipulate matter and time. It’s perfect! It would be the comeback story of the century. A struggling comic book film franchise uses its flaws and failures to propel the industry into a brave, new direction.
In case you couldn’t tell, I am freaking pumped for DC’s New Gods film! There is a very real possibility that Warner Bros. along with director Ava DuVernay could make a raging dumpster fire that involves nonsensical characters nobody cares about. BUT if they pull it off, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) better watch its back.