One of the most common tropes in cinematic, or in fact literary, villainy is the all too familiar quest for the magic MacGuffin, an all-powerful weapon or device that the plot is centred around. It’s not cynicism that drives this sentiment, merely clarity. I mean most of the plot of The Lord of the Rings trilogy hangs on the Dark Lord Sauron’s pursuit of the One Ring. Voldermort’s dream of wizard supremacy and becoming immortal hangs on him gathering the items of the Deathly Hallow, namely the Elder Wand. Then Disney’s Marvel came along and brought us the MacGuffin to end all MacGuffins: The Infinity Gauntlet. It’s not like we haven’t seen world-ending weapons of mass destruction before, so what gives?
Well, simply put, it’s the magnitude of the whole quest and the urgency of the antagonist that defines the gravity, the and significance of the MacGuffin. I guarantee you that if we were only just introduced to the idea of the Infinity Stones and Thanos at the very beginning of Infinity War, it wouldn’t have the same impact as years of teases. Furthermore, the Gauntlet itself isn’t just a weapon. It is omnipotence in hand, the ability to fundamentally change the very nature of the universe and more importantly the tangible effects we see from it.
So in terms of grand quests of villainy, Thanos is the greatest one in comic book film history to have inhabit this trope…for now. His hold on the title may be in jeopardy for you see Warner Bros’ gambit on making a New Gods film will be giving us our first proper cinematic introduction to DC’s most deadly villain, the Lord of Apokolips and the God of Evil, Darkseid. His name is unspeakable and his plans abominable.
A True God And Monster
Now, the last thing I want to do is make this a glorified pissing contest between the “baddest baddies” between the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). If you’re looking for a more in-depth view into the world of the New Gods and the DC’s project involving them, we’ve done a whole piece on that. Here, however, we’ll be focusing on one particular character: Darkseid. A lot of changes have been made over the years but the main gist of it is that Darkseid was the son of a powerful Old God by the name of Yuga Khan, the original God of Evil.
He eventually usurped the Old Gods during a cataclysmic war that took place outside the DC Multiverse and was reborn as the New God Ruler of Apokolips. There are some definite similarities between Darkseid and Thanos. Both of them rose to power after the fall of their previous civilization, accrued vast legions of followers and warriors and held a cabal of deadly lieutenants. Thanos’ being his Black Order and Darkseid’s being the Female Furies and commanders. Where they begin to differ is in the scale of their operation.
While Thanos may command the authority of armies, he isn’t actually a ruler of a sovereign nation or world, just a very big death cult. Darkseid, on the other hand, rules over a trans-multiversal world with the ability to invade any universe or planet he wishes using portals known as Boom Tubes. With every world he conquers, his forces enslave the populace. Turning them into chattel slaves or mutating them into murderous monsters who only serve his will, Parademons.
Say what you want about Thanos and him killing half of a universe’s population but at least he did not rob them of their free will and dignity. And after Thanos had achieved omnipotence, he gave it all up after his mission was complete, partly due to his inability to control the Gauntlet but also because of his beliefs. Darkseid bears no hesitation of his godhood, however.
He believes the Multiverse exists to serve no greater purpose than to be brought to heel under his power. All life is meaningless to him and he believes himself the answer to existence. Yeah…and you thought Thanos had a god-complex. Now without the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos really isn’t anything more than a skilled warrior or brilliant commander. Darkseid though wields power beyond mortal comprehension. The tyrant wields the Omega Sanction.
It grants him the ability to launch Omega Beams that never miss their target and never fail to incinerate a foe. He can also resurrect the dead as loyal servants and can trap one’s mind in a never-ending reality of pain and suffering. He can control your bloody afterlife! Oh and that rocky form you see him in? That’s just a projection of his true cosmic form that pervades over the entire Multiverse. Look, we could spend all day just listing down the many reasons why Darkseid is a bigger dick than Thanos but behind every great, or terrible, man is the dream that drives him. Darkseid’s is a nightmare of unparalleled horror.
Earlier we mentioned the concept of MacGuffins and the Infinity Gauntlet’s significance as a defining prop of a generation. The design is iconic and the lore behind it is fascinating. The main appeal of it is the treasure hunt that preceded its formation and the pay-off being the grand spectacle of seeing it in use. I mean a glove that controls reality, what’s crazier than that? Well…I’ll do you one better. A cosmic mathematical equation that grants its wielder the power to control and reshape all life that has ever been and ever will be (safe for the God of DC, The Presence who is also the Source).
I’m talking about the Anti-Life Equation, hatched and conceived from the mind of comic book legend Jack Kirby. The Anti-Life Equation is a thought, power and weapon that mathematically proves that all life is meaningless. Some of you are probably thinking “Math?! That’s Darkseid’s main play?”. It’s more than just a mere equation, it is a metaphysical power great enough to corrupt the very concept life emanating from the Source itself!
Hope is despair, love is a lie, truth is misery, strength is power, free will is an illusion and that Darkseid is all. In the past, we’ve seen Darkseid’s quest for the Anti-Life Equation in animated shows like Justice League Unlimited but we’ve yet to see it brought to life on the big screen. If done right, the results could be nothing short of mind-blowing. Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet is an impressive piece of cosmic hardware but its power is severely limited by its wielder’s mortal vulnerability in the MCU. Hell using it too many times (or even once) could kill you, which is a major downside in my opinion!
The Anti-Life Equation however in the hands of Darkseid will be of little issue, for Darkseid is no Mad Titan and his cruelty lacks no imagination. With the Anti-Life Equation, he could enslave the Justice League and turn them into his own personal bodyguard. He could rewrite entire histories, rewrite the laws of reality and bend the Mutliverse to his dark will. Imagine seeing the most virtuous of heroes like Wonder Woman, Superman and Shazam turned into bloodthirsty murderers. That nearly happened with Supes in Snyder’s original cut of the Justice League.
The only true opposition would perhaps be the New Gods due to their connection to the true living source of life and hope, the Source. But for the average hero, all hope is lost! Whole universes will be enslaved and the very concept of truth and justice will be twisted, serving only Darkseid. The Infinity Gauntlet’s powers are limited to a single, native universe as we’ve discussed in the past. The Anti-Life Equation is all-encompassing. Every living thing in every world shall be Darkseid’s; mind, body and soul.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) July 30, 2019
Since it’s pretty much confirmed at this point that we’ll be seeing Darkseid in Ava DuVernay’s New Gods, we’re certainly hoping to see or hear some mention of the Anti-Life Equation as well. Big things are coming for the DCEU and I for one cannot wait. Thanos is the past but Darkseid is!