While last year’s blockbuster release ‘Justice League’ may have left the audience divided while taking home a dismal sum of money for the scale of production that it was, one thing is for sure. In Snyder’s hands, one could easily expect a series of well-placed Easter Eggs hinting at the presence of a larger DC universe, and a mythology of sorts for the characters involved. These subtle hints make the comic book world that the makers try to establish on-screen more expansive and involving.
Admittedly so, these Easter eggs and references are few and far apart in Justice League, compared to its direct prequel ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (2016) whose Easter egg spotting would require another good 15-minute article. While this may be the result of WB trying to downsize on the film and keep it as streamlined and audience friendly as possible, that wouldn’t stop us fans from initiating a discussion now, would it? So, without further ado, here is the list of Easter eggs, references and nods that appeared in the Justice League film.
1. Janus Cosmetics
Following a rather inspiring speech and an uninspiring moustache on Henry Cavill in the opening moments of the film, ‘Justice League’ quickly cuts to Batman chasing parademons in Gotham city. In the confrontation that ensues, Batman, while ensuing the parademon whizzes past some incredibly constructed Gotham cityscape shots. One of them in particular is bound to catch the attention of fans: a backlit signage spelling “Janus”. Venturing more than a guess, the signboard is of a commonplace multimillion corporation in the Gothamverse, Janus cosmetics owned by Roman Sionis, or as the rogues of the Batman gallery know him, the maniacal Black Mask. Impressive world building, plus, if they end up adapting the storyboard of Arkham Origins where Black Mask had a major role to play, as a sort of year one story for the Batman solo film, that’d be severely cool to watch, and the easter egg would turn out to be more than just a nod. A wish seeking fulfilment fantasy nonetheless, but they’d have my buck if it ever happened.
2. From the whale’s mouth?
Remember the rather gorgeous shot of Clark from ‘Man of Steel’ (2013), floating underwater for a while after rescuing people from a collapsing oil rig, while a whale passes by? A shot following the sequence close to five minutes later shows him on the ground, scrounging for clothes while Cornell’s ‘Seasons’ plays on. Well, even though he is Superman, even he needed a little bit of help here. The one who rescued him was none other than Arthur Curry, protector of the oceans, or Aquaman. While no cinematic proof exists of that, actor Jason Momoa recently confirmed that it was Snyder’s and his little secret. For Snyder, he had found his Aquaman the moment he saw and considered Momoa. Despite that, it does make sense to let him in on this since his first film appearance was still close to three years away.
3. Exploding wind up penguins!
My favourite Batman Easter Egg in ‘Justice League’ comes loaded with a bit of nostalgia and old world charm. Batman struggling to find a place among the gods and metahumans inhabiting the Earth is always a potential story in its own, but when that comes with Alfred reminiscing over a time too far gone, in Jeremy Iron’s signature witty tone, it is bound to bring a smile to your face. Amidst recruiting the league, Bruce indulges in a conversation with Alfred missing the older, simpler days when Irons’ Alfred remarks, “One misses the days when one’s biggest concerns were exploding wind up Penguins!” Undoubtedly a nod to Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin. Another plus about this nod is that it establishes firmly how long Batman has been in the crime fighting business in this reincarnation of the dark knight.
4. Gorilla Sign Language
Among the best scenes of the film of the league members bonding with each other, I think the Barry Allen meets Bruce Wayne scene takes the cake. While Bruce Wayne (played by Affleck) displays a loosened stance past the events of BvS, Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen has an affable charm about him and the oddball child-like aura does work for the character in places.
While on a recruitment drive for the league, Bruce breaks into Barry’s lair of sorts and upon Barry’s arrival and a funny exchange of dialogues, enquires what his abilities are, to which Barry replies: “My special skills include viola, web design, fluent in sign-language, gorilla sign-language..” Unmistakably, this is a reference to the Flash’s arch nemesis, Gorilla Grodd, the telepathic sentient gorilla. While his existence in the current DCEU excites the fan in me, I was also left rather impressed by this inconspicuous piece of dialogue slipped in conversation that just adds a little edge to the universe building exercise.
5. Ace Chemicals
Another funny Barry Allen sequence from the final trailer of Justice League had him pointing to the sky, exclaiming about the bat signal, also indicating that they’d have to go, while Bruce and Diana exchanged amused glances. There’s another easter egg-in-a-signboard here, and this time it’s ACE Chemicals, most infamous for being the birth place of the Joker following a fall in one of the chemical vats, with his appearance comprising the green hair, bleached skin and red lips in several ‘Red Hood’ storylines attributed to the same. ACE Chemicals was also showcased in 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad’, where Harley Quinn willingly jumps into the vat of chemicals as a test of initiation, followed later by the Joker. While world building is essential, at this point, a part of me also screams this: Enough teases WB. Let’s materialise!
6. “For Darkseid!”: Kirby’s Fourth World
A significant tease that may be hinting at DC’s larger future in movies and the big baddy of all in the DCVerse, Darkseid, arrives as the film approaches the half point mark. Steppenwolf forms his lair inside a power plant, swarming with parademons, and instructs his minions to fetch the third and last mother box so that he can fuse the three and form the unity, his primary motive on Earth. While doing so, he exclaims, “For Darkseid!”, making it very clear that Darkseid is the one pulling the strings on this, as was also apparent from Bruce’s ‘Knightmare’ in BvS, with the omega symbol scorched on the ground. In doing so, Steppenwolf also teases Jack Kirby’s Fourth World arrangement in the comics, wherein he hopes to join the order of the new gods.
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7. Green Lantern Cameo
Among the most interesting parts of the film was definitely the historic battle between the united clans of Men, Atlanteans and Amazonians. The scene clearly has the Snyder touch, with an epic battle underway, and filled with CGI to the brim. The battle, Steppenwolf’s purpose of invasion, and his eventual defeat at the hands of the alliance is narrated by Diana in voiceover to Bruce, mounted over an impressive sequence of epic-in-scale shots. However, in what was an extreme moment of child-like joy for the fans, Diana mentions that the alliance also had help from a legion of old gods and “allies from other worlds”, upon which a green lantern flies across the sky beating down hordes of parademons with his ring.
Now, while this one moment was, for the lack of a better word, quite awesome, also given the debacle of the last green lantern movie, it remains unclear as to who the green lantern is. What it does indicate, is that the Green Lantern Corps exist in the DCEU, and an eponymously titled film earlier in the pipeline, may very much be in the works. The sequence terminates with Steppenwolf overpowering and killing what seems like Yalan Gur, while the ring travels onwards to find its successor. Bravo to an anonymous cameo of sorts, that effortlessly and harmlessly adds to the DC lore.
8. Old Gods
In continuation to the previous pointer, adding to an already impressive montage of epic looking battle shots, we have a legion of old gods joining in on the battle and tipping the scales in Earth’s favor. The ones I could spot include the lightning wielding Greek God Zeus, the axe wielding Ares, and the bow and arrow wielding Artemis, the former two being given a brief introduction in 2017’s ‘Wonder Woman’. Perhaps what attracts me more to the DC lore is how expansive it is, dating back ages and ages, even including mythical gods in their world building arcs. To be fairly honest, I wouldn’t have minded a longer, more epic sequence without the voiceover narration by Diana.
9. Superman and Batman theme
While Justice League’s release itself was accompanied by a generous serving of nostalgia for fans, also given the film’s fateful release date coinciding with the anniversary of the much loved animated Justice League series debut, another nostalgic surprise lay hidden in the soundtrack of the film. Following Joss Whedon taking up directing responsibilities after Snyder stepped down, one factor which I think hurt the film on more facets than one was firing existing music composer Junkie XL (who had worked alongside Zimmer on the excellent BvS score) and bringing in Danny Elfman to write and compose.
I know I am not alone when I believe that Elfman’s score felt completely uninspired and generic, one completely opposite in character to all previous DC offerings. Despite this, Elfman ended up doing a bit of fan service for the ever eager fans, by using snippets and hints of his original score from Burton’s ‘Batman’, most noticeably playing upon Batman’s first meeting with Commissioner Gordon. The second iconic theme he reused was Superman’s theme composed by John Wiliams, most noticeable in the second half when a reincarnated Kal-El spans the sky.
10. The Fall of the Shell Casing
Well, this one’s more of a recurring motif than an actual easter egg, but an important observation nonetheless. Snyder took on the painstaking task of establishing a DC Universe for the big screen, and in that, developing story arcs of two of the most iconic American superheroes to co-exist, Batman and Superman.
While Superman’s story comes full circle with this film, with the character literally rising, falling, and resurrecting over a course of three films, it’s Batman’s story arc that is the more exciting of the two. Batman transforms from a cynical man hardened by years of crime fighting to someone who then realises that men are still good, to later finally realising his place in the current scenario of crime fighting among metahumans and gods. These three transformations, or “stages” to put it simply, are each represented in BvS and ‘Justice League’ by signature Snyder slo-mo shots of empty shell casings after being fired from. The first, upon the death of Martha Wayne. The second, when the military pays homage to a fallen Superman; and the third, when the league assembles to fight Steppenwolf and the parademons, and Batman fires a cannon from the Batmobile to disassemble a tower.
11. The Hall of Justice
While the film itself may have left me with mixed feelings as it approached its end, one thing did leave me looking up with a smile, and hopeful. Having conquered the battle with Steppenwolf, the final shots of the film show individual members of the league returning to their separate roles as saviors of their domains.
Interestingly enough, Bruce Wayne, now confident of the newly formed Justice League, enters a large hall in the abandoned and dilapidated Wayne Manor shown in several shots in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and discusses with Alfred about placing a “big round table, six chairs”, to which Diana adds, “and room for more”. Bruce concurs. More likely than not, this is an obvious reference to the JL Headquarters in several incarnations, the Hall of Justice. What also excites me is the possibility of other members joining in soon, given all goes well for the DCEU. Take this: imagine the current league assembling with Hal Jordan, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and Hawkgirl in the mix, just like the old days. Tell me you aren’t screaming with excitement in your head.
12. Injustice League?
For those of who were patient enough to stay put till the end credits rolled, or impatient enough to scourge the internet after, DC rewarded you with a completely badass cameo of one of its best villains, Deathstroke, played to surprising resemblance by Joe Manganiello. In the much talked about post credits scene, Deathstroke meets up with an escaped Lex Luthor aboard his private yacht, wherein Lex informs him that the heroes were forming some sort of “league”, and in turn proposes that the villains should form a league of their own. As exciting as it may sound once you peel your eyes off the Deathstroke reveal, it could be possibly pointing to any one of them: The Injustice League, the Legion of Doom, or a ripe plot for the next big DC superhero team up. Who knows at this point?
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