After years of aborted starts, failed attempts, and a troubled production, Justice League is finally here. DC's premier superhero team finally has a big-screen live-action adaptation to call its own, and it's, well... I enjoyed it, despite the flaws. Some people didn't.
The film comes out today, and we're going to run through all the different easter eggs and references we could spot. There were a lot. Maybe not as many as Thor: Ragnarok, but still a lot to get through. But first, a spoiler warning for the stupid people who opened this article before seeing the film.
The film opens with some kids filming a home video for heir podcast, asking Superman lots of questions as kids do. It's very reminiscent of the opening to Spider-Man: Homecoming, which features Peter Parker's video coverage of Civil War. Are they related? Unclear. Are they similar? Absolutely.
Cavill's Weird Face
Justice League's filming went over schedule, which delayed the extensive reshoots required to complete the film. Because of that it overlapped with Mission Impossible 6, featuring Henry Cavill and a contractually obligated moustache. We were promised that Cavill's 'tache would be digitally removed, and you can kind of tell because his face looks very weird at times - particularly in that opening sequence.
Death of Superman
Months after his death at the hands of Doomsday, the world is still mourning Superman and people have given up hope. There are also multiple banners around the world honouring his memory. Black banners with a silver S logo. That's very reminiscent of Superman's black suit, which he wore after his resurrection in the comics. The suit was designed to increase the level of solar radiation Kal-El absorbed following his return from his apparent death, and increase the speed of his recovery.
Superman is also likened to noted musical weird people David Bowie and Prince, both of whom died last year. The newspaper cover questions whether they didn't actually die and went back to their home planets instead. Get it? Because they're weird they must be aliens. Har har.
Fear vs Hope
Steppenwolf and Batman both mention that Parademons feed on fear, which is noticeably the polar opposite of what Superman is supposed to represent. The crest of House El, better known as the big red S, is supposed to stand for hope - and Superman himself has been a symbol of hope throughout his 79-year history.
The first Parademon we see also emerges from a cloud of steam, which felt reminiscent of the Scarecrow's fear gas. Probably a coincidence, but hey.
Throughout the film's first act, Batman and Alfred refer to Lex Luthor's notes which supposedly contain a significant amount of information about the coming alien threat - including the three box symbol of the motherboxes.
How he had time to create all these is unclear. He must have got the information from the Kryptonian ship at some point, but when did he gain all this special knowledge?
Game of Thrones
Fun fact, the leader of the terrorists who attack the Old Bailey is none other than Michael McElhatton - better known as Game of Thrones' Roose Bolton, the father of the sadistic Ramsey.
A Fish Out of Water
It's clear throughout the entire film that Aquaman doesn't really feel like he belongs anywhere - something pulled from the comics. He is half Atlantean and half human, yet isn't really accepted by either world as a result. That probably explains why he prefers to do things alone, and why he didn't embrace either side of himself.
I Hear You Talk to Fish
One of Aquaman's most infamous powers is his ability to communicate with sea life. Batman makes a couple of (poor) jokes about this, though Aquaman never really confirms whether it's true or not.
Aquaman generally can communicate with sea life in a way, but that usually involves telepathically telling them what to do or influencing their behaviour. He can't talk to them, because fish don't have the capacity to hold a conversation.
The motherboxes have a bit of a different backstory in Justice League than they do in the comics. In the comics they are sentient computers, commonly used on the planets New Genesis and Apokalips. They bond with their owners and are capable of incredible feats like healing the injured, teleportation (via Boom Tube), telepathy, and countless other things.
In Justice League they seem to be very different, with only three in existence that we know of. Steppenwolf needed the three boxes to merge and form 'Unity'. Then he would use them to turn the planet they're on into a fiery hellscape like his home planet (Apokalips, see below). I'm not entirely sure where this concept came from, but I can't find any reference to this sort of destructive 'Unity' in DC Comics. They're still capable of incredible things, though, like turning Victor Stone into Cyborg.
Interestingly the movie Cyborg is the byproduct of the Mother Box, a process we first saw in Batman V Superman. In the comics he actually is a Motherbox, having bonded with the machine to become the machine-man he is now.
The three motherboxes were split up between the three tribes of humanity. One went to the Amazons on Themyscira, the other to the Atlanteans, and the final one to regular humans who chose to bury it and avoid the temptation of using it as a weapon.
Barry Allen's father is Henry, a doctor who was convicted of murdering Barry's mother when the future hero was just eight years old. This happened in recent comics, thanks to Geoff Johns' Flash: Rebirth. Barry always insisted Henry was innocent, primarily because he was. Nora Allen was actually killed by Eobard Thawne, better known as the time-travelling villain Reverse Flash (or sometimes Professor Zoom.)
Henry is also played by Billy Crudup, perhaps best known for playing the nudity-loving Doctor Manhattan in Zack Snyder's Watchmen.
The Criminal Justice Degree
Nora Allen's death, and Henry's wrongful conviction spurred Barry on as he grew up and led to him becoming a forensic scientist. Firstly to make sure that sort of thing didn't happen again, and secondly to try and prove his father's innocence. That's mentioned when Barry tells his father he's been working on a degree in Criminal Justice, and pays off at the end of the film when he reveals he got a job in a crime lab. A rubbish job right at the very bottom of the employment ladder but a job none-the-less.
Exploding Wind-Up Penguins
Alfred yearns for a time when the biggest threat Batman faced were 'exploding wind-up penguins', a clear reference to the bird-loving villain The Penguin.
STAR Labs & Silas Stone
Despite what you may have seen on The Flash TV show, STAR Labs is a very different entity in the comics. The most notable difference is the staff, led by Cyborg's father Silas Stone.
Silas's comics history is a little bit mixed, because that's how DC is, but it's generally true that he's the one responsible for Victor's transformation into Cyborg - though the reasons why differ somewhat. One version is deliberate experimentation, and another was to save Victor's life after one of Silas's experiments went wrong. Victor was generally a bit resentful of his transformation, but like in the film the two eventually reconcile.
STAR Labs and its personnel also appeared in Man of Steel and the Ultimate Cut of Batman v Superman.
Steppenwolf & The New Gods
Steppenwolf is an alien, obviously, and in the comics he is the uncle of Darkseid - the despot ruler of the planet Apokolips. While he shares a name with the rock band (of Born to be Wild fame), that's where the similarities end. In the comics he is a member of Darkseid's elite, despite being his elder, and is a skilled tactician.
Darkseid himself only gets briefly mentioned once, which presumably means DC is in no rush to get to him yet.
Steppenwolf mentions taking his rightful place amongst the New Gods, which implies that his failure to conquer Earth five thousand years ago brought some sort of shame on him - possibly exile. He also travels through Boom Tubes, New God technology that allows almost instantaneous travel across vast distances.
The New Gods themselves are an alien race, created by comic legend Jack Kirby, hailing from the planets of New Genesis and Apokolips. New Genesis is a peaceful paradise planet, while Apokolips is a fiery hellscape befitting of its name. The New Gods have incredible powers, including immortality, advanced strength and intellect, and supposedly have evolved to complete perfection due to their existence outside normal spacetime and close proximity to the primeval energy known as 'The Source'.
The Old Gods
Steppenwolf recognises that Wonder Woman has 'the blood of the old gods', which links back to her origin as the daughter of Zeus. He also claims that the old gods are dead, a reference to the work of Ares and his eventual death during the first world war.
It seems that the old gods have some sort of link to the new gods, though this wasn't fully explained. Zeus himself makes a cameo appearance during the alliance scene, fighting off Steppenwolf and his Parademons.
The Green Lanterns
Multiple Green Lanterns are seen fighting Steppenwolf during the flashback sequence, alongside the alliance of humans, Atlanteans, and Amazons. None of them are recognisable as Lanterns from the comics, but we do see the ring fly off to a new bearer when one of them is killed.
Lois Lane's Pulitzer
In the comics, Lois Lane has long been the recipient of the coveted Pulitzer Prize, which gives out prizes in 21 different categories honouring journalism and the arts. The same is true in the DCEU, though it's not been explained what the Pulitzer was for.
In Superman Returns she won it for writing a piece titled Why the World Doesn't Need Superman.
Barry's apartment, if you can call it that, has a bunch of screens displaying various things. Among them are screens of code and science working out things to do with running very fast. There's also at least one display showing the Rick and Morty episode Something Ricked This Way Comes.
They have changed since the trailer was released, though, and now it's clear that Barry is a very big fan of K-Pop or J-Pop (I'm not sure which it was).
Bruce mentions that Barry's suit (for ice skating) is made of the same stuff they used to make the space shuttle. That means it should have the right mix of low weight, and resistance to both heat and cold. Low weight means faster running, heat resistance means it won't burn up from friction when he runs fast, and resistance to cold is quite helpful when one of your main villains has a cold gun.
The Shuttles themselves are coated with tiles of quartz sand, and are renowned for being very poor conductors of heat. In fact you could hold the edge of a red hot tile without injury. It's capable of handling temperatures as high as 1,650 degrees Celsius and as low as -270 degrees C.
Barry is Jewish
Barry refers to himself as a 'Jewish boy' during the introductory scene with Batman, which might have some people confused. Ezra Miller's father is Jewish, and he apparently considers himself Jewish as well, but that probably isn't the reason why this line is in there. Because Barry Allen was already Jewish.
It's not something that comes up often (because why would it?), but it's been in the comics at least as far back as 1989's Christmas with the Super-Heroes.
Other Things About Barry
Barry claims to be fluent in sign language, or Gorilla sign language at the very least - a clear reference to long time Flash foe Gorilla Grodd who infrequently appears in the Arrowverse.
He also mentions having to eat a lot of food (while eating a pizza), because running so fast burns up a lot of energy. This trait originated in the 1990 Flash TV show starring John Wesley Shipp, and continued in the recent version starring Grant Gustin.
He also mentions that he named the extra dimensional energy that granted him his power 'the speed force', and that he received his powers by being struck by lightning. Or at least, that's the abridged version. In the comics Barry got his powers by being struck by lightning and being exposed to the right mix of chemicals in his lab. Dark matter was also involved in the TV show.
Batman Isn't Just Rich
Batman jokes that his superpower is that he's rich. Which isn't actually true, Zack Snyder. Batman has a lot of money to fund his activities, but he's also trained his body and mind to peak human condition. He's also got genius-level intellect, is a master tactician, a master of disguise and espionage, has the ability to speak multiple languages, resistance to telepathy and mind control, and a mastery of multiple fighting disciplines.
Forget Captain America, Batman is the real super soldier.
That woman who talks to Aquaman and doesn't seem particularly impressed with him? That's Meera, his future wife. As you might have been able to tell, she has the ability to control water. She's played by Amber Heard
Atlanna is Aquaman's mother, having conceived him after running away from Atlantis and falling in love with the surface dweller and lighthouse keeper Tom Curry. While she eventually was forced to return to Atlantis, it wasn't before she was pregnant with Arthur - the future Aquaman.
As the film mentions she was forced to abandon Arthur with his father in order to save his life - presumably those who felt threatened by the heir's first born being from the surface, or illegitimate. She eventually became Queen of Atlantis, married, and had another son called Orm. Meera's words indicate that Atlanna has died, which means Orm is likely on the throne. She also seems to be disappointed that Arthur has not claimed his birthright as the rightful ruler.
Atlanna is set to appear in the Aquaman movie (presumably in flashbacks) played by Nicole Kidman. Orm is also set to appear, played by Patrick Wilson.
Aquaman's Armour and Quindent
Did you notice Aquaman's armour is the same worn by King Atlan in the alliance flashbacks? Because it is, and he needed Meera to go and get it for him since he doesn't seem to be welcome in Atlantis. He also carries a Quindent which has unspecified powers, but it's not the famed Trident of Neptune that grants control over the oceans and can only be wielded by Atlantean royalty.
The trident will apparently appear in the solo Aquaman film - due next year.
It's Like, a Bat Cave!
Barry is like a child on Christmas morning when he first sees the Bat Cave, and seemingly comes up with the name all by himself. Did Batman and Alfred not think of that in the 20 years they've been fighting crime?
Raising a Monster Like Luthor
The debate on whether to use the motherbox to bring back Superman directly references the last movie, where Lex Luthor uses the Kryptonian birthing chamber to create Doomsday - an ancient Kryptonian abomination that combines the DNA of Zod and himself.
It's also here that Barry references Stephen King's Pet Semetary for the first time. In case you didn't know, the book (and eventual film) follows a cursed cemetery that can bring back the dead - but the reanimated people and animals come back 'wrong'. They fear his is what might happen to Superman
I guess you could call the resurrected Superman Frankentstein.
Superman is brought back in a very, very different way than he did in the comics. In the comics Superman came back in Reign of the Supermen, which revealed that Superman's body had been stolen by The Last Son of Krypton (aka The Eradicator) and put into a Regeneration Matrix inside the Fortress of Solitude. This resurrected Superman, and while he was much weaker due to the damage the machine ended up sustaining he was alive.
This story was supposed to be adapted in Superman Lives directed by Tim Burton and starring Nicholas Cage as Superman. That never got made, but there is a documentary about it called The Death of Superman Lives.
In Justice League things are a bit different, and Superman is instead revived in the Kryptonian birthing chamber with a little bit of help from the energy produced by a Motherbox. It's after this we get to Superman in action against the league, seemingly unable to remember his past life until Batman shows up.
This scene also comes with a slightly warped version of the classic Superman music from the first film, originally composed by John Williams.
Do You Bleed?
Yes, because Batman has no superpowers. It's also the first indication that Clark remembers life before his death - and Batman's role in it.
Owl Man/Nite Owl
Remember Batman's tactical batsuit? It looks an awful lot like the one worn by both Nite Owl in the Watchmen movie and Owl Man - a villainous alternate reality version of Batman from Earth 3. Who is also his brother in the New 52. Comics are confusing.
Man of Steel and Batman V Superman showed that Superman was fast, but here we get to see just how fast he is seeing as he's able to fight off The Flash and keep up with him. Considering the Flash was seen moving faster than the eye could see inside Iron Heights, that's impressive.
This is also the first time we've seen Henry Cavill use freeze breath on screen.
The Little Merman
Barry's nickname is fitting, really, seeing as how Aquaman is supposed to be descended from the sea god Poseidon/Neptune, as is Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid.
Truth and Justice The American Way
In the final battle against Steppenwolf, Superman admits he's a big fan of both truth and justice, a callback to the classic description of Supes fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
They skip the American Way bit, though, probably because it doesn't really work in this interconnected world we live in. Also it's 2017, where the American Way means fake news, twitter rants, and copious amounts of fake tan.
The Original Jimmy Olsen
Marc McClure, aka Jimmy Olsen from the original Superman films, was reported to have a cameo in Justice League as a police officer who encounters Cyborg. I don't actually recall seeing this scene in the film though, but it seems to be there as a deleted scene.
Steve Trevor is referenced many times during the film, both by name and not.
The first is when Diana sees Batman's Troop Transport (aka The Flying Fox), and claims she knew a man who would have loved to fly it.
Batman later uses Diana's reclusiveness after Steve's death as ammunition against her, saying she should have been a symbol the world needed rather than hiding for 100 years. It's here that he references the photograph taken in Wonder Woman, that was seen in Batman v Superman on Lex Luthor's computer.
The Round Table
Wayne Manor is in ruins, but at the end of the film we see Bruce, Diana, and Alfred go inside - seemingly with the intent to renovate it as a League headquarters. They specifically mention a round table with at least six seats, a reference to the classic round table used by both the Justice League and Justice Society.
Diana also mentions leaving room for more people, hinting that more League members are on the way. So far we know Green Latern and Shazam are coming to the DCEU, so they're in, but there's always room for more.
The Shirt Pull
Finally, we get to see Henry Cavill do the classic shirt pull to reveal the Superman logo underneath. A fitting way to end the film.
Post Credit Scene #1
A race between both The Flash and Superman, to see who is the fastest. While the winner is left ambiguous, it's clear Batman set the whole thing up. Superman says that if Barry loses he has to take the League out to brunch - a reference to his earlier line expressing confusion over the whole concept. He's right though, why would you stand in line for an hour, just to eat lunch?
If Flash won, he just got bragging rights.
Who is faster though? Obviously the Flash if we're talking peak speed. He's fast enough to travel through time and cross dimensions. Superman is fast, and can go faster than light sometimes, but he's not quite that fast. He's also much, much slower on foot than he is when flying.
Post Credit Scene #2
Here we see that Lex Luthor has escaped from Arkham Asylum, where Batman had him transferred to in the previous film - leaving some other poor bald guy in his cell.
He's on a boat looking all bald and fancy (much more like his comic counterpart), where he is met by Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello). Luthor mentions that the heroes have formed 'a league', and says that shouldn't they (the villains) have a league of their own?
This could be a reference to the many supervillain team-ups that have happened in DC comics in the past, including but to limited to: The Injustice League, The Crime Syndicate, The Legion of Doom (which recently appeared in Legends of Tomorrow), The Injustice Society, The Society of Evil, and The Secret Society of Supervillains