This year the Justice League will come together for the very first time on the big screen. Comprised of some of the biggest and most beloved superheroes in comic book lore, the film is one which fans have been waiting for.
The likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and the rest, make the League nigh unstoppable, so their first onscreen villain needs to be one seriously mighty threat.
Thankfully, the back catalogue of DC comics has a wealth of super-powered warmongers with the destruction of Earth at the top of their to-do list.
The garishly costumed maniac taking on the League in their first outing goes by the name of Steppenwolf, and though this may not mean much to you now, once you’ve been introduced you’ll understand why we’ll be thanking our lucky stars the League is here to punch him in the face…
Where does he hail from?
Steppenwolf is a member of a highly powerful race known as the ‘New Gods’ who inhabit a planet ominously named Apokolips.
The exact positioning of the planet is said to be near the constellation Orion, but don’t start planning a trip there because it resides in a parallel dimension and can only be accessed through other-worldly means.
The aesthetics of Apokolips are exactly what you’d expect. The planet is essentially a high-tech wasteland - picture the industrial revolution except everything is on fire. Covered in burning pits of flame, Apokolips is home to the evil members of the New Gods who mercilessly reign over the downtrodden people unlucky enough to live there.
Keeping order are the aptly named Parademons, winged monsters who we saw feature in Batman’s vision of the future in Batman v Superman. The history of the planet is long and complicated, so let’s just say it is a horrific place to live and anyone from there is equally horrible.
What can he do?
Like all the New Gods, Steppenwolf is gifted with highly enhanced strength, speed and durability, which alone makes him a more than worthy opponent for any Justice League member.
On top of this Steppenwolf possesses a uniquely keen strategic mind, making him a master on the battlefield. Whether it be commanding his armies of giant dog riders, or wielding his devastatingly powerful (if unimaginatively named) electro-axe, be sure to step out of his way unless you hail from Krypton.
He has frightening family ties
Families are complicated, but you haven’t witnessed real family drama until you’ve seen the Apokolips Royals at each other’s throats.
The younger brother of previous ruler and all-round ruthless tyrant Heggra, Steppenwolf saw his oppressive sibling murdered and dethroned by Darkseid (pictured below) – who happens to be her younger son. Think soap opera mixed with the Bard, sprinkled with science fiction.
Upon taking over Apokolips, Darkseid appointed his uncle Steppenwolf as military leader and member of his coveted Elite. Though obviously rather peeved about the whole murder thing, Steppenwolf knows his place and wouldn’t dare challenge his all-powerful nephew for fear of losing his own position of power.
Expect to hear more from Darkseid in the DCEU future.
You may have seen him somewhere before...
Steppenwolf’s upcoming appearance in Justice League is not his first foray into the Hollywood limelight. The pointy-headed deity had a brief cameo in a Dawn of Justice deleted scene looking like a CGI monstrosity made up of the liquid-metal Kryptonian tech featured in Man of Steel.
Although only glimpsed very briefly, it is suggested that Steppenwolf has already been causing trouble, with the quick scene implying that he is the character whom Lex Luthor has been getting his outer space information from.
Not only that, the glimpse we do get shows Steppenwolf looking like a formidable beast, more than capable of taking on the League. Looking less human than he usually does in the pages of the comic, the more monstrous depiction of the character on screen is a strikingly welcome departure from the source material.
Who's playing him?
Of course, Steppenwolf's visual prowess is ultimately meaningless without the right actor inside that demonic, horned head.
So, you can breathe a sigh of relief as it will be veteran film, television and stage performer Ciarán Hinds wielding that iconic electro-axe.
Having had starring roles in terrific films like Munich, There Will Be Blood and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, as well as the likes of Game of Thrones and Rome on the smaller screen, Hinds certainly has the gravitas to play a demonic-alien warlord from a planet resembling Hell.
The first villain to take on the Justice League needs to be a memorable one, and in Ciarán Hinds’ more than capable hands this should be all but guaranteed.
"He’s old, tired, still trying to get out of his own enslavement to Darkseid, [but] he has to keep on this line to try and take over worlds," he tells The Independent.
Justice League is released on 17th November.
Jon Fuge is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.