- NOTE: This article is about the incarnation of Steppenwolf from Zack Snyder's Justice League. The theatrical version can be found here: Steppenwolf.
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|“||Defenders. They have failed one hundred-thousand worlds. They always fail. I've come to enlighten you to the great darkness. I will bathe in your fear.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf arriving in Themyscira.|
|“||The Mother Boxes will be found and united. No protectors here. No Lanterns, no Kryptonian. This world will fall, like all the others. [...] For Darkseid.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf's most famous quote.|
Steppenwolf is the main antagonist of the 2021 superhero film, Zack Snyder's Justice League. He is the Apokoliptian military general who was exiled from Apokolips due to his betrayal to his nephew and master, Darkseid.
In the hopes of redeeming himself to his master, Steppenwolf sought out to destroy and conquer one hundred-thousand worlds, currently having to owe fifty-thousand more as a means to be accepted back into his family. Having learned of the locations of the Mother Boxes from Lex Luthor, he seeks out to find the three boxes and combine them to form the Unity, a source of powerful energy that would bring Earth to its fall.
He is portrayed by Ciarán Hinds, who also previously portrayed the theatrical version of the character. He has also portrayed Mance Rayder in Game of Thrones, Mephisto in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Henry Burke in Race to Witch Mountain, Botticelli Remorso in The Tale of Despereaux, Jonathan Reiss in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life and Bill Maplewood in Life During Wartime.
Steppenwolf's physical appearance is drastically different from his previous design, as his design is now the one based on the original concept arts made for the character.
He appears to be a large, humanoid alien with pale, greyish cracked skin, razor sharp teeth and large horns that are part of his head. His arms also appear to be somewhat longer as they reach to his knees, while his hands appear to possess seven fingers, each with sharp, black claws. When combining the Mother Boxes into the Unity, he gains bright, blue eyes and white pupils.
Steppenwolf wears a metallic, silver armor that is described as being "alive." The armor appears to be a special kind of alien technology as it tends to move and react to Steppenwolf's movements. Whenever Steppenwolf engages in combat or expresses wrath, the armor tends to shift and expose sharp blades all over his body.
Steppenwolf is the barbaric warmonger of Apokolips that has conquered and destroyed many worlds in the name of his master, Darkseid. He believes that all life on Earth would be better off to live under Darkseid's rule as their free will has only allowed them to create shifts and conflicts among one another. He is a destructive being that will go out to great lengths on achieving his goals by any means necessary.
Unlike the theatrical version, Steppenwolf appears to be immensely loyal to Darkseid, so much that he desperately pleas for him and DeSaad to let him return home under his master's rule. Because Darkseid has forced him to do so, Steppenwolf has conquered at least 50,000 worlds, in hopes that Darkseid would let him return to Apokolips. In these moments, he tends to speak in a soft voice with wide-eyed expressions and often gets down on his knees as a sign of desperation.
While still cruel and evil, these traits make Steppenwolf come off as a more sympathetic character and gives him fleshed out motives, wheres his theatrical version was a cold-hearted sadist that destroyed worlds for his own pleasure. In addition, Steppenwolf doesn't appear to take pleasure in his conquest on Earth and is only doing it because it's his only option to be welcomed back into his family. The only time he seems quite eager about it is when he learns of the location of the Anti-Life Equation, believing this will let him return earlier than expected.
Also, unlike his theatrical version, Steppenwolf appears to be fully confident in his strength and skills throughout, taking self pride of himself. Even during the final battle with the Justice League when he is outnumbered, Steppenwolf only grows in frustration and rage, as he attempts to kill the heroes, rather than cowering in fear before them. This pride of his extended towards Darkseid even, as he had betrayed Darkseid prior, though this would be something that he would end up finding himself to regretting and cause his pride to diminish in his master's presence.
While ruthless, he is not mindlessly murderous as he spared the lives of the civilians that had evacuated from S.T.A.R. Labs and was willing to spare Silas Stone's, had he given him the Mother Box. Nonetheless, he still has no hesitation for torturing individuals as a means of interrogation. He also appears to act more animalistic in comparison to his theatrical version, as he tends to snarl and growl at his opponents and even roars at one point when he discovers the Anti-Life Equation.
Steppenwolf was the uncle of Darkseid, who served as his one of his military commanders in his armada. At one point, Steppenwolf had betrayed Darkseid, though what he did exactly is unknown. Having felt regret for his actions, Steppenwolf would slaughter those that attempted to seize the throne from his master as an attempt to prove his loyalty to him. Despite this, Darkseid had no tolerance for his earlier treachery and so he exiled Steppenwolf from his family and in turn, from Apokolips. At the same time however, he was willing to let him join back if he conquered at least 100,000 worlds. Desperate to be at his side once more, Steppenwolf carried out the task in his name.
Retrieving the Mother Boxes
During the final moments of the battle between Superman and Doomsday, Superman's scream of agony moments before his death echoed throughout the world, waking up the Mother Boxes. During this moment, Steppenwolf had made contact with Lex Luthor in the Genesis chamber, presumably learning about the Mother Boxes' location. Having heard to their call about the Kryptonian's death which has left the world undefended, Steppenwolf set out to retrieve the Mother Boxes in an attempt to get back into Darkseid's good graces. Following the Mother Box's call while it was still awake, Steppenwolf arrives at Themyscira through a boom tube to retrieve it. There he slaughtered dozens of Amazonians as they failed to stop him, and he successfully recovered the box and escaped just as reinforcements arrived. Afterwards, Steppenwolf would teleport himself to Pozharnov, Russia where he plans to proceed with the Unity of the Boxes there after retrieving the rest. He orders his Parademons to locate the other two Boxes, reminiscing how Darkseid will see his worth again.
While waiting for an update from the Parademons, Steppenwolf made contact with DeSaad on Apokolips and reports to him about the status of the conquest, and explains how divided Earth has become and that its only chance for absolution is to serve Darkseid. DeSaad would go on to berate him for his betrayal thousands of years ago, prompting Steppenwolf to kneel before him and desperately asks him to let Darkseid hear his plea so he could return home after conquering Earth. DeSaad coldly reminded him that he still owes Darkseid 50,000 more worlds, and would only hear his plea once he's paid his debt. Steppenwolf stood up and assured him that the Boxes will be retrieved and Earth would fall like all the other worlds. Afterwards, Steppenwolf learned that the Atlanteans was guarding a Mother Box and had his Parademons capture several Atlantean soldiers to find the Box. Upon interrogation, Steppenwolf used his mind probe to locate the Box. He then teleported to the stronghold and slaughtered all of the soldiers guarding it, and easily defeated both Mera and Aquaman. He then returned to Pozharnov with the box. Thanks to both of the Boxes, he transformed the abandoned city into a fortified stronghold.
After his Parademons captured several humans whose carried the scent of the third and final Mother Box, Steppenwolf informed DeSaad of his progress. DeSaad then ordered him to interrogate the prisoners for the Mother Box's location and kill them if they didn't tell him. Arriving at the underground tunnels, Steppenwolf interrogated the prisoners and learnt through the probe that they had been near the Mother Box. As he was about to use the probe on S.T.A.R. Labs director Silas Stone, he was attacked by Cyborg. He was also attacked by Wonder Woman, whom Steppenwolf mocked for being stronger than her sisters. After briefly being tackled by the Amazonian, Steppenwolf ordered his soldiers that she would be his. The two fought and he overpowered her, only to then be engaged by the Knighcrawler controlled by Batman. Steppenwolf attacked the Knightcrawler and sent it crashing down the tunnel. Steppenwolf has then forced down the tunnels under Gotham Harbor, and just as Cyborg took control of the Knightcrawler and fired missiles, Steppenwolf blocked one and caught the other. He redirected the missile into a wall and escaped through a boom tube, knowing that it cause a flooding.
Upon returning to his stronghold, he noticed that Mother Boxes were telling him something. After touching one, he then saw through a premonition that the Anti-Life Equation was on this world and that Earth was the planet that successfully fought back against Darkseid's invasion. Seeing this as a chance for redemption, Steppenwolf immediately contacted DeSaad and informed him of this discovery. As DeSaad left, Steppenwolf found himself contacted by Darkseid and then kneeled before him. Steppenwolf assured him that Anti-Life, the weapon his master has been searching for, is on Earth. Darkseid told him that if it is redemption he sought, he ordered him to retrieve the final Mother Box and synchronize the Unity so he would come for his "great prize". After the final Mother Box was activated to resurrect Superman, Steppenwolf followed the call and arrived at S.T.A.R. Labs to retrieve it. Once inside, he found himself confronted by Cyborg again and Silas locked himself into a chamber with the Box. After Silas died while superheating the Box, Steppenwolf swiped Cyborg out of the way and recovered the Box. He then escaped just as the Justice League arrived.
Final Battle and Death
Returning to Pozharnov, Steppenwolf reunited the Mother Boxes and started to synchronize the Unity. After the stronghold was destroyed by Batman, Steppenwolf sent the Parademons to kill him. While waiting for the Unity to synchronize, he used them to presumably provide himself protection from the Unity's global scorching sequence. Once doing so, he was confronted by Cyborg, Aquaman and Wonder Woman, the latter whom he continued to mock regarding her sisters. As they fought the New God, Cyborg split off to get close to the Boxes. Steppenwolf swiped away the other two and grabbed Cyborg before he could get inside the Unity. Wonder Woman destroyed the walkway underneath them and they all collapsed to the floor below. Cyborg flew off back to the Boxes while Steppenwolf was being pulled back by Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Steppenwolf distracted Wonder Woman about her mother possibly being dead, and he then swiped off both her and Aquaman again.
Returning to the Boxes, he proceeded to swing his axe at Cyborg. However, he was blocked by Superman who had arrived and then destroyed his axe. Steppenwolf angrily then found himself being overpowered and pummelled by Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. However, while he was being pinned to the ground, a portal to Apokolips opened and the Unity was almost synchronized. Just as the Justice League were caught off-guard by Darkseid's arrival and Flash being wounded before he give Cyborg the charge he needed, the Boxes synchronized and began the scorching sequence. However, the Flash used the Speed Force to reverse time and was able to give Cyborg the charge he needed. Cyborg and Superman then successfully separated the Boxes, destroying them in the process. After getting up and realizing what had happened, Steppenwolf roared in fury before being impaled by Aquaman's quindent. Superman then punched him back through the portal while Wonder Woman decapitated him. After his body arrived on Apokolips, Darkseid angrily crushed his uncle's severed head for his failure. After the portal closed, Darkseid agreed with DeSaad for telling him that Steppenwolf would fail.
|“||Oh, noble queen. Why do you fight? You can't save her. You can't save any of them. The great darkness begins... Yes, we will find the others.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf retrieving the first Mother Box and escaping Themyscira.|
|“||It's toxic. That's good. Go! Follow the scent of the Mother Boxes. Find the missing two. Once they are found, the Unity will be formed. This world will join the others. He will be pleased. He will see my worth again.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf after returning with the first Mother Box.|
|“||This world is divided. They are a primitive species. Unevolved and at war with one another. Too separate to be one. Their free will must be ripped from them, like the other worlds. Given absolution in one glorious belief, to serve him.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf's view on Earth.|
|“||I have found one of the three. The one that woke and called to me. The other two still sleep, but the parademons feel their presence. They fly, they search, they take prisoners who carry the scent, while I build a stronghold in the name of his glory.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf searching for the mother boxes.|
|“||DeSaad... I fall before you. Let me make a plea to him that I may come home after I take this world in his name.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf pleading to DeSaad to ask Darkseid to let him return home.|
|“||I saw my mistake. I slaughtered those who sought his throne.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf expressing remorse for betraying Darkseid.|
|“||So begins the end.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf after claiming the last Mother Box.|
|“||Tell me, Amazon, why did you abandon your own sisters only to cast your lot with these creatures, clinging to their puny lives? You weren't there to protect them from me. And sadly, you could have.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf provoking Wonder Woman with the fates of her sisters.|
|“||I watched your island burn, your sisters begging for their lives. As did your mother.||„|
|~ Steppenwolf continuing to provoke Wonder Woman.|
|~ Steppenwolf realizing that Darkseid had arrived on Earth just as the Mother Boxes synchronized. Also his last words before his death.|
- Steppenwolf utilizes the original design that Zack Snyder had given him in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, creating a more cohesive continuity between the two films.
- Ciarán Hinds was not pleased with his portrayal of Steppenwolf in the theatrical release as most of Steppenwolf's backstory and motivations had been either trimmed down or left out entirely from the film. The Snyder Cut of the film restores much of Steppenwolf's overall character arc.
- Ciarán Hinds' voice was slightly modified in comparison to his performance in the theatrical release. In the Snyder Cut, Steppenwolf sounds more hoarse and raspier, and the pitch of his voice has been lowered, making him sound somewhat more monstrous and menacing than before.
- This version of Steppenwolf received universal acclaim from fans, due to being more fleshed out and well-written in comparison to his original self, with high praise going towards his character design as more intimidating and his understandable motives.