Superhero team-up blockbuster Justice League is here, and you know what that means – a lot of bum-numbing credits to wait through for a glimpse at the now-traditional post-credits scenes, adding extra jokes and hints at what’s to come for DC’s movie universe.
And if you were confused by what you saw after the credits had rolled (or just want a sneak peek at what you missed by leaving too early) never fear – we’re here to tell you what happens in the film’s two stings, from Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke (and who he is) and to the return of Lex Luthor.
Beware – throughout this article there are minor spoilers.
This scene sees The Flash (Ezra Miller) and the revived Superman (Henry Cavill) embark on a quick race to decide who’s the faster, a common rivalry between the two super-quick heroes previously brought up in comic and screen versions of the characters. Usually it’s shown that the Flash can outstrip Superman (though Superman can fly about as fast as Flash in space), but given Miller’s depiction is a younger, less experienced Flash it could be anyone’s to win.
Not much more to say here, apart from that if the Flash loses he has to buy the whole team brunch – a scene we can only hope will open the Justice League sequel.
Now, this scene has a LOT more going on, beginning in iconic comic location Arkham Asylum where it’s revealed that Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) has escaped following his crimes and subsequent imprisonment in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Instead, he’s now hanging out on a fancy yacht in his traditional comic-book appearance (bald head, fancy suit) and playing host to a character many DC fans have been desperate to see onscreen for a while – Joe Manganiello’s mercenary Deathstroke, who has been teased as part of the DC movie universe for quite some time and may feature as the main villain in the upcoming solo Batman movie.
First created in 1980 as an enemy for young heroes the Teen Titans, the fan-favourite character (real name Slade Wilson) eventually evolved to become a villain for more established heroes, utilising his prodigious fighting skills, super-strength and reflexes and healing powers to cause headaches for characters including Batman and Green Arrow.
Interestingly, the character is also indirectly responsible for the creation of fourth wall-breaking Marvel antihero Deadpool (as played by Ryan Reynolds in his recent solo movie and the upcoming sequel), who was first intended as an homage/parody to Deathstroke (Deadpool’s real name Wade Wilson compared to Deathstroke’s Slade Wilson is an obvious clue) but eventually turned ‘pool into the weird and wonderful one-off that he is today.
And given Deadpool’s current popularity it could be that DC can actually turn the tables on Marvel and trade a little on DEADPOOL’s name recognition just as he did on Deathstroke’s all those years ago – but then again, it might be that apart from their rhyming names and fondness for katana swords, viewers recognise little between them. Deathstroke is, shall we say, a little more serious than Deadpool.
Anyway, his appearance in this post-credits scene sees him in a boat heading to Lex’s yacht, where he gruffly dismisses the young businessman until Mr Luthor gives him a proposition – they should start a League all of their own, in answer to Batman and company’s new alliance.
This almost certainly means that in the next Justice League film we’ll be treated to the sight of the imaginatively-titled Injustice League, a team of villains that first cropped up in 1989 and at different points in its lifespan counted Deathstroke and Luthor among its members (other teammates included Catwoman, Penguin, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Bane, Two-Face and Reverse Flash, who is exactly what the name suggests him to be).
Prior to this there was also a team known as the Anti-Justice League, which included villains like Clayface, Merlyn, Gorilla Grodd and Ocean Master and appeared in a 1975 comic-book storyline. Somehow, their appearance seems less likely.
Alternatively, it could be that the “league” comment isn’t meant to be taken word-for-word, allowing for other iconic DC supervillain teams like The Legion of Doom, Villains United, the Secret Society of Super Villains, the Injustice gang or Tartarus to feature. However, these teams have not generally featured both Lex Luthor AND Deathstroke as members, meaning the Injustice League seems like the best bet.
Whatever the truth, it’s great to know that Manganiello’s mercenary will be joining the action in a big way in the coming DC films – because given the character’s popularity with fans, it could help improve the DCEU’s chances at success at a stroke.