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Characters In Zack Snyder's Justice League Than Mean More Than You Realized

Zack Snyder's Justice League is finally here, and with four hours of footage that draw inspiration from over 80 years of comic book history, it's pretty easy to miss some of the more obscure character additions alongside the intense fight sequences and slow-motion action. The two hours of additional content include a number of new heroes, villains, and supporting characters compared to the 2017 theatrical release, and the film doesn't always stop to explain just how significant some of them really are.

Whether their significance lies in their comic book history or in their possible future within the DCEU, the following characters include potential new members of the Justice League, teases of possible villains, and allusions to a myriad of other works ranging from classic movies to Arthurian legends and beyond. Whatever the reason these characters are important, many first-time viewers may be completely unaware of just how loudly some longtime DC Comics fans squealed at the sight of them.

Ryan Choi, the second Atom

Played by Zheng Kai, Dr. Ryan Choi spends most of Zack Snyder's Justice League as a S.T.A.R. Labs employee working under Dr. Silas Stone, Cyborg's father. By the end of the movie, however, Dr. Stone is dead, and as a result, S.T.A.R. Labs has given Ryan a promotion. He is now the "Director of Nanotechnology," and this promotion is certainly meant to foreshadow Zack Snyder's plans for the character in his planned sequels. 

Though many viewers might find it curious that the film would take the time to note the promotion of a rather obscure supporting character, numerous fans were waiting for this exact moment, because in the pages of DC Comics, Ryan Choi is a member of the Justice League known as "The Atom." A student of Ray Palmer, the original Atom, Ryan Choi used his mentor's size-changing belt to become the "All-New Atom," explore subatomic worlds, and stop evil in the New England city of Ivy Town.

Zack Snyder's Justice League isn't Ryan Choi's first venture into popular media, however. In late 2017, Ryan Choi was made available to purchase as a playable character in NetherRealm Studio's Injustice 2, and in late 2019, Osric Chau brought the character to life on the small screen in the CW's climactic Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event. Though the Arrowverse version never made it into costume, it seems quite clear that Zack Snyder fully meant for his Ryan Choi to do exactly that in one of his Justice League sequels. 

Phillipus and Menalippe

Portrayed by Ann Ogbomo and Lisa Loven Kongsli respectively, the Amazonians known as Philippus and Menalippe have appeared in Wonder WomanJustice League, and Zack Snyder's Justice League as background supporting characters to Connie Nielsen's Queen Hippolyta. Each woman is depicted as a powerful warrior and can be seen combatting the forces of evil: In Wonder Woman, they fight on the beaches of Themyscira against Steve Trevor's German pursuers, and in both versions of Justice League, viewers watch them fight to protect the Mother Box from Steppenwolf and his parademons in the present and against the armies of Apokolips in the past during the flashback sequence. 

In the films, Philippus and Menalippe are some of Queen Hippolyta's most trusted warriors, but in the comics, they are quite a bit more than that. Phillipus, for example, is the Captain of the Royal Guard and the High General of the Amazonian army, and as such, she is responsible for much of Diana's training before she eventually leaves the island to become Wonder Woman. General Phillipus is Queen Hippolyta's most trusted adviser and is often even depicted as the Queen's lover. Menalippe, on the other hand, is traditionally the Amazon's chief priestess, often serving as an oracle and source of spiritual guidance. She served in this role for many years until she sacrificed her life to save Wonder Woman from the hands of her longtime enemy Circe. 

Deathstroke

In 2017's theatrical Justice League, Joe Manganiello's Deathstroke boarded Lex Luthor's yacht in the film's second post-credits teaser to discuss the formation of a league of villains to oppose the newly formed Justice League. In Zack Snyder's Justice League, however, the scene plays out a little differently. Deathstroke and Lex Luthor do not meet to form a legion of doom, but instead hold their conference so that Luthor can let Deathstroke know that Batman is secretly billionaire Bruce Wayne. It seems the scene was intended to serve as a teaser for Ben Affleck's now-canceled solo Batman film, but HBO Max subscribers might not realize just how significant this character's appearance truly is. 

Though originally created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez as an antagonist to their New Teen Titans, Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke the Terminator, has since become a significant villain of nearly every hero in the DC Universe. He's fought Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, the Green Arrow, and even the entire Justice League, proving that he is both a force to be reckoned with and more than capable of appearing across multiple franchises. He was one of the main villains of the Teen Titans animated series, a central antagonist in the 2013 video game Batman: Arkham Origins, and has had major roles in multiple live-action television series. Actor Manu Bennett brought the mercenary to life in multiple seasons of CW's hit series Arrow, and Esai Morales has done the same in the television series Titans

General Swanwick and the Martian Manhunter

In 2013, Harry Lennix portrayed General Calvin Swanwick in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel. He served as the audience's point of reference for the U.S. military's reaction to the Kryptonian invasion of Earth. In 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the character performs much the same role, though this time as the Secretary of Defense. Swanwick was an original character that Snyder created for these films, and many viewers didn't give the military man much thought. However, Zack Snyder's Justice League revealed that comic book fans should have been paying far more attention to the character than they had ever guessed, for General Swanwick is secretly J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter. 

For many viewers, this could easily be the first time they had ever heard of the character, and beyond figuring that he might appear in a Justice League 2, they might not recognize just how significant this appearance is. The Martian Manhunter is commonly called the "soul" of the Justice League. In addition to being one of the team's founders, he has also served as a member on nearly every version of the team, including the acclaimed early 2000s Justice League animated series and the proto-league formed in the Arrowverse at the end of their Crisis on Infinite Earths television crossover event. His absence in the theatrical cut was a source of frustration for longtime fans of the Justice League, and his appearance at the end of the Snyder Cut has created a lot of excitement about the possibilities of the future. 

Granny Goodness

Though she appears in only a handful of shots as one of the movie's quickest cameos, the old woman standing behind Darkseid is actually one of the most significant teasers in Zack Snyder's Justice League. Her name is Granny Goodness, but viewers shouldn't let her silly name and motherly appearance fool them, for she is actually one of the most evil and sadistic New Gods on Apokolips. One of Darkseid's chief lieutenants, Granny Goodness oversees the torture and brainwashing of children in her horrific "Orphanage," training them to become members of her master's armies and picking out the best and brightest to join her elite Female Furies. 

Granny Goodness has appeared in a wide range of DC Comics adaptations over the years and plays a key role in the New Gods mythology, especially within the origins of the popular hero Big Barda and her husband Mister Miracle. Combined with reports that both Granny and her Female Furies will appear in Ava DuVernay's New Gods film, this brief appearance may soon carry a lot more weight than viewers realize.

Desaad

Voiced by Peter Guinness in Zack Snyder's Justice League, Desaad only utters a handful of lines in a scene conversing with his dark lord and appears to be the chief of some sort of priestly order seen in the film's primary flashback. However, within both the comics and their many adaptations, fans will discover that Desaad is much, much more than that. 

The chief torturer of Apokolips, Desaad is one of Darkseid's chief advisors, playing a key role in creating and carrying out many of Darkseid's evil schemes. The character is sadistic, cunning, and treacherous, and almost certain to appear in Ava DuVernay's New Gods film in some form or another. The character will have to be careful, though, as he doesn't usually get away with speaking his mind as freely as he does at the end of Zack Snyder's Justice League and is often killed for challenging or criticizing Darkseid's decisions.

The ancient Atlantean king

Portrayed by Julian Lewis Jones, an ancient king of Atlantis is seen leading the charge against Darkseid and the forces of Apokolips during the flashback sequence in Zack Snyder's Justice League. Though the character is never explicitly named and seems to serve the function of "generic ancient king," one key detail gives audiences an immediate clue to his true identity: He is clearly wielding Atlan's trident. Atlan is often referred to as the first king of Atlantis and is the nation's ruler when it is finally submerged in the depths of the sea. The fact that the ancient Atlantean king is wielding Atlan's trident likely means the king is Atlan himself, or at least one of his predecessors. 

What makes this significant, however, is that this is the same trident that Arthur Curry spends most of his solo Aquaman film searching for in order to assume the throne of Atlantis. Both versions of Justice League take time to explain that the weapon Aquaman uses in the film was his mother's trident, which is destroyed in Aquaman's opening act, and the fact that the trident he ends the movie with was already seen in Justice League is both a wonderful piece of world-building and an example of excellent attention to detail. 

King Arthur

Just as is the case with the Atlantean king we see, the ancient human king seen in Darkseid's invasion of Earth is likely far more important than he appears. Portrayed by Francis Magee, the ruler can be seen throughout the battle against Darkseid, but is most clearly visualized when the humans bury their Mother Box in a forest. Though there are fewer clues in the movie than with his Atlantean equivalent, this ancient human monarch is likely King Arthur Pendragon, the Once and Future King and namesake of Arthur Curry, a.k.a. Aquaman. 

DC Comics has a rich history of mining the Arthurian legends for new characters and stories, most of which revolve around King Arthur, his half-sister Morgaine le Fey, and their son Mordred. The student and murderer of the wizard Merlin, Morgaine le Fey is one of the Justice League's most powerful villains. She uses her magic to keep herself and her son alive into the present day and is intent on creating a kingdom for Mordred to inherit. In many versions, she is also the reason why the mortal man Jason Blood is tied to the Demon known as Etrigan, and all of that begins with King Arthur.

Green Lantern Yalan Gur

One of the most obscure characters that appears in Zack Snyder's Justice League, Green Lantern Yalan Gur helps the defend the earth against Darkseid's invasion in the film's extensive flashback sequence. Fighting alongside humans, Atlanteans, Amazons, and old gods alike, the Green Lantern battles valiantly before he's finally defeated and killed by Darkseid himself. What both new and longtime fans may not realize, however, is that Yalan Gur was not created for this film — the character first appeared in 1991's Green Lantern #19. 

A dragon-like alien, Yalan Gur was the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 thousands of years before Green Lanterns Hal Jordan or John Stewart were born. Not subjected to the Lanterns' infamous weakness to the color yellow, Yalan Gur was a great hero who eventually fell victim to his own pride, becoming the alien dictator of ancient China. Eventually, the Green Lantern Corps' leaders, the Guardians of the Universe, stepped in and made his ring ineffective against wood so the Chinese could defeat him once and for all. 

Chinese artisans claimed the ring and lantern for their own, melting it down to create the mystical artifacts that DC's original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, would use to become a superhero in the 1940s. A longtime member of the Justice Society of America, Alan Scott's Green Lantern has already made cameo appearances in the CW's Stargirl television series, and may even appear in Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam film

Green Lantern Kilowog

In one of Bruce Wayne's many visions of the future, a quick shot depicts several of the heroes slain by Darkseid and his new slave, Superman. One of those heroes is quite clearly meant to be the Green Lantern known as Kilowog. Already seen in the 2011 Green Lantern film starring Ryan Reynolds, Kilowog is by far the most famous non-human member of DC Comics Green Lantern Corps. He has appeared in nearly every animated or video game adaptation of the characters and is traditionally the Corps' number one drill sergeant, responsible for training each new member and transforming them from incompetent rookies into veteran heroes. 

Though potentially meant simply as an Easter egg, Kilowog's appearance could easily have served as a setup for a potential Snyderverse Green Lantern movie and could still serve as a teaser for the oft-rumored Green Lantern television series. Regardless, however Green Lantern next appears in live action, Kilowog almost certainly won't be far behind. 

Detective Crispus Allen, the second Spectre

Simultaneously the film's most subtle and most game-changing cameo has to be Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's Detective Crispus Allen. A veteran of Gotham City's police force, Detective Allen has also appeared in Fox's Gotham television series, and is traditionally the partner of Renee Montoya, one of the stars of 2020's Birds of Prey, another installment of the DCEU. 

However, even this important cinematic connection isn't what truly what makes this character's appearance so tantalizing, for Crispus Allen isn't just a member of the GCPD — he's also the universal mystic being known as the Spectre. Originally created in the 1940s, the Spectre was a member of the Justice Society of America and has since been established within DC's magical community as the Spirit of Vengeance, a spirit being with near-limitless power who must be bound by a human soul so his vengeance can be tempered by a human's mercy. 

The future of the DCEU is uncertain at best, unfortunately, and viewers may never see Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's Crispus Allen become the all-powerful Spectre. However, the recent rise in prominence of the JSA across multiple media and the long-rumored, magic-focused Justice League Dark movie could both give fans of the character hope that this comic book destiny just might be fulfilled. 

Officer Jerry, as played by Jimmy Olsen

By far the most heart-warming cameo in Zack Snyder's Justice League is the Metropolis police officer named "Jerry." When the newly formed Justice League resurrect Superman using humanity's Mother Box, a fight quickly ensues as the Man of Steel struggles to remember who he is. During that fight, a car is thrown through the air and Cyborg dashes in front of it to keep it from killing a nearby police officer. That police officer is Jerry, and the actor that plays him used to be Jimmy Olsen, Superman's Best Friend. 

When Richard Donner brought Superman to the silver screen in the modern day for the first time in 1978, he cast Marc McClure in the role of one of Superman's most important supporting characters: junior photographer Jimmy Olsen. Thoroughly naïve and filled with a rich enthusiasm for life, Marc McClure would portray the Daily Planet employee in all four of Christopher Reeve's Superman films.