After years of building up to this moment, the Justice League movie is almost here.
Warner Bros. and DC’s cinematic universe began with Man of Steel in 2013. Three years later, things really kicked into gear with the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad in 2016. This year saw the release of the DC Cinematic Universe’s highest-rated and grossing movie, Wonder Woman. The culmination of DC’s most popular superheroes, spearheaded by Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, is an event people have been waiting years to see.
To be specific, about four years.
In an effort to help you remember everything that has happened in the past four years, here is a summary of the most important details you need to recall before heading out to watch Justice League.
Man of Steel
The first movie in Warner Bros.’ DC franchise, Man of Steel is basically an origin story. The movie begins on the planet of Krypton, which is facing a total collapse. In an effort to save part of its civilization, Jor-El, Krypton's chief advisor to the supreme council, steals genetic codes in danger of being caught by the evil Zod, and infuses them into his baby son’s DNA. Kal-El, the first naturally born (i.e., not cloned) citizen of Krypton in centuries. In a last ditch effort to save his son — and give Krypton a fighting chance in the future — Jor-El sends Kal-El rocketing off the planet.
Let’s get through this next part quickly. We know Superman’s history like the back of our hand at this point. Found by Jonathan and Martha Kent in Smallville, Kansas, Kal-El is raised as Clark Kent. As Clark grows older, he learns about his superhero powers, but is told by his adoptive father never to use them. When Clark is unable to save Jonathan from a tornado attack without revealing himself, Clark leaves Smallville to travel.
After discovering a Kryptonian ship in the Canadian Arctic, Clark activates the central computer system, which presents him with the famous Superman costume. Clark doesn’t realize that he’s being followed by Lois Lane until she accidentally sets off the ship’s alarm and he has to rescue her.
The most important part of Man of Steel as it pertains to Justice League is this: Zod and Superman enter the biggest fight of their lives in the heart of Metropolis. Following the fight, in which Superman kills Zod, Superman becomes a household name and, depending on who you ask, a symbol of hope or tragedy for the citizens of Metropolis. Clark takes a job as a freelance reporter for the Daily Planet, which is how he’s later introduced to Gotham’s infamous billionaire, Bruce Wayne, in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Batman v Superman is the most important movie you need to remember for Justice League. To the point that if you have time to revisit one movie before heading to a theater to watch Justice League, it should be this one.
Batman v Superman takes place 18 months after Man of Steel, in a post-Superman world. Bruce Wayne, who at this point in the timeline has been acting as Batman for 20 years, sees Superman as a threat to civilization. Wayne wants to take out Superman and Kent wants to expose Batman.
When Wayne attends a gala at LexCorp, with the intention of stealing data from the company’s computer system, he meets an “antiques dealer” named Diana Prince; otherwise known as Wonder Woman. Upon looking at Luthor’s data, Wayne learns that his fellow billionaire is keeping track of metahumans, like Superman and Diana Prince. The other three people that Luthor has an interest in? Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman — the other members of the Justice League.
Each move Wayne makes is bringing him closer to fighting Superman. When a bomb goes off at a congressional hearing, killing everyone in attendance except Superman, the Kryptonian goes into self-imposed exile to deal with the aftermath. At the same time, Wayne breaks into LexCorp to steal kryptonite and assemble an arsenal of other weaponry that can be used to destroy Superman.
The two finally come to a head after Luthor kidnaps Lois Lane and Kent’s adoptive mother, Martha. Luthor reveals that he’s been tricking Batman and Superman into hating each other, and when Superman tries to explain this to Batman, he winds up getting beat on instead. It’s only when Superman whispers the words, “save Martha,” which is also the name of Wayne’s mother, that Superman gets a chance to tell Batman what Luthor’s plan has been all along.
Bonding over the name Martha, the two toss aside their differences and immediately become best friends. Together, the two prepare to take on a monster born from the combination of DNA from Luthor and Zod’s recovered corpse. Joined by Wonder Woman, the three heroes manage to defeat the beast before them, but Superman dies of his wounds.
After everything is said and done, Wayne and Prince attend Kent’s funeral in Smallville, where Wayne admits he’s putting together a team of metahumans who can protect the world from further invasions. Wayne believes one is imminent because of the prophetic dreams he’s been suffering from; a reoccurring theme in Batman v Superman. A Justice League if you will! We also see dirt rise from Kent’s coffin, hinting that he’s not actually dead, no matter what Warner Bros.’ wants you to think.
Like Man of Steel, Wonder Woman is an origin story that has some importance leading up to Justice League.
The film begins in present day Paris, with Prince examining a photographic plate of herself taken during the first World War, with four unknown men. We don’t know much about this photo, other than it was sent by Bruce Wayne, who Prince got to know during Justice League. The photo prompts Prince to recall her time on the island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons, her time in the first world war and her friendship with American pilot Steve Trevor.
None of this really matters for Justice League, though. It’s not until the end of the movie where we’re reminded of the connection Wonder Woman has to the overarching plot of the franchise. Prince, back at her computer in present day Paris, sends Wayne an email thanking him for sending her the photograph. It reminds her of the reason she vowed to protect Earth from otherworldly evils, recommitting her to the cause at hand. Hence, why she would want to take part in the Justice League.
As far as we know, Suicide Squad doesn’t have anything to do with Justice League, despite Batman having a small cameo in the movie. You can probably skip this one and be just fine.
The only thing you need to remember is that Superman, by all accounts, is still dead in this universe at this time. Warner Bros. really wants you to understand that Superman is dead. We assume to make it all the more “surprising” when he returns from the dead.
Don’t worry, kids, Superman is going to be just fine.
Justice League will be released on Nov. 17.