The heroes of DC Comics are ready to finally come together after four movies and years of anticipation with the release of Justice Leagueon Friday.
Warner Bros.' epic crossover film will -- for the first time-- feature the characters of Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and Superman fighting side-by-side as they combine their might to protect earth.
Here is what is known about Justice League, which is expected to keep the DC Comics film slate going strong as the superhero franchise continues to grow.
Batman, Wonder Woman team up to bring the League together
Justice League works as a direct sequel to 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that ended with the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) leading to Batman (Ben Affleck) assembling more heroes in order to prepare for a new threat on the horizon.
With Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) already by his side, Batman attempts to convince others that possess superpowers to join them after learning of their existence from the hacked files of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who may also appear in the film.
These other heroes include The Flash (Ezra Miller), who can run at super speeds and is seen in trailers joining the League to make new friends; Aquaman (Jason Momoa), who controls the seas and is the rightful heir to the throne of Atlantis; and the technologically advanced half-man, half-machine Cyborg (Ray Fisher).
The main villain is Steppenwolf
With the team assembled, Wonder Woman and Batman will lead the Justice League into battle against Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), a towering foe who dons two devil horns and hails from the planet Apokolips.
Steppenwolf, with a powerful axe in hand and an army of Parademons by his side, arrives on earth to not only conquer it, but to obtain three powerful devices known as Mother Boxes that can be found in Wonder Woman's homeland of Themyscira, Aquaman's underwater kingdom Atlantis and seemingly inside the body of Cyborg.
Steppenwolf, created in 1972 by famed artist Jack Kirby, is the uncle to the all-powerful Darkseid, which makes his arrival on earth potentially just the start of a larger problem for the Justice League to deal with in future sequels.
Superman will return
Going up against Steppenwolf and his army will most likely prove tough for the Justice League, especially with less experienced heroes such as The Flash and Cyborg entering battle for the first time.
This leads to the worst kept secret about the film -- that Superman will return from the dead and join his friends to save the day. How the Man of Steel returns is still not known, but Superman will join the team at some point as Cavill is listed as a member of the cast.
A trailer, released in October, featured footage of Cavill for the first time although it was in a dream sequence that also featured Amy Adams as Lois Lane.
In true Superman fashion, it can be expected that he will arrive in just the nick-of-time when the Justice League need him most.
The film features a lighter tone
The DC film slate has produced profitable yet critically-panned films including Dawn of Justice and the villain-focused Suicide Squad. Critics' biggest complaint centered around how dark and serious the characters and films had become and that they displayed a negative outlook on the world.
Then came the brighter Wonder Woman which, despite taking place during World War I, offered a character that stood for love, justice and compassion. The film was also infused with some humor which both critics and fans alike enjoyed.
This has led to Justice League following Wonder Woman's lead more closely, adding in humor and fun interactions between the characters with an underlying theme of hope that will be present in the film.
"Justice League is a big change tonally because you now have the personalities of all these different characters coming together, and it gives you a chance to infuse a lot of humor into the scenes," Affleck said previouslyabout the lighter tone. "For Bruce, he's having to open up and play well with others because he knows he needs them, so while he doesn't lose sight of how serious the threat is, he's humanized by the Flash's earnestness, Diana's warmth, even Aquaman's needling."
Justice League director Zack Snyder, who helmed Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice, stepped down from the production following a family tragedy. Filmmaker Joss Whedon, who previously worked on the Avengers, stepped in for Snyder.
While Snyder completed the majority of the film and his lighter tone could be seen in trailers, Whedon's involvement has furthered the perception of Justice League actively trying to step away from dark and heavy subject matter.
There are two post-credit sequences
Justice League will feature two additional scenes following the ending of the film that will hint at the future of the DC extended universe as noted by moviegoers who have seen advanced screenings of the film.
One scene is described as being dedicated to world-building as perhaps new segments of the DC universe will be seen, while another sets up a future standalone film for a certain character, The Independent reported.
Fan speculation has led many to theorize that perhaps one of the scenes will hint at the appearance of Green Lantern, a major DC Comics superhero and member of the Justice League who has yet to appear in any DC extended universe films.
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