Steppenwolf and Darkseid are two of the most terrifying villains to appear in the DCEU’s ‘Justice League’ (and subsequently, ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League’ on HBO Max). However, the duo’s history and connection are quite complicated and different from their relationship in DC Comics. We are here today to discuss both and explain how Steppenwolf and Darkseid are connected.
Who is Steppenwolf to Darkseid in DC Comics?
Believe it or not, we haven’t actually seen too much of Steppenwolf in the comics. He is a well-known and well-established character, but he mostly served only as Darkseid’s subordinate with a cool weapon, leading his armies in battles to conquer the universe. But how were the two connected? Who is Steppenwolf to Darkseid in DC Comics?
Steppenwolf is one of the New Gods of Apokolips, first appearing in ‘New Gods’ #7 in 1972. He was the younger brother of Heggra, whose husband, Yuga Khan, was the tyrannical ruler of Apokolips. The two had a son named Uxas, who would later become Darkseid after usurping his father’s throne.
Uxas attacked and defeated Yuga Khan, becoming the undisputed ruler of Apokolips, and taking the moniker Darkseid. That means that Steppenwolf is, in fact, Darkseid’s maternal uncle in the comics. After Darkseid took over as the ruler of Apokolips, Steppenwolf continued serving as his lieutenant and general of his army of Parademons.
Throughout the comics, we usually saw Steppenwolf in a human-like form, riding big hounds bred for battle, taking over worlds in the name of Darkseid. We saw flashbacks of the two in battle together before Darkseid usurped the throne, like Steppenwolf’s debut in ‘New Gods’ #7 where he helped Darkseid murder the wife of his hated enemy.
In the comics, we haven’t seen a betrayal of Darkseid by Steppenwolf as we did in the DCEU, even after the New 52 reboot in 2011. However, that’s actually what makes the DCEU connection between Steppenwolf and Darkseid even more complicated, and more interesting, for that matter.
Are Steppenwolf and Darkseid related in the DCEU?
In the comics, Steppenwolf is Darkseid’s uncle, but in the DCEU, those roles seem to be reversed. It’s not really an integral part of the story, but in ‘Zack Snyder’s Justice League,’ it is mentioned in a dialogue between Steppenwolf and Darkseid’s first lieutenant, Desaad, that Steppenwolf is actually Darkseid’s nephew in this universe.
That’s not the only change related to Darkseid and Steppenwolf – the entire dynamic of their relationship is much different from the one depicted in DC Comics. Instead of simply serving under Darkseid as his military commander, it appears that Steppenwolf betrayed Darkseid sometime in the past, and was therefore banished from Apokolips.
Speaking to Desaad, Steppenwolf says he sees ‘his mistake,’ but Desaad reiterates to Steppenwolf that he ‘might’ve sat here, by the side of the great one, if it weren’t for his self-pride.’
That probably means that Steppenwolf tried to take over Darkseid’s throne after the ruler of Apokolips took it from his father. In the comics, he simply continued serving as Darkseid’s general, whereas here, he was banished for his betrayal.
Darkseid then made him conquer 50000 planets for him if he ever wanted his place on Apokolips back. Steppenwolf did so bravely, and although his banishment lasted for thousands of years, he ultimately met his end before he could ever accomplish the task given to him as retribution for his actions.
Adding salt to the wound, it appeared as if Darkseid really didn’t care about Steppenwolf at all, as he is shown to crush Steppenwolf’s head with his foot after the banished warrior is killed in battle.
Who is more powerful, Steppenwolf or Darkseid?
If there’s any doubt in your mind, it is evident that Darkseid is more powerful than Steppenwolf, both in the comics and the DCEU. Whether he was Steppenwolf’s uncle or nephew, the ruler of Apokolips was the superior New God in every sense of the word.
It might be due to his relentless pursuit of power or simply their naturally-given powers, but Steppenwolf is always shown as Darkseid’s subordinate, both in terms of their rank and their power.
I would dare to compare their relationship in the DCEU to that of Thanos and Ronan. The latter might’ve initially seemed to be the big baddie, but we soon learn that he tried betraying the real big baddie sitting behind the scenes, ultimately paying for that transgression with his life.
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