I think we start with Granny Goodness. I’ve already said it really should be Kathy Bates playing her, because that would be perfect. But imagine her sitting down with some children, telling them a bedtime story in one of her orphanages, and it starting like any normal bedtime story, but slowly layering in horrors the like of which would give the Brothers Grimm nightmares. She tells the story of two warring peoples, the gods of New Genesis and Apokalips, and how their war scarred the cosmos, destroying planets, entire solar systems, until a fragile peace was declared, commenced with the exchange of two heirs to either ruling family- Scott Free, and Darkseid’s son, Orion. Once this fairy tale becomes too scary, we cut away from the dungeonous orphanage, to a balcony atop one of the spires of New Genesis.
We see some of the cruelty of New Genesis, as children mock Orion for being the son of the Devi; his temper flares, even if he keeps it under wraps until after the children leave. That’s when he’s found by the Highfather. Orion asks if his dad really is the Devil. “Darkseid isn’t the Devil, but yes, you are his heir.” Orion, clearly hurting, asks if his father loved him, how could he give him away. “Our children are our hope and prayer for a better tomorrow. But a prayer muttered alone will not build a better world; the best thing a parent can do for their children is also the hardest: letting them soar on the open wind.”
The story follows three children. Orion, raised in relative luxury on New Genesis. Scott, languishing in Granny’s orphanage. And Barda… okay, so Barda is also raised at Granny’s orphanage, but for the sake of contrast, I’m going to have her be, essentially, one of the popular kids, Granny’s favorite, groomed for a special place. Scott is her lowliest charge, essentially singled out by Darkseid and Granny to be ground into nothing- but not through violence, through his own insignificance- they put him into what is, essentially, parademon basic training, which, like all life on Apokalips but the most privileged, is to have all life, all hope, all will, pressed out of you. Barda and Scott aren’t really aware of each other. They tangentially run into each other; Barda is responsible for thwarting one of his escape attempts by chucking a weapon at his back as he flees. But increasingly the orphanage becomes bifurcated, with Scott’s section becoming more dungeonous, filled with traps and torture equipment, but also increasingly more dreary and cold. And increasingly, Scott becomes the face of the rebellious movement against Granny. He escapes, causes havoc, maybe does a little organizing, before getting put away again. Orion finds acceptance, at least temporarily, by helping save some children on New Genesis. All while Barda becomes more and more engrained in the upper echelons. But I think, at least at the beginning, we’re going to have three narrations, but also, that they’re going to kind of be the same, at least in their goals.
We start with Scott, because he’s the face of this thing, both its most fun and interesting character, but also its most tragic (at least in the beginning). “From the time I was a child, all I wanted to do was escape this hell.” I think we show a classroom, and for a moment it could be any science fiction story starting in an advanced school, albeit cold and alien-looking. Young Scott Free, as his adult self narrates, is answering a very simple, one-question test. Granny reads it aloud, to prevent there from being any question what the question is: As a citizen of Apokalips, I live only for… which Scott has answered, in an exotic kind of crayon, in a child’s unsteady hand, he’s written the word “escape.”
Granny’s shadow eclipses his paper, and Scott, a little intimidated, looks up at her. “Oh, Scott,” she begins, and for a moment we’re lulled into the possibility that she’s going to be kind, and gently correct him, that despite her space-fascist outfit and cape, there’s a glint of softness in her eyes, but we show her reeling back with her weapon as she says, “you really never learn.” I imagine violence against a child will be too much to depict in too great a detail, but we can have him off-screen, receiving the attack, as energy flashes light Granny’s face. Still on her face, but she’s now angry. She blasts with her weapon, as a slightly older Scott dodges overhead on his signature discs, the blast weakening the one window in the classroom enough that, as we cut outside to see the crack form, Scott flies out the window. “Thankfully, I always had a talent for escape.” In the next moment, Scott, a little beaten up, is thrust back into his seat in front of Granny. “Unfortunately for me, on Apokalips there really isn’t anywhere to escape to.”
We cut back to the previous scene. Adult Barda narrates: “From the time I was a child, all I wanted was to escape this life.” Granny finishes her attack on Scott and spins on her heels, lurking over Barda, who is sitting with her hands neatly folded. On her page, in surprisingly clean and crisp letters, she’s written the correct answer: Darkseid. Granny practically glows (at least insofar as she’s capable).
“Very good, Barda. Young Mr. Free could learn much from you- if he weren’t such a dunce. I think it’s time we sent you to the advanced course.” Barda is shown to be special. She was Granny’s favorite, shown as a child to have an exceptional talent for combat, even besting a parademon before puberty, and clearly enjoying the warrior’s life. She’s shown the closest thing Granny shows to affection (it is fleeting and superficial, but in an entire world that is basically a high-tech concentration camp, it’s a tiny flash of humanity). Granny pins a cape to a still quite young Barda, a signal of her rank. Below is a procession of dregs, in dirty, blackened rags, marching but with no fanfare at all, from their barracks to the factories. “It’s better to rule in hell, than to live among its offal.” We see Scott escape below, flying on his discs, this time narrowly avoiding large blocks that shift to try to contain his escape. Barda raises her weapon (similar to Granny’s; in fact, she’s starting to look like a young Granny) and fires, knocking Scott from the sky. He crashes on the shifting block, and is snatched by parademons. “Unfortunately, sometimes rulers have to be cruel to be kind.”
Now we show New Genesis again. A young Orion is held down by kids his own age, who smear handfuls of paint along his face to make him more closely resemble Darkseid, as they taunt him that he should be back on Apokalips with his own kind. Orion punches one of them, bloodying his knuckles, and the children flee. We cut to him, looking in the mirror at the greasy paint smeared into his hair and across his face, interrupted by streaky tears running down his face. An older Orion narrates as we also intercut his bloodied hands as he looks at his reflection in the mirror, seeing overlaid his father’s face, “From the time I was a child, all I wanted was to escape this devil,” (part of that, is wanting to escape his own rage, which he recognizes is the first step to his truly becoming Darkseid’s heir).
Izaya helps the boy wash his face, and comforts him. “Your rage is understandable, Orion,” the Highfather says. “Only children can be so cruel- and those who never outgrow a child’s outlook. They hate what they fear, and fear what they don’t understand. But what I know, my son, is that you are not the devil they see, nor are you the monster you fear. You are merely a boy, bravely hopeful that he can be better than his forebears. And you can.”
Orion, simply crushed under the weight of all of this, holds up his hand, still bloodied. “I struck one of them.”
Highfather is patient. “You did. But remember the time before? You struck several. And before that, you struck all of them, several repeatedly. And today, you did so with great reluctance. I know that our Eden is held as idyllic, our ways peaceful. They are neither. We are the counter to Apokalips. While the day may seem overly kind beside the dark, it is only through persevering over the night that we maintain life in the universe, growth. Without the day’s light, nothing could sustain life.” Orion asks about mushrooms, and Highfather smiles. “Mushrooms are merely a different kind of life, persevering even through the dark; they are a testament to the strength and will of life…”
We follow inside Granny’s orphanage as the Highfather’s words seep in, “but they are not enough to sustain it.” Scott anticipates returning to his classroom again, but a thin man in robes stops him. “Darkseid grows impatient with your lack of progress; Granny’s compassion has spoiled you, child, but I will not spare the rod.” The robed figure clings to his staff eagerly. Scott becomes more and more concerned as he is led into increasingly more dungeonous territory. A parademon brings a prisoner to the robed figure. The prisoner addresses him as “DeSaad,” and begs him for mercy, that he wasn’t trying to escape. DeSaad says he was hoping for a chance to test the enhancements to his rod. It bathes the man in fire, and he collapses to the ground, mewling. DeSaad is very proud of his handywork. “It takes an artists eye to get the balance right. Too much heat, and you’ll cook the meat and kill the body; too much force and you peel away the flesh, and they die. No, the key is just enough of both to make the pain exquisitely unbearable. He’ll beg to die, when he regains his strength, but in time he will heal, and we can start the progress over again.”
“You’re a monster,” Scott says.
“Unlucky for you, the real monster’s taken a personal interest in you, now. Normally, I like watching the systemic demolition of hope from a young man’s eyes. But the sheer hate he holds for you- if you want to jump, I’ll let you. I promise you, it’s the last kindness you’ll ever know.” Scott follows his gaze down into a chasm, its black depths punctuated by pools of molten rock at the bottom. During their gazing, the other prisoner manages to roll himself over the edge. He crumples as he lands, before the boiling rock envelopes him. But it doesn’t swallow. It just roils around him as he wriggles in agony.
DeSaad is just tickled pink by this; it might be too much to have him howl in delight. “Takes a genius, to devise a trap like this one, and so few Apokaliptians are up to appreciating it. The fall is calculated, to the millimeter, to smash the bones, but not to kill. And the boiling rock, it’s not so hot to kill- just to sear- and to cauterize any wounds he sustained.” Water is poured down into the chasm. “We keep them moist, so they don’t dry out. They’d starve, before succumbing, but we pluck them out before it happens. Sometimes we set their bones, only to throw them back in. Sometimes we let all their burns heal. I’m a technologist by trade, but my passion is the science of suffering. You and I, Scott, you’re going to be my masterpiece of pain. And if you’re lucky, I’ll make some stumble and end you, because if I don’t, Darkseid’s wroth will render my research quaint. To him, I am not even an apprentice; he is the true master of agony.”
We cut to Darkseid, sitting in a throne over a gladiatorial pit. Goddfrey introduces the combatants: Lashina and Barda will fight two captured New Genesis weaponsmiths. Goddfrey tells them they have a chance to prove their worth by using their designed weapons to defeat Darkseid’s Furies… unless they’ve been sandbagging. At first the weapons don’t work (that’s the reason they’re in this pickle to begin with), but they manage to stay alive long enough to fix them, and turn them on the Furies. But Lashina and Barda have only been toying with them. Even with their fancy New God tech, the two Furies easily disarm them. Darkseid holds up his hand and both promise to live for Darkseid. He puts his thumb down, and Lashina executes them both as Barda watches, bidding they die for Darkseid.
On New Genesis, Orion is dressed in sentinel garb (his usual costume), essentially a peacekeeping force. However, one of his fellow soldiers mocks him as “the Little Dictator.” Orion tries to hold his temper, until the guy shoves him out of line, which turns his drill instructor’s attentions to him. Orion attacks. We cut to later, as Highfather arrives as Orion is being dressed down by the officer, who questions both his loyalty and bravery, attacking a fellow sentinel. Highfather chastises the instructor, saying his son is every bit as loyal as any of New Genesis’ citizens, and twice as brave, perhaps too brave, to where he’d fight his own for his honor. Highfather stares down the one who started it, saying Orion has a temper, but he’s no provocateur. Orion intercedes, and says to leave it- that he doesn’t want his father- either of them- to lord his position over someone, and storms off. After a moment, Highfather smiles, and follows.
Back on Apokalips, in a tight corridor, a child holds its parents’ hand, clinging desparately. A parademon strikes the parent, and the hand goes limp, even as the child clings more tightly, and Scott Free, flying on his discs, bursts in, light streaming, now in his full Mr. Miracle garb. He stops the parademon assault, and whisks parent and child away. I’m assuming this is still a young Scott, so built like Spider-Man moreso than an adult. He sets the parent and child down safely, but they’re angry at exposing them to potentially more danger; they’re being kind of a jerk, but I want it to be reasonable, too, that we understand that they are simply reacting to Apokalips, where fighting back is far more dangerous than being crushed slowly to death- especially in the lessons it teaches an already frightened child (side note: their crime was trying to keep and raise their child- all children are supposed to be surrendered to Granny’s orphanages, so they really are a revolutionary in the making). Scott offers them an entertainment, a temporary escape from the violence and danger of Apokaliptian life, pulling back a curtain, inviting them, as a sign proclaims, to see Mr. Miracle’s escape. Oberon works as the hype man, as Scott performs death-defying feats. It’s a small, underground audience (Apokalips really doesn’t have space for theater- that’s also why his garb is so unusual; the world is mostly black and gray, the sole exception being officers in Darkseid’s army, for whom color is a sign of rank). After the show, Scott convinces parent and child to stick around. Then he convinces Oberon to help him smuggle them out, to the resistance. Oberon’s reluctant; the kid said the last time was the last time, that if they keep taking risks they get caught, and if they get caught the resistance gets exposed. Scott reluctantly agrees, that of course Oberon’s right, they can’t be careless, he just needs Oberon to do one thing and he’ll go along: he has to tell the kid they can’t help.
And Oberon tries, gets down on the kid’s level, and can see they’re just scared. Oberon melts, “Aw, kid, I’m no good at giving bad news.” He stands up, huffily. “Fine, fine, we’ll take em. You know the kid’s got that same dangerous glint in their eyes.” Scott asks if it’s charm. “Worse. Hope. We give too many of these people hope, and we’re just setting them up for this world to crush em even worse.”
Scott has a genuine offection for Oberon, and tells him he appreciates how he “keeps him grounded.” Oberon, seeing the kid from a distance, says Scott keeps him doing the right thing, despite himself.
We cut to New Genesis, basically modern day. He flies through the air in what is essentially an airborne segue. Orion’s wearing a helmet, and through that he’s radioed. “Orion, we have an airborne radar contact, trajectory would suggest an Apokaliptian origin. Flight pattern suggests a parademon, though whether its a scout or one of them escaped the pens we don’t know.” Orion says he’ll check it out. It’s a parademon, all right, and gives him a run for his money (I’m going to say we should upgrade parademons from the ones Steppenwolf brought to Earth in Justice League; since he was on the outs, his army consisted of the crummiest of the parademons- they should be more formidable than his were then, at least in general.
Orion talks to himself a bit, so we understand he’s following the typical protocol, that they usually just fire warning shots to chase the parademons back home. But this one is persistent, refusing; it wants something. Orion’s given the order to shoot it down to prevent it from completing whatever its mission is. He does, but it barrels down onto one of the trams (think a monorail, but the track is a pair of flimsy golden pipes- really elegant looking but the parademon smashes through it. And that juncture point is for a school- and Orion can see that there is basically a bus full of school children barreling towards the end of the line without an end point. Orion lands roughly to beat the kids to the end of the line and hold up the broken rail so the bus comes to a relatively smooth stop.
One of the teachers runs to the bus, but is surprised to see Orion. She’s somewhat shamed by her behavior as a kid, but also recognizes she’s beautiful and has a wellspring of confidence from that. “I used to pick on you,” she says, “when we were kids.” Orion, barely able to meet her gaze, tells her he remembers. She tells him she was wrong- they all were. She’s felt awful about it- but never enough to contact him- “I had no right to force an apology on you to salve my guilt. But I see it on your face, even now, how I hurt you. I had no right to do that, either. I’m sorry.” He asks if she teaches. She does, but also, her daughter was on that bus, she tells him, as her little girl gets clear and runs to her. She says she doesn’t know, after losing her child’s father last year, how she could have withstood losing her, too. “There are no words to express my sorrow for the pain I caused you, and an equal degree for the sorrow you spared me today.” She tells him he’s a better citizen of New Genesis than most of them could ever hope to be. She smiles at him and leaves.
“So why do I feel so angry?” Orion asks, as he limps his flying frame away. Izaya is talking to him through his helmet. He tells him that the wounds she caused him run deep, that she exposed a nerve, and while over the long term her words might touch him, even sooth him, in that moment, all they can do is deepen his hurts. Orion asks if those wounds ever heal, if he’ll ever feel like he’s earned his place on New Genesis. Highfather assures him he has, a hundred fold; he is, in the humble opinion of his father, one of their finest citizens. But he is also his father’s son, a creature of deep longing.
“But where Darkseid needs to control, all thought, all will, all life, you, Orion, need to belong, to feel loved and needed and cared for. The people of New Genesis have not always lived up to our ideals and provided for that need.”
Orion tells him he thinks he’s right- that, like his father, he needs too much. Izaya tells him that wasn’t the lesson he wanted him to take from what he said, and Orion tells him that doesn’t make it any less true. He says that his has not always been the easiest life, but he remembers his earliest days on Apokalips, that his worst day on New Genesis paled to his best moment on Apokalips, and even there he had been the favored son of its despot. He worries over Scott, the son the Highfather traded for him.
The resistance leader, Himon, thanks Scott for turning in another refugee. Their campaign is going well, all things considered, and it’s only with the help of those like him that they’re able to continue to work to free even some of Apokalips from the tyrant’s grasp.
“Why him?” Barda asks, looking at a hologram of Mr. Miracle. We’re now in Granny Goodness’ war room, where she tasks her furies on their most secretive missions.
“Why him?” Granny asks. “Because Scott Free is the lowliest of the low. He has always been a worm, but the worst kind- the kind who refuses to be trod under foot.” She explains that Goddfrey’s spies have found dozens of resistance agents who could be used to destroy their movement. But it needs to be Scott. When we break his rebel friends, when the last dying ember of hope is stamped out, Scott Free needs to know that it was his failure that led to so much loss, and pain. “Why him? Because he has always refused to live for Darkseid, and I want his breaking to be the triumph they recall for millenia after me.”
“But why me?” Barda asks, suddenly anxious.
As Granny narrates, the hologram shifts, showing Barda at various points in her rise. “Because you, Barda, are my finest success. A brutal warrior, a brilliant student, the ruthless leader of my Furies. If anyone can remove the black stain of Scott Free’s smile from my record, it’s you, dear. Break him for me, Big Barda, and your reward will stir envy in your peers the like of which you’ve never seen.”
We cut to a transport. Barda seems anxious. Some of that is she’s dressed in the same rags as the rest of the underclass. Some of it is, it’s really her first experience among them. She’s been told, from childhood, that they are deserving of their status, they are dregs for a reason, capable only of corruption if not for the careful guidance of Darkseid, who yolks their unruly, wanton cruelty to provide some measure of prosperity. At first she feels naked without her armor or her weapon- after all, her entire life she’s been told how desperate the dregs are, clawing at their betters for any purchase to pull themselves up- or pull their betters down. But these people aren’t her enemy; they aren’t even capable of presenting a threat, they’re so beaten down and broken. One of the workers stumbles, and a parademon spins on him with a cat o’ nine tails like weapon. Barda catches his elbow. That gets her more attention from other guards, and eventually she’s beating the hell out of a handful of parademons on her own, caught up in the moment. The laborer she saved helps her escape, bidding her slide into a low-lying window.
Barda is surprised at herself. She wants to be upset- she could well have ruined her subterfuge, but the thrill of battle has her blood up. The laborer is terrified, of and for her, but reason they owe her help, since they’ll be looking for her. They can get her to the resistance. “To fight?” Barda asks, still exhilirated by the fight. They tell her it’s to flee- that they’re the only way she can get out of the city alive. The laborer leads them through some underground tunnels, which eventually open up into a gray market. The laborer explains to Barda where she needs to go, when a parademon notices them. She tells the laborer to run, that she’ll lead it off. She runs a squadron of them a merry chase, before being bottled in an alley. She’s about to fight, when Mr. Miracle descends from the sky on his flying discs. He’s almost as formidable as she is (though now she’s playing damsel a bit- helping when his back is turned so as not to arouse suspicion). Barda flips the rescue, preventing Scott from being shot in the back by a parademon. He whisks her away, and takes her to the rebellion’s secret base.
She meets our important players for this portion of the movie, who want to funnel Barda out of town. But she wants to stay and fight. Scott intercedes, telling them she saved his life, and seems more than capable of handling herself. Himon doesn’t like it, but one of their number got swept up by a patrol, so they’re short a hand; he warns her it’ll be sink or swim, “But if you do need a hand, I have been known to function as a floatation device,” Scott says. The leader plays the heavy, each time trying to convince her that they will cut her loose if she threatens any of their safety, or their mission, each time undercut by Scott. Scott is defiant, chivalrous and charming; despite herself, Barda begins to warm to him.
The mission is breaking into one of Darkseid’s research pens. Darkseid’s search for the Anti-Life equation is one half a spiritual quest, one half super unethical research. The fruits of his labors so far are the parademons, essentially mindless, feral husks that were once living people just like those on New Genesis.
The plan had not been for Barda to rough up a dozen parademons, so Granny, concerned, sends the other furies to arrest the rebel leaders. They snatch Barda in the night, give Barda her uniform, and tell her arrests happen at dawn. Barda can’t sleep. Eventually she bursts in on Scott, who tries to play it cool, at first not getting that this isn’t a booty call. She warns Scott, tells him to save himself- that they can’t save the resistance, but he doesn’t deserve whatever Darkseid has planned for him.
Scott tells her that he trusts her with his life, his happiness, his hope, that “none of it is worth saving from Darkseid if we think it’s so fragile we can never share it,” and he kisses her, and for a moment she’s lost in the kiss, in for once feeling something good and vital and life-affirming, but the crushing reality of Apokalips comes rushing back to her and she pulls away from him. She tells him, angrily, she already tried to save him, by warning him off; he answers with a smile, and tells her, “I know. Now I’m trying to save you.”
Barda comes with the other Furies, conflicted as all get out. But when Lashina sets upon Scott, she isn’t conflicted, and she doesn’t hesitate. She blasts Lashina, and she, Scott, and Oberon, flee. Only this time, they’ve got a Motherbox, so they can make it off world, arriving on New Genesis.
They tell Highfather what happened, Scott relating the degradation he suffered in the name of peace. Highfather weeps, “Would that I could have taken your place, son, I would have; would that I could take your sorrows as mine to erase them from your soul.”
Orion, hearing all this, is pissed. He’s worked so hard to be accepted, so hard to be loved, so hard to feel he deserves to be Highfather’s son, only for Darkseid’s castoff to waltz in and be granted the title merely for being born. “Son?” He roars. “You call this wretched beast son.”
“I do, son; I have learned great affection for beasts, no matter their wretchedness,” he says, and tenderly strokes Orion’s cheek. But Highfather’s (and Avia’s) love is no match for Orion’s pain, and he continues advancing, his steps heavy with anger. But just as tragedy seems fit to strike, Scott scoops Orion up, joy in his voice as he exclaims that he has a brother. Scott hugs him fiercely; he knew, in his heart, on Apokalips that he had parents, but for the first time, in this space, with all of those he loves, does he feel like he truly has a family. And, despite himself, so, too, does Orion, caught up (as much as the curmudgeonly New God can be) in Scott’s joy, admiting with some strain, and indeed surprise that he has a brother.
The fragile peace is ended, however, by Scott’s successful escape, giving Darkseid the pretext he required to reignite the war.
Only Darkseid has been busy. During the war that split Genesis, their original planet, in half, New Genesis was technologically superior. Think Russia during World War II, Darkseid’s gains in territory came at the cost of immense expenditures of life; it was possible that Darkseid would lose his first war because their technology was so inferior, but not guaranteed. Highfather so feared Darkseid might triumph that he agreed to unleash the unmitigated power of the Source, cracking the planet in two (why yes, clever reader, this is a metaphor for atomic warfare). Apokalips, including the industrial heart of Darkseid’s territory, which soon spread over his entire planet, and New Genesis, Highfather’s idyllic homeworld, including the floating metropolis, New Eden.
Their gravity remains intertwined, as the two spheres rotate around one another. It was thought that Highfather could end the threat of Apokalips by once again harnessing the power of the Source, but at the cost of a terrible genocide; it was to prevent such a senseless loss of life that Highfather accepted the trading of their heirs. Darkseid agreed, because it bought him time to rebuild, to regrow his armies, and to use the technologists stolen from Highfather (and thought lost in the cracking of the planet) to close the technology gap almost entirely.
Apokalips’ first assault is on the Source itself, capturing the weapon Highfather used to split the planet, and had used to enforce the peace with Apokalips. They cause a huge amount of damage, making it clear that Darkseid’s forces are now far more deadly than in their last war. Highfather holds a war council, splitting his forces to cover certain strategic areas, the most important being New Eden. Scott offers to return to Apokalips, but both Highfather and Orion refuse to let him- he was merely the pretext, a story that let Apokalips pretend to have won their earlier conflict, but also a seed for the next. Even if he did go back, Darkseid could see to it that no one believed that he did. Highfather places Orion, his most trusted lieutenant, in charge of a contingent with Mr. Miracle and Barda to retake the weapon’ without it, Apokalips will be unstoppable.
They’re able to insert Orion inside, but find too late it was a honey-pot, that the surrounding hills are choked with parademons. Miracle and Barda lead the forces fighting to buy Orion time, the idea being that if they can fire the weapon on Apokalips, the mere demonstration that it’s back in New Genesis’ control should be enough to force a ceasefire. And while they fight a battle they know they will lose to buy Orion time, Orion finds that the weapon has already been disassembled. He tries for a moment to fix it, before realizing it isn’t just that they disabled it- they were altering the weapon, so it could be fired into the heart of New Genesis itself. Orion calls up the security satellites, to watch as Scott and Barda are being overwhelmed. He calls his Highfather, who is bloodied, but still fighting, even if it’s clear he won’t be fighting for much longer.
“Father,” Orion says, “I’m sorry for what I must do.” Then we watch as Orion broadcasts a message across New Genesis and Apokalips, both. “I, Orion, son of Darkseid, hold the beating heart of New Genesis’ greatest weapon in my hands. For Darkseid, for Apokalips, I close my fist.” Orion turns his floating conveyence on the weapon, and fires.
Outside, the spire housing the weapon combusts impressively. Scott screams for Orion, even as Barda points to his shape flying from the tower, that he’s alive. They both pause, as they hear Orion broadcast across all channels. “I have struck a blow to our hated enemies. Apokalips, it has been too long since I stood in the halls of my father. I’m coming home, triumphant.”
The parademons stop fighting, and watch as he flies towards Apokalips. After a moment of eerie silence, they follow suit, abandoning their conquest and flying after Orion. I imagine I should seed it so that Orion was part of an Apokaliptian stab in the back myth, that he was stolen by the treacherous Highfather in a raid, a raid in which he callously left his own son behind. Darkseid saw to the wayward child as he did all Apokaliptians, caring for them by tempering them in the fires of his industrial furnace. The return of Orion is thus complicated. On the surface, Apokalips rejoices at the victorious return of its lost prince, as well as the crippling of New Genesis’ great weapon.
New Genesis is somber. With Orion gone, their forces are weaker than ever. And while Highfather publically puts a brave face on it- that Orion surrendered to end the assualt- he recognizes that it’s a blow to morale, regardless. He feels the sting of the loss of a child, but also, some small part of him nags that his son rejected years of teachings to return to his ‘real’ father.
Scott isnt ready to give up on his brother just yet. He talks with Barda, telling her he has to to go. He doesn’t know if he can escape Apokalips a second time, but he has to try. He asks her to watch over his father, and Oberon, if anything happens to him. She tells him she can’t, to which he brokenly says, “Oh,” taking it to mean that now that she’s free of Apokalips, she wants to be free of him, as well, and we linger on that moment, Scott’s heart breaking even as he prepares to face his likely demise. She tells him the reason she can’t watch them is she’ll be with him, in their home in New Eden, or in DeSaad’s dungeon on Apokalips- wherever he is is where she’ll be.
I think that’s where we go to credits. Yeah, we’re not even pretending there won’t be a sequel. Darkseid IS DC’s big bad. It’s worth at least a couple of movies, maybe three, to set him up- and I think you can make some damn fine movies out of these.
Mid-credits scene: Darkseid is pissed. Orion is chained to a pillar, clearly having been beaten, bloodied, bruised, but also angry, and for the first time he feels like he’s got a worthy recipient for his anger.
Darkseid slaps him, the blow enough to bloody even the mighty Orion further. But Darkseid’s anger is cold. “You revoked my pretext for war; I’ll invent another.” DeSaad hands him a rag to wipe away the blood from his fist. “You’ve bought them hours. Perhaps days.”
“”Is that all you have to say to me, ‘father?’ I’m your heir,” Orion cries out. “You’re an heir to an immortal, a surplus in a world that can only ever know hunger; you are useless to me. DeSaad? Break the welp. If any pieces of value remain when you’ve finished, bring them to me. If not, dispose of them in the furnace.”