MOTW: Who Should Appear in a "Man of Steel" Sequel?

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
June 11th, 2013

MOTW: Who Should Appear in a "Man of Steel" Sequel?

Superman is one of the first comic-book superheroes and over the years has collected a wide-ranging rogues gallery, or group of villains. In any comic-book-based movie, one of the lingering questions leading up to the film's release is who the villain will be. Although one of the common complaints about Superman is his perceived invincibility, there are plenty of villains Superman can't simply manhandle to foil their plots, or who are even a physical match for the Man of Steel. In the upcoming "Man of Steel" film, the main villain is General Zod, a prominent Kryptonian military leader. So let's take a look at the possible villains for a sequel.

The most obvious villain, and best known, is Lex Luthor, a powerful businessman and genius. Although Lex lacks the sheer power of Superman, he often has legal and political connections, or even scientific inventions that can help him out in battle. At one point, Luthor managed to become President of the United States in the DC world.

Brainiac is another villain likely to appear in the next movie. There are multiple versions of the character, ranging from a cyborg to an artificial intelligence to an evil mad scientist who likes to collect cities and put them in bottles. Most of the versions of Brainiac tend to be decoys, and it's not certain which version of Brainiac is the real one. This could make a multi-film story if "Man of Steel" is successful in theaters. It would work somewhat like the Ra's al-Ghul featured in "Batman Begins" with body doubles and decoys instead of the actual being.

Moving up the power scale, we see Doomsday. Doomsday isn't very intelligent, but he is more than a match for Superman's strength. He has the distinction of being the only villain to have killed Superman. For the film, Doomsday would have to be scaled back in terms of his regeneration. He normally has the ability to regenerate from any injury and adapt to it, so that he cannot be killed in the same manner twice. Doomsday would be one of the most implacable villains because he is an animalistic being who kills solely for his own survival.

Mongul is another powerful villain. He's an intergalactic conqueror in the vein of Galactus or the Skrull. During the '70s and '80s, Mongul was one of Superman's main antagonists. These days he's more of a Green Lantern villain, but he still deals with Superman on occasion. One of the best Superman stories written, "For the Man Who Has Everything," featured Mongul. Not only can he go toe-to-toe with Superman in a fight, he has access to a hallucinogenic plant that will trap victims in a pleasant hallucination of their happiest moments. If he could unleash this on a major scale, he could easily take over the planet.

Another villain who could end up in the "Man of Steel" sequel is Darkseid. Darkseid is, without a doubt, the most powerful Superman villain to date. He is often described as a god. His main motivation is to find the Anti-Life Equation, a formula that will drive people into permanent despair and subservience to him. One of Darkseid's main abilities is the Omega Beam, an attack that supposedly erases the target from existence completely, so they cannot be brought back from death. The only exception to this is Doomsday. Even if Darkseid doesn't appear in the sequel to "Man of Steel," he could appear in a third or final film. If he appears in the sequel and is defeated, having a mundane villain to follow him up could illustrate that Superman can't just power his way through crises.

These are by no means all the characters who could appear in a movie. Viewers could see Superboy, a power-mad Kryptonian, or Metallo, a cybernetically-enhanced man powered by kryptonite.

Even though Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder are more about making their movies fall on the realistic end of the scale, it is inherently difficult to keep Superman realistic. He is at his very core unrealistic: a human-like alien who receives power through yellow sunlight and is weakened by green rocks. This shouldn't keep the writers from making Superman's villains complex and well-written, or prevent them being part of phenomenal action sequences. If a sequel to "Man of Steel" is made, it will be interesting to see which of his enemies Superman faces.