Why was Warner Bros. so obsessed with Steppenwolf? The D-list comic book villain somehow found himself at the center of Justice League, an appearance that was wildly slammed for being a boring, ugly mess of CGI — and worse, a waste of the brilliant Ciaran Hinds. Thankfully, his DC Extended Universe appearances were limited to Justice League, after a cameo in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was cut from the final theatrical cut. But little did we know, we dodged the Mother (Box) of bullets with Suicide Squad, which was originally set to properly introduce Steppenwolf before Justice League.

First, let it be said that the final version of Suicide Squad is still a total mess — the tonal disconnect, the on-the-nose needledrops, the shaky editing, and the totally different movies that the cast appear to be acting in. But it could have been a whole lot worse.

Director David Ayer revealed that the original concept for Suicide Squad would have tied the film more heavily into Warner Bros.’ growing DCEU universe, with a reveal that Steppenwolf was controlling Cara Delevigne‘s Enchantress with a Mother Box, one of the mystical objects that fuel the plot of Justice League. The squad would have fought Steppenwolf in the film’s climactic fight scene instead of Incubus (Alain Chanoine). Responding to a question on Twitter about Suicide Squad concept art that showed the Big Bad and his Parademon minions, Ayer wrote:

“This is right. Enchantress was under the control of a mother box and Steppenwolfe [sic] was prepping an invasion with a boom tube. Had to lose that then the JL story arcs evolved.”

Those gooey sewer monsters that appeared as Enchantress’ minions were also first conceived as Parademons, the director confirmed. It’s hard to say why this original concept was scrapped, but it’s possible it was during Suicide Squad‘s extensive reshoots, which were intended to revamp the film into a more “fun” romp to capitalize on the popularity of the joke-heavy trailer.

Tying the film closer to Justice League may have made Steppenwolf’s introduction less jarring in the 2017 film, which was meant to lay the groundwork for the eventual introduction of the actually good DC Comics villain Darkseid, Steppenwolf’s nephew and master. With the DCEU radically changing direction at the moment, that probably won’t happen at this point. But at least we only had to deal with Steppenwolf once.

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