The announcement of Steppenwolf as the villain of Justice League might be a surprising one. His cameo was cut out of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It was eventually released online and will be restored in the Ultimate edition of that movie. In that cameo, Lex Luthor is using the Kryptonian technology to draw up an image of Steppenwolf who is interacting with three cubes before being interrupted. The set visit by the press not only revealed that Steppenwolf will be the villain of the movie but that the objects of desire in the movie will be three Mother Boxes. A Mother Box is a cube shaped object.
Apparently three Mother Boxes are part of three different societies: Atlanteans, Amazons and Humans. This happened in more ancient times. So it wouldn’t be a shock to see Steppenwolf coming to Earth to claim these. A Mother Box is something that are key items to the New Gods, which is the race Steppenwolf belongs to. They are effectively space gods. Steppenwolf, in particular, is notable because he is the general to the Darkseid. Darkseid is his nephew but Darkseid is effectively evil incarnate and has no equal. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that he is on a mission for his nephew.
There is precedent for this. In the recent New 52 of DC Comics, when the Justice League book launched, it was the invasion of Darkseid. It was eventually revealed that there was a simultaneous attack on a parallel Earth by none other than Steppenwolf. So this story set up Steppenwolf as someone Darkseid trusted enough to effectively fill in for him. Darkseid will no doubt be the villain for the already announced second Justice League movie. However, he does serve a purpose. He is not the ultimate big bad so it won’t be WB going all out on their first outing. He will also serve as the introduction to the New Gods. He will someone who will be powerful but not too powerful, effectively a wakeup call to the heroes of the League.
However, Steppenwolf is treated in the film it is an exciting move. WB is going full out on their more “out there” characters. Steppenwolf is an effective introduction to these concepts. Justice League will no doubt be a movie that is full of ambition and ideas that have not yet been seen on the big screen. The New Gods are coming to Earth and we better be ready.