- "The Mother Boxes will be found and united. No protectors here. No Lanterns, no Kryptonian. This world will fall, like all the others. For Darkseid."
Steppenwolf was a powerful New God and the former herald of Darkseid, his nephew and lord of Apokolips. After betraying Darkseid to their enemies, Steppenwolf was exiled and tasked with conquering one hundred fifty thousand worlds in Darkseid's name.
After the death of Superman awoke the lost Mother Boxes on Earth, Steppenwolf answered their call and arrived in Themyscira, reclaiming the box held by the Amazons, and began his conquest of the world.
During his continued assault, Steppenwolf was opposed by the combined efforts of the Justice League, a team of the world's heroes who united together to protect the world, but soon discovered the presence of the Anti-Life Equation hidden in the world's crust and alerted the armada of Apokolips. However, with the aid of a newly resurrected Superman, Steppenwolf was unable to complete the Unity of the Mother Boxes and was slain by Wonder Woman.
Exiled from Apokolips
- "Mighty Steppenwolf, who might have sat here by the side of the Great One. But undone by his self-pride."
"Desaad... I fall before you. Let me make a plea to him, that I may come home! After I take this world, in His name."
"You betrayed him! Your own family!"
"I saw my mistake! I slaughtered those who sought his throne!"
"You still owe the Great One 50,000 more worlds. He will hear your plea when you pay your debt."
- ―Steppenwolf and DeSaad[src]
Steppenwolf was born on Apokolips and served as a General in the armada of Parademons led by Darkseid, his nephew and Lord. However, Steppenwolf betrayed Darkseid to enemies who wanted to seize the throne of Apokolips, but he later turned on the would-be usurpers, defeating them in the hope of correcting his error. Still, due to his betrayal, he was exiled from his home and tasked with conquering 150,000 worlds for his penance.
- "Defenders. They have failed a hundred thousand worlds. They always fail. I have come to enlighten you to the Great Darkness! I will bathe in your fear!"
"Daughters of Themyscira, show him your fear!"
"We have no fear!"
- ―Steppenwolf, Hippolyta, and the Amazons[src]
Following the Showdown in Gotham Port, the Mother Boxes that were lost during Darkseid's defeat by the ancient defenders of Earth awoke after sensing the death of Superman, calling out to Apokolips once more. Answering their call, Steppenwolf opened a boom tube to the box held in the Penetralium on Themyscira and arrived with a swarm of Parademons to retrieve the box.
However, Steppenwolf was faced by Hippolyta and the Amazons, who restrained the him while the Queen escaped with the Mother Box and sunk the cage into the ocean below, but the New Gods quickly broke free and leaped onto the island in pursuit, killing many of the warriors with his Electro Axe before pinning the final one beneath her horse, claiming his prize as he watched Hippolyta comfort the dying warrior. As the legions of Themyscira arrived, loosing arrows at the invader, Steppenwolf lamented that the Great Darkness was upon the world before departing through a boom tube to Pozharnov, Russia, to turn it into a stronghold for his mission.
Settling in a nearby nuclear silo, Steppenwolf placed the returned Mother Box within a monolith, using it to call to DeSaad, high priest and torturer of Darkseid, reporting that the world was too divided to protect itself from his forces and would soon be claimed for the Great One, as he had sent his Parademons out in search of the remaining boxes while he constructs his stronghold. Steppenwolf asks if he may make a plea to their Lord to return after he captures the Earth, but DeSaad rebukes him, reminding him that he still had another 50,000 worlds to capture in His name and his plea would only be heard once he was finished. Defeated, Steppenwolf reassures the world's demise, left without the protection of the Green Lantern Corps or Superman to oppose him.
Steppenwolf captures several Atlanteans to discover the location of the Mother Box. The Atlanteans refuse to tell him, so he uses a device to project their memories, and discovers the location. Steppenwolf boom tubes himself to the Atlantean Mother Box Stronghold. He kills several Atlanteans guarding the Box, and Mera uses her powers over water to hold him at bay for a time. Steppenwolf is about to kill her, but Arthur arrives and catches his axe mid swing. While Arthur initially has the upper hand in the the following fight, Steppenwolf is able to overpower him and and take the Mother Box before leaving.
He then sets up the second Mother Box along with the first. After touching the second Mother Box, he receives a vision similar to Darkseid's invasion of Earth 5000 years prior and discovers that the Anti-Life Equation is on the planet. He summons DeSaad and tells him of what he has discovered. Darkseid then tells Steppenwolf that he will be welcome back on Apokolips if he successfully conquers Earth and that he will arrive after the conquest to take the Anti-Life Equation for himself.
Retrieving the third Mother Box
- "So begins the end."
- ―Steppenwolf, after retrieving the third Mother Box[src]
Steppenwolf has his Parademons take anyone with the scent of the Mother Box hostage, including Silas Stone, holding them all in an underground passage under Gotham Harbour. Steppenwolf begins interrogating a man, but Silas speaks up, causing the New God's attention to turn to him. He begins the interrogations, but Cyborg intercepts him, blasting the god.
Wonder Woman also jumps in and Steppenwolf tells his Parademons to handle the others as he fights her alone. The two are on even terms for most of the fight, however, Steppenwolf eventually seems to strive her backwards. Catching the missile fired by Cyborg in the Knightcrawler, he directs it towards the wall, opening a hole to the harbour and flooding the area before using a boom tube to flee.
When the heroes awaken the Mother Box to revive Superman, Steppenwolf arrives to take it. He follows Silas into S.T.A.R. Labs, but is interrupted by Cyborg. The god quickly knocks the hero away as Silas hits the Mother Box with a laser, dying in the process. Steppenwolf then takes the final Mother Box and uses a boom tube to leave, not knowing that Silas had super-heated to box so the heroes could track it.
After Batman manages to disable the barrier around Pozharnov, Steppenwolf orders the Parademons to kill the heroes while the Unity is completed. Wonder Woman, Aquaman, ad Cyborg manage to get to Steppenwolf and work together to fight him. Once the battle expires a certain time, Steppenwolf knocks Wonder Woman and Aquaman back. When Wonder Woman creates an opening, Cyborg gets to the Unity and begins hacking them.
He calls Barry to give him a boost in power, but Steppenwolf stops him before he can give the signal. Superman then arrives and prevents Steppenwolf from killing Cyborg and destroys his axe. The Kryptonian begins to fight Steppenwolf, and though he fights back, it is clear that he is no match for Superman, who absolutely dominates the battle, which ends with the Kryptonian cutting off one of the New God's horns with his heat vision. Before Steppenwolf is defeated, a boom tube to Apokolips opens and the Unity is completed killing all the heroes aside from the Flash who reverses time to give them a second chance.
- "I told you. Steppenwolf would fail."
"Yes. Yes, you did."
- ―Desaad to Darkseid after Steppenwolf's defeat.[src]
Ultimately, Steppenwolf was defeated by the combined efforts of the Justice League. Caught in the rage of his defeat, he leaves himself open to be impaled by Aquaman from behind. Superman then punches him to the boom tube and he is decapitated by Wonder Woman as he flies through, killing him and ending the invasion.
As his corpse lands on Apokolips, an enraged Darkseid steps on his severed head, breaking off his remaining horn and his glowing eyes power down. After the boom tube closes, DeSaad tells Darkseid that he warned him that Steppenwolf would fail, to which Darkseid agreed. Yet Darkseid pointed out that even with Steppenwolf's failure, his efforts had already yielded the discovery of Anti-Life's location which meant that the forces of Apokolips would still be compelled to attempt another invasion of Earth. Thus, Darkseid ordered Desaad to ready their armada in preparation for their second invasion.
- "DeSaad... I fall before you. Let me make a plea to him that I may come home after I take this world in his name."
- ―Steppenwolf to DeSaad[src]
Steppenwolf was extremely loyal to Darkseid and feared him greatly due to the immense power he has. He would go to extreme lengths to regain his nephew's respect by assimilating and destroying tens of thousands of worlds. Though he only wished to redeem himself and be reunited back at Apokolips, Steppenwolf did display emotions of anger, humility, twisted enjoyment and even sadness. When DeSaad repeatedly interrupted and reminded Darkseid's uncle of his debt, there was visible resentment and even a moment of defiance, when Steppenwolf pointed back at DeSaad when he told him of the discovery of the Anti-Life Equation. Steppenwolf was also a raging monster who has little control over his emotions and is seen being visibly frustrated at Superman's domination over him.
Powers and abilities
- New God physiology: As a New God, Steppenwolf is a phenomenally powerful divine being, to the point that he has conquered many planets with his Parademon army. A great Apokoliptian general, he is more powerful than most New Gods. It was also explained that, Steppenwolf survived a battle against the original Doomsday created by Bertron.
- Superhuman strength: Steppenwolf has a tremendous level of superhuman strength, which is further amplified by his Electro Axe, surpassing that of Cyborg, Mera, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman (as she needed Aquaman's aid to pull him with her lasso). He was capable of bending an Atlantean helmet with one hand. He could easily throw a horse with one hand and could fling three of them with their Amazon riders on top. Even when restrained by at least eight Amazons, Steppenwolf nearly managed to grab the Mother box. He cut through steel walls, armours and shattered reinforced glass doors with one punch. Steppenwolf's incredible strength extends to his legs, making him able to jump immense vertical and horizontal distances. His strength is only surpassed by Superman and Darkseid.
- Nigh-invulnerability: Steppenwolf is incredibly durable, which, combined with his armor which makes him almost invulnerable. Hence, Steppenwolf was only irritated by Mera's hydrokinesis attacks, was only slightly affected by direct blasts from Cyborg's arm cannon (though it caused him momentary burning pain), withstood mighty blows from Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Ordinary machine gun shots pose no threat to him. His durability still had its limits though, as Superman's heat vision burned right through his armour, skin and even bone, as Steppenwolf lost his right horn to Superman, while Darkseid broke the other by merely stepping on Steppenwolf's severed head.
- Superhuman speed: Steppenwolf can move at considerable superhuman speeds, going toe-to-toe with Wonder Woman and Aquaman's speed during their final fight, even outmaneuvering them on several occasions, despite his muscular physique and heavy armor. While underwater, Steppenwolf's combat speed is barely affected, as he swiftly overcomes Aquaman, despite the latter catching him off-guard. However, his speed is still no match for that of Superman or Flash.
- Superhuman stamina: Steppenwolf's advanced musculature is considerably more efficient than that of a human. As a result, his muscles produce practically no fatigue toxins during physical activity compared to those of humans. His virtually inexhaustible stamina enables him to exert himself at peak capacity for an undefined period of time without tiring at all. He can also hold his breath for prolonged periods of time, as shown when he retrieved the Motherbox from Atlantis.
- Superhuman reflexes: Steppenwolf was able to easily deflect an Amazon arrow shot at him with just the back of his hand.
- Longevity: As a New God, Steppenwolf has a potentially unlimited lifespan, and seemingly has not aged at all between the first and second invasion. Considering that he is Darkseid's uncle and that his nephew was in his youth during their first invasion of Earth around 3000 B.C., he has likely lived for nearly ten millennia.
- Genius-level intellect: Steppenwolf is a fairly keen-minded warlord, although his vast knowledge seems to derive from experience more than intellect. This mostly extended to his strategic and leadership skills.
- Expert tactician: Steppenwolf, despite usually winning through sheer divine power and the massive size of his Parademon forces, is a very skilled tactician as well. Hence, he bides his time, and only attacks Earth again after the Mother Boxes alert him of the deaths of all of the Old Gods and Superman, since only then does the planet lack defenders powerful enough to repel him. Steppenwolf also almost kills the Justice League with sheer tactics.
- Expert leader: Steppenwolf, due to him being Darkseid's herald and second-in-command on Apokolips, as well as having millennia of experience invading and taking over other worlds, is an extremely skilled leader.
- Master combatant: Being the herald of Darkseid, Steppenwolf is an extremely formidable warrior in hand-to-hand and armed combat, with centuries of experience. In combat, he was able to subdue many Amazons, Mera and several Atlantean warriors with relative ease, and overcome both Wonder Woman and Aquaman simultaneously and put pressure on them during the fight. He also casually defeated Cyborg with one hand, tossing the latter aside with no effort whatsoever. He was however, bested by Superman, and likely surpassed by Darkseid in ability, as he never dared to directly challenge Darkseid.
- Expert swimmer: Steppenwolf is very good swimmer and was able to rather easily maneuver while underwater retrieving the Atlantean Mother Box; seemingly, his fighting skills were only minimally hampered by the aquatic environment.
- Indomitable will: Steppenwolf has tremendous willpower, very nearly emerging victorious in the War for Earth. Even after being conquered and exiled, Steppenwolf's spirit endured. Indeed, his unbreakable resolve greatly contributed to how the Parademons answered to him. Moreover, Steppenwolf was capable of remaining steadfast and focused in his tasks, refusing to yield to anyone other than his lord, master, and nephew, for whom he proudly professed his undying loyalty. It was his willpower and absolute belief in his goal that made him such a dangerous opponent.
- Armor: Steppenwolf was adorned in a shining metallic "living" armor that responded to him almost symbiotically, covering all but his face when fully deployed. It was capable of reshaping itself, manifesting spikes when in combat and closing its blades to capture arrows fired by Amazons. The armor was made from an unknown, silver-like metal that could withstand attacks from large caliber weapons and explosives, as well as mystically enchanted objects such as the Sword of Athena and Aquaman's trident. However, it was unable to defend against the heat vision of Kryptonians, as Superman was able to weaken the armor enough to break off pieces of the armor with his strikes, leaving Steppenwolf exposed and unprotected to allow Aquaman to impale him on his trident before Wonder Woman decapitated him.
- Mind probe: After obtaining the Motherbox held by the Amazons, Steppenwolf began searching for the remaining two, using a spider-like probe embedded in the left gauntlet of his armor to scan the minds of his captives for information, emitting a holographic display of its victims' memories. He deployed the device against a soldier from Atlantis, revealing the Atlantean Stronghold, and several S.T.A.R. Labs employees. The device was later destroyed by Cyborg during the Skirmish under Gotham Harbor when he saved Silas Stone.
- Mother Boxes: Advanced living machines from Apokolips, Steppenwolf used the Mother Boxes to open Boom Tube’s to worlds throughout the multiverse for him to conquer before uniting the boxes to form the Unity, releasing an energy wave that engulfs the world in fire to reshape it in the image of Apokolips.
- Electro Axe: Steppenwolf's primary offensive weapon, which the New God uses to blast and obliterate much of the area surrounding him at a given time. It also notably amplified the strength of Steppenwolf to the point where he could go toe-to-toe or even overpowers Justice League members such as Wonder Woman and Aquaman.
Behind the scenes
- Director David Ayer revealed that he originally planned to have Steppenwolf appear in Suicide Squad. The Enchantress would have been under the control of a Motherbox with Steppenwolf prepping an invasion with a Boom Tube.
- Steppenwolf's original design was drastically different than the version that appears in 2017's Justice League, as concept art and leaked pre-visualizations for the film revealed the design having a much more serrated, alien design that was much closer to the render seen in the Communion scene in the Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman.
- Terrio, Chris, Beall, Will (writers) & Snyder, Zack (writer and director) (March 18, 2021). Zack Snyder's Justice League.
- Steppenwolf Was Originally a Huge Part of Suicide Squad
- ‘Justice League’ concept art reveals a scarier version of Steppenwolf