Mother Box

DC Extended Universe
The Mother Box guarded by the Amazons in the Justice League movie.

Justice League (2017) directed by Zack Snyder and written by Joss Whedon and Chris Terrio may not have enjoyed great commercial success. However, it is notable for introducing important DC Comics characters, expanding the DC Extended Universe into the multiversal world of the New Gods. A central element of the story, revolves around the Mother Box. In DC Comics continuity, this sophisticated artifact is created by the New Gods, a race of metaphysical beings born from the First World at the beginning, Urgrund, forming with New Genesis and Apokolips, a Fourth World. This fictional technology is possessed by the New Gods and enables them to bridge time and space for multiple applications. The Mother Box, is essentially, a sentient super-computer that grants its New God user fantastic abilities such as levitation and flight, teleportation, and matter and energy manipulations.

In the film, the boxes are presented as a perpetual energy source, called by Cyborg’s father, Silas Stone, a Change Engine. Upon an invasion of Earth by Apokoliptian Steppenwolf during mythological times, the three Mother Boxes are entrusted to the Amazons, the Atlanteans, and the tribes of man and guarded in secure strongholds. The premise of the movie, then, reposes on the return of Steppenwolf upon the Death of Superman in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, a casualty of the battle against Doomsday alongside Batman and Wonder Woman; he sees the demise of the Kryptonian as the fall of darkness upon the Earth and an opportunity to conquer.

Justice League, is in fact, a movie of two directors. Upon the death of his daughter — by suicide — Zach Snyder stepped down from the movie project duties to stay with family. From that moment, Joss Whedon took over and directed the movie. The movie appears to showcase the lightheartedness and the humor that is characteristic of Whedon’s work, particularly on Marvel’s The Avengers. Snyder mentioned that, he had always intended for the film to be brighter and more hopeful than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The movie does appear so. At the same time, it seems to lack the spectacle and the grand action characteristic of previous Snyder work, which seem to reveal, perhaps, the conflict that the director was experiencing over the critical reception with his two previous outings at Warner Bros. in the DC Extended Universe. Was Snyder’s vision, perhaps, darker than the film seems to portray as reflected in Batman v. Superman?

“The Age of Heroes”

Justice League Tunnel Battle.

Justice League is distinctive for its association of the events of mythology with science fiction. In this respect, it relates the invasion of Earth by Apokolips to the Olympian gods, and even to alien allies. Wonder Woman, in her history lesson, speaks of an Age of Heroes, where men and women of great power blessed by the Olympian gods walked the Earth. It is, perhaps, this Age of Heroes, that is the substance of Justice League — here, the newly formed Justice League succeeds the place of the old Greek pantheon and of its associated heroes. It is a meta-fictional transposition of mythology to science fiction; it figures, then, as the placement of science fiction as functioning in a similar role to the mythology of yesteryear. The film, then, succeeds in this aspect: in reflecting its heroes, as the successors of mythology, an Olympic passing of the torch so to speak, where man, no longer animated simply by the belief in God, reflects a superhuman power of evolution — this, then, is the reality: the gods for having abandoned humanity, have allowed man to evolve with the powers of science and technology.

In this regard, the Mother Box, an alien transposition, figures as that power of evolution, the inauguration of a new age, where through advanced science, man lays claim even to the power of life over death — the Resurrection of Superman!

There are interesting themes addressed in Justice League, from alien invasion, to advanced technology, from mythology to a new age of heroes, and to the more simple power of friendship and the reality of war. What separates the film from other comic book movies, is its adherence to a certain comedy — though the movie is serious, it is also comedic and figures as a chance for the DC Extended Universe to extend its reach and follow, in a sense, a formulaic route threaded before long by Marvel with great success. Critical reviews show, however, that, despite its optimism and light-hearted nature, such a treatment may not be entirely fitting for a team of gods among men. The consensus is that Justice League does not fully develop its main villain — Steppenwolf, and its action sequences are lacking — the result, is a story that appears thin and formulaic, despite its brighter tone.

In comic book lore, the Mother Box figures as a representation of the New Gods, an advanced race of techno-gods entrenched in a deadly battle between good and evil, that is, between New Genesis and Apokolips. It is certain, that, the boxes are in themselves, evocative of a power that transcends humanity and seems to unveil the potential for progress that is inherent to human civilization. The applications of an advanced Artificial Intelligence, to the problems of civilization are wondrous. The question is whether, as many artistic works are raised, man will become enslaved by the power of the super-computer, or whether his wisdom will benefit humanity. The computer, is a wondrous machine that greatly enhances quality of life; however, it appears to foretell the times of a society that is completely socialized, that is, interpreted by the rhythm of the machine — the mechanization of life! Hence, there are dangers looming in the horizon of humanity, and as human knowledge increases, it is important to question our ability to put progress at the service of man, and not merely, to serve utilitarian interest or the temptation to nihilism; for science, despite its eminent benefit, can prove a power of destruction as much as it is a force of civilization.

Is the comic book here to stay, or, perhaps has it run its course? Only time will tell. It can be safely assumed that, its adaptation to the big screen is surely costly though, at the same time, its power to inspire minds is almost without equal. Mythological beings, alien gods, advanced technology, perpetual energy sources, planetary engineering, and superhuman feats — science fiction has succeeded in creating worlds that defy explanation, revealing that, man at this juncture in the 21st century, is attempting to evolve truly.

Justice League marks an important step in the extension of the DC Extended Universe. Despite its shortcomings, it betrays Warner Bros. desire to truly do its characters justice and present them in the best possible light, in respect with their comic book mythology and with a manifest desire to appeal to general audiences. Personally, I favor a more serious approach to the DC mythology, one that establishes their place as modern mythology in contrast to the Marvel universe; indeed, DC superheroes function best, when they are regarded as archetypes, representations of the Olympian gods, but also of greater ideas, virtues and values. They can steer history towards a greater future, for they help humanity realize its potential by believing in the power of the gods and the example of heroism.

In the “Introduction” to All Star Superman, Mark Waid concludes with the following remarks:

“Gods achieve their power by encouraging us to believe in them.

Superman achieves his power by believing in us.”

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