The MCU and other galactic works of fiction sometimes struggle to justify Earth’s importance, but Zack Snyder’s Justice League addresses this issue.
With the Anti-Life Equation, Zack Snyder’s Justice League avoids a problem the MCU is yet to truly figure out. For as long as humans have been telling stories about outer space, the science fiction genre has faced a conundrum. Being the egotistical creatures we are, so many works of fiction depict Earth as the most important place in all the universe, for no reason other than narrative convenience. Doctor Who is a classic example; the (former) Gallifreyan has the entirety of time and space to choose from, but can often be found troubling modern day Earth. The real reason, of course, is so that writers can incorporate our own familiar world with the fantastical and alien. From an in-universe perspective, however, the relative importance Earth in the grand scheme of all existence makes little sense.
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The MCU is also guilty of this trope. The Infinity saga sees Thanos on a quest to collect the six Infinity Stones – brightly colored gems scattered across the universe at the dawn of time. Despite their grandiose origin, a grand total of three Infinity Stones take residence on Earth during the MCU’s present day – the Tesseract in SHIELD’s possession, the Sorcerer Supreme’s Eye of Agamotto, and Loki’s scepter. The odds of one Infinity Stone finding its way to our blue shores are remote enough, but three at once is a colossal coincidence. Obviously, the Avengers are Earth‘s mightiest heroes, and the Infinity Stones need a big presence on Earth to push forward the plot but, just like The Doctor’s TARDIS, it’s hard to overlook the sheer unlikeliness at play.
The DCEU risks finding itself in a similar predicament. After all, Earth is where Darkseid suffered defeat in the ancient past, where the Mother Boxes were lost, and where Steppenwolf meets a brutal end at the hands of the Justice League. In a franchise full of alien worlds and lanterns every color of the rainbow, that’s quite the fortuitous lineup of events. But Zack Snyder’s Justice League does that rare thing of providing a plausible explanation for why Earth is the metaphorical center of the universe – the Anti-Life Equation.
According to DCEU lore, the Anti-Life Equation is an all-encompassing power that allows the wielder to control all living beings. At an undetermined time in the ancient past, an unknown mischief-maker carved the Anti-Life Equation into Earth’s very crust, and Darkseid (as well as others, possibly) have been hunting for it ever since, maybe even protecting it in Martian Manhunter’s case. That Earth was chosen to house the power of Anti-Life is still a coincidence, but it’s one single act of random chance, rather than a succession of fortuitous conveniences like the MCU’s Infinity Stones or The Doctor’s navigation system being jammed on London. Essentially, the Anti-Life Equation accounts for Earth’s cosmic importance, justifying any amount of major events that occur there.
The 4-hour running time of Zack Snyder’s Justice League barely scratches the surface of the Anti-Life Equation, but the mere presence of this awesome power answers the question of why, out of all the planets Darkseid has conquered during his time, the important stuff is happening right here on our humble world. Like Harry Potter or Anakin Skywalker, Earth is the “chosen one” – its grand destiny mapped out from the very start. In contrast, there’s no convincing canon reason for Thanos’ MCU snap – an event that wiped out countless billions across the entire universe – to revolve so heavily around Earth. Humanity’s storytellers will always feel compelled to put our own species at the heart of the action, no matter how alien the story, but at least Zack Snyder’s Justice League tries to explain why.
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