As you may be able to tell from our recent articles, we all got a bit excited about Zack Snyder’s Justice League here at FinalBoss towers. Considering I’m much more of a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fanboy, it was a surprise to me to have gotten so invested in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). With all the #restorethesnyderverse talk, memes and reactions from the fans, it was easy to get swept away with it all. However, I was left a bit clueless about some of the comic book references and revelations that were made, since I am unfamiliar with a lot of DC’s works. What I was most clueless about (and most intrigued by), was the Anti-Life Equation. What even is it? Well, today, I found out.
Warning, this article includes mild spoilers for the DCEU, Zack Snyder’s Justice League and the DC comics.
An Overview Of The Anti-Life Equation
The Anti-Life Equation is a formula that can be used to control people, stripping them of their free will until they are merely puppets to be controlled by the one who used the equation. It takes the form of a transcendental (relating to a spiritual realm) mathematical formula. It works by convincing a sentient being that hope and free will are mathematically futile. This nestles itself into the sentient being’s mind, stewing until there is nothing left but despair. Once a being realises that free will is hopeless, they can be controlled by the one who knows the Anti-Life Equation.
The actual equation itself is this:
loneliness + alienation + fear + despair + self-worth ÷ mockery ÷ condemnation ÷ misunderstanding x guilt x shame x failure x judgment n=y where y=hope and n=folly, love=lies, life=death, self=dark side
The Anti-Life Equation In The Snyderverse: The Backstory
In the Snyderverse, the Anti-Life Equation is carved into the surface of Earth. It seems to take the form of the Omega symbol, which is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. I can’t find a reason for that in my research, other than Omega is often used in the real world as a symbol for “the end” of something and death. Thousands of years before the DCEU, Darkseid invades Earth in the hope of acquiring the Anti-Life Equation, so he can dominate the will of all sentient life in the universe. However, he is forced to retreat from Earth, after being defeated by an alliance of Humans, Atlanteans, Amazons, Old Gods and even a member of the Green Lantern Corps for good measure. He left the Mother Boxes when he fled, which he was going to use to terraform the planet and find the Equation etched into the Earth. Darkseid then, somehow, forgets which planet managed to defeat him and where he left his incredibly valuable Mother Boxes (and, it seems, the fact that it was on the world with the Anti-Life Equation, the only world to ever defeat him, that he left those boxes). Obviously going senile…
The Anti-Life Equation In The Snyderverse: Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Fast forward to the death of Superman on present-day Earth, the Mother Boxes activate, thinking that the only beings that could thwart Darkseid’s return were now all dead, and called out to their former owners. Steppenwolf (read “Darkseid’s bitch”) returns to take Earth for Darkseid, where the Mother Boxes inform him that Earth was, in fact, the site of the Anti-Life Equation. A portal, called a Boom Tube, was opened ready for Darkseid’s return. However, the Justice League, with the help of the newly resurrected Superman, stopped the Mother Boxes and killed Steppenwolf, which left Darkseid with little choice but to amass an invasion force to take Earth the good old fashion way.
Batman, during both Batman V Superman and Zack Snyder’s Justice League, has dreams that include a possible future. Called Knightmares, Batman sees the world as it would be with Darkseid in control of the Anti-Life Equation. It’s a desolate wasteland, forcing former foes to band together to survive. In this potential future, Superman’s considerable willpower resists the Anti-Life Equation until he kills his wife, Lois Lane. His grief and guilt left him susceptible to the Anti-Life Equation’s power, bringing him under Darkseid’s control.
The Anti-Life Equation In The DC comics
The Anti-Life Equation first appeared in Forever People #5, part of a comic series created by Jack Kirby. It has since appeared in many DC storylines in various guises, though they all hold the hopelessness and futility of life at its core. In the DC continuity, Darkseid first learns of the Anti-Life Equation when he visits the Martians, 300 years ago. They have a formula called the Life Equation, which shows that life is equal to free will. Darkseid, being a clever clogs, fathoms that there must be a negative equivalent of the Life Equation. He soon concludes that humans have fragments of the formula in their subconscious.
To start with, the formula was first thought to exist, in its entirety, inside the mind of “Billion Dollar” Bates, who was a billionaire who died before Darkseid could find it. Bates was then cloned by Darkseid, which enabled him to extract the full formula. Notable characters who knew the formula also include Mister Miracle (who was broken free of the Equation by Metron, gaining him immunity), Sonny Sumo, The Empress (who knew only fragments that she used for mild mind control) and The Pied Piper (who used it subconsciously).
The Equation usually takes the form of fiery alien symbols when it manifests itself, coalescing around the one speaking the Anti-Life Equation. A symbol for freedom, known as the Metron Emblem, is known to dull the effects of the Anti-Life Equation. The speed force, most notably used by Flash, has also been known to reverse the effects of the Anti-Life Equation on somebody infected with the formula.
If you enjoyed this article, check out more of our movie content!