The upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is front and center of the latest issue of Empire, which has a slew of new stills. One particular image stands above the rest, however, because it may indicate the existence of Gotham City’s ominous Court of Owls in the Justice League cinematic universe.
In one image, Ben Affleck, as Bruce Wayne, stands in the Wayne Family tomb, behind him the gravestones of his ancestors. On the lower right is the semi-obscure tomb of “Alan Wayne,” 1867-1922. It wouldn’t be surprising that Bruce’s 148-year-old great-grandfather would be there, if it weren’t for the fact Alan Wayne didn’t just die. He was assassinated by the Court of Owls.
Introduced by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in Batman #2 (in the New 52 reboot in 2011), the Court of Owls is a very old, ultra secret society made up of Gotham City’s elite. The Owls have pulled the political and economic strings since the colonial period, and after years of observing, they finally decide to take out Bruce Wayne, employing assassins called Talons — former child circus prodigies kidnapped and put through dangerous training.
Bruce wasn’t the only Wayne targeted by the Court of Owls. His great-grandfather, Alan Wayne, was assassinated by a Talon in Gotham’s sewers after getting too close to unraveling their existence.
The Court of Owls and the “Night of the Owls” storyline were instant classics with comic book fans, but their relative freshness to the Batman mythology means they have not yet been portrayed on film, though they were in the animated Batman vs. Robin and will be in Season 2 of Gotham on Fox.
Alan Wayne’s tomb doesn’t immediately mean the Court of Owls exist in the new Justice League cinematic universe, but the brutal — and since 2011, canonical — circumstances to Alan’s death mean Ben Affleck’s Batman could already have an enemy ready for him in Batman’s next solo trilogy.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice releases March 25.