Superman: Legacy is still a long way from its 2025 release date, but that hasn’t stopped fans from speculating about James Gunn’s DC Universe reboot. A handful of heroes have been tapped to join an all-new Superman in his first adventure, but there’s no word yet on the main antagonist. That said, DC might have just accidentally confirmed an appearance from an underappreciated adversary — one that no Superman film has explored before.
The official Superman Twitter account recently listed the comic storylines that inspired Superman: Legacy. One, in particular, offers a pretty clear hint as to who Gunn’s Superman could be going up against. Apart from All-Star Superman and Superman: Birthright, Legacy will apparently take a page from Action Comics #866-780 (an arc better known as Superman: Brainiac). The storyline by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank saw the Man of Steel fighting to protect Earth from the title villain, a tyrannical, tech-savvy alien. (In some continuities, Brainiac is a robot, but not always.)
Brainiac has a thing for conquering worlds, but he’s also obsessed with the control of knowledge. His quest for infinite knowledge often sees him shrinking and bottling major cities in order to study alien cultures. He did it on Superman’s home planet, Krypton, and he intends to do the same on Earth.
If Gunn does adapt Brainiac for Legacy, it’d mark a surprising first for the villain. While Brainiac is one of DC’s best antagonists, he rarely makes the jump from page to screen. He was rumored to appear in Tim Burton’s scrapped Superman movie back in the ‘90s and even in the sequel to Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel — but neither project ever got off the ground. Brainiac did eventually get his due in Krypton, the SyFy series that depicted Superman’s homeworld 200 years before his birth. He also appeared several times in Superman: The Animated Series and in the Justice League Unlimited episode “Divided We Fall.”
Legacy, however, would be the first live-action film to feature Brainiac as a primary antagonist. And if the rumors are true, he’d be a great choice for the new film.
Brainiac is one of Superman’s biggest threats in the comics: even when our hero thinks he’s been destroyed, Brainiac always comes back stronger. His penchant for evolution would allow him to return in future DC projects, potentially setting him up as the DCU’s big bad.
Brainiac could also establish a focus on more-underrated villains throughout the DCU in general. Fans have had their fill of classic antagonists like Lex Luthor and The Joker. But this leak could be a sign that James Gunn is ready to dig a bit deeper into DC’s toy box. After all, rumor has it we could be getting a Lobo movie too.
open the door for Superman’s less-explored adversaries. The films have always been keen to feature heavy hitters like General Zod and Lex Luthor, but Superman’s rogues gallery is actually much more diverse. Gunn is clearly a fan of a deep cut, as previously confirmed casting choices indicate. Brainiac isn’t exactly obscure, but his involvement in Legacy would definitely help take Superman in a new direction.