What Is The Anti-Life Equation Darkseid Is Searching For In Zack Synder’s Justice League?

Zack Synder’s Justice League is out! With the internet flooding with largely positive feedback for the movie, it’s largely due to how Zack Synder has given the movie much-needed context as compared to the previous version.

One of the biggest motivations for the antagonists would be their search for the “Anti Life” equation and how it can bring the universe to its knees. To start, there was no point in the movie where anyone states what the Anti-Life equation is. All we know is that Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) finds the equation on the surface of the world, and Darkseid (Ray Porter) wants to get a hold of it.

We hit the comics to find the genesis of how the equation came to be. Since 1971, there have been many changes of what the Anti-Life equation even is, varying from writer to writer. One of the more distinct definitions given of the equation is: The Anti-Life Equation is an ancient, otherworldly mathematical formula that grants the user total control over any sentient race.

The equation was hiding in Sonny Sumo’s Mother Box in the comic Forever People #5, written and drawn by Jack Kirby. Beautiful Dreamer, the character, defines “Anti-Life” as “The very opposite of living! If someone possesses absolute control over you – you’re not really alive.”

So, when did Darkseid find out about the existence of the equation? That answer lies with the denizens of Mars, of which Martian Manhunter, J’onn J’onzz is the most prominent of the Martian race. After Darkseid found out that Martians knew something of a “Life Equation”, he hypothesized that there was an opposite equation to reverse this. In the comics, Darkseid was the most determined to find the equation and form his primary motivations.

In the comic Martian Manhunter #33, Metro, the New God, blames the Martians for exposing the secrets of the equation. He says “You people have given him a vision,” and “The concept of the Anti-Life Equation now drives Darkseid. You have given a name to that for which he has searched.”

In the mini-series, Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle, Grant Morrison gives a sense of how the equation looks like: loneliness + alienation + fear + despair + self-worth ÷ mockery ÷ condemnation ÷ misunderstanding x guilt x shame x failure x judgment, n=y where y=hope, n=folly, love=lies, life=death, self=dark side.

That’s a long one to memorize. In the movie, we do see ancient runes which lead to what the “Anti Life” might look like in the cinematic universe. It’s not a literal formula as described in the comics.

Now that the Synder cut is done and dusted, we have seen a positive way forward for the universe to continute. Sadly, there are still many questions unanswered, but those questions will unlikely be answered since Snyder has confirmed a sequel is not happening.

Perhaps all it takes would be a renewed movement to #RestoreThe Synderverse?

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is now available on HBO GO or HBO MAX, and you can read our review here.