Meet the Anti-Life Equation: A Threat to Entire DC Universe

Sitting on his galactic throne on the distant planet of Apokolips, the powerful Darkseid has only one goal in his entire cursed life: to find the Anti-Life Equation so that he can finally bend all other beings in the universe to his will. This is the DC Comics villain’s primary goal, but many still don’t know how such an abstract concept as the Anti-Life formula works.

How can this small equation be so important? How does this formula apply in practice? And who else, besides Darkseid, knows the secrets of Anti-Life?

The Anti-Life Equation is a mathematical formula that proves the futility of existence and free will. In the wrong hands, this formula is a terrible weapon with the power to brainwash and enslave entire worlds.

Here in this list, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about the Anti-Life Equation, from its creation and conception in the comics to its adaptation in DCEU films like Zack Snyder’s Justice League!

Who Created the Anti-Life Equation?

Anti-Life Equation Explained: Creation and Development

The Anti-Life Equation was created by Jack Kirby, the “father” of DC Comics’ New Gods. This powerful mathematical formula was first mentioned in February 1971 in Forever People #5. Since then, this element has been crucial in stories involving Darkseid.

This conceit obviously impresses us even more if we consider the comparisons with another significant comic book character: Marvel’s Thanos, who is very similar to Darkseid. Both seek fantastic ways to gain infinite power. However, the Mad Titan goes in search of the Infinity Gauntlet, while the ruler of Apokolips aims for the Anti-Life Equation.

What is the Anti-Life Equation?

Anti-Life Equation Explained: The concept

The Anti-Life Equation gives its user the ability to control all sentient life forms in the universe, destroying their wills and making them bow to its user’s greater purpose. It’s a form of absolute mind control.

And that’s where the name of the equation starts to make sense. According to Jack Kirby, “if someone possesses absolute control over you – you’re not really alive.” This is the legendary cartoonist’s concept to bring this magnificent and hateful “weapon,” establishing its role as the most dangerous equation in the entire universe.

What Is the Anti-Life Equation Formula?

Anti-Life Equation Explained: Formula

Since it is an equation, a mathematical principle, Anti-Life has a complex formula full of intricate details, but it can be summarized as follows:

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

Amazing, isn’t it? Now, please don’t ask us what that means because we really have no idea.

Where is the Anti Life Equation?

Anti-Life Equation Explained: Location

In Jack Kirby‘s Fourth World comics, Darkseid comes to planet Earth with his servants from Apokolips as he discovers that the secret of the Anti-Life Equation is hidden in the minds of human beings. What the comics have never solved is why the equation is on Earth or who put it there. Although it supposedly originated along with the creation of the Universe.

In Zack Snyder’s Justice League film, the Equation is also on Earth, but in a different form. It is literally written in the soil of the planet.

Why Does Darkseid Want the Anti-Life Equation?

Anti-Life Equation Explained: Darkseid's Madness

Throughout the stories of the New Gods and other DC Comics characters, we know that Darkseid is the figure who most craves the Anti-Life Equation since he wishes to exterminate wills outside of his own to rule the universe as he sees fitfully. Because of this, he sets off on a murderous crusade to discover all the components of the equation.

And while he does not precisely discover this formula for omnipotence, Apokolips’ majestic ruler looks for other ways to demonstrate all his control and military might. He firmly believes that Earth is one of the most significant points of interest in the universe.

To him, all humans have fragments of the Anti-Life Equation in their minds. It is necessary to find every single one of these pieces, even if he needs to search every human’s mind in his head to do so.

Who knows the Anti-Life Equation?

Anti-Life Equation Explained: Formula Connoisseurs

Although Darkseid is the character who most wants to get his hands on the Anti-Life Equation, several DC Comics heroes and villains have been directly or indirectly related to the formula. Many believe that Mister Miracle, a member of the New Gods, knows the Equation inside out but is strong enough not to be tempted to use it.

Another New God who supposedly knows the Equation is Orion, the Darkseid son created in New Genesis. There are also theories that Mr. Mxyzptlk also has some relationship with Anti-Life and that this makes him so powerful. Finally, during Final Crisis, it is suggested that Tim Drake, one of the Robin, also heard the equation’s complete formula.

Does Darkseid Get the Anti-Life Equation?

Anti-Life Equation Explained: Final Crisis

Darkseid discovering the Anti-Life Equation complete is the worst-case scenario for the New Gods and Earth’s heroes, and it’s something we’ve seen happen more than once in DC comics. Both JLA: Rock of Ages from 1997 and Final Crisis from 2008 (both written by Grant Morrison) show what happens when Darkseid unleashes the Anti-Life on Earth and turns humanity into his slaves.

Final Crisis is one of DC Comics’ grandest sagas and brilliantly revolves around Darkseid. In the event, we learn that the Apokolips Ruler has finally discovered the Anti-Life Equation after years of searching, then launching a full-scale invasion on Earth to try and enslave the human race.

He then devises a bizarre plan that involves using Mad Hatter‘s technology to create special helmets that repeat the formula on an infinite loop in the heads of his victims, turning them into the absolute servants of his reign. In this saga, Darkseid himself died before the total reboot of the New 52.

Is the Anti-Life Equation a Living Entity?

Anti-Life Equation Explained: as a Living Entity

A recurring element in DC Comics stories (especially in New Gods) is to see inanimate things or abstract concepts come to life and become aware entities. The same thing has already happened with the Anti-Life Equation, this time in the saga Cosmic Odyssey, written by Jim Starlin.

While following Darkseid and the demon Etrigan, we discover at one point that the Anti-Life Equation is a living organism, a compelling entity that not even Darkseid himself can control. Doctor Fate banished this “living” version of the Equation from the Milky Way and never appeared in another DC Comics story.

The Anti-Life Equation in Zack Snyder’s Justice League film

Anti-Life Equation Explained: in Zack Snyder's Justice League film

In Zack Snyder’s Justice League, we meet the dreaded Darkseid, the villain who came thousands of years ago to dominate the Earth. Back then, his plan fell apart when he met the resistance. The races unite and defeated Darkseid, who, humiliated, flees the planet. However, during his escape, the big guy leaves behind 3 Mother Boxes.

Thousands of years later, Superman‘s death reactivated these powerful objects. As a result, Steppenwolf travels to the planet to recover them. However, upon arriving on the planet, Darkseid’s general discovers something even more valuable than the three boxes he is looking for: the Anti-Life Equation. But despite being four hours long, the film reveals few details about the Equation.