DC Universe Online - Box ArtDeveloper(s): Sony Online Entertainment
Publisher(s): Sony Computer Entertainment, WB Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows
Release date(s): January 11, 2011
Genre(s): Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
Mode(s): Online only

DC Universe Online is set in the present day, but the opening cinematic sequence takes place in a gritty, war-torn future depicting a final battle between the world’s greatest heroes and villains.

This battle takes place in the ruins of Metropolis, and features the deaths of several well-known DC Comics characters. The battle culminates with the death of Superman at the hands of Lex Luthor, leaving him, Batman (although we don’t know it then) and the Joker as the survivors. Luthor stands back to proclaim his victory, only to see Brainiac’s war fleet fill the skies.

The scene then shifts to the present-day Watchtower, where the future Luthor is telling the story to the present-day Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Luthor explains that the deadly final war between the heroes and villains was triggered by the subtle manipulations of Brainiac, who had been slowly downloading their powers over time. With the planet’s most powerful beings dead, Brainiac intended to use the pirated data to create an army of metahumans under his control, facilitating his conquest of Earth. As the only survivor of the war, Luthor could do nothing to resist Brainiac’s subjugation of the planet.

Luthor explains that he was able survive in secret and eventually steal the stolen data and energy from Brainiac’s mothership in the form of “exobytes”, nanobot-sized devices that can bond to a living host and give them their own superpowers. After finally designing a time machine or hijacking one from Brainiac’s technology, Lex Luthor has traveled into his past to release the exobytes into the atmosphere of present-day Earth. The heroes are outraged, but Luthor explains that because he has done this, soon thousands of new metahumans will be created from ordinary humans (becoming the characters that players design and play with). He implores the Justice League to find and train these new metahumans, because Brainiac is coming and the Earth must be ready to succeed where it was once doomed to fail.

In the second trailer to the game, “In Lex we Trust,” we find that Lex’s description of events leading up to his arrival in the present time is not as he described to the heroes. The trailer begins with Lex reviving his companion, Fracture, from being unconscious. Lex explains that Brainiac’s forces have already penetrated the Fortress of Solitude and that their time is running out. As they approach a time portal chamber, a Braniac Eradicator attacks Fracture who, using a small grenade, destroys the robotic drone. The two arrive at the portal which is being stabilized by Batman, whose face is disfigured and arm is replaced by a robotic prosthetic due to injuries from the battle of villains and heroes. As more Eradicators enter the chamber, Luthor lies saying his armor is damaged and that he can not hold them off. Batman tells Fracture to take the exobytes and go through the portal, attacking the Eradicators and buying him more time. Fracture thanks Lex for using the exobytes to give him his powers and Lex, seeing the opportunity he had been waiting for, kills Fracture describing him as “an excellent lab rat.” As Luthor is about to step into the portal, Batman calls to Luthor warning that “I’ll be coming for you”, to which Lex responds “No, you won’t”, and activates a self-destruct sequence. The villain enters into the portal and the Fortress of Solitude suffers massive explosions. He arrives in a dark alley, presumably present day. He is greeted by his present-day self who describes him as being late.

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