It is interesting how the DC universe “concept” has progressed.
MAN OF STEEL pitched it as a dark (but not too deep) exploration of our world’s reaction to a Superman. It was essentially a soft science fiction approach with all the superpowers and aliens being due to advanced technology. They seemed to keep that approach in Batman Vs Superman as Wonder Woman wasn’t really explained entirely in that. You could see them taking that approach for future heroes as well as the technology from the Kryptonian invasion opens the bottle to superpowers.
Then. Wonder Woman comes out, and really, she’s entirely magic. The gods and amazons are not related to the ancient Kryptonian colonists. They are just really Gods and Amazons straight out of myth. Obviously, this opens the door to SHAZAM! as almost every letter is a character from Greek Myth and would connect to the same Gods Diana has.
But, that completely contradicts the original Man of Steel concept that basically we start out in our world as it is now and the introduction of Superman is something historically unique to our experience. Instead, it becomes about the introduction of Superman being something that reconnects us to a fantastic heroic past filled with gods, superheroes, super villains and literal monsters.
So, it’s a good idea to bring in Kirby’s Fourth World to bridge both sides - science fiction and fantasy.
The drawback is that even in comics, the coolness of the New Gods hasn’t been universally appreciated by readers, and as time goes on, various writers have misused the concept. Even lately, I felt that while Morrison really had a handle on them, writers like Geoff Johns actually made them feel more like rip-offs of the Eternals and Extraterrestrial Aesir (Asgardians) of the Marvel Universe. Darkseid in the New 52 JLA reboot felt to me more influenced by Starlin’s Thanos than Kirby’s original.
So, if Justice League does poorly in “blockbuster expectations,” I fear that Warner Bros may more likely blame the introduction of the New Gods entirely rather than acknowledge that they took a lazy approach to a much more complex and potentially rewarding narrative. I mean, after all, the first criticism I’m seeing in the reviews is that the villain Steppenwolf is the biggest failure of the film. That’s really crushing for a Fourth World fan to hear, but at the same time, I would think that they should’ve picked a character people at least vaguely recognize for the first film like maybe Brainiac.
Or surprise us and not go for the “alien god who travels by cosmic portal” approach that the Avengers used, and make the villain someone from Earth like Vandal Savage who’s so old he’s richer than a god and too experienced to outsmart. Save Darkseid and Apokalips for the second or third film after a New Gods movie introduces them properly.