Rumors of a Justice League movie have been circulating ever since the blockbuster success of Marvel’s The Avengers last summer. And with Warner Bros.’ successful Superman reboot via the Henry Cavill-helmed Man of Steel, the rumor mills are abuzz with speculation as to just who will be cast to don superhero spandex and just which superheros will be featured in upcoming films. Here are just some of the clues Man of Steel directors Zach Snyder and David Goyer have left us to grapple with.

1. What’s a Superman biopic without Lex Luthor?

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One of the most obvious teasers inlaid in the film was the “LexCorp” sign, decorating the top of a building during the final fight sequence. The company logo for Superman’s arch-enemy is shown in the film three times, including on a huge LexCorp oil truck that blows up in the middle of another fight scene. While we aren’t offered a glimpse of the bald genius just yet, it is obvious that Luthor is already powerful and has established a successful business empire. “If Lex is going to exist in the world, we would presumably have to give him the same treatment that we gave Lois Lane in the first film, which is to make him a credible character,” said Goyer. “He’s the corollary to being a good love interest; he’s gotta be a man of incredible intelligence, and presumably a man of incredible wealth and incredible resources.”

This description of Luthor calls to mind the version introduced in John Byrne’s Man of Steel back in 1986, where he wasn’t quite a mad scientist, but an arguably formidable one in addition to being a powerful businessman and philanthropist. This version of the King of Metropolis would likely not take too kindly to a new powerful figure entering the scene. The directors smartly chose to delay the introduction of Luthor until a later sequel, something which hasn’t been done since 1983’s Superman III. But look at it this way, Mandarin wasn’t introduced into the Ironman world until the third movie. The Joker wasn’t introduced into The Dark Knight story arc until the second film (and we let’s not forget that seamless introduction to the clown through the joker card at the end of the first film). And speaking of Batman…

2. Wayne Enterprises

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My favorite, albeit a more fleeting, hint of good things to come came in the form of this Wayne Enterprises logo glimpsed for a split-second during the final battle between Kal-El and General Zod. The logo was situated on the side of an orbiting satellite which the dueling Kryptonians destroy in a battle to determine Earth’s future inhabitants. This teaser implies that Bruce Wayne is also already  successfully established as an entrepreneur by this point in the DC spectrum. When asked whether the emergence of  Superman might draw Wayne back out into the fold as Batman, Goyer said, “well, yes…there’s definitely…I don’t want to get too in-depth. Obviously, Zach and I have had conversations…but there would be a cause and effect. And that would extend to the collateral damage that happened, and to what other countries feel about the fact Superman calls America his home. Man of Steel doesn’t exist in a vacuum.”

Much to the chagrin of Dark Knight fans, Goyer has denied that this allusion to Wayne is the same as the one from his and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. However, it is unlikely for Warner Bros. to reboot the caped crusader so soon after the culmination of Nolan’s successful Christian Bale-helmed trilogy. Further, given that Nolan produced and wrote the story for Man of Steel, there may be hope yet that we’ll get to see Bale don the bat suit once again. Or at least we can expect Joseph Gordon-Levitt to assume the role, the ending of The Dark Knight Rises was simply too good to waste.

3. Supergirl?

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One of the least expected inhabitants of the DC universe to show up in future films is Supergirl, but that empty cryo-tube inside the buried Kryptonian scout ship leaves several much to the imagination. When Superman explores the ages-old vessel (which will serve as the Fortress of Solitude), he encounters a few crew cryo-units, at least one of which contains a mummified Kryptonian while another lies open and empty. Produces Deborah Snyder told Crave Online that “You know what’s interesting, and I don’t know and I’m not going to say what it means or anything, but the one thing if you look closely when Henry’s going through the Fortress of Solitude there’s an empty…you know all the bodies…the pods? There’s an empty pod. I’m not going to say what, or if, it means anything but there is an empty pod there. When asked if she’s referring to Supergirl, Snyder laughed and said “No, I’m not going to say anything but, it’s a thing.”

Building on this notion is the Man of Steel prequel comic penned by Goyer which tells us that the scout ship was in fact co-piloted by Superman’s ancestor Kara Zor-El, known more commonly as Supergirl. The comic details the craft’s journey to Earth, made treacherous by the stowaway Dev-Em, a former explorer cadet who killed Kara’s best friend and almost killed her. Kryptonians are generally averse to murder (hence the banishment rather than execution of Zod), which results in Dev-Em being improperly imprisoned and contributing to the deaths of the other crew members on Kara’s ship.

When the ship gets to Earth, Kara and Dev-Em are the only two remaining survivors. Which one of them will surface now that Superman has revealed himself to humanity? Perhaps a fellow member of the House of El is out there after all. Read the prequel comic here.

4. Carol Ferris

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In one of the last scenes in the film, Superman and a military officer exchange words regarding where our hero “hangs his cape.” The military officer is accompanied by a lower-ranking official, Major Carrie Farris, played by Christina Wren. Farris comments that Superman is “kind of hot” and, combined with her name, this signals big news for the JL future.

We last saw Carol Farris played by Blake Lively in 2011’s disappointing The Green Lantern. Since Warner Bros. and DC are in charge of both the original Farris character, the Green Lantern film, and Man of Steel, it makes sense that the producers will take this chance to give the character a reboot. This means we may see more of Farris in future films, perhaps as her alter-ego Star Sapphire, who has been both a villain and a hero.

5. Blaze Comics

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An allusion to a wider DC world, the Blaze Comics logo visible during Zod and Superman’s final battle refers to the publisher Booster Gold’s exploits, the time-traveling superhero/businessman who is a refugee from the 25th Century and the sometime sidekick of Blue Beetle.  Booster Gold is an integral part of the Justice League, his futuristic technology making him a pretty useful member and an exciting character to watch for.

Gold, a shameless self-promoter, hawks tales of his own adventures to Blaze Comics to increase his fame. Whether the inclusion of the Blaze billboard was meant to signal things to come or serves merely as an inside joke, stands to be seen.

6. Smallville

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Before Man of Steel, Smallville, a TV series chronicling the young Clark Kent’s formative years in the Kansas town, stood as the most successful live action incarnation of Superman. While the film makes use of Superman’s early life sparingly, there are several references to the series throughout the film, including “Sullivan’s Truck and Tractor Repairs,” which is a nod to Chloe Sullivan, a Smallville regular.

Also referenced throughout the film was Pete Ross, Clark’s high school friend whom he saves in the flashback school bus scene and later during a fight scene that ravages IHOP (where Ross works). Clark’s high school sweetheart Lana Lang is also spotted in the bus scene, defending Clark against bullies and seemingly clue-ing in on Clark’s secret after he saves the bus from sinking into the Smallville river. There is also a reference to ‘The Fordham Boy,” an allusion to Whitney Fordham, Clark’s rival for Lana’s affections during the show’s first season.

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