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In the opening scene, Superman yells out in pain after being stabbed. The yells then oscillate over very far distances, and reach the Mother Boxes at three locations:

  1. Cyborg's house

  2. Mera's underwater residence

  3. Amazon Shrine.

Why did Superman's yells trigger the Mother Boxes?

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  • His death cry triggered them. Mother boxes are sentient; they sensed that after Superman's death, there was no one [strong enough] to protect the planet . – Shreedhar Mar 25 at 7:55
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As explained later in the movie, it's not so much his scream than his death that triggers the motherbox.

Circa 2h20

Bruce :
Victor's father activated a Mother Box more than a year ago when Superman was still alive. Didn't call out to Steppenwolf. None of the boxes did. Not until...

Diana :
Not until Superman died.

Bruce:
Not until Superman died.

Barry:
It's like they were afraid of him?

Bruce:
Yes, they were afraid of him.

My guess here is that the oscillation is the call to Steppenwolf.

I'm aware it's only a partial 'why', it doesn't fully explain how the motherbox were omniscient enough to understand this scream was a death scream, or at what level the motherboxes were sentient enough to be afraid of superman.

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  • Regarding "why": The boxes have intergalactic communication: Steppenwolf says, "The one that woke and called to me" and at least planetary sense "... the third box [can be] ... only [be] sense[d] [by Box 1 & 2." On their competence Diana states, "Indestructible living machines made from a science so advanced it looks like sorcery . . . These boxes together are world destroyers. A billion years old. They'll get inside you..." So basically "magic" of a sort. – manofsteelanswers.com Mar 25 at 17:26

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