Comic book fans and moviegoers are anxiously anticipating the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie next year, which will see Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg come together to face a deadly threat. The famed superhero team has been in existence for decades and has not only inspired the creations of similar teams (such as the Fantastic Four and the Avengers) but is also comprised of some of the most recognizable comic book characters in pop culture history.
Over the years, the League has attempted to recruit a number of superheroes for their various teams, such as the Justice League of America, Justice League International, Justice League Dark, and so forth. However, some heroes end up turning down the offer. It’s a wonder why someone would do such a thing, but everyone has their reasons. On the other hand, there are many superheroes who simply haven’t been invited to join the team at all, despite their obvious skills and resources.
With that in mind, here are 15 Iconic DC Superheroes Who Have Never Joined The Justice League.
15. Jonah Hex
Casual moviegoers may remember Jonah Hex from Jimmy Hayward’s ill-received movie of the same name, starring Josh Brolin as the eponymous character as well as Megan Fox and Michael Fassbender. Needless to say, the movie was a box office disaster, grossing a mere $11 million on a $47 million production budget. But here’s the thing: the character wasn’t the problem. In fact, Jonah Hex is one of the greatest comic book heroes of all time.
Jonah Hex is known for being a highly-skilled gunslinger in the Old West. Since the majority of his story takes place in and around the time of the American Civil War, it seems impossible for him to even be a member of the Justice League, a team that didn’t come into existence until nearly a century later. However, Hex was once summoned to the future to aid the League in fighting the Anti-Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
14. Bart Allen
Bart Allen is the grandson of Barry Allen, the second Flash, though that doesn’t even begin to cover his complex ancestry. He is not only related to two Flashes, but also to a handful of supervillains, such as Professor Zoom and Captain Boomerang. On top of that, he traveled back in time to the Modern Age of Comics and fought crime alongside both his grandfather and his cousin, Wally West.
Just like with Green Lantern, the Justice League has always had a Flash on the team — beginning with Barry Allen and moving onto Wally West. However, when Bart Allen succeeded Wally West and assumed the mantle of the Flash, he did so without joining the League. Although he was the Flash for a very brief time, he was never offered the choice to join the Justice League. Still, even if he was invited into the League, we doubt he would have accepted the offer, as all Bart wanted to do was lead a normal life.
13. Hawk and Dove
Hawk and Dove are technically a superhero team, but for the purposes of this list, we’re counting them as one entry. Casual comic book readers may not fully be aware of Hawk and Dove, but the crime-fighting duo has been around since the ’60s, and they have fought alongside the DC Universe’s most prominent heroes in some of the most hectic battles, such as Blackest Night. However, like everyone else on this list, they have never joined the Justice League.
Unlike virtually everyone else on this list, Hawk and Dove were, in fact, asked to join the Justice League, but turned them down for their own reasons. Following the introduction of Justice League International in the ’80s, the League attempted to grow their membership by recruiting several superheroes from around the world. The bulk of their recruitment took place in a single issue, but the majority of prospects ended up rejecting the League’s offers, including Hawk and Dove.
It’s no secret that many characters now part of DC Comics and Marvel’s universes originated from other publishers. For the former, some of their most iconic characters came from Charlton Comics, a company who sold all of their superhero characters to DC Comics in 1983. One of those characters happened to be Peter Cannon, AKA Thunderbolt, whose original ability (which has since been altered) was harnessing the portion of the brain that remains unused by humans, a myth that has been perpetuated for years.
When he was acquired by DC Comics and subsequently introduced into the canonical DC Universe following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Thunderbolt was asked by the Flash if he would like to join Justice League Europe. Despite helping the Justice League out on a few missions, Thunderbolt rejected the offer. He explained that he prefers to be alone, for he has ancient traditions and obligations to previous lives, which is something the Flash totally gets.
11. Sandy Hawkins
As with many other characters on this list, there have been multiple characters to assume the mantle of Sandman, a title that originated with Wesley Dodds in 1939 and was inspired by the folklore character of the same name. Around that time, DC Comics saw enormous success with Dick Grayson as Robin; therefore, the comic book publisher pushed for the inclusion of more sidekicks in comics, and thus, Sandy Hawkins, the Golden Boy was born.
Sandy Hawkins eventually succeeded his mentor in becoming the next Sandman, a mantle he carried while working alongside both the All-Star Squadron (or Young All-Stars in post-Crisis continuity) and the Justice Society of America. Interestingly, though, when Hawkins was reintroduced into continuity following the seminal work The Flash of Two Worlds, which effectively established the multiverse, it was in the Justice League of America comics. Despite that, Sandy never became an official member of the League.
Rachel Roth, AKA Raven, is a rather peculiar character. Conceived as the daughter of a human mother, Angela Roth, and a demonic father, Trigon, Raven grew up repressing her emotions for fear her father would be able to possess her. Her whole life, Raven felt as if she didn’t fit in anywhere, with anyone, which became apparent when she approached the Justice League for help in defending Earth against her father and was denied.
Zatanna had learned of Raven’s demonic half and warned the League to stay away. In her desperation to protect her dimension, she reformed the Teen Titans as the New Teen Titans and subsequently defended the planet against Trigon. Despite her undeniable talents — soul manipulation, telepathy, teleportation, prevision, and more — as well as her leadership skills and willingness to protect the Earth, Raven hasn’t been invited to join the Justice League, or even Justice League Dark. The fact is, she hasn’t felt welcome with anyone but the Teen Titans, whom she considers to be her family.
9. Johnny Thunder
Johnny Thunder is one of the oldest characters on this list, having made his debut appearance alongside Jay Garrick in 1940, in the first issue of the Golden Age Flash’s self-titled series. Despite that, not many people are aware of him, save for longtime comic book readers — which is a shame since he’s one of the most bizarre characters in the DC Universe.
Born as the seventh son of a seventh son, at 7 am on July 7, 1917 — the seventh day of the week, on the seventh day of the month, in the seventh month of the year — John Thunder was destined for greatness, though he certainly didn’t know it. His unique birth made him an ideal candidate to harness the Thunderbolt, a genie-like essence bestowed upon him during a ritual on his seventh birthday that granted him unimaginable luck for one hour when called.
Despite being fairly dim-witted, Johnny Thunder was admitted into the Justice Society of America alongside several other Golden Age heroes. However, unlike many of his friends, he never had the opportunity to join the Justice League. In fact, Thunder’s only real encounter with the League was during Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Along with Johnny Thunder, Jim Corrigan, AKA the Spectre, is one of the oldest characters in the DC Universe, having made his debut in More Fun Comics in 1940. However, the Spectre isn’t just a name; it’s an essence. The Spectre is the Spirit of Vengeance, a god for all intents and purposes. He possesses invulnerability, the ability to manipulate time and space, and has immeasurable strength. But he’s not without limitations — he requires a human host in order to impartially judge his victims.
When it comes to fighting extraterrestrial threats, having an omnipotent being on your side certainly couldn’t hurt, so it’s a wonder why the Justice League never offered Spectre the chance to join the League. Perhaps being on the All-Star Squadron and Justice Society of America was more than enough for Spectre — or at least for Jim Corrigan. In addition to Corrigan, Spectre has temporarily possessed both Hal Jordan (following the events of Emerald Light) and Crispus Allen.
Casual moviegoers will soon be able to recognize Mera as the wife of Aquaman, and Queen of the Sea, when she makes her debut in Zack Snyder’s Justice League next year, played by Amber Heard. However, she is more than just Aquaman’s wife; Mera is a superhero in her own right, having fought alongside both Aquaman and the Justice League. One just needs to read the latest Aquaman: Rebirth issues to see Mera in action.
While Mera has never been officially recruited into the Justice League, she did once help the Atom and the Flash, along with the Teen Titans and Justice Society of America, fight their former comrades who had been reanimated as Black Lanterns in the Blackest Night crossover event. Many people assumed DC Comics was setting Mera up to join the Justice League, but then Flashpoint happened a year later and the entire DC Universe has been rebooted.
6. Mister Terrific
Fans of The CW’s Arrow will recognize the character Curtis Holt, played by Echo Kellum. Since Kellum was bumped up to a series regular, the actor expects Holt to take on more of a Cisco Ramon-type role in the series’ upcoming fifth season. While fans of the show are used to seeing Holt take on a more technical role, the character is actually a superhero in his own right, modeled after the comic book character Michael Holt, AKA Mister Terrific.
Michael Holt is the second character to take up the mantle of Mister Terrific — the first being the Golden Age character Terry Sloane. While he’s a relatively unknown character, he’s led an influential career as a superhero, even once being the chairman of the Justice Society of America. With his “natural aptitude for having natural aptitudes,” it’s a wonder that Mister Terrific hasn’t at least worked with the Justice League before, even in an impermanent capacity.
5. Jason Todd
Jason Todd certainly wasn’t the best Robin, and he didn’t leave much of a legacy as Batman’s sidekick. However, his impact on the Batman family and DC Comics, in general, is something that shouldn’t be disregarded. Until his unfortunate death at the hands of the Joker in the iconic story arc Batman: A Death in the Family, no member of the Batman family had been killed before. Interestingly, DC Comics famously came to the transformative decision to kill off Jason Todd by hosting a call-in poll.
Unlike most comic book characters, Jason Todd remained dead for decades, until his metamorphic resurrection as the Red Hood in 2005. Since his revival, he’s gone about his business differently than Batman had hoped, blurring the lines of being an antihero — but the Justice League has inducted antiheroes before, so why hasn’t Todd gotten the call? We don’t know for sure, but it’s not hard to imagine why the League would want to distance themselves from a vigilante like Jason Todd.
4. Tim Drake
After the death of Jason Todd, Batman wasn’t looking to take on another Robin, which is why Tim Drake, who not only trained himself in martial arts and detective work but also successfully deduced the identities of both Batman and Nightwing, had to show initiative in order to be recruited by Batman. Over the decades, Batman has had a hefty number of sidekicks, but Tim Drake may very well be the best amongst the Robins.
After Bruce Wayne’s apparent death, Dick Grayson assumed the mantle of Batman and selected Damian Wayne as his Robin, thus leaving Drake to become the superhero, Red Robin. However, despite leading a successful career as Red Robin, and even briefly donning the cowl to restore faith in Batman’s mantle following Jason Todd’s reign, Tim Drake was never invited to join the Justice League. Perhaps his years with the Teen Titans and Young Justice were more than enough for him.
Virgil Hawkins, AKA Static, is widely recognized as being one of the members of the Teen Titans prior to the New 52 reboot. While the character is part of the canonical DC Universe, he originated at Milestone Comics, a now-defunct independent comic book publisher that believed in better representing minorities in comics. Following the publisher’s discontinuation, the character was integrated into the DC Universe and utilized his electromagnetic-manipulating powers to fight crime with the Teen Titans.
Unfortunately, despite receiving an enormously popular animated TV series in the early-2000s, Static is still a relatively unknown character to the general public. And, even though he’s occasionally assisted the Justice Society of America and the Justice League — including once teaming up with Black Lightning to stop the Blood Syndicate — Static has never been invited to join either team. Perhaps that’s something that will change in the future — that’s if Static shows up in the ongoing DC Rebirth.
Another character from the Golden Age of Comics who has never been a member of the Justice League is Wildcat. While multiple characters have assumed the name Wildcat, perhaps the most notable of them all is Theodore Grant, who fans of The CW’s Arrow may recognize as the character who helped train Laurel Lance into becoming the Black Canary. In the comics, Grant developed many young characters into suitable heroes, including several future members of the Justice Society of America.
It should be obvious by now that the majority of DC superheroes during the Golden Age of Comics ended up being inducted into the JSA, with Wildcat being no exception. Whereas many members of the JSA worked with the Justice League on various occasions and eventually became members of the League, Wildcat chose only to team-up with his Earth-One counterparts when needed. After all, he did the same thing when he helped out the Suicide Squad.
1. James Gordon
Commissioner James “Jim” Gordon has been Batman’s longest and most trusted ally in the Dark Knight’s crusade against crime in Gotham City, having made his debut appearance along with Bruce Wayne in the iconic issue Detective Comics #27 in 1939. Despite having worked with the Justice League on occasion, particularly since the New 52 reboot in 2011, he hasn’t been invited to join the League in a more official capacity, even though other non-superhero characters have, such as Steve Trevor.
Whereas Col. Steve Trevor is a military serviceman and, therefore, operates under the direction of the government, Gordon is a mere police officer, someone who wouldn’t be inclined to meddle in otherworldly affairs — at least when they don’t immediately involve his city. However, even though Gordon wouldn’t consider joining the Justice League, having contributed so much to Gotham, he should at least become an honorary member, like his daughter Barbara Gordon (as Batgirl, not Oracle).
Which of these heroes would you like to see join the Justice League at some point? Do you know of any other notable characters that have yet to be granted membership onto DC’s most elite superhero team? Sound off in the comments.
Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters. Wonder Woman opens in theaters on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, The Batman solo movie, Dark Universe and Man of Steel 2 are currently without a release dates.