The Justice League are arguably the most famous superhero crime-fighting team the world has ever seen. Usually consisting of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash and co., there’s an endless list of characters that have been a part of one version or another of the team throughout time. Many iterations and revamps of the team have taken place, but not all of them have been the most memorable of affairs.
For the first time ever, the League will be taking to the big screen in the Zack Snyder-directed Justice League, with all of the above heroes along with Cyborg heading into theaters. Each hero will also be getting their own solo movie as the DC Extended Universe aims to bring in big box office numbers.
Of course, Snyder and his team chose to go with some of the more recognizable heroes as part of his Justice League, but what about all those that have made the group their home in the past and aren’t getting the same recognition?
Without further ado, here are 15 Superheroes (And Villains) You Didn’t Know Were Part Of The Justice League.
15. Captain Cold
Now, we know the New 52 isn’t the most celebrated of eras when it comes to comic books, and the Justice League reboot in 2011 wasn’t without its (many) criticisms, but one of the most exciting things that took place during that time was the addition of one Leonard Snart aka Captain Cold to the roster of crime-fighting heroes. Though typically a villain, we’ve seen iterations of Captain Cold undertaking heroic deeds that would warrant his place on this list. Wonder Woman was one of the heroes that inspired Snart to do some good rather than give in to his darker side; he didn’t even seem to mind when the Amazonian warrior called him by his birth name. Though he was more of an honorary member through Lex Luthor’s involvement, there’s no denying that without Captain Cold on their side, this version of the Justice League wouldn’t have stood a chance when trying to eliminate a hugely debilitating virus. Speaking of Luthor…
14. Lex Luthor
As seen in the image above, Lex Luthor was welcomed to the Justice League by none other than his most formidable opponent, Superman. Having created a virus that got out of control, he was forced to team up with those that he despised in order to get back on track. He even admits to his second-in-command, Captain Cold, that the virus was never created in a bid to take out the heroes he now worked alongside.
He would later become a God through Darkseid’s destruction of the planet, taking on the mantle of the God of Apokolips and fighting those members of the Justice League that were still able to control their own thoughts and feelings. Fortunately for Lex, he was able to fight off those thoughts and feelings, but the call of power proved to be too much and he turned his back on the team in a bid to become the most powerful version of himself DC fans had ever seen.
13. Elongated Man
Often overlooked next to fellow League member Plastic Man, Elongated Man is a guy who can stretch his body to tremendous lengths in the fight against evil. This might not seem like much of an ability, but his powers have proven to be extremely useful in the past. Also known by his human name of Ralph Dibny, the character has been portrayed as a close friend to better-known League member The Flash, with the two often playing children’s game Brawlin’ Bots, which led to ridicule from their fellow League members. Perhaps his proudest moment came during the League’s battle with Mordru, where he partnered up with Booster Gold on crowd control duty before being called into the fight. Playing a big role in taking down the villainous sorcerer, he was forever humble about his actions, saying he was simply “stretching in the right place at the right time”.
The biological son of Darkseid, Orion may be an unlikely member of the biggest superhero team on the planet, one to have contributed to Darkseid’s demise on more than one occasion. Fortunately for Superman and co., the villain offspring decided to work on the side of the Man of Steel against his father, defending Earth rather than helping take over or destroy it. With superhuman strength, durability and stamina along with a high-speed healing rate, Orion proves to be an asset to the team whenever his abilities are called upon. Perhaps the best version of the character comes in animated series, Justice League Unlimited. Here, Orion has a multi-layered personality that sees him helping in the fight against villains such as Captain Cold, but also questioning the talents of fellow fighters such as Flash. Orion is one of those characters we see go through many changes and evolutions that all help build his personality and for that, he should be celebrated.
As one of the two mainstays (alongside Martian Manhunter) of the very short-lived Justice League Task Force, Gypsy proved her credentials and crime-fighting talents when up against Lady Shiva in a battle for the ages. Unfortunately, a later mission saw her left for dead, but she did make a heroic return later in the series, rejoining the newly-formed Justice Society of America alongside Triumph, The Ray and L-Ron, who had taken on the body of Despero. Of course, nothing is that simple in the world of comic books. Gypsy later found herself mind-controlled by Triumph who decided to attack the reformed Justice League of America, annoyed that the team he was a part of had been ignored because of “the headliners” such as Superman and Batman. She helps defeat Aquaman and Batman in another momentous battle, but eventually resists the mind control. Triumph, for his part, was frozen solid by The Spectre and put into the JLA trophy room. A fitting end for a jealous rogue.
10. Animal Man
While Aquaman is a master of the ocean and all the creatures that come with it, Animal Man can use the power of any animal on the planet using his incredible superhero talents. In his time, he’s summoned the power of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, flown with the flight of a bird and even used the sonic blast of a pistol shrimp. Inventive! As an original member of Justice League Europe, he spent 12 issues fighting alongside the team before leaving to go back to the United States, unable to cope with the grief of losing his entire family. Despite spending a lot of his time with his head in his hands, he proved to be a true asset during his time with JLE and was at many times the lynch pin that held the entire group together. Animal Man has been heavily under-used throughout his time, but delving into his archive of material to-date is certainly recommended.
9. Clock King
Originally joining Major Disaster’s Injustice League, Clock King later found himself as a member of Justice League Antarctica; a team that also included Big Sir, The Cluemaster, G’Nort, Major Disaster, Might Bruce, Multi-Man and The Scarlet Skier. Though they didn’t spend too much time together, there was a rather hilarious story arc that saw them do battle against some killer penguins that escaped their former scientific research station, murdering the entire staff team there. Failing in their efforts but saved by the American and European branches of the Justice League, the Antartica team was soon disbanded by Maxwell Lord, who decided that they served no real purpose. Definitely a short but sweet must-read. Of course, Clock King’s time on the side of good was short-lived, with the criminal mastermind returning to a life of villainy soon after. Building yet another team – this time consisting of baddies intent on getting whatever they wanted no matter the consequences – he saw his efforts fall flat due to terrible organization. Subdued by the Teen Titans, he was forced into the Suicide Squad before eventually dying on the group’s first mission.
8. Big Barda
Big Barda has had many run ins alongside the Justice League, especially when her husband Scott aka Mister Miracle gets himself involved in proceedings. While a part of the team, we’ve seen her go through many different stages of character development. Usually acting out of anger or impulse, there are sincere feelings she’s displayed towards certain members of the group, bringing more layers to a character that may have at one time been very one-dimensional. During her time with Justice League Unlimited, Big Barda was at first extremely untrusting when it came to the Dark Knight. When she received information from Warhawk that corroborated Batman’s claims of Superman gearing up to betray the group however, she jumped right into the fray to defend those she worked with. Later she would find herself under the control of Starro’s clones after discovering they were the reason for the Man of Steel’s madness, but was soon released and helped Aquagirl in boom-tubing them back to their home planet. By the time the story was over, Barda and Batman had found a mutual respect for one another. All’s well that ends well.
7. Dark Flash
Walter West, the Dark Flash, was introduced to readers through the Dark Flash saga. He appeared out of the blue in Keystone City following the death of Wally West, the former Flash. Keeping his identity and ambitions secret, even from other speedsters, he did eventually open up to Jay Garrick, Superman, and Troia so he could work in Central City and become a part of the Justice League (and the Titans). Walter had abilities that Wally never had (or never discovered). Able to steal speed and vibrate through solid objects without making them explode, Dark Flash was able to use a stealthier approach when going up against his antagonists. Unfortunately for his fans, the character was used sparingly and eventually sent off to journey through Hypertime, where he remains to this day in search of his original timeline. Let’s hope he found it.
6. Phantom Stranger
Known as a supernatural assistant to the many groups he’s been affiliated with, this list would be uncomplete without a nod in the Phantom Stranger’s direction. Jumping to the help of the Justice League on Halloween, he promised that if they didn’t follow his every instruction they would all fall victim to death before midnight came around. A traditional tale for October 31! As the heroes began to feel their life forces drain despite their best efforts to combat the threat they were up against, the witching hour came ever closer, and it was up to Phantom Stranger to save them and the entire planet from a grisly fate. Counteracting the spell of imminent death which had enchanted the six JL members, Phantom used personal possessions from each hero that he had previously stolen during their plight. Readers were double-bluffed and the Phantom Stranger was proven to be a hero rather than a villain. A great, classic read.
In JLA: Crisis Of Conscience, Selina Kyle finds herself fighting on the side of good once more as she goes to war against the original Secret Society of Super-Villains. Injured in an initial battle but healed in the Batcave with the help of the Caped Crusader, Catwoman again finds herself in danger when she later faces the mind-controlled Aquaman, Martian Manhunter and Batman himself. With Despero in the driving seat, the four offer the feline fighter an alliance, but she instead uses the emergency JLA communicator in the Batcomputer to call for backup. Zatanna saves the day and stops the League members from killing Superman and Catwoman’s dedication to helping the team doesn’t go unnoticed. Unfortunately for her, J’onn (who is in charge of putting together a new League roster) worries that she was only a member of the Squad because she was forced into it. While we all know Cat’s ambitions are usually more about her as an individual rather than those around her, it was heartbreaking to still see her morals judged. Perhaps one day she’ll be able to join the team without question.
4. Jesse Quick
Jesse Quick aka Jesse Chambers is yet another Speedster that’s been a part of the Justice League in the past, with Batman asking her to sign up to fill in the role that Wally West left behind in the Justice League of America. During her time with the JLA, her husband Rick Tyler was serving on the All-Stars branch of the organization, leading the public and teammates to believe she and her husband were in rocky territory. That was all disproven a little later on when Jesse realized that her speed abilities were gradually becoming weaker. Eventually it was revealed that she had fallen pregnant with her husband’s child, playing a part in forcing the League to disband shortly after so she could leave to live out her life with her newly-expanding family. Despite seeing Jesse Quick in the second season of CW series The Flash, we’d love to see her crop up on the big screen before too long. Perhaps in the second Justice League DCEU movie?
As one of many heroes patterned after Batman himself, Batwing would have to do something special upon his debut in 2011 to make an impression, and that’s exactly what he did. Skilled in the martial arts and granted the power of flight via his suit’s wings, Batwing was a skilled detective and used an impressive array of high-tech weapons and gadgets through his battles. The Justice League International team is where he found his home for a brief tenure after coming to Booster Gold’s aid when the rest of the JLI team had perished or were badly injured (or simply out of action). Later discovering that it was his brainwashed brother who had almost wiped out the entire League, Batwing used lethal methods in the protection of the Democratic Republic of Congo. While he certainly left his mark on the JLI up until the end of the series, it would be great to see some more of Batwing fighting alongside the team in the future.
Lobo doesn’t usually find himself on the side of good during a battle, but in the current Justice League series arc that’s all about to change. We’ve not seen much of him in action as part of the team just yet, but his membership certainly promises to be one of the most exciting and enthralling to-date. Previously brainwashed by Maxwell Lord, Lobo began to fight against both the Squad and League (who were working together), but later was brought back to the land of reality by the Dark Knight. This in turn saw Batman land one unbreakable deal with Lobo; Batman quickly snapped up his offer and made him join the League. Lobo’s loyalty upon making a promise is arguably second-to-none, so for now we should be able to rest-assured that he’ll be working with Batman and co. to help save the planet from major threats. That however cannot be said for our next entry on the list…
1. Killer Frost
Caitlin Snow aka Killer Frost has proven herself in the recent Justice League vs. Suicide Squad story arc to be both brave and heroic when the time calls. Though she’s a villain at heart, both Batman and Superman have seen more good in her than bad, with the Caped Crusader demanding she be released from Task Force X so she can join him and the rest of the superhero team (now also including Lobo!) on the League. For now, she’s enjoying her role as crime-fighting superhero, but as we all know, in the land of DC Comics, everything can change in a heartbeat. While it’s nice to see this softer side to Killer Frost, it would be no surprise to see her betray the group and go back to her roots in the near future. We’ll have to keep a close eye on the JL’s newest member…