Now that Justice League is out in theaters, fans of DC's greatest heroes finally have their chance to see their favorite characters together on the big screen.
Though reviews have been somewhat lackluster and the film's box office hasn't lived up to the lofty standards set by Wonder Woman earlier in the year, the superhero team's film is still praised for its more lighthearted take on a cinematic universe that has been ridiculously grim and dark so far. Likewise, many critics claim that one of the film's saving graces is the fact that the League feels like an actual team rather than (as Banner would say) "a time bomb." Justice League is also filled with charisma and jokes and versions of the characters that are more recognizable to their comic book counterparts.
The Justice League has been a mainstay of the comic book world for literally decades. There have been some really weird moments in the Justice League comics. And then there are times where the world's greatest superhero team does things that are just downright despicable, completely turning against everything the team stands for or just being a real jerk to other inhabitants of the DC Universe in general. To make matters worse, a lot of these moments happen within the canon rather than within an alternate universe or different timeline!
Here are the 15 Most Despicable Things The Justice League Has Ever Done.
To be more specific, Hal Jordan dated a teenager. The alien Arisia became a member of the Green Lantern Corps after her father, the Green Lantern of Space Sector 2819 was killed. Though she was only a teenager, she developed a crush on everyone's favorite Emerald Knight. Though Jordan initially rejected her advances simply based on her age, he eventually developed a (very creepy) relationship with the girl.
While the two Lanterns were stationed on Earth, Arisia used the power of her ring to age herself. Now that she was in the body of an adult, Hal had no qualms returning Arisia's affections and the two started dating for a time. But just because she was in an older body doesn't take away the fact that she's only a teenager!
Teens aren't fully mature yet and struggle to grasp lofty concepts like love or commitment or (sometimes) even responsibility; thus, the relationship didn't last very long. The image above, in which the rest of the Corps found the two locking lips in the dark, describes reader's reactions to this underage relationship perfectly.
In Worlds Finest Comics #289, Batman and Superman get together in the Fortress of Solitude after a long day of crime fighting and start to vent their emotions to each other. This powerful display of raw emotion catches the attention of a meteor that is passing by, causing it to crash land near the heroes. Upon closer inspection they find that the UFO contains strange tentacle-like creatures that feed off of emotions.
These creatures were apparently created by an alien race who are immortal, but at the price of their soul; they cannot feel emotions, so they created these slugs to go out and collect them from other life forms. Superman ponders completely destroying them, but Batman talks him out of it and insists that they should let the tentacles do their magic. What follows is...bizarre. Using the emotions of the two heroes, the creatures start to "mate" with each other; they get a brief taste of what it's like to feel human before they disintegrate into dust. Comic books, everyone!
One of the greatest Justice League stories of recent years has to be JLA: Tower of Babel. In this short story, Ra's al Ghul is able to take down every single member of the Justice League as if it were child's play. With the world's most powerful heroes out of his way, he goes about another one of his schemes to thin out the world's population before he is stopped by Batman and a fully-recovered team of superheroes.
This entire series of events was Batman's fault. He kept secret files on every other member of the League, detailing their critical weaknesses in case they were to ever go rogue. Ra's was able to hack his computer system and use this information against them. The rest of the team justifiably feels betrayed by Bruce's distrust in them and decide to vote on whether or not he should remain with the team.
Instead of staying put and paying the piper, Batman escapes his captivity while they are debating, claiming that he already knows how the team will vote (and he's right).
The Silver Age of comic books was chock full of weirdness. Sometimes, however, the weirdness would transcend simple aliens or alt-universes in favor of a "life lesson" or gimmick that screamed "we're out of ideas!" Justice League of America #36 was definitely one of those issues. The Case of the Disabled Justice League" saw our heroes taking on various real-world disabilities as they fought crime to inspire a hospital full of children. Sounds pretty innocent, right?
Well, in theory, at least. But as the events of the comic unfold it starts to feel like the Justice League isn't really inspiring disabled kids, but rather pointing out how the only thing holding them back is themselves. At the end, one of the kids even says that they are "...not going to gripe anymore!"
Yeah, so Superman and the Flash just taught a bunch of kids that they should stop whining about their blindness and paralysis and go do something with their lives. Brilliant.
Remember the failed pilot for the 1997 Justice League of America TV show? No? It's probably because it is one of the worst pieces of superhero media ever churned out. Instead of giving us our typical League line up, we were treated to the oh-so-amazing super team of the Flash, Guy Gardner's Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Fire, Ice, and The Atom as they tried to defeat the Weatherman.
It was just as bad as you're all imagining. The characters were terrible, the effects were laughable, and any semblance of a plot is only found when you dig deep.
However, the most despicable act of this version of the League (aside from purely existing) comes from Green Lantern. Weatherman tries to flaunt his weather-controlling invention by bringing down a flurry of giant hail from the sky right were Guy Gardner's main squeeze happens to be located. Green Lantern shows up to save the day, grabs his girlfriend, and then just leaves the rest of the civilians to their fate. Seriously.
Have we mentioned that comic books are weird? In the Silver Age it felt like there was absolutely nothing that was too "out there" for writers to tackle. This becomes extremely apparent in the early Justice League stories that often included bizarre aliens and multidimensional beings. Justice League of America #27 is one of these stories.
It starts off with the League trying to solve a case involving an invisible thief, a firing cannon, and a disappearing island. Eventually they find out that they are dealing with a being simply known as "I" who lives in another dimension; "I" brings the League to its reality and reveals that it can only be defeated by the combined power of the team, and makes it so they cannot use their powers in groups of more than two.
Sidekick Snapper Carr gets the idea to resurrect the power-absorbing android, Amazo, to defeat the creature. Having all of the Justice League's powers copied in its memory banks, Amazo is able to use the powers all at once and put "I" into a permanent coma before being taken down by the heroes once more.
The final part of the Crisis Trilogy, Final Crisis, left the DC Universe without two of its flagship heroes. Batman was killed by an Omega Beam from Darkseid, while Martian Manhunter was beaten to death by a group of supervillains. Though both characters wouldn't stay dead for long, their sacrifices left a huge impact on the rest of DC's heroes.
In particular, it created a Civil War-like divide among members of the Justice League. In the wake of Darkseid's failed invasion, Green Lantern and Green Arrow decide to break off from the League and form their own team of crime fighters that will be more "proactive" about delivering justice.
This leads to the Cry For Justice mini-series, which sees some of our favorite heroes beating information out of villains and hunting down evildoers like they were on Homeland Security's most-wanted list. The most horrific act in the series comes at the end, when Green Arrow sneaks up on the villain Prometheus and kills him in cold blood.
As the Blue Beetle, Ted Kord was one of those C-list superheroes normally was used by writers for comedic effect. Despite lacking superpowers, Blue Beetle got into all sorts of zany adventures with the "back up Justice League" in Justice League International. Though Kord was actually a brilliant mind and a competent crime fighter, there were few in the DC universe that took him seriously.
This, in turn, is what led to his violent death at the hands of Maxwell Lord. Lord had always been a sketchy guy, despite his ties to the Justice League. When Kord discovered that funds had been stolen from his company and suspected they were being used for criminal intents, nobody in the Justice League would listen to him.
The Blue Beetle's investigation led him to discover that Max Lord was planning on exterminating all metahumans in the world, and that he wanted people like Kord (regular humans) to join him and take back their planet. In true heroic form, Ted tells Max to go to hell, resulting in Lord killing him with a bullet through the head. If only the League had listened.
The Justice League has their name for a reason. The epitome of their very existence is to protect the world and ensure that justice is served to anyone who would dare to do it harm. Over the course of their history, the League has defended the Earth against alien invasions, leagues of assassins, brilliant evil minds, and even dimension-hopping baddies. It's gotten so bad that their greatest villains have gotten together to create their own super team, the Injustice League.
So why, we must ask, does the League keep giving bad guys a spot on their roster? Most recently the team has allowed both Lex Luthor and Captain Cold to enter their ranks, with results about as great as you'd expect. People like Despero, Catwoman, Maxwell Lord, and Killer Frost have also been on the team at on point or another. In the end, the villains end up going back to what they do best, which often completely destroys the team dynamic and makes the League members wary of new associates.
Justice League and Justice League Unlimited are still considered by DC fans to be the best comic book cartoon adaptations ever made (aside from maybe Batman: TAS). The show had everything: deep lore, an amazing cast of characters, adult themes, and stories that were faithful to their counterparts on the page. These shows swapped out many of the secondary members of the League, such as Hawkgirl for Aquaman, and John Stewart and Wally West for Hal Jordan and Barry Allan. Surprisingly, it worked extremely well!
Over the course of the series, Shayera Hol (Hawkgirl) showed much sympathy for the bumbling monster Solomon Grundy; their first encounter ended with Grundy making the ultimate sacrifice and dying in her arms. When the creature was resurrected by evil magic and was sent on a rampage, Shayera was the only one who could stop him. Finally cornering her old friend in the sewers, she realized that the only way to save everyone was to put Grundy down for good. It may be a mercy killing, but the mere fact that Hawkgirl opted to brutally smash in her old friend's head is heartbreaking and despicable at the same time.
The second in a three-installment "trilogy," Infinite Crisis reminded readers of the expansive multiverses that existed within DC's continuity while also setting the stage for one of their most interesting experiments to date. At the story's end we see the "big three" all down and out; both Batman and Wonder Woman are having an identity crisis, while the Man of Steel is completely (albeit temporarily) depowered. Each legendary member decides to take a year off to "rediscover who they are."
The result of this decision, of course, was the series 52, a bold arc in which DC was going to go an entire year only writing stories about B, C, and D List characters. Though the story itself was pretty good, it doesn't excuse the fact that the entire Justice League took the year off!
Despite what the heroes are doing, evil doesn't take the year off. In fact, Black Adam wipes out an entire country's population and the Intergang tries to take over Gotham City in these heroes' absence! Maybe Superman had a legitimate excuse, but there's no reason the Justice Society of America and Batwoman had to step in to handle these levels of threats.
In the '90s, The Death of Superman nearly killed the comic book industry, and publishers were becoming more and more focused on grim, gritty, exploitative reinventions of beloved characters rather than sticking with what was known to work for decades. One of these dark reimaginings was the Justice League Task Force, a team led by Martian Manhunter that was designed to have rotating membership.
The series was fairly forgettable, save for one particular issue. In the seventh issue of the series, the team was dealing with a deadly virus that got lost in the African jungle and fell into the possession of an all-female tribe of barbarian women who would only negotiate with other women. J'onn J'onzz, being the leader and the only male on the team does exactly what you'd expect him to do; he uses his powers to turn himself into a woman.
Instead of trusting his team full of powerful women (including Wonder Woman, for crying out loud!), J'onn decides that he himself needs to be present so that everything can go well. To make matters worse, his idea of a female superhero includes a super skimpy costume and exaggerated curves.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Justice League? The heroic and hopeful symbol of Superman? The jokey quips of the Flash? The all around no-nonsense detective of Batman? How about a guy who looks like one of KISS' biker fans and has a mouth like a drill sergeant?
Lobo was introduced in the '90s as a parody of the overly dark direction most characters were taking at the time. However, they did the parody a little too well, and Lobo became popular with the same crowd he was trying to skewer! Even then, you don't think of Lobo as Justice League material; the intergalactic bounty hunter is known for his ultra-violent tendencies and R-rated mouth. Think Deadpool crossed with a member of the Hell's Angels.
Though the character is more of an anti-hero, he jumped at the opportunity to join the League during a recent run in DC Rebirth after Batman saved him from a mind controlled state. Is this really the guy you want to have as the face of your organization?
The teenaged sidekick Snapper Carr was added to the pages of Justice League in the 1960s in an effort to relate to the "cool" kids of the time period. Snapper would constantly snap his fingers to emphasize his points and would use words like "daddy-o" in his everyday vocabulary. He even got his own hot rod car that could fly! Carr would act as the League's sidekick into the '70s before eventually falling prey to the whole "joke character turns evil" trope in the '80s.
But Carr has no powers whatsoever. And unlike Green Arrow or Batman, he doesn't have any sort of combat training either. And he's a high schooler! Why are the Justice League taking him on adventures to other planets and allowing him to be present during their battles with omnipotent beings and world-leveling psychopaths?!
Every second that Snapper spent with the League was a second in which he was risking certain death. How irresponsible is that?
We've all heard it a million times before: "What happens if Superman goes bad?" It's been the story of countless DC comics and movies to the point where it's almost more interesting to see where the writers will take the story if Superman just stays himself! But what happens when the entire Justice League goes rogue?
This topic was covered in a two-part animated Justice League story entitled "A Better World". In an alternate future, Lex Luthor becomes President of the United States and kills the Flash. The Justice League storms the White House to bring in Lex, but he simply laughs and points out that he will always just escape from prison and torment the League again. Superman agrees, and kills Luthor with his heat vision.
Following the Man of Steel's lead, the surviving members of the team become the Justice Lords; they are eventually able to topple all the governments of the world and rule over the Earth with an iron fist. They abolish the rule of law, they kill any criminal on sight, they outlaw elections, and they even spy on everyone from their Watchtower! Not cool guys. Not cool...
Were these acts committed by the Justice League truly as despicable as they sound? Let us know in the comments!