Super Friends, Unite!
Written by Dylan Deppe. Media by John Freeman.
Holy cinematic superhero mayhem, Batman! How about that “Justice League” trailer Maybe you thought the age of DC heroes would never come again, but it has. Before they roll into theaters on Nov. 17 of this year, you might be interested in checking out some of their past adventures and incarnations.
Making their debut in “Brave and the Bold #28” in March of 1960 (three years before The Avengers and a year before Fantastic Four), the Justice League of America (as it was known back then) was meant to be exactly what we still know superhero team-ups to mean: people getting excited about their favorite characters standing next to each other. As one expects from ‘60s comic books, the Justice League’s original adventures fought kooky villains like Starro, Despero, and the Amazo as well as stories about overcoming trouble (like being turned into trees and getting stuck in alternate dimensions). Interestingly enough, the initial Justice League stories rarely featured Batman or Superman, despite them being actual members.
Set in a slightly dystopian future and an alternate universe, “Kingdom Come” is a four-issue mini series that focuses on Superman returning and going too far cleaning up crime and reckless vigilantes, while Lex Luthor manipulates him. At the same time, Luther manipulates a paranoid Batman and causes the heroes to go to war with each other, proving the dangers of super-powered people. “Kingdom Come” was one of the first serious Justice League stories without the suspense of a character’s impending death. It also did a great job delving into the Justice League as a metaphor for the pantheon of Greek gods; there were some tastefully-spooky biblical allusions thrown in for good measure.
Being the Justice League for many fans across a broad age range, “Justice League” (later “Justice League Unlimited”) was the culmination of the DC Animated Universe that began in the early ‘90s that encouraged DC Entertainment to continue with their slew of animated movies and TV shows. For a cartoon, this show is surprisingly mature. It should come as no surprise, though, that adult DC fans and people who grew up watching the show continue to watch and sing its praises almost 10 years after its end. This show is more than awesome team-ups and action scenes; there’s also prevalent and recurring themes about family, friendship, responsibility, and trust.
In an age where movie and TV franchises love promoting using various forms of media, we should’ve expected a video game to enter the arena. But, when NetherRealm Studios released “Injustice: Gods Among Us” in 2013 with glowing reviews, not many people expected an ongoing prequel comic along with a sequel. Furthermore, no one could’ve told you that a “Mortal Kombat”-style fighting game or its prequel comic would’ve been better than okay. “Injustice” is basically the DC version of Marvel’s “Civil War” but with an emphasis on the idea of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s just a cheap knock-off. The prequel comic series may not have some of the moral ambiguity of “Civil War,” but no one is safe. The betrayals, deaths, and tragic falls of the best heroes and villains will get you right in the feels.
The“Justice League” movie isn’t the first live-action League to come out (remember Aquaman, Cyborg, Flash, Green Arrow, and “no flying” Superman teaming up on “Smallville”), and this time, we’ll definitely see better costumes, acting, and stunts. Serving as the fifth entry in Warner Bros. DC Extended Universe, “Justice League” will see a reformed Batman teaming up with Wonder Woman to form a team of super friends to stop an impending alien invasion. Oh, and Superman’s coming back to life, in case you thought they would keep him dead. Let’s hope the “you need to be more like Marvel” critiques don’t bog this down as the typical dumb and fun-ish blockbuster, but anything’s better than “Suicide Squad.”