The focus of this blog is going to be a bit of a throwback topic; Justice League the Animated Series. I’ll be talking about the 2-parter “A Better World.” If you are fans of the Crime Syndicate/Justice Lords then these episodes will be something that you’ll remember.
One of the unanswered questions in this parallel universe is why the League decided to go rogue.
It appears based on the episode’s opening that the event which made the “change” occur was after Superman killed Lex with his Heat Vision. However, we should back it up a little bit. There are a few things that we never get more information on;
- Why was the League (Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman) attacking the White House in the first place?
- What was this war that was potentially bad enough to destroy the world?
Superman goes ahead of the others to confront Lex and scolds him saying that even being President was enough for him. Lex then gathers up some papers going on about how his vision was not seen in the eyes of the people. Whatever his “plan” was is never explained or mentioned again.
He then loses his cool saying that he’ll push a button that will start the nuclear war and this causes Superman to reply with the numerous ways he could stop him but Lex cuts him off because he knows he won’t do it being brute/deadly force methods.
Then Lex in a fit of cockiness and stupidity gives a speech (similar to the one Joker gave Superman in the Injustice game before he got killed) about how no matter how many times he locks him up, he’ll get out with a plan bigger than the last one.
However, he takes it a step further than Joker did and actually tells Superman that he in his own right is responsible for Lex’s evil deeds due to not stopping him due to the attention and all he gets for being a hero.
Obviously, that makes something inside Superman snap and we see his eyes turn red.
Something that is more shocking than what happened in the Oval Office, after being knocked down by one of the guards. Wonder Woman helps Batman to his feet and something that I never thought I’d hear comes from his lips…”Thanks.” Wow, this is a parallel universe!
They rush to the office only to see Superman in a pondering pose while Batman boldly says what was done HAD to be done. That was really a shock because it was coming from someone who is opposed to killing. Lex’s plan must have really been something very horrible if Batman condoned Superman’s actions.
Another thing that I’m curious about is whether or not the Lex of that particular timeline had Brainiac inside of him like he did in the “present.”
We know that Brainiac had inserted himself into Lex’s body when he held him captive in “Ghost in the Machine” episode before the “World’s Finest” 3-parter in Superman the Animated Series. He gave Lex superhuman strength, cured his cancer and subconsciously told him the ideas/instructions on how to get the equipment and resources necessary to transfer him into an Amazo-like body.
Now going back to “A Better World” we know that before Superman killed Lex, the Flash had been killed by Lex. The when and why of Flash’s death was left unanswered. We just know that in flashbacks and playback scenarios, a battle damaged Flash is held by two soldiers while Lex has a gun handed to him and he prepares to shot him.
Here is my guess as to why Lex had killed Flash; it was due to Lex’s own actions in the White House being something the League didn’t like. Lex told Superman that the people were the ones who put him there and they were going to burn for it BURN!!! He basically sounded like a madman.
It seems that because he was in the White House, the League really couldn’t do anything about his actions even if they disapproved. As Superman put it, he regretted him getting the election and winning due to the “will of the people.” So, it seems that even if the other Leaguers were disgusted with Lex’s run for office, Superman was most likely the one to calm them down saying that it was not their jurisdiction to stop him from running. Or it could have been Batman that told Superman the way things worked in terms of elections. Again, it was “the will of the people.”
When he was storming into the office where Lex was, Superman told Wonder Woman that they had waited long enough. Most likely to go in and overthrow him.
Something tells me that Lex was committing some kind of crime as President and Flash went out on his own to stop him only to get caught and killed. For all we know, Lex probably gave bad publicity for the heroes banning them from heroic actions or something of that nature. It just seems unlikely that unless Flash was doing something on his own he wouldn’t be able to be caught.
Before the “real” Justice League is sent back to their timeline, the Justice Lord Batman says it was more complicated than Flash’s death that pushed the League over the edge. Again, this was something we never get more information on but we do know that Flash’s death seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
That is what made Flash defeating Lex in Justice League Unlimited such a powerful scene because he was literally “changing history!”
I think the most interesting question of all is; what made Justice Lord Batman change his mind? Regardless of the dimension or timeline: Batman IS Batman. Something tells me that he didn’t make that dimensional device without some kind of hidden agenda behind it.
For all we know, he could have deduced that getting the League from a different time before their dictatorship could change his team for the better.
With him basically isolating himself from everyone (so much so that even Manhunter is baffled by the time he spends in his cave), it could mean that he didn’t approve of their “takeover” but really what could he have done about it?
Something tells me that he was “ok” with it up until a certain point. I mean during the scenes of Arkham, it appears that everyone in Batman’s Rogues Gallery had been lobotomized by Superman’s Heat Vision, Gotham is literally a “happy town” in terms of no crime/litter and as Batman explained to Superman as to why he created the dimensional portal; “What else is there to do around here?”
When Flash asked him why he had them trapped, the alternate Batman replied with actual emotion that “He didn’t want to lose another…” before walking away. The “real” Batman replied that their world must have lost their Flash and that was why he was so adamant on protecting this one. Flash’s fake flat line made the alternate Batman panic and rush to his cell only to be duped into being the one trapped.
One could speculate that after Flash’s death, the League’s storming of the White House and global takeover made Bruce the recluse he was seen to be. He said he “hated old times” when John asked him to come with him and Hawkgirl to stop a riot at a Smallville college. This could mean that he recalls the times he worked with the League (with Flash I’d wager) and due to him not being one to handle loss well he’d rather not align himself with allies again.
Remember in “Return of the Joker” after Tim had been abducted and brainwashed by Joker? After Tim “accidently” kills Joker, he forbade him from being Robin again and it seems that he cut ALL ties with the Justice League. Not due to stubbornness or him being anti-social towards them but most likely due to him not wanting to go through the pain of one of his friends/teammates being hurt.
I think that guilt of him not being there to save Tim was what made him isolate himself. With Flash gone in that timeline, which might have been a similar tragedy. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bruce had been someone to tell Flash NOT to go fight Lex (if that was what he did) and the guilt from not stopping him or helping him is what haunted him even in his cave. He was always a “part-timer” in the League but again this is mere speculation on my part.
I mean when you think about it, Bruce’s crusade had essentially been completed in that world. It was a peaceful place but freedom was the only thing missing.
Considering like the Batcave in Batman Beyond, Bruce had the suits of the Bat-family in their cases possibly meaning that Tim, Dick and Barbara were “no longer needed” because the city was safe (for good it seems). It could be that he was the “voice of reason” in that he decided the best way of getting the League to see the error of their ways was to get their butts handed to them and their powers stripped away.
After his fight with the other Batman, they were driving through the city and when Bruce asked his Justice Lord counterpart, if their parents would be proud of his actions, he simply said “Just drive…” hinting that he did feel some remorse for what he had done with the other League members. I think the answer to the question shook him to the core; would my parents truly be proud of the world the Justice Lords created? Yes, but the way the League went about it would probably result in a “No.”
One has to wonder at the end of the 2-parter when the Justice Lord members were sent back to their world (with no powers) what became of them? It seems clear that they were placed in jail, put on trial or something of that nature. However, the biggest mystery is what happened to their Batman and why did he turn against his team?
What do you think?
Just to take this a little further, in Justice League Unlimited (which takes place 2 years later, the same amount of time in the Justice Lord’s universe where 2 years had passed since Superman killed President Lex), we see Lex running for office only for it to be a false campaign to stimulate aggression in Superman to mirror the events of the Justice Lord’s timeline for some unknown reason…
Overall, as I mentioned before it was mainly about Brainiac wanting a new body that was indestructible (and with Amazo tech as his host the Collector of Worlds would truly have been unstoppable).
After fusing with the “Dark Heart” materials, Lex/Brainiac created duplicates of the Justice Lords to fight against the league members with taunts but they are defeated.
Justice Lord Batman was taken out quickly by Batman since they had their fight and left each other on good terms so there probably wasn’t anything that Bruce wanted to hear from his Justice Lord counterpart (robot) that he hadn’t heard already.
I think the most important parts of this season were Superman NOT duplicating the actions of Justice Lord Superman by killing Lex (even after Flash seemingly “died”) and Bruce’s change of heart about the League’s actions. When he and Flash were held prisoners, he tells Flash that their actions were not all that different from the Justice Lord’s when he really thought about it.
Then after his face to face confrontation with Amanda Waller in episode when Superman fights Doomsday (one of my favorite JLU scenes by the way) really made him question whether or not the League should have that much power and jurisdiction. At the end of the episode, he even accused Superman of being like his Justice Lord counterpart due to their final judgment to send Doomsday to the Phantom Zone.
Originally the writers were going to have Bruce form his own “league” to fight alongside Cadmus (mainly non-powered members who also believed in him like Green Arrow, Huntress and Question for example) but if I remember correctly he would eventually turn on them after learning their “true” intentions.
In any case, the story line and buildup that came with the introduction of the Justice Lords was just amazingly well written. I was only a child when it came on television for the first time but now that I’m older I’m fully able to appreciate the show not just for the action but the excellent writing.
Just a couple of final thoughts about “A Better World” it on the Hawkgirl/Green Lantern relationship.
Something else worth mention is their respective “commanders” feelings about their actions.
Was the Green Lantern/Guardians of the Universe satisfied with John’s actions taking part in literally a planetary takeover? My guess is since the planet was being “protected” nothing against the oath of the Green Lanterns was taking place that deemed it necessary to take back his ring.
In the present, later on Hawkgirl’s people and lover were coming to take over the Earth and destroy it. Though it seems to have not been referenced in “A Better World.”
Another interesting note is that she was wearing armor similar to one of the female commanders in “Star-crossed.”
It appears that these two are in a relationship based on a couple of things;
1. At the beginning of part 1 after the opening credits, Hawkgirl is comforting John when he is clearly missing Flash and his goofy antics.
2. After stopping the riot at a Smallville college, Hawkgirl talks about how the world used to like the league but now look at them in fear. John mentions that they did what was right in order to protect Earth regardless of fear. Hawkgirl asks if he sleeps better at night for him to reply, “You know I do…”
Not sure of what to make of that last statement but something tells me that those two are in a relationship!