Finally seeing Superman and Batman together on screen was a pretty huge event in pop culture, but there is one that should be even bigger – that being The Justice League: Part One. This should inspire a lot more people to pick up Justice League comics and comb through some of the best stories. But knowing where to start can always be a bit of an uphill battle, especially if you’re not someone who regularly reads comic books. As it turns out, Mark Waid, Grant Morrison and Brad Meltzer have written some of the strongest and most satisfying stories involving the Justice League.
Marvel Studios certainly seems to be leading the pack, in terms of these new superhero movies. DC/Warner Bros. are playing catch up, however, their one huge advantage is the fact that they own the film rights to ALL of the DC characters. This means, instead of only having to see some characters in movies, we could potentially see several dozen DC characters on screen, which is incredibly exciting. This would essentially be a live-action version of the animated series Justice League: Unlimited.
There are plenty of stories to pull from for inspiration with the live-action films. Most of the best stories involve the main JLA members (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, etc.) but there are others that feature other great characters like the Atom, Vixen, Red Tornado and Starman. These characters, that certainly seem to be unknown as far as general audiences are concerned, are worthy of being put up on the big screen as well.
10. ‘Divided We Fall’
This story takes place after Batman has exited from the Justice League, and the team feels divided among themselves. In the meantime, they have to fight on without him, having trust issues with one another. Dealing with these dangerous issues of trust, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, Plastic Man and Martian Manhunter are dealing with two crazy enemies with amazing powers. The Queen of Fables, with her fairy-tale nightmare, as well as the world-altering powers of Dr. Destiny.
Superman and Batman, reluctantly decided that in order to restore faith in each other, Batman must reveal his alter ego. This causes Superman and most of the other JLA members to do the same. Wonder Woman and Aquaman are the only ones who are not hiding their identities, so for everyone else, this has made them feel as though they’ve split into two. This, of course, continues to make them feel divided.
9. ‘The Lightning Saga’
This DC Comics crossover brought the Justice League of America and the Justice Society together. The story is all about re-introducing the Legion of Super-Heroes in the post-Infinite Crisis era. It’s also a story that showcases some other DC heroes, like Power Girl, Mr. Terrific, Starman and Red Arrow. The JLA has discovered that several members of the Legion of Super-Heroes from the 31st century are in the present. With the help of the Justice Society of America, the Justice League hunts down all seven Legionnaires to figure out why these heroes of the future have somehow traveled back in time.
The Lightning Saga is also a bit of an introduction to Superman’s new history, following the events of Infinite Crisis. Readers quickly realize that the Legion of Super-Heroes once met Superman as a boy, shared adventures with him and befriended him, though he apparently hasn’t seen them since Crisis on Infinite Earths.
8. ‘The Nail’
This is one of those Justice League stories that takes place in an alternate reality. The story takes place in a world where Superman never came to be. Instead of the Kents stumbling upon the alien space ship with baby Kal-El inside, a nail pops one of the tires of the vehicle, and the Kents never found their Clark. The Justice League is still formed, with Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, Green Lantern and the Atom. Although the world they live in views them with great distrust, and the heroes are greatly feared. It seems as if without the beacon of hope (Superman), the world gets a little bit colder.
This story would actually make perfect sense in Snyder‘s Justice League continuity, considering the ending of Batman v Superman. That movie seems to deconstruct the Man of Steel, dealing with a world that is truly terrified of him and doesn’t trust him.
7. ‘Identity Crisis’
Doctor Light becomes the prime suspect in the murder of Elongated Man’s wife, Sue Dibny. The superhero community join together to find the killer, while also fearing that their loved ones could be next, but there are a number of secrets that boil to the surface during the investigation. Plenty of twists and turns provide the reader with enough suspense and drama to make this story fascinating. The miniseries was selected by the Young Adult Library Services Association’s 2007 recommended list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens.
The story also re-evaluates the concept of being a hero in and of itself, with the characters worrying about their loved ones being targeted by this anonymous killer. But wouldn’t these individuals undertake selfless acts of courage because they feel these same anxieties about everyone they view as innocent? The book opens with the Elongated Man leaving a crime in progress to go to the rescue of his wife, though it ends up being futile. Many people may be able to relate to that choice, but it’s not the typical superheroic choice, and that’s an interesting aspect of this story.
6. ‘Kingdom Come’
This is an Elseworlds story, written by the great Mark Waid, that features Superman and the Justice League no longer working as superheroes. Meanwhile, a new superhero named Magog has risen to popularity, though he unapologetically kills in cold blood. The story is a bit of a deconstruction of the superhero genre, examining a conflict between the more “traditional” superheroes of the old age, and these new reckless vigilantes. Superman formed his own Justice League, as did Batman, to take down Lex Luthor’s Mankind Liberation Front and Magog’s Justice Battalion.
It is a pretty massive tail with dozens upon dozens of characters, taking sides and going up against each other. This would be yet another story arc that would involve nearly the entire DC universe, and to see that in a film would be quite a feat to accomplish. As well as a Justice League story, this is also one of Superman’s best story arcs in the comics.
5. ‘Rock of Ages’
Lex Luthor decides to put a team of supervillains together to combat the Justice League – Joker, Mirror Master, Doctor Light, Jemm, Ocean Master and Circe. Luthor’s newly assembled Injustice Gang are in possession of a mystic stone of incalculable power. Superman and Martian Manhunter go through a literal maze of the Joker’s psyche. Just when the JLA thinks they’ve stopped the Injustice Gang, they realize that Darkseid is on his way to reign in more havoc and chaos.
Darkseid has learned the Anti-Life Equation and taken control of both New Genesis as well as Earth. Every human on the planet is kept submissive by a constant broadcast of the Equation. This is part of Grant Morrison’s run on the JLA, which was so fantastic, and definitely something we should see adapted for the big screen. Though we may see Darkseid using the Anti-Life Equation in Snyder’s Justice League movies.
4. ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’
This was definitely one of the biggest events in DC comics and one of the best and most well-known Justice League stories. This story also marks the end of the Silver and Bronze Ages of comic books, not to mention it helped simplify DC Comics’ then-50-year-old continuity. This story may have already been hinted at in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it also looks like that movie is throwing in other adaptations as well, so it isn’t a pure adaptation of Crisis.
In this story, the Anti-Monitor has begun a disastrous journey across time to destroy and end of all existence. Alternate earths are all systematically destroyed and the Monitor asks for help from a team of super-heroes from across space and time to battle the Anti-Monitor and stop the destruction.
3. ‘World War III’
Black Adam goes on a murderous rampage in Bialya, slaughtering millions, resulting in nearly the entire DC universe joining together to stop him. His reign of terror takes him across the world, even to China. Cinematically, this would mean that Dwayne Johnson would be playing the role and causing destruction. Also a great opportunity to showcase more of this character and just how powerful he is, after he appears in Shazam!. In fact, this could make sense since that movie, which introduces Shazam, could set things up to lead straight into this.
In this story, Black Adam is enraged over the brutal death of his family, and took his anger out on the nations he felt were responsible. He destroyed the leaning Tower of Pisa and tried to hurl an aircraft carrier at New York City.
2. ‘The Tornado’s Path’
Red Tornado is certainly a character who has never appeared in any DC movie, though he did appear on CBS’ Supergirl. Red Tornado is out of commission and is getting a new body by Deadman, while having his old body stolen by Solomon Grundy. Meanwhile, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are picking new members for the Justice League, and throughout this series, we see Vixen, Red Arrow, Black Lightning and Hawkgirl kicking some serious butt. They, of course, are the ones who are chosen to be on the new JL roster.
Brad Metzler captures the voice and tone of each character frighteningly well. In gathering new JL members, the story also showcases some of the other talents the DC universe has to offer – all being captured perfectly.
1. ‘Tower of Babel’
This story arc is the perfect example of why Batman is an important JLA member, and why he is also unapologetically distrustful of almost everyone and everything around him. Batman has, of course, is prepared for the possibility that his JLA teammates could turn evil, in any number of ways. He’s figured out their weaknesses and the most efficient ways to take them down. Unfortunately, Ra’s al Ghul, one of Batman’s arch enemies, gets a hold of the files and tears the Justice League apart.
This is a fascinating look at the character of Batman and his methodology, it is definitely necessary to explore in a live-action format at some point. Ben Affleck’s Batman seems to be pretty harsh and unforgiving, this would be a perfect story arc to insert into at least one of the Warner Bros. Justice League films. The idea of Batman betraying the Justice League due to his relentless distrustful nature is almost inevitable.