Those in the generation of animated shows like Batman Beyond and Justice League probably never thought they’d live to see the day of a live-action Justice League movie. When it finally, unbelievably happened, those same folks were probably not expecting the flimsy mess that was 2017’s Justice League. So, let’s redo it. This time from the memory of the allure of these characters in the first place.
In a Justice League for a new (hopefully not so far away) era, here are seven superheroes who deserve a spot in the Watchtower, and three who don’t.
10 Want: Batman
When the team formed in 2001’s Justice League TV series, Batman wasn’t an official member. Although he was, and arguably the most important one. That’s how it should be. At the end of the pilot, all join hands in the Watchtower (which Batman just had built for the team to watch over earth). Superman asks Batman if he will join the team. A ridiculous question, all things considering. Batman says, “I’m not really a people person, but when you need help, and you will, call me.” By doing this, Batman maintains his allure, his mystique, his legend—by being someone the Justice League is somewhat intimidated by but also someone who will ultimately have their back in ways the others can’t.
That power complex—between the League and Batman—of the team depending on him, and constantly needing to ask—is ever-present. But of course, he is always keeping tabs on them anyway. 2017’s Justice League shoots this whole persona to hell by making him some type of Nick Fury fill-in, actively searching out the earth’s greatest protectors and pulling strings to form a team. That’s about as big of a people person possible, and the entire team dynamic is thwarted because of it.
9 Want: Superman
With Batman maintaining his role as formidable beneficiary, this leaves Superman to revere in his truest form: naïve optimism. He’d be the one to assemble the team—or at least dream up the concept—and take his position as leader of it.
2017’s Justice League seemed to be trying too hard to pick up the pieces of a Death of Superman shoehorned into a Dark Knight Returns arc simply to draw viewers in for the sequel. But everyone knew Superman was coming back. Most, in fact, did not know he died in the first place. And, here’s a wild thought, but make a good Justice League story work, and that alone will draw viewers. Killing Superman doesn’t give Batman his personality, sorry.
8 Want: Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman, more or less, worked. Which is good, because there’s more to come of Gal Gadot’s portrayal.
A clever, modern take on her invisible jet would be sweet, it’s worth noting.
7 Want: Flash
The Flash is indisputably an integral member of the Justice League. But which Flash? Different depictions have found places for Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, and Avery Ho.
2017’s Justice League chose Allen. But why? He might make sense if there wasn’t already many seasons of a successful live action series centered around that character. But there is. There is also a fertile ground of characters already laid; why not reap the benefits from it? Constantly rehashing the same stories gives fans superhero fatigue. Why not expand the universe and give a new origin completely: Wally West. This is dependent on if a live action Teen Titans flick is in the works, of course. A good one at least.
6 Want: Green Lantern
Green Lantern is too interesting of a character to not have in the Justice League. He has too much of a legacy to not make the cut. A three-second acknowledgment doesn’t come close to doing the character… justice. After 2011’s Green Lantern flop, though, it makes sense. But back to the fertile ground of characters–why not look at it as an opportunity to do something different?
It may be too soon for Hal Jordan, but this absurd attachment with origin stories is going too far. Does every character have to have a pearl-necklace-snapping scene that we flashback to in every movie? Honestly, Hal Jordan betraying the Corps would make a better movie than a reboot of his origin. And then, what a coincidence, enter John Stewart. The Justice League animated series had a beautiful balance of serious and hot-headed characters. Hal Jordan and Wally West would be competitors, wingmen, and goofballs, whereas John Stewart provided a sort of yin-yang with Flash, forming a beautiful older brother / younger brother relationship.
5 Want: Martian Manhunter
J’onn J’onzz is perhaps the most powerful hitter in the Justice League’s dugout. Superman said so himself. He’s also been on the team since its very inception in 1960; not including him is beyond ludicrous. The Martian Manhunter’s origin is poignant introduces an incredibly deep protagonist and a completely fresh take on being a superhero. What an amazing opportunity.
The reason it hasn’t been done yet is perhaps that an origin movie with Martians exclusively may be a bit challenging to relate to. But if done right, introducing Manhunter could be introducing the League itself. The very alien race that wipes the Martians to extinction come to Earth next. J’onn J’onzz is their warning, the spark that brings them together. And Martian Manhunter and Superman, both having lost their entire races, both gods in their own way, bond immediately.
4 Want: Hawkgirl
Why did 2017’s Justice League have six members? It’s always had at least seven. Riding The Avengers’s coattails, perhaps? Yikes. The Justice League needs at least seven members. But should Hawkgirl fill that spot?
She’s immortal, headstrong, fierce, dangerous, certainly breaks the mold. Plus, that’s the route the animated series went, and that’s the motif.
3 Don’t Want: Aquaman
Yes, he was an original member of the team. But he is strongest in the water (you know, among his kingdom to protect) and weakest out of it. Why change this perfectly understandable weakness to force him onto a team of land-based beings? Honor Aquaman — the good and the bad. Choose from hundreds of other good characters.
2001’s Justice League handled his character in a beautiful way. He was there from the beginning, sometimes helping the League and sometimes hindering it. Aquaman is someone who can both intimidate and inspire even the Justice League. That’s even cooler than having permanent residence on a Watchtower 200,000 miles from the ocean.
2 Don’t Want: Cyborg
Cyborg may have been rewritten to become a founding member of the League, but he was a Titan first. Given the concept of a well-done live-action Teen Titans movie, Cyborg belongs as an original player there.
The Justice League acting like the NFL down the line and recruiting young superheroes might add an interesting tension between Titans, though.
1 Don’t Want: Robin
Dick Grayson? Jason Todd? Carrie Kelley? Tim Drake? Stephanie Brown? Damian Wayne? Duke Thomas Do they belong with Batman alone? On the Teen Titans? On the Justice League?
If done right, this is the potential for DC. If done right. A conversation for another time.
In a Justice League for a new (hopefully not so far away) era, here are seven superheroes who deserve a spot in the Watchtower, and three who don't.