A taste of Justice
It has taken 57 years but the iconic Justice League is finally here; here's all you need to prep for this coming together of the who's who of DC
It was Avengers which released in 2012 -- the first Marvel film to rake in a billion dollars -- that made Hollywood wake up to the potential of superhero films. Its rival franchise, DC, has now come up with its own version, Justice League. The true DC fan knows the bittersweet irony of it all, considering that The Avengers wouldn't have existed in the first place had it not been for Justice League.
The big guns
Superman arrived into films in 1951 and has since returned multiple times including in 1978, 1980, 1983 and 1987, when Christopher Reeve played him, and in 2006, when Brandon Routh donned the red cape. The Caped Crusader turned out to be a huge success in the campy TV series adaptation of the 60's that starred Adam West, who landed for himself a 1966 Batman movie adaptation too. However this wasn't successful and Batman didn't taste success until 1989 when Tim Burton changed the narrative of the genre leading to multiple sequels in 1992, 1995 and 1997. But the biggest push was yet to come when Christopher Nolan rebooted the Batman series with all the darkness that was a big part of the hugely successful Batman The Animated Series and set the tone for how DC was to go forward in cinema. Man of Steel, the latest reboot of Superman, turned out to be a blockbuster.
Wonder Woman, the first feminist superhero and one of the female icons of the 21st century, has since got her big screen debut to much adulation.
Conception of Justice Society
DC comics ushered in the Golden Age of comics (late 1930s to early 1950s) when Superman debuted in Action Comics #1 in 1938. Soon after this, Batman debuted in 1939 and Wonder Woman in 1941 to complete what is generally called the Holy Trinity. And then, came the brainwave to bring them all together for the precursor to the Justice League, the Justice Society of America (JSA). When the Justice Society was first created, there was an in-house rule that stopped its members from having their own titles, which is why the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman were considered to be 'honorary members'.
When Showcase #4 (1956) debuted Barry Allen, a forensic scientist who by a stroke of lightning becomes the 'Fastest Man Alive', the comic book world was upended. The cover of the iconic comic strip featured an undulating film strip depicting the Flash running so fast that he had escaped from the frame and it started off what would come to be known as the Silver Age of Comics. Barry Allen ran faster than the speed of thought and would, in years to come, be responsible for almost every single major DC event. But more than anything, he brought levity to a serious and brooding Justice League.
A hero under water
The interest that Flash's character generated made the DC artists rework their entire roster and a big beneficiary was Aquaman. His back story reveals that he is Arthur Curry, the son of a human and a water-breathing outcast from the lost city of Atlantis. Due to this heritage, he possesses various superhuman abilities, including the powers of surviving underwater, communication with sea life (which would go on to become full-fledged telepathic connectivity with all sea creatures), and tremendous swimming prowess.
Originally a part of Teen Titans, Cyborg is part machine and part human and has genius level IQ that is comparable only to Batman. His mechanically enhanced body grants him speed, stamina, flight, and his ubiquitous eye contains a variety of tools including computer interfacing tools and a laser. His special weapon is his white sound blaster which is an enhanced sound amplifier and is sonic weapon. Oh, and did we say that he can self-repair any part of his body?
All hail the Justice League
Enter The Brave and the Bold #28 in Feb 1960. Batman and Superman were teaming up in World's Finest for a few years and the new revamps were doing well. It was a time when the Major League Baseball was finding favour with the audiences. Noting this particular trend, writer Gardner Fox and artist Mike Sekowsky started putting together a new supergroup - the Justice League of America founded by Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Flash and Martian Manhunter. Given that DC had already ushered in a new found lease of life to comics, this was seen as the high watermark of the period with the JLA issues flying off the shelf as fans were able to see the powers of their favourite superheroes co-exist.
And that's when publisher Martin Goodman of Timely comics told his chief writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby that he wanted their own superteam. Thus was born the Fantastic Four that marked a watershed moment in comic books. The success of Fantastic Four led to the creation of Iron Man, Thor, The Incredible Hulk and years later, was born the Avengers.
To many a DC fan, the Justice League Unlimited aired on Cartoon Network and produced by Warner Bros still remain favourites. The origins story of the Justice League in the animation series stayed true to the comics with an invasion by the Martians being thwarted by the JLA. However, there seems to be no Martian Manhunter or Green Lantern in the upcoming film, and instead, it features Cyborg, a character that has not been part of any of the multiple versions of Justice League in the comics over the years. Perhaps that will be the most crucial aspect of Friday's release?
The new Justice League seems to take cues from the latest New 52 storyline in comics but regardless with 4/7 (yeah, we are not counting on number 5 to be back from the dead yet) of the original founders in the new lineup, there is enough nostalgia in it for the loyal DC fan like yours truly. The film has been 57 years in the making but it is, now, finally here.