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This isn’t your traditional Justice League.
Batman: The Animated Series creator Bruce Timm and Batman Beyond co-creator Alan Burnett return to the world of DC Animation with Justice League: Gods and Monsters. The animated film reimagines Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as heroes with skewed moral compasses.
Framed for murder, the Justice League will go to great lengths to prove their innocence in hopes of winning the government’s trust and becoming champions of the people.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters came out on July 21 and shares narrative threads with DC Comics’ Elseworlds imprint, which includes anthology series based on stories outside the mainstream DC continuity. In keeping with these reinventions, the film makes several tweaked nods and reference to the DC Comics universe.
The Hollywood Reporter presents a list of Easter eggs, comic book trivia and pop culture references found in Justice League: Gods and Monsters.
In the movie, Superman’s home world, Krypton, is still a doomed planet, but the identity of Superman’s father is no longer Jor-El. He’s the villain Zod. Prior to the launch of the incubator pod holding a baby Superman, Zod (Bruce Thomas) takes down Jor-El and imprints his genetic code to the ship, making the military leader and longtime enemy Superman’s father.
Another traditional part of Superman’s upbringing are his adoptive parents. Kal-El grew up as Clark Kent on a rural farm with Jonathan and Martha Kent, who instilled in him American values. In the film, his ship crash-lands in Mexico, where he grows up as Hernan Guerra (Benjamin Bratt), raised by migrant farmers.
In this universe, Lex (Jason Isaacs) takes on the Amanda Waller role of an antihero handing metahuman affairs. He is responsible for the creation of “Project FairPlay,” a security measure to kill Superman should the need arise.
Lex has been in isolation in a watchtower over Earth, which is very similar to the 2013-14 comic book storyline “Forever Evil,” where Lex rebuilds the Justice League watchtower in hopes of getting initiated into the Justice League. That’s after he helped save the world from the Crime Syndicate, an organization from a parallel Earth comprising the Justice League’s evil twins.
When the Justice League is first shown onscreen, they’re taking down a terrorist group. After tearing their way through the compound, they’re met by some familiar opposition: Solomon Grundy, Live Wire and Cheetah.
Solomon Grundy is a well-known Batman villain typically depicted as an unintelligent monster with superhuman strength. In this reality, Solomon possesses some level of fighting technique instead of just brute strength and exhibits a normal complexion instead of his traditional gray skin.
In the comics, Live Wire’s (Kari Wahlgren) real name is Leslie Willis, and she was once a shock jock radio personality. While hosting a concert she is electrocuted, turning her into a metahuman. Live Wire’s abilities allow her to control electricity as well as transform into pure energy. Her onscreen counterpart uses an electrical cannon, implying that she does not have her superhuman abilities. The character will get the live-action treatment in the upcoming CBS Supergirl television series.
Cheetah is a supervillain that’s had strong ties to Wonder Woman. Several women have held the Cheetah moniker, the original being Priscilla Rich, then Deborah Domaine, and most recently Barbara Ann Minerva. However, the only male to inherit the Cheetah persona is Sebastian Ballesteros. In the film, an unidentified male wearing a cheetah-print hoodie uses claws as his weapon — similar to another DC villain, Bronze Tiger. Considering he squares off with Wonder Woman, it suggests that he is this world’s version of Sebastian.
Steve Trevor (Tahmoh Penikett) has been Wonder Woman’s love interest in comic book mythology. A former relationship is hinted at in the film but is never spelled out. He’s acted as a liaison to the Justice League in the comics, a role that remains intact for the film. Except instead of supporting their actions, he butts heads with the questionable heroes.
Tower of Justice
Alan Burnett was a longtime writer for the DC Animation TV series Super Friends. Back in those days, the Justice League met at the Hall of Justice, a headquarters where they would convene to discuss cases, analyze clues, etc. It was modeled after Union Terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio. In addition to being a literal “Tower” of Justice, the makeover also includes a highly advance defense system.
Two Times the Atom
Prior to Ray Palmer’s demise, Ryan Choi (Eric Bauza) encourages Ray about his presentation on molecular miniaturization. In the comics, Ryan was the fourth person to have the Atom title in the comics. He also takes up Ray’s former position at Ivy University as a physics professor.
Silas Stone (Carl Lumbly) uses prototype weapons to protect his son Victor Stone (Taylor Parks) from an unwanted guest. The artillery resembles that of comic book hero Cyborg’s blaster and sonic cannon, which uses concentrated blasts of sound to either stun or blow away foes.
This isn’t Cyborg’s origin story, but it is referenced in a heartbreaking way. In comic book lore, Silas is conducting an experiment on a Mother Box — a device that opens portals to various dimensions — that causes an explosion that nearly kills Victor. To save his son, Silas grafts the cybernetic suit to Victor’s body, giving rise to Cyborg. The cybernetic enhancements provide access to an array of computer systems, even tapping into Mother Box technology allowing Cyborg and Co. the ability to teleport.
In the comics, Silas is an absent father, but the father is anything but distant in the movies reality, sharing a tender moment with his son before both are vaporized in the blast.
Additional fact: Victor is repping Titan school colors — the football team Vic plays for in Justice League: War.
Crushing the Competition
While performing clinical tests, Dr. Magnus (C. Thomas Howell) tosses out a few lab rats named Mickey, Minnie and Mighty. The sole survivor is Jerry, a reference to cat-and-mouse cartoon Tom and Jerry, produced by Warner Bros.
Ever the Scientist
An experimental serum turned Kirk Langstrom (Michael C. Hall) into Man Bat in the comic book universe. In the movie, Kirk tests an experimental drug on himself in order to cure his lymphoma, which turns him into the vampire vigilante Batman. He gains superhuman strength, increased speed and flight capabilities, but the experiment also turns him into a vampire, requiring him to feed on human blood.
What’s in a name?
Batman finds an email in Silas Stone’s computer that has been sent to several significant scientists who in the comics are a mix of superheroes and villains. These characters appear later in the film discussing Project FairPlay but never suit up or display any metahuman abilities.
The naming scheme for Batman’s gadgets has usually been “Bat-[insert item’s name].” This versions doesn’t carry any of the Batarangs or ride around in a Batmobile, but he carries a flash drive modeled after himself. A Bat-flash drive if you will. Outside of the Tower of Justice, a vendor sells Bat-fangs and Wonder swords but no flash drives. Like Jack Nicholson’s Joker, the audience has to ask, “Where does he get those wonderful toys?”
Who is Pete Ross?
Pete Ross is one of Clark Kent’s closest friends in the comics. He goes on to marry Lana Lang — Clark’s romantic interest growing up — and becomes a senator. In the film, Pete (Larry Cedar) continues working as a government official doing damage control by handling press inquiries from Ms. Lane and The Daily Planet.
Where’s the Love?
Lois Lane and Superman are the most recognizable couple in the history of comics, but Lois (Paget Brewster) doesn’t trust Superman in this alternate universe. The man of steel tries to connect with Lois by revealing secrets about himself to her, but she isn’t having any of it. Later Superman reveals his real thoughts about the reporter to Wonder Woman.
Bekka and Orion
In the film, Bekka (Tamara Taylor) and Orion’s (Josh Keaton) wedding/honeymoon is cut short when Highfather (Richard Chamberlain) slays his enemies, including Orion. This effectively ends the relationship between Bekka and Highfather. However, in the comics, Bekka, Orion and Highfather are all on the same side, fighting Darkseid’s forces.
In the “New 52” comic reboot, Darkseid is a farmer named Uxas, but after killing the old gods, he inherits their powers, turning him into the mad god. His brother-in-law, Izaya, goes to one of the gods to save his wife/Darkseid’s sister. The dying god won’t save her but give Izaya godlike power, turning him into Highfather. The two have been at war ever since.
In the film, an arranged marriage has been proposed between Highfather’s grand-daughter, Bekka, and Darkseid’s son, Orion, as a peace treaty between the new gods.
Aside from the Game of Thrones reference, an assortment of obscure characters from the comics make cameos at the wedding, including Mister Miracle, Lightray, Big Barda from New Genesis (Highfather’s planet) and from Apokolips (Darkseid’s Planet) are Granny Goodness, Steppenwolf, Mantis, and Desaad and Kalibak.
The Metal Men
The Metal Men were created by William Magnus for search-and-rescue missions in toxic environments too dangerous for human beings. Two basic rules govern their programing: Save whoever they can and neutralize the threat at any cost. The movie only shows Platinum (Grey Griffin) and Tin (Dee Bradley Baker), but the team also consists of Gold, Lead, Iron and Mercury. A responsometer — or advance thinking device — is added to their respective metals, giving them their individual personalities while making them sentient. The Metal Men are virtually indestructible so long as their responsometers remains intact since their bodies can be remade assuming they have the proper metal.
Although these drones were programmed to frame the League, their appearance has some semblance to the Bat-sentries found in Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come. “The iconic miniseries sees Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor team up to create a legion of steel soldiers that can be controlled remotely as a way of ridding the world of the “Kryptonian and his ilk.”
In the comics, Amanda “The Wall” Waller (Penny Johnson Jerald) is portrayed as a ruthless government official. She is the head of government agency A.R.G.U.S. and director of the Suicide Squad. In the movie, the antihero has finally made her way to the Oval Office. Her right-hand man Steve Trevor still answers to her and “handles” the Justice League.
Jimmy Olson is best known as a photographer for The Daily Planet, working alongside Lois Lane and Clark Kent. He’s known for his squeaky-clean look, often rocking a bow tie. But Jimmy’s alternate version is rough around the edges. He breaks into a morgue trying to get photos of dead scientists for Lois but is shortly apprehended for trespassing.
Fun fact: Actor Yuri Lowenthal voiced both Jimmy Olson and Jor-El in the film.
What’d we miss? If you spot any other Easter eggs/references not in the post, share them in the comments below.
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