Justice League of America
Justice League of America is a 1997 American superhero television film and an unsuccessful pilot produced by CBS that never aired in the United States. Based on a team of fictional DC Comics superheroes from the comic of the same name, it was directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá with additional work by Lewis Teague, produced by Larry Rapaport and distributed by Warner Bros. Television. It has been shown in comic book conventions by having bootlegs of the pilot.
The Weatherman uses his weather controlling machine to cause havoc in New Metro demanding a ransom. The Justice League, consisting of the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, Fire, Martian Manhunter, and new recruit Ice try to locate him before he destroys the city.
Why It's An Injustice to the Justice League
- The most glaring problem is due to copyright issues, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman do not appear in this film. Batman was part of the team that the movie is loosely based on, but Warner Bros. had a "Bat Embargo" which wouldn't let him appear in any TV shows as long as he was in a movie (which was the year Batman & Robin came out). A lesser-known but recognizable character that would have fit just fine is Aquaman because their secret command center is located underwater and they even mention Atlantis. At the time the pilot was made, many people would probably not recognize the heroes of this iteration of the Justice League, with the possible exception of the Flash who had a TV series in 1990.
- The costumes are very cheap looking with the Weatherman and Martian Manhunter being the worst offenders. Fire's costume looks more green than Green Lantern's!
- The special effects are very low budget which is expected for a tv movie but when the heroes use their powers, such as Green Lantern using his ring and the Atom shrinking, it looks very bad and makes you wonder how much worse it could've been had CBS greenlighted the series.
- There's a news report of a rainstorm caused by the Weatherman that created a wall of mud on a hillside that was stopped by Fire, except we're not shown any of this. Unless there was a montage of our heroes saving the city from disaster, this is inexcusable because we miss an opportunity to see how the characters would team up during a perilous situation. It also isn't a good idea to tell, not show on a pilot movie because it shows laziness from the writers who can't come up with ideas on how characters should act during action scenes which would contribute to not greenlighting a tv series.
- Throughout the film, there is a framing device where the members of the Justice League talk about their past experiences as superheroes in mock-interviews to someone who is never revealed. This is pointless because they have Ice/Tori who doesn't join the Justice League until near the end of the film when she talks at the very first scene of the movie about what it's like for her to be a superhero and as a member of the Justice League. It's also filled with lame jokes and banter that add nothing to the film. Additionally, they are supposed to keep their superhero identities a secret and yet they casually talk as civilians as if there is no risk of their secrets being exposed.
- It's been theorized by fans that these segments were added during reshoots directed by Lewis Teague to add more humor to the film which could explain why they feel out of place.
- All of the members of the Justice League were handled poorly from its source material:
- The Flash/Barry Allen somehow isn't able to get a job after losing his last one. He says that he's only good at running fast but that is a liability which is a pathetic excuse because he can do nearly any job with his super speed as an asset. He even cooks dinner for Guy and Ray which should've been a skill that he can use for a future job. In the comics, his job is a forensic scientist for his city's police department.
- Green Lantern/Guy Gardner acts nothing like his comic counterpart. He is a software salesman who has relationship troubles with his girlfriend Cheryl when in the comics he's a teacher for children with disabilities. His troubled past and aggressive personality also isn't here, which makes him more like Hal Jordan. He also has to summon a ring construct in the shape of a propeller to fly when he should be able to fly without creating a ring construct and his costume is physical instead of being summoned from his ring.
- The Atom/Ray Palmer acts like a stereotypical nerd who uses his shrinking powers only for comedic purposes and doesn't have his natural strength for some reason.
- Fire/B.B. DaCosta doesn't cloak herself in flames and is a unsuccessful actress where in the comic books she a model who owns a successful business. She's also portrayed as an African-American when she is supposed to be Brazilian.
- Ice/Tori is portrayed as an American meteorologist instead of a Norwegian princess. She was also born with her ice powers in the comic, but in the movie she gets them after spilling water on the weather machine and struggles to control her powers until the end of the film.
- The Martian Manhunter/J'onn J'onzz, the leader of the Justice League, barely does anything in the film. Out of his vast list of abilities, he only uses his shapeshifting powers as Dr. Eno and later Fire and is only able to hold shape for a short amount of time. He also doesn't help the league save New Metro from the weather disasters caused by the Weatherman throughout the film.
- B.B. meets Martin Walters who wants to go out with her, but she knows that he's too young for her. They don't state his age, but it's implied that he may be underaged or just began college because he later goes out with a 16 year old cheerleader. This relationship ends up looking creepy because she ends up going out with him even after finding out that Martin has been stalking her and learns about her personal life.
- Tons of unfunny humor such as the Atom shrinking to go below security lasers and then does the limbo for no reason and the Flash bothering a server if his company is hiring.
- There's a stupid scene where Martin figures out that B.B. is Fire because she wore the earrings that he gave her while in costume. Martian Manhunter goes disguised as Fire to show him that B.B. and Fire are different people, but it should be blatantly obvious to him that they have the same face, hair, and voice when they stand very close to each other. He's easily convinced that she's not Fire. Then there's the cliché where Guy leaves Cheryl to protect New Metro from a giant hailstorm and he immediately appears as the Green Lantern to protect her from being hurt. Instead of figuring out that Guy has been leaving abruptly during their dates because he's a superhero, she says that she's done with Guy and wants to be with someone like the Green Lantern instead, which, again, has the same face, hair, and voice.
- The movie makes the dramatic reveal that Dr. Eno is the Weatherman when it was obvious that it was him once Dr. Arliss Hopke was shown to be a red herring. It also doesn't help that Dr. Eno is played by Miguel Ferrer who had many film roles playing as the villian.
- In the climax, when the Weatherman summons a tsunami to flood New Metro, our heroes act like complete buffoons:
- When Green Lantern finds the Weatherman, he throws away the weather manipulating machine and Guy just gives up when he could easily fly to get it just like he did when he flew to meet him face-to-face.
- Ice freezes the tsunami just as it's about to enter the city, but it doesn't permanently solve the problem because once the ice melts, then the city would've flooded anyway.
- Green Lantern tells the Atom and Fire to stop the tidal wave, but all they do is stay airborne and do nothing.
- The Flash is helping kids be safe by going on higher ground, but he takes an unusually long time to save three kids. Once he finds out that he has to save more kids than anticipated, he groans as if it's too much work for him.
- When Dr. Eno is in police custody in a police van on the way to prison, he grabs a laser to free himself from handcuffs while being with the police. What's that going to accomplish other than handcuffing him again and confiscating the laser?
Reviews of the film have been negative. Common complaints are of the plot holes, poor special effects, bad costumes and that the League members deviated heavily from their source characters. Critics have also said the movie tried to be like "Friends with superpowers". On IMDb the film has a user score 2.9/10 and on Letterboxd it has a user score of 1.5/5. Established JLA writer Mark Waid said the film was "80 minutes of my life I'll never get back."
Miguel Ferrer voiced Weather Wizard in Superman: The Animated Series who the Weatherman, also played by Ferrer, is based on.