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The DC Curse: 4 Failed Justice League Live-Action Adaptations And The 1 That Actually Succeeded

The DCEU Justice League was formed and then was never seen again. Here we chart the other JL teams that met the same fate and 1 that didn’t

By Ishita Chatterjee
December 19,2022

The DCU is undergoing multiple changes under new CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran. And a new rumor making the rounds states that the duo are looking forward to rebooting DC and starting again. While we cannot confirm if that’s true, it’s undeniable that Gunn making a new Superman movie with a young Clark Kent does seem to hint at that.

However, we have come to a new revelation because of it. It seems like till now there have been 4 live-action Justice League teams that didn’t make it past one appearance. Is it a DC curse? Let us discuss this.

4 Failed Justice League Teams In Live-Action

1) A Tv Pilot From 1997

1997 pilot of Justice League of America

1997 pilot of Justice League of America

In 1997 CBS ordered a pilot called “Justice League of America”, with veteran director Félix Enríquez Alcalá helming it. The show didn’t feature Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman. While there was Guy Gardner, a famous member of the Green Lantern Corps, but he was weirdly blue and not green.

Matthew Settle plays Gardner while Kenny Johnston portrays Wally West (The Flash), and John Kassir plays Ray Palmer (The Atom). Rounding off the cast are Kimberly Oja’s Tori Olafsdotter (Ice), Michelle Hurd’s B.B. DaCosta (Fire), and David Ogden Stiers’s J’onn J’onzz (The Martian Manhunter).

So the team featured C or D-list heroes. However, this is not to say that shows with secondary characters can’t be successful. The CW’s Arrowverse had shows like Arrow, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow with C or D-list DC heroes leading it, and they were all smash hits. What probably made the show not get the green light was that it looked cheap and was more occupied with relationships rather than putting forth convincing action scenes.

2) Justice League: Mortal, The Film That Wasn’t Made

Justice League: Mortals team

Justice League: Mortals team

Justice League: Mortal is a movie that never actually saw the light of production, let alone release. In February 2007, Michele and Kieran Mulroney got hired to pen down a script. They handed that to the studio in June, and then in September, George Miller was set to direct the movie. While the rumored cast were never announced, fans have found the below actors and the roles they were supposed to play in the film:

  • D.J. Cotrona- Clark Kent/Superman
  • Armie Hammer- Bruce Wayne/Batman
  • Megan Gale- Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
  • Common- John Stewart/Green Lantern
  • Santiago Cabrera- Arthur Curry/Aquaman
  • Hugh Keays-Byrne- J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter
  • Adam Brody- Barry Allen/The Flash
  • Anton Yelchin- Wally West/The Flash
  • Jay Baruchel- Maxwell Lord
  • Teresa Palmer- Talia

But the movie never actually entered production due to script issues, and the then ongoing writer’s strike made it impossible to rework it. Over time the film quietly faded away into oblivion.

3) The Arrowverse Justice League 

Arrowverse team

Arrowverse team

CW aired the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” 5-part crossover event between December 2019 and January 2020. The 5 shows taking part in the event were Supergirl, Batwoman, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow. The main threat was the world destroying Anti-Monitor. In the end, Oliver Queen/ The Green Arrow gave up his life to reset the universe. So Barry Allen formed the League with 7 of the best heroes to save Earth from further calamities in the future.

The team comprised of Clark Kent/Superman, Barry Allen/The Flash, Kara Danvers/Supergirl, Kate Kane/Batwoman, J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter, Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning, and Sara Lance/White Canary. Even though Oliver Queen dies, the team honored his sacrifice by showcasing his suit and lighting a forever-burning fire in front of it.

However, the day the team was formed was also the last we saw of it. This is because soon after this event the shows began to get cancelled. Then the pandemic hit, and all hopes of seeing the team together ended. It needs to be mentioned the team is never referred to as the Justice League in the shows. But it’s heavily implied that they are the Arrowverse’s version of it.

4) The DCEU Justice League Getting Rebooted 

The Justice League

The Justice League

Batman vs Superman teased a Justice League with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman. These characters finally came together in the Justice League movie as they battled Steppenwolf. However, that was the last we saw of them (apart from Zack Snyder’s Justice League) as the current rumor making the rounds is all about Gunn erasing everything and starting afresh.

The 1 Justice League That Worked:

1) The Smallville Tv Show Team

Smallville's League

Smallville’s League

The only Justice League with a satisfying ending was the one formed on the Smallville tv show. The team comprised Bart Allen (Flash), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow), Arthur Curry (Aquaman), Victor Stone (Cyborg), and Clark Kent (Superman).

While the team was officially created in the season 6 episode titled “Justice”, each character appeared previously in their dedicated episodes. The League formed on this show was active till the end of the series. Also, the Smallville show wasn’t abruptly canceled. The show ended on its own terms.

Tell us your thoughts on this. Is there really a weird DC curse on live-action Justice League adaptations?