Who Should Be In A Justice League TV Team?

JLAMeltzerWith seven DC Comics characters coming to the small screen in 2016 (probably) on The CW, it's set many fans to wondering just who they might be and, perhaps just as interesting, what might the group call itself?

There are, of course, bunches of good names that haven't been taken yet from DC's history. This team could call itself The Outsiders (a group with links to some of Arrow's characters), Infinity Inc., the Secret Six or the Justice Society, just to name a few.

But...seven. There is, of course, one wildly popular DC super-team with seven core members, and it's what everybody started thinking around the time Green Arrow and The Flash's TV shows added Firestorm and The Atom as recurring guest stars.

Yes, we're talking about the Justice League. And while it's virtually impossible to imagine that The CW would launch a Justice League TV series at the same time Warner Bros. is developing a massive film franchise using that same name, it's fun to speculate what shape the League might take it if were to be launched on TV.

We'll offer a few options here for forms that it might take -- or that we'd like it to -- but we will also try to be at least plausible.

That is, none of these ideas will feature Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman. It's safe to assume that those characters are off-limits, and that if they were going to appear on TV, it would be either in a cameo role (as is expected in Supergirl), or in their own solo series.

We'll also try and steer clear of characters in those heroes' immediate sphere of influence, as well as the core characters of TNT's planned Titans series. If somebody is more or less spoken for elsewhere, we don't want to use them.

In other words, we'll almost certainly be wrong -- because really, what are the odds of getting something like this exactly right? -- but we want to at least be within the realm of possibility.

That said, we're not going to be entirely beholden to the "never appeared on TV" before. Provided a character hasn't been a regular or recurring character before, we're going to just go with it. Why? Well, in part because it's extremely difficult to keep track of who made an appearance on one episode of Smallville or had five minutes on Legends of the Super-Heroes.

So, what form could a Justice League take on TV?

teamup-flash-arrowJustice League CW

This is the first and most obvious one. Whatever the show will be called we're not sure. If they were going to go all in and call it Justice League -- or, more likely, JLA -- who would we want to see?

Well, The Flash and Green Arrow would likely be there, on the periphery, showing up only occasionally. With comics, there aren't scheduling demands and for the most part, you can use a character whenever editorial sees fit. On TV, there are other issues. If Stephen Amell is shooting Arrow for ten days, it's hard for him to play a major role in another hour-long drama at the same time. You could argue that this season has seen the significance of his supporting cast increase, so that Arrow can do without him from time to time (or at least so he isn't in every scene anymore), but I'd counter that the change to the show's formula isn't substantial enough for him to take a whole second job. Ditto Grant Gustin.

If the team is going to feature The Atom and Firestorm, perhaps we should look to that era of the League. The Satellite Era was basically the "Big Seven" Justice League, but with some added faces, incuding Firestorm, Green Arrow, The Atom and Zatanna.

Unfortunately, Zatanna is likely off the table until and unless Constantine either is canceled or is revealed to be part of the shared universe of the CW shows. I'll also say for the sake of argument that Aquaman -- with a Justice League appearance and a solo film coming up -- likely off the table, as they'll want him to be defined there, rather than on TV. I also doubt we'll see a Green Lantern on TV. He has reportedly some years to go before a big screen appearance, so it's theoretically more plausible...but leaving aside the fact that showrunners Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti were involved with the Green Lantern movie a few years back, there's also just a practical problem with the cost of the special effects he would require, especially when you pair it up with the rest of the production's needs (neither Atom nor Firestorm can be cheap).

Who does that leave? Let's take a look...

satellite-era-league...Yeah, none of those guys would be bad choices.

Enlongated Man may have what seems like a silly power, but it's easy enough to depict and his REAL value to the team is as a leader, a brain and a detective. His wife Sue, meanwhile, could play the role of the resident tech genius, since her longtime "den mother" status with the JL would likely not translate to a world where the heroes are so much younger...and since, let's be real, Arrow won't be giving up Felicity full time. 

Martian Manhunter is a hugely valuable asset to the team, and as a shapeshifter could keep the effects budget down by appearing human most of the time as he did in Smallville. Would it feel like a little bit of a cop-out? Absolutely -- but as long as fans were as enthusiastic about the person playing him as they were on Smallville, I think it could work.

Hawkman is not only a great character, but he's one DC Chief Creative Officer and The Flash executive producer Geoff Johns absolutely adores. That obviously has some value -- especially when you have his pet project Captain Cold playing a major role on this series. And Constantine and Smallville both proved that just because a character has wings, doesn't mean he has to look goofy using them.

Red Tornado is a pretty interesting choice; currently, the character is getting more love than (s)he has in years, as Lois Lane is playing the role of Red Tornado in the Futures End and World's End miniseries leading up to Convergence. Also, with Ray Palmer creating himself a high-tech armor instead of a size-changing belt, maybe it makes sense to have him also working on things like synthetic life...!

BUT that's not all. Even if you take away the Satellite Era, there's another era of the Justice League that's pretty well-represented on Arrow and The Flash. What's that? Why, Justice League Detroit, of course!

(Ignore Cosmic Boy; I'm not sure what he's doing there but he's from the future.)

Justice League Detroit 003Vibe currently appears on The Flash and while he doesn't yet have powers, they haven't been shy about teasing the idea a few times.

Vixen is getting her own animated series set in the Arrowverse (and recently, Stephen Amell suggested on Facebook that he's already recording his voiceover work for the show, on which both Arrow and The Flash will guest star).

Gypsy would admittedly be a bit of an odd choice, but if they didn't use Martian Manhunter, then her illusions and mental powers could be very useful...and she's always been known as kind of a package deal with Vibe for many fans. That said, it's just as likely she would be the first one written out to make room for Canary.

Steel is another one; while there could be some franchise appeal to having him around, I'd be willing to bet that if they used Steel on TV, it would be John Henry Irons to avoid brand confusion, since he's a more durable, marketable character.

What's more is that a number of those characters, including all four of the JL Detroit members we just recounted, have never been seen in live-action on TV before (that I can recall, anyway), so they'd satisfy that teaser from the Deadline article.

Superheroes-from-League-of-Justice-1800x2880We should also mention that both Black Lightning and Hawkgirl appeared on the Brad Meltzer, "One Year Later" Justice League, which featured a number of CW characters like Black Canary, Vixen and Arsenal.

Still, we promised that we would expand beyond just the CW series. So...

Justice League International 0005Justice League International

These guys are an obvious choice because if you're not going to have the Big Three, and you're not going to have any of the characters who are off-limits because they're in use on The CW, you more or less put yourself in the same position that created this team.

In the image above, there are a few issues, but they're likely not crippling.

Black Canary would be the hardest to work around, since she's the only female on the team and since she's a major player on The CW, so anyone else making a Justice League series would have to find someone to replace her with. Then again, shortly after this image was generated, Fire and Ice would join the team...and they're far more closely associated with this unruly lot than Canary -- or the other two potential "problems" up there, Batman and Captain Marvel/Shazam, both of whom were gone pretty early in the series.

The last one that could be a potential obstacle is Booster Gold, whose rights might still be tied up with the pilot that Syfy planned to make with Arrow and The Flash executive producer Andrew Kreisberg...but it seems unlikely at this stage that they wouldn't have lapsed already, and even if they hadn't, we're just fan-casting here, so who's to say it might not be Syfy or another NBC Universal network who might pitch a project like this?

This iteration of the team would be a very different look and feel than most superhero team-ups. They bickered, they had get-rich-quick schemes, there was government oversight that made certain members of the team chafe (and of course it offers up the chance to eventually tell the story of Maxwell Lord betraying the League). There could still be some hiccups -- Guy Gardner's Green Lantern ring would be difficult and expensive to make work on any network, and certainly selling a Justice League with basically no characters who are recognizable as Justice Leaguers to the outside would might be a tough sell.

A Whole New League

There aren't many characters in the DC Universe who haven't been Justice Leaguers at one point. Actually, probably none, considering that at one point in Grant Morrison's run on JLA, the League recruited everyone in the world to fight alongside them.

So you could theoretically piece together a League of your choosing from characters and concepts around the DC Universe.

Who are some of the major Leaguers who haven't ever appeared in live action before? There are more than you'd think -- and that doesn't even count bunches of them from up above...

  • Takion
  • Zauriel
  • Plastic Man
  • Bloodwynd
  • Black Condor
  • Alpha Centurion
  • Simon Baz
  • Mr. Miracle
  • Power Girl
  • Dr. Light
  • Stargirl (& S.T.R.I.P.E.)
  • Deadman
  • Element Woman
  • Shazam

Many of these characters have played big roles in memorable runs on the League like Morrison's JLA or Johns' New 52 titles. They would make fairly obvious candidates, especially if paired with a couple of more recognizable characters to welcome them into viewers' living rooms.

The end message here is that even without the Big Seven, there are plenty of DC characters ready and able to join up with a team on the screen -- many of whom would fit the bill as "major" characters. Who would you like to see, either on the CW show or on another Justice League series entirely?