Recap / Justice League Unlimited S1E2 "For the Man Who Has Everything"

"You are everything I ever wanted in a son. This... this is everything I ever wanted in a life... But I've got responsibilities Van, and I... have to go now."
— Superman

-Written by J.M. Dematteis

Batman and Wonder Woman are flying in the polar ice caps to Superman's Fortress of Solitude in Wonder Woman's invisible plane. They banter about the fact that it's Superman's birthday, and ask each other what they got him. Wonder Woman is mum on the subject, but Batman remarks "What do you get for the man who has everything?" Wonder Woman takes this to mean that Batman got him a gift certificate. Actually, it's just cash.

They arrive at his fortress' interior to find Superman standing in one spot, a curiously eerie expression on his face, and huge black-and-purple plant attached to his chest. Batman examines him and notes that he appears to be in a comatose trance. Wonder Woman wonders aloud who got this for him and why, before wandering off to find anything to help take the thing off of Superman's chest.

Speak of the devil, for Mongul steps out of the shadows with an evil grin on his face and an unconscious Wonder Woman in his hands, and explains that he sent the Black Mercy to Superman. The Black Mercy is a plant that feeds its victims a vision based on the innermost desires of its victim's heart while it slowly feeds on the body — the perfect distraction for Mongul to take advantage of in order to subjugate Earth's inferior species. Wonder Woman, who was merely playing possum, chooses that moment to wake up and give him a kick under the chin. Fisticuffs begin to occur between Wonder Woman and Mongul while Batman tries to get the plant off of Superman.

*BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!*

Kal-El wakes up in his bed, having had a non-restful sleep. Brainiac hovers next to Kal-El's bed, where he and his wife Loana are blearily getting to their feet, and gives him the daily weather report on Krypton while also reminding him that he and his son Van-El have an appointment with Kal-El's father Jor-El later that afternoon. Kal-El tries to start moving around the house to prepare, but he steps in something, and begins to chastise Van about Krypto leaving behind presents inside. Suddenly, the house begins to shake, but no one really notices anything except Kal-El, who is confused. He looks at Brainiac, who simply says that Krypton's Seismic Institute had predicted that minor and completely harmless tremor. Loana manages to pin the distracted Kal-El down and proceeds to give him a kiss...

This episode contains examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Jason Todd doesn't appear in the JLU adaptation, as he was never introduced in the DCAU. Similarly, Tim Drake, who held the title at the time the story was set, did not appear. This may not been because of the Bat-Embargo, which went into effect partway into this season's production note . According to quotes on this page, the creative team had some say in this; Bruce Timm and others "didnít hesitate for a moment to cut Robin" (though Dwayne McDuffie tried to keep him in before relenting).
  • All Just a Dream
  • Batman Gambit: Batman surmises Superman was overtaken by the Black Mercy because it was in a container made to look like a birthday present.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Averted in the animated version, however, where Krypton really is a paradise — making it all the more painful for Superman to reject it.
  • Berserk Button: To escape the Black Mercy, Superman has to willingly reject his ultimate fantasy of a happy life on Krypton with the family he never knew. The pain of this is compared to having to rip off your own arm and it causes Superman to go completely berserk on Mongul, including actually using his eye beams on him, requiring a discretion shot as it burns him. It's not until he sees a statue of his parents that he stops mercilessly pounding a prone Mongul.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Oh, dear God.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mongul's about to deliver a nasty blow to Wonder Woman when Superman swoops in.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Mongul beats the living daylights out of Wonder Woman. While she demonstrates some bruise marks here and there, it should look far worse than it does.
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Superman leaves his dream world because of his belief in his responsibilities as a hero.
  • Composite Character: Superman's ideal wife, Loana is a composite of his love interests Lois Lane and Lana Lang in name, appearance, etc. Perhaps the writers were inspired by this Silver Age comics story issue here http://www.comics.org/issue/17678/cover/4/
  • Continuity Cameo: Krypto and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to "little Zod".
  • Curse Cut Short: Wonder Woman's "Go to hell!" is cut off by her firing the BFG.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The animated version has only Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman present, and it's Diana who gets in the final shot with the Black Mercy.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Mongul speculates that the Black Mercy is showing Superman as ruler of the universe; in reality, Superman's having a dream of living a peaceful, quiet life with a loving family on Krypton. In both versions, it's implied at the end that Mongul is perfectly content with the fantasy of bloody conquest the Black Mercy is giving him. Whereas Superman is able to break free because, being a hero, he was able to comprehend something wrong with the fantasy he was given.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Mongul is trapped by the Black Mercy.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Mongul is defeated by the very plant he used to immobilize Superman.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: While trying to pry loose the Black Mercy, Batman keeps talking to Superman.
    "He'll kill her, Clark, and then he'll kill us all. Come back to us."

    "Yes, that's it. Fight it, Clark. Fight it."
  • Innocuously Important Episode: In a sense to the Cadmus arc, which hadn't even started yet. Superman is angrier than he's ever been and about to kill his hated enemy, but he hesitates at the last moment because he's The Cape.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: The Black Mercy, a telepathic parasitic plant, subdues victims by showing them a perfect mental simulation of their greatest desires.
  • Karma Houdini/Karmic Death: Mongul's fate. Death being figurative here, of course. Depending on if Mongul's dream turns sour or if he's dissatisfied with it, he got exactly what he wanted and was satisfied with it. In the Justice League Unlimited episode, Batman bitterly states that whatever he sees is "too good for him".
  • Manly Tears: "I promise you, I'll never forget."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Wonder Woman (Batman in the comic) bred a new rose as a gift for Superman, calling it "The Krypton". It's ruined at the end of the story.
    • And Superman's wife Loana. See Composite Character above.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Wonder Woman does a lot better here then she did in the original comics, actually putting up a good fight and being the one to pull the Black Mercy off of Batman to use on Mongul. This doesn't change the fact that Mongul outclasses her, though — by the time Superman is out of his fantasy and intervenes, she's been beaten so badly that she can't even walk, forcing her to pull herself forward on one arm.
    • Mongul himself, courtesy of Superman. His face is seriously battered and he himself believed Superman would have killed him had it gone on any longer.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Unlike the comic version (where we see Mongul's fantasy of triumph and conquest), we never actually get to see what it is that Mongul sees in his fantasy. And yet, it is so much worse...
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Superman's not trying to stop Mongul; he's trying to kill him.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: A very brief version in the animated adaptation, in which Superman overpowers Mongul, who previously had the upper hand, while falling through several floors in thick smoke.
  • Playing Possum: Mongul sneers at Wonder Woman for apparently going down in one hit, but she was just trying to get him to talk a little more about what he did to Superman. Unfortunately, he really is much stronger than her.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: As in the comic, Mongul makes a number of blatantly sexist remarks toward Wonder Woman.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Alan Moore's For the Man Who Has Everything. They took out some of the darker aspects which gave it its own unique effect while sticking to the overall idea. Notably, this is the only adaptation of his work that Moore actually likes.
  • Properly Paranoid: Superman just can't shake the feeling that something is wrong with his perfect life.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: BURN!
  • Scream Discretion Shot: After Mongul's mind gets trapped in the Black Mercy plant, Wonder Woman wonders what he's dreaming about. The camera then zooms in on his smiling face ó to the sounds of horrific screaming.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: In Batman's desire, he see direct shots of Thomas Wayne kicking Joe Chill's ass. However as the Black Mercy is pulled off of him, we switch to only seeing their shadows as Chill slowly recovers and turns the gun on Thomas, and finally close in on Bruce's horrified face.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Amusingly, Mongul tries to accuse Superman of that:
    Mongul: I suppose Superman told you about our previous encounter.
    Batman: You mean how he humiliated you?
    Mongul: A... jaundiced account.
  • Suplex Finisher: Wonder Woman to Mongul. Though not a finisher move — it barely fazes him.
  • Title Drop: This is Batman's explanation for giving Superman cash.
    Batman: I mean, what do you buy for the man who has everything?
  • Took a Level in Badass: Mongul comes across as far more menacing and dangerous than his first appearance.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Superman still can't bring himself to kill Mongul, who mocks's him for it.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Subverted, much to Mongul's irritation.
    Mongul: I suppose Superman told you about our previous encounter.
    Batman: You mean how he humiliated you?
    Mongul: A... jaundiced account.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Superman comes this close to beating Mongul to death. He only hesitates when seeing the statues of Jor-El and Lara.
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