"The world needs a Batman...and it always will."Epilogue is the final episode of Season 4 of the DCAU animated series Justice League, and also serves as a Fully Absorbed Distant Finale for fellow DCAU series Batman Beyond, as well as the final chronological installment of the DCAU.10 years after the last episode of Batman Beyond and 50 years after Justice League Unlimited, Terry McGinnis learns a dark secret concerning his own history and the potential that Bruce had lied to him for years. To find answers, he tracks down an aged Amanda Waller to learn what the legacy of Batman is all about.
Epilogue contains examples of:
- Anti-Villain: Amanda Waller, who did unethical and amoral things to ensure Bruce would have a successor.
- Arc Words: "The world needs a Batman."
- Art Evolution: Justified via the Time Skip. Terry is taller, more muscular, has shaggier hair, a stronger chin and longer sideburns. Bruce looks even older and frail, now completely bald, skinnier and with sunken eyes.
- The Atoner: Waller catches Terry by surprise when she mentions her faith in Christianity. She laughs it off, but admits she has a lot to answer for when she dies.
- Badass Longcoat: An older Terry now sports one. Other than the length, it's virtually identical to his brown jacket he wore in the series.
- Badass Pacifist: In the past, Batman managed to get Ace to not kill anymore people by simply staying with her until the time of her death.
- Book Ends: The episode ends with Terry flying past a floating police car as one of the cops flying it (voiced by Kevin Conroy) asks his partner whether he saw it, mirroring the opening scene of the first episode of Batman: The Animated Series, "On Leather Wings."
- This being a finale to Beyond considering how the Justice League first appeared in an episode of that series.
- Broken Pedestal: It's mentioned in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker that Terry saw his life as Batman as a way to atone for his delinquent past. Here, Terry now thinks that the whole legacy thing is a curse and blames it all on Bruce. He even notes how this isn't the first time somebody became disillusioned with Bruce and gave up the cape and cowl.Terry: Dick, Barbara, Tim, Selena... they all loved you, but eventually every single one of them left you. Ever wonder why?
Bruce: Not for an instant.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Terry fantasizes about chewing Bruce out when he still believes Bruce overwrote his DNA and manipulated his life to make Terry become Batman.
- Central Theme: Does your Super Hero Origin define you and can a Legacy Character escape the shadow of the original?
- The Chessmaster: Waller, who manipulated Terry's early life to send him down the path to becoming Batman.
- Chocolate Baby: It turns out the reason that red-haired Mary and brown-haired Warren McGinnis have two black-haired sons is because Waller had Warren's reproductive DNA overwritten with Bruce Wayne's, making Terry and Matt both Bruce's children.
- Continuity Nod:
- The assassin Waller hired to kill Terry's parents is none other than the Phantasm (Andrea Beaumont) from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
- Terry references the events of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker in his fantasy about chewing Bruce out.
- Ace from the Justice League episode "Wild Cards" serves as the antagonist during Waller's story about Bruce in his younger days. Reference is made to the legacy team of the Royal Flush Gang (which first appeared in Batman Beyond) as Waller mentions she can't keep the order of events straight.
- The future JLU from the Batman Beyond episode "The Call" appear during one of Terry's Fantasy Sequences.
- When Waller narrates the part of Terry's story where his parents are supposed to be assassinated, it shows the McGinnis family coming out of a theater after watching The Gray Ghost Strikes.
- Cursed with Awesome: Terry initially feels the mantle of Batman has been a curse, even though being Bruce's son has led him to become a superhero who's saved countless lives, have a second father even after Warren died, and made him the heir to a multi-billion dollar company.
- Deadpan Snarker: Dana, if the Imagine Spot is anything to go by.Terry: You know how much I care about you.
Dana: Sure. Why else keep dating for fifteen years?
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Terry about his murdered father during his fantasized speech to Bruce.
- Distant Finale: Takes place about 50 years after the end of Justice League and 15 years after Batman Beyond. Since this is a Fully Absorbed Finale to the Batman section of the DCAU, it's also worth noting that this episode happens in the area of 65 years after the original Batman: The Animated Series (in fact, it happens no less than 68 years after Bruce began his career in Mask Of The Phantasm.)
- Everyone Has Standards: Even a Professional Killer like the Phantasm isn't willing to kill an innocent boy's parents who've done no one any wrong just to make him the next Batman; after all, she's a vigilante who always did prefer to Pay Evil unto Evil.
- A Fatherto His Men: Deconstructed in the final scene since Bruce and his soldier Terry are really father and son.
- Flashback: Amanda Waller's story of Bruce and the Justice League fighting Ace's Royal Flush Gang decades earlier.
- Fantasy Sequence: All the black and white sequences in the episode, where Terry fantasizes about chewing out Bruce for his apparent betrayal, quitting being Batman forever, and breaking up with his girlfriend Dana.
- First Girl Wins: Coupled with Batman Beyond, Dana manages to be the woman that Terry wants to spend the rest of his life with.
- Friend to All Children: Batman, as the flashback demonstrates.
- Fully Absorbed Finale: Serves as the Grand Finale for Batman Beyond even though it's an episode of Justice League.
- Follow in My Footsteps: Terry initially believes Bruce has manipulated Terry's entire life to make him a carbon copy of Bruce. Subverted when it turns out Waller was behind the manipulations, and they weren't as extreme as Terry initially feared. Word of God also confirms that Bruce realized the truth years ago, but never told Terry so the boy could become his own man.
- Heroic Build: Lampshaded.Waller: Why are superheroes always... so good-looking?
- Heroic Lineage: Terry is biologically Bruce Wayne's son, thanks to Waller using illegal DNA manipulation tech on Terry's father Warren.
- Heroic Vow: At the end.Bruce: I was worried about Gotham. If Batman's not around—
Terry: I've got it covered. Always.
- Hes All Grown Up: Terry is no longer a skinny teenager; he has a six-pack and a cool haircut.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Terry has refused to marry his lifelong love, Dana, out of fear his enemies will target her. After talking with Waller and learning the truth about his heritage, he decides to defy this trope instead and ask her to marry him.
- Justified Title: Waller's project to create a successor to Bruce was code-named "Project Batman Beyond."
- Legacy Character: A Decon-Recon Switch. Terry believes at first he's been cursed to be Batman against his will, only to realize everything in his life, including the choice to be Batman, is entirely under his control.Terry: How can anyone be their own man living someone else's dream?
- Manipulative Bastard: Bruce is accused a number of times of being a manipulative monster who knows what everyone is going to do before even they do. Terry initially believes Bruce was behind his DNA because of this, while Waller presents an anecdote showing Bruce is actually just a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Nature vs. Nurture: A central question of the episode is whether Terry is defined by his bloodline or his upbringing.
- Never Hurt an Innocent: Bruce refuses to harm Ace, even though she could kill millions before she dies.
- Not So Different: As Ace reminisces about the experiments performed on her:Ace: They got their weapon; I got cheated out of my childhood.
Batman: I know what that's like.
Ace: You do, don't you?
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Waller tries to act somewhat senile in an attempt to avoid admitting what she did to Terry. Terry shows little interest in playing along.Waller: Look at all this. A pill for blood pressure, a pill for my diabetes, a pill to replace my pituitary function. I don't even know what this one's for... oh yeah, Alzheimer's.
Terry: Don't pretend you're some dotty old lady who can't remember anything. I've got questions and you're the only one left with the answers.
- Official Couple: Terry and Dana, who we find out have been dating ever since high school. We even learn Terry plans to propose to Dana at the end of the episode.
- One Scene, Two Monologues:Waller: Oh, that's okay. I've only had that cup for seventy years. My mother passed it on to me.
Terry: Guess that's what all this is about. Legacies.
Amanda: Doubt you can find this pattern anymore. It's real china, not that synthetic stuff.
Terry: How can anyone be their own man living someone else's dream?
Amanda: It's been years since I've had enough friends to use the whole set anyway.
Terry: How can I escape the curse of Batman?
Amanda: Even so, one missing piece, and the set's ruined.
- Parental Substitute: Deconstructed; all this time Bruce wasn't the substitute, but the substituted.
- Warren and Marry McGinnis were chosen to be counterparts for Thomas and Martha Wayne.
- Reality Ensues: Not even the best technology can slow down aging, apart from the Lazarus Pit. Bruce in his 90s looks like a skeleton, and Amanda Waller mentions having to take dozens of pills. This was why Amanda wanted to create a Batman successor: sooner or later Batman would have to retire, and someone would need to replace him.
- Reality Warper: Ace's Master of Illusion powers mutate to the point where she can telekinetically warp reality with her mind.
- Rebuilt Pedestal: After his meeting with Amanda Waller, it's clear that Terry no longer thinks so poorly of Bruce.Bruce: You're a stubborn piece of work, you know that?
Terry: (warmly) Just like my old man.
- Red Herring: Terry believes that Bruce was the one who created him as a successor. Amanda Waller then admits that she did it.
- Secret Keeper: Between the end of Batman Beyond and this episode, Dana had learned that Terry was the new Batman.
- Secret Legacy: Terry is actually Bruce Wayne's son.
- Secret Secret-Keeper: According to Word of God, "the world's greatest detective" Bruce had already figured out that Terry was his biological son long before Terry did.
- Series Fauxnale: "Epilogue" was intended to be the last episode of Justice League until a third season got green-lit. Thematically, it ties in almost the entirety of the DCAU via Continuity Nods and recurring themes of legacy. Chronologically, however, this really is the finale of the entire DCAU. Watching on video means you can just save it for last out of the episodes, allowing it's famous final shot to properly book end the series.
- Shoot the Dog: In the Royal Flush Gang flashback, Waller presents the Justice League with a weapon with which to kill Ace and says it's the only safe option. Shayera (who gets several other Shoot the Dog moments in this series) reaches for it, but Batman takes it instead so he can solve the problem his way.
- Shout-Out: The Royal Flush Gang's Jack is a samurai. The King, meanwhile, resembles M.O.D.O.K. (who's creator is Jack "the King" Kirby). Their Ten is Bo Derek (as seen in the movie 10) with Prehensile Hair, and their Queen looks a lot like the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.
- Spanner in the Works: Terry says he always sort of suspected the truth, but it became undeniable once he was determined to be a perfect match for Bruce's kidney transplant.
- Stay with Me Until I Die:Ace: You were going to try to talk me into fixing what I've changed...before I die.
Ace: I'm dying very soon.
Batman: Yes. (Beat) I'm sorry.
Ace: Could you stay with me? I'm scared.
(Batman sits on the swing next to her and takes her hand)
- Super Hero Origin: Deconstructed forwards and backwards. When Terry finds out he is genetically Bruce's child, he feels like the story of his path to become Batman is a lie. Waller admits to trying to recreate the events that created the original Batman, only to back out because killing a boys parents to do so is a mockery of what actually happened to Bruce and the complexities that made him become Batman. The Central Theme of the episode is that it really doesn't matter what set Terry to become Batman, he has control of his destiny.
- That Came Out Wrong: When Waller describes how one of her agents got a blood sample from the original Batman after he was wounded in a fight.
- Telepathy: Ace's Master of Illusion powers also mutate to the point where she can read others' minds.
- Took a Level in Badass: Terry's had years to hone his skills as Batman. He's notably taller and more muscular than in the series, and was able to neutralize Waller's guards with ease all without using the high tech suit.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Amanda Waller has mellowed since her Cadmus days. She even mentions reading the Bible and preparing to answer for her actions.
- Upbringing Makes the Hero: Waller reveals Terry's parents had psychological profiles almost identical to Bruce's mother and father.
- Visual Pun: The Royal Flush Gang according to Word of God.
- Wham Line: Amanda Wallers reveals that she, not Bruce, created Terry.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Micron is absent during the Justice League's battle, though it's possible he was on another mission. Though it's a moot point, since that scene was just something playing out in Terry's head.
- What You Are in the Dark: The Phantasm was just about to kill Warren and Mary in front of a young Terry in order to fulfill the job of making a new Batman. But, she couldn't go through with such an act.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Ace, who's dying from a brain tumor and with her new Reality Warper powers can murder millions before she does.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: Waller admits her failings in trying to make a new Batman, but is amused that "the Lord moves in mysterious ways" and Terry became a new Batman anyway. But she asserts that Terry is left to his own devices, he is not a recreation of Batman but his own man. "I've never met anyone who cared as deeply about his fellow man as Bruce Wayne, except maybe you. You want to have a little better life than the old man's? Take care of the people who love you. Or don't. It's your choice."
- You Can't Fight Fate: Waller ensured Terry's early childhood and DNA would be as similar to Bruce's as possible, only to back down when it came time to kill Terry's parents. Terry's father ends up being killed by chance years later anyway, and Terry goes on to become Batman's successor as Waller had originally planned.
- You're Insane!:Terry: You know what, old man? All those years it turns out everyone was right: You are insane. Being Batman's no honor... It's a curse.