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Film / Justice League of America

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Justice League of America (though referred to on-screen as simply Justice) was a 1997 television movie made as a Live-Action Adaptation of the Justice League of America comic book.

The Justice League is a superhero team composed of The Atom (John Kassir), Fire (Michelle Hurd), The Flash (Kenny Johnston) and Green Lantern (Matthew Settle), all led by the Martian Manhunter (David Ogden Stiers). When Tori Olafsdotter (Kim Oja) acquires ice-related powers and finds her boss (Miguel Ferrer) is using a weather machine against the city, she helps the team against him and ends joining them as Ice.

The TV movie never aired in the United States, despite being commissioned and produced by CBS as a Pilot Movie for an eventual television series. However, it was shown in other countries (notably Channel 5 in the United Kingdom), which is why bootlegs circulate at conventions. Many claim it's So Bad, It's Good.

See also Justice League and Zack Snyder's Justice League, the later big budget film versions (and the JL's big screen debut in the former's case).

The movie provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Wimp: The entire Justice League are significantly less powerful than their comic book incarnations. They're even less impressive when comparing their civilian personas as well.
    • The Flash/Barry Allen is constantly unemployed, and cites his only useful ability as being able to run really fast. Barry in the comics was a forensic scientist for his city's police department, and his Super-Speed granted him a far greater range of abilities and applications.
    • Green Lantern/Guy Gardner is a smooth talking software salesman, with no hint of the troubled past the comic book Gardner endured. As Green Lantern, he is incapable of flying under his own willpower, requiring a ring construct (in the shape of a propeller) in order to levitate himself, and his other constructs are much less imaginative and weaker than what Green Lanterns are typically capable.
    • The Atom/Ray Palmer's shrinking abilities are played almost entirely for laughs, and he does not appear to retain his natural strength in the process. His appearance as Ray Palmer is also far more stereotypically nerdy and awkward looking, with glasses, goofy hair and overly neat bow tie clothing.
    • Fire/Beatriz (B.B. in the film) probably gets off the easiest for her superhero self. She can still fly and shoot heat from her hands, but in a much more mundane fashion and she doesn't turn into a being comprised of green flame like in the comics. For her civilian self, she's an actress with a less than promising career. Whereas her comic book counterpart ran her own successful business, had a noted modelling career and even operated as an effective government agent for a time.
    • Ice/Tora (Tori for the film) is depicted as a meek, clumsy meteorologist student, whose powers only manifest fully at the very end of the film, and she seems to need physical contact with an object in order to make them work. Her comic book self was the daughter of the king of Norwegian ice people who were able to bend the natural elements to their will, could project her powers from a distance and use them to create ice-based constructs and was also a capable hand-to-hand combatant.
    • The Martian Manhunter/J'onn J'onzz never assists the group in the field, only leaving their headquarters when he's needed to use his shapeshifting to impersonate someone else, and the film implies he can only do so for so long before the disguise fails and he reverts back. The vast majority of his other abilities are virtually entirely ignored.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Averted. The Justice League has been around for decades and featured numerous characters and storyarcs but this pilot focused on just one period. Word of God stated that the series was meant to reflect J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen's Justice League International from the late 80s and early 90s due to its trademark comedy. This in evident in the fact that the series' tone and the team lineup is almost identical to the Giffen/DeMatteis era. While their run was very popular with fans, it was long gone by the time the pilot was filmed.invoked
    • Despite that, the film uses classic member the Atom instead of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, who were icons of that incarnation. The Flash would also count as a classic addition if you take into account that he's Barry Allen, at least in name, instead of Wally West.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Ice has light brown hair, while she has white hair in the comics. Fire is a brunette, but the example is arguable since in the comic book, it was dyed green over her natural brown hair.
  • Adapted Out: Despite being one of the core members in the Giffen/DeMatteis runnote , Batman is nowhere to be foundnote .
  • Bad Boss: It turns out that Ice's boss is the Weather Man.
  • Canon Foreigner: Aside from the love interests for the heroes, the Big Bad of the pilot was called the Weather Man, who is not a known DC Comics villain. However, this character might have been an Expy of the Weather Wizard, a member of The Flash's rogues gallery.
  • Composite Character:
    • The movie's Green Lantern has the name Guy Gardner, yet he's a close friend of Barry "The Flash" Allen (like Hal Jordan) and his costume includes Kyle Rayner's GL insigna and mask (the rest of the costume is closer to Gardner's). His personality seemed very Hal-like in his hero guise but he still had the Guy Gardner edge as seen in the scene where he creates a chainsaw to threaten the villain. His civilian identity seems based on Kyle Rayner as well since it often involves him trying to juggle his superheroics with his lovelife; a trait more common with Rayner.
    • Barry Allen is a goofy, directionless character, more like the comicbook Wally West than the stolid police scientist.
    • Tori's Freak Lab Accident is similar to the origin of Sigrid Nansen, the original Icemaiden in the comics.
  • Cultural Translation: Both Fire and Ice become American (as opposed to Brazilian and Norwegian, respectively) and their names reflect this. Beatriz becomes B.B. and Tora becomes Tori.
  • Da Chief: Martian Manhunter
  • Identity Impersonator: The Martian Manhunter does this for Fire.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Ice.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: J'onn, the Martian Manhunter, only uses his powers a few times but each time, it's a completely different power that just so happens to help the plot along. This is not completely unlike his comic counterpart, however, who has many abilities.
  • Mundane Utility: The Flash makes breakfast at superspeed, the Green Lantern brings his power ring on a date, and the Martian Manhunter uses his powers to fix Fire's love life.
  • No Endor Holocaust: There are no negative effects of the entire harbor, and later, most of the ocean being frozen solid.
  • Race Lift: Fire goes from a light skinned Brazilian to an African-American.
  • Resized Vocals: Ray Palmer/The Atom, refers to resized vocal chords as being one of the drawbacks of his superpower. He finds it especially bothersome in instances where he returns to normal size, but his vocal chords don't regrow at the same rate, causing him to still sound like a chipmunk when he tries to speak.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Fire is initially the only female superhero in the Justice League, until the addition of Ice at the end of the story makes it Two Girls to a Team.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: The League seem to be as powerful as they need to be for any given situation. The Big Bad was creating intense weather that was threatening to destroy the city. Each time, a single member would casually negate the storm effects despite the scope of the storms or the limits of their powers shown in previous scenes with No Ontological Inertia. For instance, at the beginning, the Flash simply runs around a city-sized hurricane to reverse it. A blizzard and mud slide are quickly negated by Fire blasting them. At the end, Ice casually freezes an entire tidal wave despite gaining her powers a few days earlier and going through many How Do I Shot Web? moments.
  • Super Hero Origin: Ice gets hers in the movie. It's a Freak Lab Accident rather than her origin as part of an ice-people race as in the comics. The other members briefly gloss over their origins in one scene, with the Atom being the one who elaborates the most on his one. Chances are, if the series had been picked up, it would have elaborated on their backstories a lot more.
  • Weather-Control Machine: This is how the Weather Man controls the weather and what eventually gives Ice her powers.
  • Weather Dissonance: See above.
  • Western Terrorist: The Weather Man looks and sounds like a generic terrorist. He threatens the city via video wearing a bandana and shades, often spouting vaguely anarchistic slogans such as "I will upset the status quo!".
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?:
    • The Atom suffers from an inferiority complex since he can simply shrink while the other members have grander abilities. Case in point: at the beginning of the pilot, while the rest of the League are saving people from a hurricane, he simply shrinks down to save an old woman's cat.
    • The Flash has a similarly dim view of his own powers. According to him, he's only really good for running fast, and not any of the other hundred-or-so alternative uses for super-speed that he usually has in comics.
  • Working with the Ex: The characters mention a few times that Guy and B.B. used to date.