The episode deals with Batman's position in the League, and whether he can keep up with the rest of them. Batman's too proud to admit an inferiority complex but it's suggested that he considers his investigation to prove his mettle.
This is also paralleled with Luthor, who finds himself in the same position with the Injustice Gang, trying to command a group of superpowered villains with only his intellect, will, and resources. Unlike Batman, it goes worse for Lex.
In a more subtle example, the Joker is portrayed as the most effective member of the Injustice Gang. He manages to capture Batman almost immediately after joining and dispatches Flash and Wonder Woman during the final battle with relative ease. Had Lex listened to him and killed Batman immediately, the Injustice Gang might have won.
Bad Boss: Lex's "leadership" of the Injustice Gang consists mostly of him yelling at his subordinates for their failures and name-calling. The Gang only puts up with his crap because he keeps offering more and more money. Somewhat justified since he did recently discover he had contracted terminal Kryptonite-induced sepsis and wasn't in a particularly patient or forgiving mindset as a result.
Bag of Holding: When Luthor gets a hold of Batman's utility belt the Batarangs and other gadgets that spill out of of the belt are far larger than any of the pouches could possibly contain.
Batman Gambit: Batman multiple times over. Not only does he convince the Ultra-Humanite to betray Luthor, he also manipulates several other of the villains so that by the end, Luthor is confused as to who the real traitor within the Injustice Gang really is.
Because You Were Nice to Me: While guarding Batman, Cheetah quickly becomes attracted to him when he not only takes an interest in her origins but also takes pity on her and compliments her for being willing to give up everything for a cause she believed in, instead of condemning her as a freak. This quickly leads to the two of them flirting together until Cheetah passionately kisses Batman.
The Big Damn Kiss: Played with between Batman and Cheetah. When the Injustice Gang views the security footage and sees the two of them kissing, the screen zooms in on them three times as the two are shown deepening the kiss until it is practically an Extreme Close-Up of them. The background music also plays dramatically during this moment, as if to sell the kiss as evidence against Cheetah.
Book Ends: Luthor banging on the walls of his cell demanding the Ultra Humanite to turn down his opera music. The end of the episode shows him doing it again but now furious at how Humanite betrayed him to Batman.
Bond Villain Stupidity: Luthor displays quite a bit in this episode, insisting on keeping the captured Batman alive as bait instead of just quickly killing him. The best part is that even the Joker of all people calls him out on it.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: When Joker first appears, Lex is visibly annoyed and tells him to leave despite being down a man and genuinely needing the help (though considering how their last encounter went...), but Joker immediately leads them to their only real victory (getting Batman) and generally gives good advice on what Lex should do (which Lex promptly ignores). He's also the most effective fighter on their side in the final fight and the only one not in it for the paycheck. The only drawback is that he's vaguely annoying to be around and keeps trying to get himself alone with Batman to kill him.
Remember how back in "World's Finest" the statue made of Kryptonite reportedly caused all of its owners to die prematurely? The same thing starts happening to Luthor, who's been carrying a piece of Kryptonite since then.
Lex's reaction to Joker crashing the party is another callback to "World's Finest". While the events of that crossover aren't explicitly mentioned, the subtext is obvious: Lex hasn't forgotten what happened the last time he 'collaborated' with the Joker and ain't going down that road again.
A certain scene from "The Enemy Below" is alluded to when Superman fails to intimidate Copperhead into ratting out the rest of the Gang, and wonders how Batman does it
Cassandra Truth: Cheetah insists she isn't the traitor and they are accusing the wrong member, even as Grundy is dragging her away. But nobody believes her since they just watched footage of her and Batman kissing.
Chick Magnet: This is the only time in the entire DCAU that Batman deliberately seduces a female, in this case, Cheetah. He plays the sympathy card, managing to win Cheetah's trust, and as a result of having a sympathetic listener, Cheetah kisses him.
Green Lantern uses his ring to snatch a chunk of Kryptonite away from Lex Luthor. Batman grabs it from midair and tucks it into his utility belt. Twenty episodes later, the Kryptonite comes back into play when Batman takes it out of his utility belt to use as a weapon against Amazo.
While Cheetah is guarding Batman she ends up flirting with him and kissing him. When Luthor realizes they have a traitor among them he checks the cameras in the building for any evidence, and sees a recording of Cheetah and Batman kissing, convincing him that Cheetah is the traitor.
Crazy-Prepared: Batman as usual. The Justice League incarnation of the utility belt has its own built-in taser system to prevent unauthorized persons from accessing it. It works for most of Part II, until Lex, with his equipment and intellect, figures out how to neutralize the safeguards.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The Injustice Gang lost badly to the Justice League during their first round.
Dating Catwoman: Cheetah is tasked with guarding Batman alone, and ends up sharing her backstory with him. When Batman comforts her they begin flirting with each other and ends with the two sharing a passionate kiss. Extra points for Cheetah actually being part cat.
Cheetah:(while cuddling next to Batman) Too much curiosity can be dangerous. Batman: Maybe I like danger. Cheetah: Do you? Batman:(whispers) Try me. (Cheetah smiles before leaning in and kissing him)
Decoy Damsel: A rather silly example in which the Ultra-Humanite is holding a hostage outside a government building to lure the Justice League there. The hostage turns out to be the Cheetah...which makes one wonder how the authorities who were already there didn't notice that his hostage had fur.
Didn't Think This Through: Kryptonite may only be immediately harmful to a Kryptonian, but it's still nonetheless radioactive. And after years of carrying it unshielded in his pocket, all that radiation finally catches up to Luthor.
Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Despite everything, Superman tries to offer sympathy to Lex who has terminal cancer, but he refuses it.
Dude, Where's My Respect?: Exploited by Batman. He suggests Grundy deserves more money than Ultra-Humanite on account of all the abuse he's suffered thus far, knowing full well Ultra-Humanite will balk at such a suggestion and thus provoke a fight.
Et Tu, Brute?: Lex Luthor was hit in his armor with a "killswitch" device when the Humanite sneaks up behind him. His words being, "Et tu, Humanite?", before he went unconscious.
Even Evil Has Standards: Cheetah and Ultra-Humanite think Luthor goes a little too far in his attempt to blow up the League's base in order to kill them.
Evil Laugh: The Joker, as per the usual, delivers a very impressive one after he takes out Batman.
Evil Pays Better: Inverted. Batman gets the Ultra-Humanite to turn on Luthor with double the offer Luthor made which he donates to the Culture Channel in the former's name. He immediately surrenders and is more than happy to return to prison.
Evil Plan: The Injustice Gang simply wants to kill the Justice League.
Forceful Kiss: Played With between Batman and Cheetah. Cheetah kisses Batman while he is restrained, making him unable to resist her even if he wanted to. However, despite him being restrained, Cheetah only kisses him after the two of them share a romantic moment flirting together, with Batman being the one to invite Cheetah to kiss him. Also, when the kiss is viewed by the Injustice Gang later, Batman is shown leaning into the kiss and actually kissing Cheetah back as she deepens it. Finally, Batman reveals at the end he could have escaped from his restraints whenever he wanted to, essentially rendering that part of the "forceful" bit null.
Forgot to Gag Him: Batman is restrained, but free to talk to his guards to get out. Lex does threaten to have him gagged if he makes more trouble, but nothing comes of it.
Gilligan Cut: When Luthor tells Cheetah to watch Batman, she hisses and bears her claws, as if to suggest she'll tear him a new one if he gives her trouble. Next scene, he's talking to her gently as a therapist might, and she's clearly grateful for his concern.
Guile Hero: Batman spends most of the episode using psychological manipulation to rip the Injustice Gang apart.
Hey, Catch!: The Joker escapes from Wonder Woman by tossing her a booby-trapped doll, which explodes after she catches it.
High-Heel–Face Turn: Batman convinces Cheetah to sell out the Injustice Gang to the Justice League, which earns her a Redemption Equals Death (though she gets better). Subverted when it turns out she didn't, and the real traitor was Ultra-Humanite, who didn't want to be there in the first place, and because Batman made a huge donation to the Culture Channel in his name.
After years of exposing himself to Kryptonite radiation while plotting various ways to use it to defeat Superman, Luthor finds out that he is now dying of sepsis. This being Luthor, he blames it on Superman.
Keeping Batman as a prisoner is the biggest factor that leads to Lex's defeat.
I Can Still Fight!: Batman refuses to let a little thing like near-fatal poisoning keep him down.
Superman: You're staying here. That venom almost killed you. Batman: So? Superman: So, you're staying here.
Luthor doesn't execute Batman or even the Cheetah after they are no longer useful to him.
Superman interrogates Copperhead and fails to learn the location of Luthor's secret HQ because Superman's insistence on not bringing Batman, a far better interrogator, who was injured at the time. Of course, if Superman actually thought of bringing J'onn J'onzz, you know, the mind reader, all of this could have been avoided.
Given how much Luthor knows about Batman, leaving Cheetah, a cat woman, alone with Batman was an absolutely terrible idea, given Batman's interest in cat ladies. Joker even lampshades how dumb that decision is.
Ignored Expert: Joker shows he knows the most about Batman, but Luthor ignores his advise to kill him while he's captive.
Karma Houdini Warranty: With Luthor's criminal activities finally revealed and his careless use of Kryptonite having consequences, he finally faces actual punishment when the most he got in Superman: The Animated Series was having his schemes thwarted.
Kick the Dog: Luthor declares Cheetah a traitor without hearing her out and demands Grundy to execute her. Thankfully, she wasn't executed due to the League showing up in time to fight.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Joker is muttering to himself about finishing off Batman, he briefly looks at the camera, implying he is actually talking to the audience. He does this again when he says "She's been down there too long." clearly referring to Cheetah when she and Batman just kissed.
As a reward for being a model prisoner, the Humanite is allowed a few "meagre pleasures" and "necessities" like an armchair, a TV for watching the culture channel, paintings, books, wine and a computer. Lex has to bribe him for him to even consider escaping—and even when he does, he can't help but sneak a glance at his dinner.
Ultra-Humanite: Salisbury steak? Really.
Upon his return to prison, he not only gets to keep all these, but gets to enjoy the bigger compensation Batman gave him: a massive donation to the Culture Channel in his name.
As a disguise, Cheetah wears a red wig that resembles her comic book counterpart's original hair color.
During the final battle between the Justice League and Injustice Gang, Hawkgirl can be seen crashing into statues of the Wonder Twins Zan and Jayna.
Throughout the episode, Luthor's outfits evoke every era of the Superman mythos up to that point in time. He sports the gray prison jumpsuit of the Golden Age, the basic field uniform from Challenge of the Superfriends, the power armor of the early Eighties, and his CEO suit of the mid-Eighties and Nineties.
Never My Fault: Luthor blames Superman for his cancer, but nobody made him carry kryptonite around, and he could have been more careful (Batman carried a shielded chunk of kryptonite "just in case", and he lived to a ripe old age).
Nobody's That Dumb: When Lex Luthor and the Injustice Gang captures Batman, the Joker insist to Luthor that they kill Batman, knowing full well what he's capable of but Luthor ignores him.
Joker: Lex, Lex, listen to someone who knows: (whispered)don't wait, do it now. Luthor: You don't like my decisions? Leave. Joker:(walking off) And they say I'm crazy...
Martian Manhunter: So much for your image as the benevolent businessman. This is the end of an era. Luthor: The end of your era, maybe!
Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Played with. Lex exponentially ups the money offers to the other villains throughout the story to keep them interested. While he is the former head a billion dollar mega corporation, it's unclear how much of his assets are still available to him. Furthermore, Luthor somehow manages to install a large laboratory in an abandoned toy factory that can disable the security system on Batman's belt and install Lex's life support system in a fairly short amount of time.
Once More, with Clarity!: The kiss between Cheetah and Batman seems like just a regular one at first, with Cheetah leaning in and kissing Batman before the scene changes. When Luthor checks the cameras later it is shown a bit differently, with Batman leaning in slightly as well and shown kissing Cheetah back, and Cheetah deepening the kiss.
Luthor hires a bunch of villains to form the Injustice Gang, and has to repeatedly increase their paycheck to keep them around when they fail to stop the Justice League.
Subverted with the Joker who doesn't take a paycheck and even shows up entirely on his own accord just to help out. He even notes at one point that killing Batman won't cost Luthor a cent after getting the rest to do anything requires Lex to promise more and more money.
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: The Joker tries to be the one to execute Batman. Subverted in the first scene of part II where Joker seems to want Luthor to shoot Batman right there. He doesn't seem too bothered about not being the one to pull the trigger so long as Batman actually dies, perhaps because he was satisfied by getting the drop on him earlier.
Only Sane Man: Weirdly enough, the Joker is the only one who seems to realize keeping Batman alive is a bad idea. Sure enough, Batman completely dismantles the Injustice Gang's effectiveness from the inside out.
The Plot Thickens: Shade invokes the sarcastic "the plot thins" version upon learning that the various villains were hired by Lex Luthor.
Psycho for Hire: The Joker, though the "hire" part is loose since he's actually working pro bono.
Red Herring: It seems that Cheetah is the traitor to the Injustice Gang at first. She has a romantic moment with Batman where they flirt and share a passionate kiss, and while waiting for the bomb to explode she is the only member who seems depressed. But when she is accused of being the traitor, even after seeing a video of her kissing Batman, she says she is innocent. She is correct and the real traitor is revealed to be Ultra-Humanite, who surrenders after taking down Lex and was revealed to have made a deal with Batman off-screen.
Remember the New Guy?: Apart from Luthor and Joker, all of the Injustice Gang's members are new to the DCAU; though they're all apparently established villains/mercenaries (Luthor calls them "the best at what you do"), pretty much none of them get any origin or explanation apart from a few lines of Cheetah's backstory (though Grundy's was later given in "The Terror Beyond").
The Gang is always asking Luthor when they'll get paid.
Luthor keeps having to up the price to keep them in line.
Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After taking enough abuse from Luthor, the Gang decides to ditch him. However, Luthor convinces them to stay by offering them more money. In retrospect, they should've gotten out while they still could since Batman and The Mole already alerted the League.
Ship Tease: Batman and Cheetah. The two share a scene where Batman listens to her backstory and comforts her and the two end up flirting and sharing a passionate kiss.
Shout-Out: Ultra-Humanite watches the Culture Channel, an analog of PBS.
Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: As Lex realizes too late, carrying around a chunk of irradiated ore with you for years as a weapon/shield against Superman doesn't do wonders for your health.
Talking Your Way Out: Batman uses this method to escape the Injustice Gang. Features a very rare instance of the Joker being the voice of reason, as he anticipates Bats's strategy but is unable to convince Luthor to let him kill Batman. Even more interesting: Batman plays several cards at the same time, playing on Solomon Grundy's insecurities, playing the sympathy and sex appeal cards with Cheetah, and eventually delivering a bribe to the Ultra-Humanite (which Humanite donates to the Culture Channel). Then, because he's Batman, he reveals at the end that he could have escaped any time he wanted to.
Taught by Experience: Joker is the only person who realizes that leaving a cat lady alone with Batman is a bad idea, clearly recalling how Catwoman saved Batman from him. Case in point, the scene transition from Batman and Cheetah kissing is Joker directly saying that Cheetah has been with Batman for too long. He also argues against Bond Villain Stupidity, saying he knows firsthand how badly that can backfire.
What drives Batman's actions throughout this episode.
In the same vein, Joker in the Injustice Gang and is probably the most effective member in the final fight.
Tempting Fate: After Batman's capture, Lex insists he won't get loose between titanium restraints and a stasis field blocking J'onn's telepathy. Needless to say...
A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Cheetah, having someone taking pity on her for her actions as a scientist, and telling her that she is not a freak, but someone who tried to give everything for her values, after having been condemned as a freak, suffers a large dose of attraction and connection and passionately kisses Batman. When Luthor's plan to kill the League goes up in flames, Luthor sees the kiss and assumes she is the mole. She almost gets killed as a result.
That's What I Would Do: When the Joker invites himself into the group, Luthor tells him to get lost — until he shows Luthor the tracer Batman had planted on him and declares that Luthor needs him because "I know how the Bat thinks."
There Was a Door: When the League goes to confront the Gang, Hawkgirl breaks down the front door and Flash follows her, but then Superman makes a hole in the wall right next to the door and flies through that, and Green Lantern make another hole in the window next to Superman's hole and flies through that.
Tragic Villain: Cheetah was a scientist who didn't have enough funding for her experiments so she tested on herself instead. She sees herself as a freak, but Batman says she's a woman who was willing to sacrifice everything for a cause she believed in.
Unexplained Recovery: The Cheetah was dragged away to be Killed Offscreen, but she shows up alive and well in the squad car. Either they didn't execute her before the League arrived or Cats Have Nine Lives. (Word of God claims that her appearance at the end was an unintentional blooper, but the writers worked with it to reverse her "death" later. Still, how she managed to get away from Grundy is anyone's guess.) Luthor sounded pleasing and told Grundy "the PRETTY kitty's all yours." Maybe Grundy thought he was free to pet her like at the beginning.
Viewers Like You: The Culture Channel is used as a Brick Joke. The Ultra-Humanite is seen earlier in the episode enjoying an opera on the Culture Channel in prison, to Lex Luthor's displeasure. Later, when he's been paid off to betray Luthor, he donates it to the Culture Channel, leading to this hilarious parody of the line:
Announcer: This program was made possible by a grant from the Ultra-Humanite — and viewers like you.
Villainous Breakdown: Due to being stricken with cancer and caught confessing his own crimes, Luthor becomes increasingly unhinged and desperate over the course of this two-parter episode, especially when his plans to destroy the Justice League fail again and again. He manages to recover slightly from his madness when the Ultra-Humanite creates a device that can slow down the cancer's spread and neuter most of the side-effects.
Villain Decay: Back in Superman: The Animated Series, Luthor was a powerful businessman with good publicity who was always one step ahead of the law and Superman. By the time of Justice League, he loses everything by failing to account for the Martian Manhunter's shapeshifting abilities as well as the harmful effects of Kryptonite on humans. Dying from cancer and on the run as a wanted criminal, Luthor tries to become a genuine supervillian threat, but he is often undercut by his unstable rage, poor teamwork with the other villains, and willingness to underestimate Batman. He ends up being betrayed by the Ultra-Humanite just as he has Superman at his mercy, and is taken back to prison. Things do not get better for him until the season two's two-parter, "A Better World".
Villain Has a Point: Ultra-Humanite and the Shade are entirely correct about informing the Gang to cut their losses and ditch Luthor. Unfortunately, they don't. Also, The Joker repeatedly tells Luthor to kill Batman. He doesn't.
Villainous Crush: When Cheetah is guarding Batman, she ends up sharing her origins with him. When he comforts her instead of condemning her as a freak, she quickly finds herself attracted to him and starts flirting with him while cuddling next to him. When Batman flirts back she plants a deep passionate kiss on him.
Villainous Face Hold: Downplayed with Cheetah and Batman. When Cheetah becomes attracted to Batman when he comforts her, the first thing she does is slide up to him and cuddle with him while lifting his chin up with a finger. Though she does this while genuinely flirting with him, it is still while he is being restrained and she is still technically one of his captors.
Villainous Rescue: Ultra-Humanite saves Superman from Luthor during the climax, disabling Luthor's armor with a "killswitch" and revealing himself as the traitor before peacefully surrendering to the League.
Villain Respect: Luthor is admittedly impressed with the assorted safeguards in Batman's utility belt.
Walk-In Chime-In: The Joker shows up to invite himself into the group during a squabble:
Wham Episode: Luthor's criminal activities are finally and irrevocably exposed, ending his STAS-era status quo as a Corrupt Corporate Executive. In revenge, Luthor expands his private war against Superman to encompass the entire Justice League — a conflict that will have repercussions all the way through the end of the series and the DCAU.
Joker: You're not going to leave him like this, are you? Luthor: Why? Joker: Hel-lo? He's still alive! Luthor: And he's going to stay that way until I say we don't need him anymore. Joker: Lex, Lex, listen to someone who knows: (whispered)Don't wait, do it now. Luthor: You don't like my decisions? Leave. Joker: (Walking off) And they say I'm crazy... (the rest of Luthor's gang stares at him meaningfully) Luthor: (eye twitching) ...What?! Those restraints are pure titanium. He'll never get loose.
Wounded Gazelle Gambit: At the beginning of the episode, Luthor thinks he has Superman at his mercy because of the kryptonite, and proceeds to spill all of his misdeeds. However, "Superman" reveals himself to be faking the whole thing, and is in fact J'onn in disguise.
"You!" Exclamation: Luthor's first words upon waking up in the hospital and seeing Superman in front of his sickbed.
You Get What You Pay For: Lex claims that he will pay his Injustice Gang after defeating the Justice League. When he berates them for failing in their first attempt, the Shade tells Luthor you get what you pay for. In response, Luthor indignantly asks if they expect more money as a reward for failure. In the end, Ultra-Humanite betrays the team, since Batman guaranteed double what Luthor offered. To further twist the knife into Luthor, the payoff came in the form of a major donation to the Culture Channel in the Ultra-Humanite's name with recognition given at the end of an opera that drives Luthor nuts.
Alternative Title(s):Justice League S 1 E 18 And 19 Injustice For All