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Recap / Justice League Unlimited S2E13 "Epilogue"

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"The world needs a Batman...and it always will."
—Amanda Waller

Epilogue is the final episode of season four 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 episode in the DCAU.

Ten years after the last episode of Batman Beyond and fifty 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.

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"Epilogue" contains examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: Amanda Waller, who did unethical and immoral things to ensure Bruce would have a successor. Yes, she very much was going to resort to murder to do so, but she truly did have good intentions.
  • 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. Dana has shorter hair compared to her high school long hair length.
  • 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 and can only hope God sees the good intentions behind most of her actions.
  • Badass Longcoat: An older Terry now sports one. Other than the length, it's virtually identical to the brown jacket he always wore in the series.
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  • Badass Pacifist: In the past, Batman managed to get Ace not to kill any more people by simply staying with her until the time of her death.
  • Bookends:
    • The episode ends with Terry flying past a police car as one of the cops in 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".
    • A Justice League episode serving as a finale to Beyond considering how the Justice League first appeared in 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 Batman legacy 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, Selina...they all loved you, but eventually every single one of them left you. Ever wonder why?
    Bruce: Not for an instant.
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  • Break His Heart to Save Him: One of Terry's fantasies is about breaking up with Dana to spare her of his "curse".
  • Brutal Honesty: Ace reads Batman's mind and learns she is dying. She asks if she is dying soon, and Batman admits that she is before apologizing.
  • Call-Back:
    • Terry mentions how the genetics technology Joker used to make Tim Drake his Clone by Conversion in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker in his fantasy about chewing Bruce out, thinking it was what was used to make Terry the biological son of Bruce.
    • 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 that were featured in the Batman Beyond episode "The Call" appear during one of Terry's Fantasy Sequences.
    • During Terry's childhood, the McGinnis family comes out of a theater after watching The Gray Ghost Strikes.
  • 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 him become Batman.
  • The Cameo: The assassin Waller hired to kill Terry’s parents is none other than the Phantasm (Andrea Beaumont) from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
  • 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.
  • Comfort the Dying: Terry confronts a now aged Amanda Waller about how he's Bruce's biological son. As she explains herself, she relates to him a story in which the Royal Flush Gang reformed (last seen in "Wild Cards") with new members save Ace who had given the others powers. However, she had developed an aneurysm from her psychic powers and her death could potentially cause her power to level Gotham from the feedback. Amanda had given Bruce a device that could kill Ace before this happened. But when Bruce got to her, he simply talked with her, knowing that she was simply a confused little girl terrified of her impending death. Thus, he stayed with and comforted her to the very end of her life, letting her pass on peacefully and nullifying the threat without violence.
  • Commonality Connection: 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?
  • 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 after Warren died, and made him the rightful 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.
  • Decomposite Character: Word of God is that while he resembles how Ed McGuinness drew the Rudy Jones of the comics (basically putting the monstrous Parasite of the mid-to-late 1990s in the DCAU costume), the Beyond-era Parasite is a Legacy Character.
  • Dented Iron: 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.
  • Distant Finale: The main part of this episode 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 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:
    • As angry as he was with Bruce, Terry knew that reminding him of what happened to Tim Drake is still a sore spot for the older Batman and apologizes. (Fortunately, this was only an Imagine Spot.)
    • Even a Professional Killer like the Phantasm isn’t willing to kill an innocent boy's parents who have done no wrong to anyone just to make him the next Batman; after all, she’s a vigilante who always did prefer to Pay Evil unto Evil. She also rightfully points out that the entire reason Bruce became Batman was to prevent this exact tragedy from happening to anyone else and it would go against everything he stood for.
  • Exact Words:
    • In the flashback, Batman says that he has the best chance of getting close enough to use the weapon, and indicates that he understands what Waller wants him to do. He has no intention of actually doing it, however.
    • In the end, Terry calls Dana to ask if their date for a later night is still on. He tells her that he plans to ask her something else during that date, but then adds that Dana has to wait until then for that actual question, ie. he's going to propose to her.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Ace explains what she has been seeing by reading Batman's mind, then pauses when she realizes she is dying.
  • A Father to His Men: Deconstructed in the final scene since Bruce and his soldier Terry really are 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: This is 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. He comforts Ace in her final minutes of life and sympathizes with her stolen childhood due to the cruelty of men.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: This episode 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 his entire life to make him a carbon copy of himself. Subverted when it turns out Waller was behind the manipulations, not Bruce, and they weren't as extreme as Terry initially feared. Word of God also confirms that Bruce realized the truth years ago shortly after Terry took up Batman's mantle, but never told Terry so the boy could become his own man.
  • For Want of a Nail: Phantasm refusing to pull the trigger was what motivated Amanda Waller to abandon her project. If Project Batman Beyond had gone through as planned, Matt never would have been born. Terry also would have been orphaned at a much younger age.
  • Gender Bender: The Queen in the second Royal Flush Gang is revealed to be a man when Ace's spell was undone.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: This episode reveals Amanda Waller as the one responsible for a new Batman that protects Neo Gotham, even if her methods are questionable.
  • 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 RRoD: Ace mentions she was experimented on since she was a kid, including wires sticking onto her head. For this reason, the stress on her brain created a fatal aneurysm, and she isolated herself before any surgery could possibly save her.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: She didn't need to, and using her powers would likely hasten the fatal aneurysm, but Ace fixes the world for Batman after he agrees to stay with her, to prevent millions from dying.
  • Heroic Vow: At the end.
    Bruce: I was worried about Gotham. If Batman's not around—
    Terry: I've got it covered. Always.
  • He's All Grown Up: As commented by Waller, Terry is no longer a skinny teenager; he has a six-pack and a cool haircut.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Terry remarks he always looked up to Bruce and simply pretended otherwise to the old man's face.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Ace states she gave powers to the new Royal Flush Gang if they would play with her. Once again, her upbringing meant she was conned by criminals.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Ace hoped she could have friends by giving them superpowers. Once again she was just being used.
  • In Spite of a Nail: As Terry points out, Waller's assassin may have backed out of killing Terry's parents, but Warren ended up getting murdered years later anyway and it sets Terry on the path of a crimefighter like Bruce did.
  • Invincible Villain: Ace's powers now include Mind over Matter, she's a Reality Warper, and can read minds. Batman had no intention of killing Ace, and in fact it's implied that is the only reason he got close to her in the first place.
  • 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?
    • Word of God is that the Parasite in the Beyond era isn't Jones.
  • 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 Versus 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.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Terry found out the truth and went through an existential crisis because he volunteered for a tissue donation so that doctors could clone Bruce a much-needed kidney.
  • 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.
  • Protagonist Title: Batman Beyond in a retroactive, and roundabout, sense, since the project that was meant to turn him into Batman was called Project Batman Beyond.
  • 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, as "the world's greatest detective", Bruce had already figured out that Terry was his biological son long before Terry did, which might explain his lack of surprise when he was confronted.
  • 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 Call-Back 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 its famous final shot, which properly Bookends the series.
  • Shoot the Dog: In the 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:
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Project Batman Beyond would have gone as planned...if Waller hadn't hired Phantasm, an Anti-Villain who had a history with Bruce, to pull the trigger. Phantasm realized that she couldn't do it and told off Waller for her willingness to orphan an innocent child.
    • Terry points out that even though his parents were never killed as originally planned by Waller, Derek Powers still had his father assassinated. He became Batman anyway to avenge his father and atone for being a delinquent.
  • Stay with Me Until I Die:
    Ace: You were going to try to talk me into fixing what I've changed...before I die.
    Batman: Yes.
    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 holds her hand)
  • Super Hero Origin: A Decon-Recon Switch. 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 boy's 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.
    Waller: Bruce's DNA was easy enough to obtain...He left it all over town.
    Terry: (raises an eyebrow)
    Waller: ...Not remotely what I meant!
  • Telepathy: Ace's Master of Illusion powers also mutate to the point where she can read minds.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: If Amanda had gone through with killing Terry's parents to make him Batman, it's unlikely Terry would be willing to forget that. The fact that Phantasm refused to pull the trigger and told Amanda that doing so would be terrible is what makes Terry willing to listen to the rest of the story. He also acknowledges that Amanda didn't kill his father.
  • Title Drop: Waller called her future-Batman plan "Project: Batman Beyond". (It doesn't serve as this for some people, as in certain areas overseas the series was called Batman of the Future instead.)
  • Took a Level in Badass: Terry's had years to hone his skills as Batman. He's notably taller and more muscular than in he was back in Batman Beyond, 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 out since her Cadmus days. She even mentions having become a liaison for the League (after being so antagonistic to them before), gaining much respect for Batman, 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 own mother and father.
  • Villain Respect: In the years following the Cadmus incident, and becoming Government liaison to the Justice League, Waller ended up developing genuine respect for the League — and Batman in particular.
  • Visual Pun: The Royal Flush Gang according to Word of God.
    • Ten is based on Bo Derek's character in the movie Ten.
    • Jack is a samurai (and when he's returned to normal, the animators make him look like Phil LaMarr).
    • Queen, when de-powered, is actually a man, i.e. a drag queen.
    • King resembles M.O.D.O.K., a Marvel character created by Jack "The King" Kirby.
  • Was Too Hard on Him: When Terry accuses Bruce of using the same genetic technology Joker used on Tim Drake, he apologizes for such a "low blow" after seeing a horrified reaction on Bruce's face.
  • Wham Line:
    • Terry telling Bruce that he is Terry's biological father, not Warren McGinnis.
    • Amanda Wallers reveals that she created Terry, not Bruce.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Superman, Barda and Micron are absent during the Justice League Unlimited's appearance, though it's possible they were just 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:
    • Terry, on learning he's Bruce's son, has one Imagine Spot after another about lashing out at Bruce, quitting the League, and breaking up with Dana. But what does he actually do? Go to Amanda Waller for answers. Terry subconsciously knew that Bruce would never do such a thing as steal away someone's future, and didn't want to hurt anyone.
    • Batman offered to take out Ace before she would kill millions. Then he approaches Ace...and she reveals she read his mind, and he wouldn't kill an innocent girl. Instead, Bruce sits next to her on the swings, apologizing for the fact that she will die and he can't save her. Then he takes her hand as the aneurysm kills her. Ace is touched by his sincerity and empathy, fixing the world.
    • 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.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Phantasm was ordered to gun down Terry's parents, but refused on realizing how much it would traumatize an innocent kid.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: 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.

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