The casual superhero fan or the younger fanbase feel as if the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the first offering in the genre to present quality and moral entertainment; however, the DC Animated Universe achieved this long ago.
Its crowning series was the one centering around the Justice League, and two of these shows were commissioned, culminating with Justice League Unlimited. In case you’re not familiar with this awesome show, you need to keep these 10 episodes in the back of your mind and begin binge-ing the series. In this list, we’ve considered both versions of the shows as one, and brought you the episodes that are a cut above the rest.
The final season was much weaker compared to the others, but the show went out all guns blazing for the series finale. Here, Darkseid returned, this time fused with Brainiac, making him the most powerful we’d ever seen him.
The Justice League Unlimited pulled out all the stops as we saw every member that had ever been featured on the show turn up to fight Darkseid and his parademons. There was the epic moment where Superman unleashed his full power, Batman becoming the first being to dodge the Omega Beams, and the final shot where we witnessed all the heroes run off to continue the adventure.
9 Secret Origins
Let’s head over to how it all began with the first episode of the series. In this story, we had the perfect introduction to the Martian Manhunter, who was instantly established as a character we sympathized with and follow his arc; the other superheroes were assembled as Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkgirl joined established heroes in Batman and Superman.
Later releases have this arc set up as an outright movie, as the story twists around in corners to keep us guessing over what the outcome might be. In the end, we saw the dawn of the Justice League come about.
Stories revolving around Darkseid are always a treat to watch, and this one brought Brainiac along as well as two of Superman’s chief rivals banded together to bring him down. As was common with the show, it made the viewer consider the morality of the Justice League heading out to save Apokolips, a race of people who knew nothing but death and destruction.
It brought superb match-ups together, as the big showdown between Superman, Brainiac and Darkseid was there for us to witness, as well as Orion trying to bring down his father in a futile attempt. Finally, Batman’s intervention in the story only served to bolster the variety of emotions the episode elicited.
7 Secret Society
The show didn’t choose to ignore the obvious clash of personalities that had to come up with so many superpowered beings working together, and this episode brought the Justice League’s dysfunctionality in stark focus.
Featuring Gorilla Grodd and his team of supervillains, the story had Grodd take advantage of the Justice League’s infighting. Our heroes were disbanded and picked apart by the bad guys, and it took setting aside their differences for the superheroes to come away with the win by the skin of their teeth.
The original series had a high-octane finale with this story, where Hawkgirl’s true agenda came to light. A mass invasion of Earth by the Thanagarians unraveled, and we saw for the first time where the Justice League were forced to hide.
It was a see-saw affair, as the established formula of the show was shattered with Hawkgirl’s betrayal, and we were made aware that big changes were about to come. The action was incredible in scale too, as the Justice League had to destroy their own Watchtower and endure sacrifices.
It was very low on the action, but made up for it by delivering a highly emotional story and a fitting finale to the arc of the Batman. Chronologically speaking, this was the true finale of the DCAU, and we’re glad it was left in the able of hands of Terry to be the watchful protector.
4 The Return
It’s always incredible to watch a character so powerful that you can’t fathom just what its limits are. AMAZO was one such being, who made his return in this episode and proceeded to annihilate the Justice League’s ranks - all to get to Lex Luthor.
It was cool to watch the world’s superheroes come together to fight, although it was even cooler to see how easily AMAZO brushed them aside. Not only that, but the episode also gave a great moral lesson over the importance of purpose in life; something even an ever-evolving android like AMAZO didn’t understand.
3 Divided We Fall
The CADMUS arc has to go down as the best storyline in all of DC history, not just the DCAU. And the angle came to a bombastic close with this episode, where we saw the Lex Luthor/Brainiac hybrid almost complete its plan to assimilate and remake the universe.
As far as character development goes, The Flash was the one to shed his jokester persona and save the day by unleashing his full power of the speed force. It also brought the original members of the league together, an event we hadn’t seen in a long time by that point.
2 Injustice For All
The Joker is a treat we’d gladly watch however many times they give us, and Mark Hamill’s version is easily the best one there has been. Along with the Joker, we had the Injustice Gang making their debut here, as Lex Luthor started his plans to bring down the Justice League.
A wonderful reminder that Batman doesn’t need superpowers to be the most dangerous superhero was given to us, as the Caped Crusader tore through the Injustice Gang despite being caught in their grasp. It was a worthy episode to showcase the capabilities of each villain and hero on the show, making a case of their inclusion regardless of what powers they had.
1 A Better World
What better way to show the consequences of extreme power than this one? The Justice Lords arc was legendary, giving us the evil side of the superheroes as they took over the world as totalitarian leaders in an alternate universe.
Thankfully, our version of the Justice League were there to fight them, although it took them understanding each other to overcome the Justice Lords. It was a fantasy clash of basically the same characters fighting one another, and a lesson for the viewer over the consequences of giving your morality up for a cause you feel is the ultimate goal.