The Justice League is one of comics’ most powerful and influential teams. In almost any scenario, they are the first and best defense against any major threat. Over the years, the team has defeated aliens, outsmarted Lex Luthor, and gone toe-to-toe with Darkseid a handful of times.
As a result, a lot of responsibility is required to lead the team, let alone be on it. The leader of any branch of the Justice League must be sure that they continually make the right calls at the right times. While many people who have held the role of “Leader”, some are definitely more suited for this task than others. To look back, here is our list of the 5 best and 5 worst leaders of the Justice League.
10 John Constantine (Worst)
Whether he wanted to be or not, John Constantine found himself as the leader of the Justice League Dark during DC’s New 52. This team was a Justice League that was designed to protect the world from any supernatural/magical threat. As a result, it would make perfect sense that Constantine would be on the team, as he is clearly one of the world’s most powerful magicians.
On the other hand, Constantine is a horrible team player, and constantly willing to sacrifice others without a second thought. This made him a horrible leader, as he would often (though usually unintentionally) put his teammates in situations that would get them incredibly injured, or worse. Thankfully, much of the other members of the team managed to keep Constantine in check for the most part. While his charming nature and ability to make quick, tough decisions would make him an ideal leader, his lack of empathy and willingness to sacrifice life make him a horrible decision.
9 Black Canary (Best)
Simply put, Black Canary is a natural-born leader. Throughout her history, she has come to lead the Justice Society of America, The Birds of Prey, and even the Justice League. Plus, anyone who can keep Oliver Queen in line definitely deserves some form of merit.
Dinah’s biggest flaw as a character is that she often doubts herself. She constantly seems to be questioning her own abilities, both as a metahuman and as a leader. However, this self doubt also makes her ideal for the role. Dinah is constantly looking to improve herself, meaning that she’s very meticulous when making decisions. She also has a very strong heart that helps her function very well even as an independent character. Despite whatever personal struggles Dinah faces, the Black Canary is still an ideal leader that any team would be lucky to have.
8 Steve Trevor/Amanda Waller (Worst)
During the New 52, Amanda Waller decided that the United States government needed its own Justice League in order to keep the main League in check. With Steve Trevor serving as the in-field leader, the two would build a team that mirrors the main Justice League in order to be used against them if the need arises.
While Amanda Waller has made some questionable decisions throughout her entire comic book history, forming this version of the Justice League of America is definitely one for the books. The team featured a questionable lineup of Martian Manhunter, Catwoman, Vibe, Hawkman, Katanna and more. The team was also very short lived as Trevor and Waller would lead them into confrontation with the main Justice League during the Trinity War event that led directly into Forever Evil. Following the events of these two stories, some of the members from this version of the JLA would band together with a few newer members to form the Justice League United, this time, without both Waller and Trevor.
7 Cyborg (Best)
It would make sense that the former leader of the Teen Titans would graduate to become the leader of the Justice League at some point. During Christopher Priest’s run on Justice League, the team faces an enemy that forces Batman to step down as leader. Surprisingly, Batman declares Cyborg as his successor and Vic ascends to the role.
Even beyond Priest’s run on Justice League, Batman has been shown to have high praise for Cyborg. Though Cyborg is still relatively young in relation to other members of the League, having such high praise from Batman, of all people, goes quite a long way. Between his skillset and mindset, Cyborg is clearly built to be a great leader.
6 Lex Luthor (Worst)
Lex Luthor is easily one of the last people you would expect to find on the Justice League. During the Forever Evil event, Lex assembled his own team of metahumans and led them against Ultraman and his Injustice League. The events of this story painted Luthor in a positive light for the public and tarnished the main Justice League’s reputation. After requesting a position on the team, the League begrudgingly accepts and makes him a member.
Lex Luthor being Lex Luthor, he quickly established himself as leader of the team. Likewise, he made a lot of decisions that didn’t blend well with the ideals of other members, or flat out went against what the League stands for. His incredibly inflated ego certainly came in the way of his desire to protect humanity, making him a terrible team player, and horrible Justice Leaguer.
5 Wonder Woman (Best)
Much like Black Canary, Wonder Woman is a natural-born leader. She is incredibly smart, a brave warrior, possesses a wide array of skills, and puts others before herself. These traits alone make her an ideal candidate to lead the world’s most powerful line of defense. Diana also has an extensive knowledge of magic and mysticism, making her all the more valuable.
Currently, this knowledge and background in magic has mad Diana the leader of the most recent Justice League Dark team. However, she has also been shown to lead the main Justice League on several occasions. Furthermore, Diana has proven time and time again that she is willing to make the tough decisions when absolutely necessary.
4 Green Arrow (Worst)
Oliver Queen is a fan favorite character for many reasons. Unfortunately, being a leader isn’t one of them. Queen operates best as a solo act and has proven time and again that he is difficult to work with. For a brief time, Queen would see himself as leader of the League. Despite doing his best, Green Arrow’s leadership needed a lot of tweaking.
That’s not to say that Oliver has no idea what he is doing, or that he is unwilling to make tough calls. Recently, Martian Manhunter put Green Arrow in charge of a device that could wipe out the entire Justice League if the need arises. His reason for doing so was that Oliver was pure of heart, and that he knew that using the device would only be during an absolute, worst-case-scenario. While Oliver doesn’t quite yet possess all of the necessary leadership qualities, he is still a very valuable teammate and friend.
3 Batman (Best)
It is very difficult to doubt Batman’s skills as a leader. Though he may be harsh at times, he can always count on those close to him. He is also a master tactician and has a plan for just about everything.
Batman has led many iterations of the Justice League over the years. Whether it’s the main team, the JLA, or the Justice League International, the Caped Crusader tends to partner up a lot for a brooding loner. However, Batman’s mind alone and ability to motivate others make him incredibly valuable as a leader.
2 The Flash (Worst)
For all the responsibility that The Flash carries with him, he has never quite been able to master the leadership role. The Flash family itself doesn’t even have a leader and functions more like a community.
On the rare occasion where The Flash has had to lead the League, he doesn’t hesitate to accept the responsibility. However, it’s never for very long. During the No Justice storyline, Barry Allen led a small branch of heroes to try and stop a cosmic entity from devouring the planet. As the leader of team Wisdom, Barry struggled to corral his team and accomplish their goal. While it’s unfair to judge Barry in this regard considering the situation, it goes to show that he’s not quite ready to take on such a large amount of responsibility.
1 Superman (Best)
The obvious choice for the League’s best leader has to be Superman. Regardless of how people feel about him as a character, Superman has done more for the team and the planet than just about every other member. Powers aside, Superman continually inspires and motivates his team as well as the people he protects. He also does whatever is necessary to protect as much life as possible, and is no stranger to having to do things the hard way.
Considering that he is also a part of every major interpretation of the team, Superman is an incredibly valuable asset to the league. Being the symbol of hope fits very well within the ideals of what the league was built on. Without the role that Superman played within the Justice League, it would not have come to be the staple that it is today.