1997 was a weird year for comic book stuff. With Batman & Robin coming out that summer and Superman Lives entering pre-production, no one could have guessed how drastically the landscape was about to change for comic book media. At the time, DC Comics ruled the roost. Marvel had focused on animation and a few small films in the early '90s, but ongoing financial issues led to the House of Ideas filing for bankruptcy. The financial woes would reach their climax Marvel was purchased by Toy Biz, but it would be several years before a Marvel bankrolled project would reach the big screen or television again.
With their successful Batman film series and the popularity of Grant Morrison, Howard Porter and John Dell’s JLA relaunch, DC took the property somewhere no one expected: the small screen. Justice League of America was ordered to pilot by CBS but failed to be picked up. The pilot became a staple of the convention circuit much like Marvel’s unreleased Fantastic Four film. The pilot has been mostly, quietly forgotten by fans and creators alike, but the stars are still active. So, to commemorate 20 years of a bootleg convention legend, CBR asks today: whatever happened to the stars of Justice League of America?
15 MATTHEW SETTLE (GREEN LANTERN)
Justice League’s Green Lantern is a weird amalgamation of previous Lanterns. Despite Kyle Rayner having been the de facto Green Lantern for three years at the time of the pilot, here the only reference to Kyle is the Green Lantern logo and GL’s right glove, a stylized bracer. Beyond that, the Green Lantern here wears Guy Gardner’s uniform and has his name, but Hal Jordan’s look, social life and romance problems.
Actor Matthew Settle was just starting out when he took on the role of Gardner, bringing a down-to-Earth aloofness that humanized this incarnation of Green Lantern. Since then, he’s had a number of roles, notably as platoon leader Ronald Speirs in the acclaimed mini-series Band of Brothers and as a member of the main cast in the long-running CW series Gossip Girl.
14 MICHELLE HURD (FIRE)
As Fire, Michelle Hurd is spectacular. Stunningly gorgeous and fiercely powerful, her performance is incredibly memorable. The creative staff must have seen it too, as Fire gets one of the more highlighted stories as she contends with Martin’s ongoing affections. Hurd was already a seasoned actress prior to Justice League with appearances on Another World and still works regularly today.
Hurd was most recently turning in appearances on Hawaii Five-0 and Ash vs. Evil Dead but did manage to jump ship to another superhero franchise: Marvel’s cinematic universe. Turning up in the second season of Daredevil, Hurd plays District Attorney Samantha Reyes, a character who was crucial in the growth of Frank Castle into The Punisher. Since then, she’s also been making appearances on NBC’s Blindspot and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
13 DAVID OGDEN STIERS (MARTIAN MANHUNTER)
David Ogden Stiers is perhaps the most tenured actor to be a part of the Justice League pilot. With an almost 50-year career, he made small appearances on shows such as Rhoda and Mary Tyler Moore before a six-year stint on the hugely successful M*A*S*H. He joined the Justice League pilot as The Martian Manhunter, the mysterious leader of the League, but the cheap costuming and his larger physique proved distracting for fans.
Since then he’s continued to work in Hollywood, appearing in a series of Perry Mason telefilms and with a recurring role on The Dead Zone alongside Anthony Michael Hall. Ogden Stiers also had a successful voice acting career, with roles in Disney’s Lilo & Stitch franchise and as Mr. Maellard on Cartoon Network’s Regular Show. He also returned to DC characters in 2006, voicing Solovar on Justice League Unlimited.
12 KIMBERLY OJA (ICE)
Kimberly Oja might be the most interesting of all the Justice League of America cast members thanks to her continued absence from the spotlight. Far from her first role, Oja made a number of appearances early in her career on shows such as Wings and Dave’s World, and the Sega CD title Double Switch before taking on the lead role of Ice.
Oja’s Ice is one of the most shining in the pilot. Timid and awkward, she was intended to be the character the audience related to and finally got her costume and codename by the film’s end. Following the pilot, Oja went on to star as Kimberlee Clark on the FX raunchy comedy Son of the Beach and as the conniving Taryn Baker on The OC. Since then, however, Oja has all but vanished from Hollywood, last appearing in the 2008 film Channels.
11 KENNY JOHNSTON (THE FLASH)
The treatment of The Flash on Justice League of America might be the most confusing thing about the show. Though named Barry Allen, his characterization skews closer to that of Wally West during the brief period where he was broke. Barry here is unemployed, evicted from his apartment as the episode opens and his primary arc is that he can’t find a job.
Kenny Johnston was tasked with bringing Barry to life for the project and does a great job with the material he’s handed. Barry here is earnest, relatable and remarkably human. Johnston’s remained a working actor over the years too, picking up small parts in independent films, having just finished Lost Fare and recently had a role in The Meanest Man in Texas.
10 JOHN KASSIR (THE ATOM)
Horror fans know the name John Kassir instantly as the voice of the sinister Crypt Keeper on HBO’s classic Tales From The Crypt series. For his turn as The Atom, Kassir is a foppish high school science teacher who spends much of the pilot pining over Oja’s Olafsdotter. With a mildly revamped origin (this Atom had his body altered by a radioactive meteor rather than building a size-changing belt), he’s one of the more personally successful League members in the pilot, and Kassir does an excellent job with the role.
Kassir has obviously kept himself busy over the years, though primarily doing voice-over work. With roles on hit shows such as Rocket Power, As Told By Ginger and The Looney Tunes Show, while he may not have had the same level of public, live-action success of his other co-stars, Kassir has had a quietly successful life post-Justice League.
9 DAVID KRUMHOLTZ (MARTIN)
Martin Walters only has a small role in the pilot as a casting director with an obnoxious crush on Fire, even accidentally figuring out her secret identity. It’s a memorable role, but a blip in the long-running career of actor David Krumholtz. Debuting in 1993 with a bit part in the Michael J. Fox vehicle Life with Mikey, Krumholtz has been a working actor for nearly 25 years now.
Appearing in small roles throughout much of the '90s, he’s possibly best remembered for appearing in The Santa Clause franchise as lead elf Bernard, or for his five year run as Charlie Eppes in the hit thriller Numb3rs. Though he has yet to find success on the scale of Numb3rs again, he is finishing up a role alongside James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal in the upcoming series The Deuce.
8 ELISA DONOVAN (CHERYL)
Fans obviously recognize Elisa Donovan from her role as Amber in the 1995 hit film, Clueless. Rebounding from a battle with anorexia, her career was just hitting its stride when she was cast as Guy’s long-suffering girlfriend Cheryl in the Justice League pilot. At the time she was reprising her role from Clueless in the television series of the same name, which she would star in for three years.
Donovan continued to have a healthy career throughout the years, with turns on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and the lead role in the streaming comedy series In Gayle We Trust. Donovan gave birth to her first child and married her long-time boyfriend in 2012, and has continued to work in small roles and plays over the years, including a 2008 one-woman show, Sweet Dreams.
7 ROBERT GALLO (BARRY’S LANDLORD)
Robert Gallo only has an incredibly small appearance in the pilot, totalling less than a minute of screen time. He’s Barry’s unnamed landlord, seen throwing all of his belongings off a balcony. The New Jersey-born Gallo is more known for his stage career, especially his one man show King of the City, where he plays infamous gangster Al Capone.
Off stage, Gallo has appeared in a number of projects over the years, though he’s yet to find any real mainstream television or film success. On television, he made appearances on shows such as Hunter, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and Rizzoli & Isles. On the big screen, he’s had turns in smaller films such as In The Mix, American Born, and Sinners. In 2016 he appeared in the film Ascension as Mr. Fuentes.
6 FÉLIX ENRÍQUEZ ALCALÁ (DIRECTOR)
Bringing the League to life is no easy task today, and in an era where special effects were still just coming up, it was even harder. Tasked with steering the ship to completion was Félix Enríquez Alcalá, a director who had been working in TV for years. Having worked on shows like Lois & Clark and Earth 2, he’d proven he had the chops to work with projects that rely on heavy special effects and far out concepts.
Since then, Alcalá has continued to bring home quality projects. Though he still worked on science fiction projects like Battlestar Galactica and Stargate Universe, he found greater success directing more human dramas. With lengthy runs on ER, Southland and Covert Affairs, he quickly established himself as one of the genre’s most reliable and consistent directors. Félix Enríquez Alcalá is still directing TV today, having worked on Madam Secretary and Shades of Blue in 2017.
5 LORNE CAMERON & DAVID HOSELTON (WRITERS)
David Hoselton, who also served as an executive producer, was one of the show’s writers, alongside Lorne Cameron. Both had worked together on films such as Like Father, Like Son and First Knight, but were still relatively early in their careers when they joined on. They based the show on the classic Giffen/DeMatteis era of the League and added a sense of relatability to the heroes through one-on-one interview segments sprinkled through the pilot.
The two have remained active in Hollywood ever since. Both took on writing jobs afterward, including The Extreme Adventures of Super Dave and Disney’s Brother Bear films and the popular Over The Hedge franchise. While Cameron stuck with family friendly shows such as Handy Manny, however, Hoselton opted to move into dramas and served as a producer and occasional writer for much of House, MD’s run.
4 JUDY KAIN (JUDY THE REPORTER)
Blink and you’ll miss the appearance of veteran actress Judy Kain in the pilot. After foiling a second Weatherman plot with assistance from Ice, Judy appears as a reporter who interviews the League (inadvertently leading to Martin discovering Fire’s dual identity). She was gone as quickly as she arrived, and you’d be forgiven for not recognizing her at first.
Kain’s been a busy actress over the years, with appearances in commercials and on television shows such as The Odd Couple and The Fosters. She’s also a published author with I Booked It!, a self-help book aimed at actors working in commercials. Judy is also the face of Keep It Real Acting, a studio which works with students to teach them the craft of acting. She recently finished work on a new series to potentially air in 2018, Home.
3 JASON WEISSBROD (DRAZEN)
Jason Weissbrod makes an incredibly brief appearance in the pilot as Drazen. Now, you hear that name and you probably think “Wow, that must be a cameo of some old, unheard of DC Comics villain” and you’d be wrong. Drazen is a student in Ray Palmer’s class who awkwardly takes over as Palmer runs out in the pilot’s opening sequence.
Weissbrod has had a career in film over the years, with small roles on popular shows like Veronica Mars and iCarly, but it’s his work outside of film that’s the most notable. As the co-founder of Spectrum Laboratory, Weissbrod works with children who are on the autism spectrum and helps them discover the same love of film that brought him to acting. Several performances are available on the Spectrum Laboratory YouTube page.
2 RON PEARSON (DR. ARLISS HOPKE)
Something of a red herring for the pilot, Ron Pearson’s Dr. Arliss Hopke is an awkward and apparently vindictive scientist but is quickly cleared up as a scientist just trying to get a project approved. While he seems to fall off the face of the Earth at the halfway point in the pilot, Pearson has remained busy in the intervening years.
Pearson has made a number of appearances in film and television, including a recurring role as a cop on George Lopez and as Doug Rickets on the last two years of the UPN series Malcolm & Eddie. Pearson also makes a living as a stand-up comedian, appearing in the 2008 religious stand-up special Apostle of Comedy and its 2013 sequel, Apostle of Comedy: Onwards and Upwards. He also takes jobs as a keynote speaker, doing presentations for big companies like McDonald’s and Toyota.
1 MIGUEL FERRER (THE WEATHERMAN)
Ogden Stiers may be the most tenured actor on the cast, but Miguel Ferrer is easily the most recognizable. Already known years before the pilot for roles in Star Trek III, Robocop, and the original run of Twin Peaks, Ferrer joined the cast as The Weather Man, an obvious pastiche of The Flash rogue Weather Wizard.
Ferrer continued to find success afterward. He got to voice the proper version of Weather Wizard in the Superman episode "Speed Demons," as well as Martian Manhunter in the animated feature Justice League: New Frontier and found long-running success as Dr. Garret Macy on NBC’s Crossing Jordan. Ferrer lost a battle with throat cancer and sadly passed away in January 2017, but his final roles as Deathstroke in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and Albert Rosenfield on the relaunched Twin Peaks were released posthumously.
Is there anyone else we missed? Let us know what YOU know about the JLA pilot in the comments!