The live-action Justice League film won’t hit theaters until November 17, but we’ve already gotten a fairly solid look at the film’s main lineup of members. The team, seemingly led by Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), includes Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and eventually Superman (Henry Cavill) — echoing a handful of Justice League lineups from the comics, but still lacking something to bring the team home. Sure, we’re still early in the DC film timeline, but with things like “Flashpoint” and the potential arrival of Darkseid on the horizon, we’re gonna need a little bit more than what we’ve got.
There have been countless iterations of the League throughout the team’s history, from classic lineups and Golden Age rosters, to evil, villain-filled Justice Leagues and unorthodox members of the team. Everyone from Swamp Thing to Killer Frost has been a Justice League member at one point or another, but each of the teams on this list offer something more exciting than what the DC Extended Universe is offering — and we’re not just talking about a lack of Green Lantern (though that doesn’t help either). Here are 15 comic book Justice League rosters better than what the DCEU has to offer.
15. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL (NEW 52)
The New 52 introduced plenty of odd creases to the lore of the DC Universe, but a lot of what the line-wide relaunch offered was exciting and hopeful, plus it gave the publisher room to experiment. And what’s more hopeful than a government-sponsored Justice League team comprised of some of the best and brightest in the superhero world? OK, stick with us, because the team’s lineup truly speaks for itself.
Led by Booster Gold, the team included Godiva, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Ice, Rocket Red, Fire, August General in Iron, OMAC, Vixen, Batman and Rocket Red. Batman’s monetary advantage as Bruce Wayne gave the team funding and Booster Gold’s leadership was unparalleled. The team went on to handle more than enough in their 12-issue run from writer Dan Jurgens.
14. JLA (POST-IDENTITY CRISIS)
While Identity Crisis continues to remain a contentious glimmer in DC Comics’ event catalog, the Justice League roster of JLA following the event was actually pretty stacked with superpower and clout. While not on the best of terms, The Flash (Wally West), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Martian Manhunter, Zatanna, Green Arrow, Batman, Hawkman and Black Canary were the center of a series that was less about “team” and more about fallout.
But in base terms, the team has a lot to offer. Wally West’s time as The Flash is continually celebrated, while Martian Manhunter and Zatanna are rarer picks, each with their own insane set of powers. Round it out with not-so-meta humans Batman and Green Arrow and the support of Hawkman, Hal Jordan and Black Canary, and you’ve got a force to be reckoned with.
13. JUSTICE LEAGUE (POST-CRISIS)
As a fan-favorite Justice League roster, the makeup of the titular team following Crisis on Infinite Earths was kind of incredible. The team had one real mainstay — Batman, but then let loose on the weird, cosmic and wild of the DC Universe. Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Black Canary, Doctor Fate, Captain Marvel, Mister Miracle, Martian Manhunter and Guy Gardner filled out the roster, a crazy blend of omega-level power with snark and moral contention.
Of course, the book would eventually devolve into comedy, with Guy Garner leading the charge there, especially after Captain Marvel and Doctor Fate depart the team. We wouldn’t be opposed to seeing this crazy crew make some sort of reappearance. Hey, at least Mister Miracle is back thanks to Tom King.
12. JLA (JLA #100)
The greatness of this team has a lot to do with its timing, especially since it was around during the height of the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoon craze, introducing the world to a stacked lineup of Justice League members. While the JLA team post-issue 100 lacked Hawkgirl and Aquaman, it more than made up for it.
Batman, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Lantern (John Stewart) made up the crew, and after a pre-issue 100 shakeup, fans were more than happy to see where Kurt Busiek was about to take the team. We still feel the stinging loss of John Stewart on a main Justice League team to this day, but he’s doing alright for himself leading the Green Lantern Corps and all.
11. JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
With a similar roster to that of the aforementioned post-Crisis JLA, the original Justice League International team was a cornucopia of comedy, power and brooding (that part comes from Batman). Holdovers Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, Booster Gold, Guy Gardner and Mister Miracle were joined by the likes of Captain Atom and Blue Beetle, introducing the world to more than a handful of fan-favorites that have held their status to this day.
The series bled with popularity, and embraced the comedy focus of its predecessor, doubling down on the exploits of Guy Gardner and Blue Beetle/Booster Gold, while also serving to tell classic stories and expand the team’s ever-growing roster. While probably unimaginable in live action, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t want to see this team on the big screen.
10. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA (POST-INFINITE CRISIS)
After the ending of Infinite Crisis, the Trinity of the DC Universe built a new Justice League, one comprised equally of new members and veterans, a team of juggernauts the world over. This team consisted of Red Tornado, Red Arrow, Vixen, Black Canary, Geo-Force, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Black Lightning. The Trinity oversaw the experiment and Black Canary later led the team.
Late additions to the squad including Wally West’s The Flash and Jon Stewart’s Green Lantern, again cementing that this new Justice League team was truly the biggest and best yet. The run lost a bit of its thunder throughout, but between the stellar art and thoughtful storytelling, the post-Infinite Crisis squad is one to remember, and one packed with more power than the DCEU team.
9. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA (REBIRTH)
While we’re still relatively early into the DC Universe Rebirth era, one book that surprised and delighted with both its premise and team roster has been writer Steve Orlando’s Justice League of America. The team is a combination of longtime heroes, a couple of reformed villains and some newbies. Spinning out of the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad event, the team consists of Batman, Vixen, Killer Frost, The Ray, The Atom, Black Canary and, yes, Lobo.
The buildup to the series was fantastic, with one-shots exploring the reasons why The Ray, The Atom and Killer Frost (who’s story ranges between emotionally powerful and kind of amazing) joined the team, and the fallout from JL vs. SS helped us get why Lobo was sticking around. Batman is a miracle worker, we’ll just say that.
8. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
Much like Orlando’s Justice League of America, the New 52’s Justice League Dark series tried something different that ended up paying off far more than we ever could have hoped. Since the team’s run, the group has become a cult favorite, and its members spun off in a number of directions, both in comics and out.
The team consisted of John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, Deadman, Black Orchid, Frankenstein, Swamp Thing and more, each with their own supernatural abilities to bring to the table — whether it was control over the Green or a knack for magics. It ran for a good while, and while each of the characters’ solo series have been good enough, they’ve failed to capture the magic of this series. Good news though, as a Justice League Dark film is planned for the DCEU.
7. JLA (POST-GRANT MORRISON)
We say “post” in this entry, but really this run was built on the back of Morrison’s run, which itself expanded on Mark Waid’s Justice League. All of that aside, the usual suspects were all here: Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash and Martian Manhunter. And while Hal Jordan would have been expected, the Green Lantern on this squad was Kyle Rayner, joined by holdover Plastic Man.
The two outsider heroes offered emotional depth and comedic relief, respectively. Rayner’s ways as a Lantern greatly contrasted with Hal Jordan, the Lantern the team had been used to. Plastic Man, despite being incredibly powerful and kind of a jerk, was hilarious, and his humor could cut through grit like butter, and that’s the way we liked it. Rayner and Plastic Man onscreen? Count us in.
6. JUSTICE LEAGUE UNITED
This post-Forever Evil experiment was short-lived, but its roster remains one of the most creative and exciting in League history. Justice League United brought together JLA members Stargirl, Martian Manhunter and Green Arrow with Supergirl, Equinox, Adam Strange and Animal Man as they headed to Canada and then into space. Yes, we were just excited as you to have Animal Man and Adam Strange on a team again.
While many of the mainstay Justice League members were represented here (Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Supergirl as the team’s Kryptonian), the wildcard nature of folks like Animal Man and Adam Strange made things all the more exciting. Then you had the unknown Equinox in the mix, making for a perfect blend of newbies and veteran heroes. We’d love to see this squad show up sometime. Who knows, maybe these League offshoots are in the cards for the DCEU?
5. JUSTICE LEAGUE (NEW 52)
The New 52 Justice League lineup was short and sweet, creating a roster that was so close to pitch perfection that the story from Geoff Johns was just a wonderful cherry on top. The team consisted of Batman, Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Aquaman and Cyborg — a new addition the League, graduated from his status as a Titan. Shazam joined the team later.
The team worked wonders together, and in their early years managed a handful of universe-shattering events, all culminating in Forever Evil, an event that would change the team significantly. But through the “WAR” and “Throne of Atlantis” story arcs, we learned a lot about the emotional depth of these heroes, and aside from Hal Jordan, the DCEU League resembles this group the closest. We’re certain a Lantern will come with time, but it just feels weird going into the film without one.
4. JUSTICE LEAGUE (REBIRTH)
Jumping to the next major DC Comics relaunch, the DC Universe Rebirth Justice League team has been stellar so far, bringing the New 52’s members of Superman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Batman, Aquaman and Cyborg together with two newer Green Lanterns — Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. While the duo’s exploits are explored in more depth in their solo series, Green Lanterns, their camaraderie strengthens the team in many ways.
While the Rebirth series itself hasn’t been changing the face of comics with its typical world-shattering story arcs, we’re eagerly awaiting the day when the series takes it up a notch. Until then, we’ll have to settle from the story of the next roster on this list, and the main connective tissue is the wondrous Jessica Cruz.
3. JUSTICE LEAGUE (POST-FOREVER EVIL)
As the culmination of much of what the DC Universe was building to with the New 52, Forever Evil changed the Justice League’s roster in a big way. Following the tumultuous battle with the Crime Syndicate from another world, the post-Forever Evil flagship series saw Captain Cold, Lex Luthor and Jessica Cruz (as Power Ring) join the League.
While each of the three fought valiantly with the team during the events of Forever Evil, they all lacked team experience in New 52 continuity, especially Jessica, whose battle with anxiety disorder was as emotional as it was artfully depicted. This team would fizzle in a way, but Lex and Jessica would end up playing a huge part in “The Darkseid War”, eventually leading (sort of) into DC Universe Rebirth.
2. JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA
The original Justice League of America is mostly unbeatable. Its roster brought Batman and Superman together with The Flash, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter as founding members of the Justice League, and set a precedent for most every team that came after it. The crew got larger as the experiment proved popular, enlisting The Atom, Green Arrow and Hawkman to the League.
While Batman and Superman had plenty of their story told by the time this classic series rolled around, the rest of the team had their chance to shine here, and this exploration allowed continued success for each of the main heroes. Of course, focus shifted as Bats and Supes proved to grow in popularity, but the impact of this team rings true even today. It’s a shame we won’t see Martian Manhunter on the big screen — at least not yet.
Here we are, the best of the best. Oddly enough, we once ranked the original (shortened) JLA team as the best Justice League squad ever, and here we’re happy to call it the best option for a live-action adaptation, one that sails beyond what we’re getting in November. This JLA team consisted of Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman, of course, but also Martian Manhunter, Wally West’s The Flash, a hook-handed, long-haired Aquaman and Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern.
The team was well-rounded and were the perfect foundation to expand from, so when characters like Green Arrow, Steel and Plastic Man jumped in later under Grant Morrison, not a piece seemed out of place. We see shadows of this Aquaman in Momoa’s depiction and the fun wit of Wally West in Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen. Let’s just hope that all proves true when Justice League hits theaters in November.
Did we miss any of your favorite rosters? Let us know in the comments below.
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