Team-ups are the bread and butter of the superhero genre. There’s just something about seeing a group of heroes join forces for the greater good. And so far, the Justice League marketing team has been killing it with its unity themed slogans and powerful team shots. It almost makes you forget how totally weak the DCEU version of the Justice League really is right now. This is not to diminish the team's individual strengths, but at the same time, all these characters are at the very early stages of their superhero careers. What that means is that the DCEU Justice League is young and inexperienced; just discovering the extent of their powers!
Between navigating their personal issues and trying to work together, the DCEU team has a long way to go before they become the World’s Finest that we know and love. In their current iteration, there are several alternate versions of the Justice League who could kick their butts across the Multiverse thanks to more extensive experience and superior skill sets. It almost feels unfair to pit the DCEU’s ragtag bunch of amateurs against their more powerful counterparts… but we’re gonna do it anyway!
15 JUSTICE LEAGUE 3000
To give the DCEU team a fair shot, let's start with another group of first-time crime fighters created by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis in 2013. In the distant future, the age of heroes has long come and gone. But an intergalactic threat against humanity inspires Project Cadmus to clone Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern from preserved DNA samples of the original superheroes.
As a new team, this clone version of the Justice League is a hot mess. They have no memories of their original lives, they aren’t disciplined, and they don’t have all their powers. But what makes them an actual threat to the DCEU is their longevity. The Cadmus cloning process bonds each original superhero’s genetic code to “volunteers,” overwriting the host’s identity. So even if a clone dies, Cadmus can just recreate an army of superheroes again and again.
14 JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED
No, we're not talking about the Justice League from DC’s animated universe. Justice League Unlimited is the official name of another future team, first introduced in the Batman Beyond animated series in 2000. Where the Justice League 3000 lacks experience, the JLU has it in spades: Superman leads this new team with Wonder Woman, Big Barda and Static Shock. Together, they train next generation heroes like Aquagirl and Warhawk (the offspring of their former teammates), the new Green Lantern Kai-Ro, Micron and Terry McGinnis as Bruce Wayne’s successor.
Throughout the DCAU and within their eventual comic run, the JLU deal with cosmic entities, shapeshifting mercenaries, and brilliant robotics experts -- the usual rogues gallery in any superhero comic, really. But with veteran heroes serving as mentors, the young JLU is a pretty impressive force. The DCEU may have raw power, but the JLU has the direction to make that power truly unstoppable.
13 JOKER LEAGUE OF ANARCHY
Batman’s villains are usually more nuisances than viable threats since they let their egos get in the way of effective teamwork. But when the Joker gains the power to reshape reality in Superman: Emperor Joker by DeMatteis and Mike S. Miller, he creates an effective and villainous version of the Justice League. His team of evil allies includes Bizarro, Poison Ivy, Bounty, Ignition, Scorch, Skism and Gilly.
Even if you’re not impressed by this roster, the Joker League has an undeniable advantage thanks to their leader’s reality-warping powers. In the 2007 storyline, Superman is a criminal being held in Arkham Asylum, Aquaman cannot access his powers since he can’t go in the water, and Batman is trapped in a Prometheus-inspired nightmare where he is brutally murdered every night and brought back to life the next day. Now, consider how much fun this Joker could have in the DCEU…
12 JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
Another Giffen and DeMatteis team that could do some damage is the Justice League International. This team was created in 1987 after Crisis on Infinite Earths. DC wanted a new JL book, but most of the founding members were unavailable at the time. So, Giffen and DeMatteis thrust several unknown superheroes into the spotlight instead. With Batman as their leader, the team included Black Canary, Martian Manhunter, Guy Gardner, Doctor Light, Doctor Fate and Mister Miracle.
The JLI only became a more powerful team as the roster expanded in the early ‘90s. After Blackest Night, DC relaunched the JLI with Giffen and Judd Winick. The original roster was joined by Wonder Woman, Power Girl, Captain Atom, Booster Gold and Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle. Batman would probably default to his DCEU colleagues should a superpowered showdown ever occur, but the JLI has the power advantage by a longshot.
11 INJUSTICE LEAGUE
To make the Justice League International a team with its own unique storylines and interesting rogues gallery, Giffen and DeMatteis first introduced the Injustice League in 1989. They were a wacky bunch of incompetent criminals like Cluemaster, the Mighty Bruce and Major Disaster.
However, Geoff Johns and Dick Giordano retroactively made the 1989 Injustice League the second version of the team, and premiered the first version of the team in the 2000 solo issue Silver Age: Showcase. The Silver Age team includes serious threats like Lex Luthor, Black Manta, Bizarro, the Joker and Agamemno. They manage to switch minds with the Justice League during their run, which allows the villains to learn all their secrets and take temporary control of their bodies. The Injustice League may not outmatch the DCEU in power, but their intimate knowledge of their enemies would help them in any fight.
10 EXTREME JUSTICE
When the Justice League International book was cancelled, its immediate replacement embraced the Dark Age comic trends of the ‘90s and took an -- ahem -- extreme take on vigilantism. Extreme Justice was a short-lived alternate Justice League featuring Captain Atom, Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Maxima and Firestorm, among other heroes.
In the spirit of senseless grittiness, Extreme Justice was a proactive strike team deployed to prevent international incidents like government coups. Their typical form of superheroics includes invading developing countries and destroying their factories, which they accomplish with frightening ease. Their harsh take on retributive justice eventually forces the U.N. to step in and dissolve the team, but not before they solidified their reputation as a highly effective, morally grey version of the Justice League willing to do anything to get the job done. They are definitely a force only the foolish try to reckon with.
9 THE AUTHORITY
This choice was a bit tricky. The Authority was created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch under DC’s WildStorm imprint back in 1999. This team is the successor of Stormwatch, the superhero team originally created by Jim Lee in 1993, which Ellis took over in 1996.
The problem of choosing between these two teams is that both are very similar and crazy awesome. Stormwatch was a black-ops organization that boasted carbon copy versions of the Justice League like Apollo, Midnighter and Impetus, as well as Jenny Quantum, Jack Hawksmoor, the Engineer and Martian Manhunter. All but Martian Manhunter moved onto the Authority about a year later, with the team adding the Doctor, Swift and Jenny Sparks to its lineup. Either team could curb-stomp the DCEU Justice League without question, but the Authority’s roster has just a bit more godlike power on their side and a fiercer ruthlessness to match.
8 JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS
While significantly smaller in terms of membership, this Justice League is one of the most surprisingly powerful versions for the DCEU Justice League to face. In 2015, the DCAU debuted Gods and Monsters, a film where the Justice League is run by General Zod’s son, a vampiric Batman, and an alien goddess named Bekka as Wonder Woman.
Their biggest case involves the violent murders of prominent scientists around the world, which the US government is blaming on them. The blame is plausible because in this universe, the Justice League are prominent murderers. In several prequel videos, it is revealed that Batman killed Harley Quinn, Superman killed Brainiac, and Wonder Woman kills… well, everything that stands in her way. Supernatural entities have never really been the comics Justice League’s forte, so one can only imagine how poorly the DCEU Justice League will handle their more bloodthirsty counterparts.
7 JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
It’s one thing to be strange supernatural entities, like the Gods and Monsters Justice League. It’s another thing to fight against those supernatural entities. And it’s even better when you are a supernatural entity fighting against supernatural forces. At least that’s what the Justice League realized when the Enchantress beat them in battle. They needed an alternative version of the team who could use their mystical skills and firsthand understanding of the occult to handle supernatural threats. Enter Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin’s Justice League Dark in 2011.
John Constantine, Zatanna and Deadman are the most recognizable representatives of the team, but other rotating teammates include Madame Xanadu, Frankenstein, Swamp Thing and Shade the Changing Man. This ever-expanding band of monsters, magic users, and reanimated creatures are considered too creepy and uniquely gifted to mess with. Even the DCU Justice League are wary of them, and that’s saying something.
6 ONE EARTH REGIME
Evil Superman stories are nothing new, but the Superman birthed in the Injustice: Gods Among Us franchise is one of the most memorable. Injustice began as a 2013 NetherRealm Studios video game in which, after Joker kills Lois Lane and destroys Metropolis, Superman becomes a dictator to ensure global peace. The Justice League in this universe splinters into two factions, with Superman creating the One Earth Regime with Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Damian Wayne, Bane, Sinestro and Doomsday.
While the video game takes a sweeping approach to this storyline, the tie-in comics by Tom Taylor and Brian Buccellato delve further into the gruesome governance tactics of the One Earth Regime. In taking over the world, they engage in mind control, manipulation and the murders of Nightwing, Huntress and Batwoman. This team easily ruled and nearly destroyed their world, so a no-holds-barred match between with the DCEU Justice League would be catastrophic.
5 THE INSURGENCY
The other fractioned form of the Justice League that stood against Superman proved to be the more indomitable force in the Injustice universe. Batman utilized the help of Harley Quinn, Black Canary, Supergirl, Doctor Fate, Green Arrow and eventually Lex Luthor to stop Superman’s reign of terror.
Batman’s Insurgency was a stronger opponent thanks to its brutal efficiency and strategic prowess. Throughout the story, they manage to cripple the One Earth Regime while taking heavy casualties from Superman’s significantly more superpowered forces. A vengeful Batman even concocts an incredibly elaborate scheme to turn the tides of their war that involves calling out into the Multiverse for assistance. The Insurgency is ruled by a mix of desperation and cunning that helps them take down gods and monsters alike. So, if push came to shove, the DCEU Justice League would be a breeze for them to handle.
4 KINGDOM COME
The 1996 miniseries Kingdom Come by Alex Ross and Mark Waid deals with another future version of the Justice League who are grappling with the needs of their world. The DCEU Justice League definitely can’t handle alternate versions of themselves with more experience, and Kingdom Come is particularly vicious in its approach. Their viciousness is only compounded by the fact that they never intended to fall so far from grace in the first place.
In this universe, the Justice League have retired in their old age. However, the next generation of heroes is reckless with their powers, causing such devastation that the Justice League comes out of retirement. Superman and Batman once again feud when it’s clear their methods for justice no longer mesh, and the older heroes divide between them. Superman’s version is notable again as his team traps rogue heroes and supervillains in a giant super prison.
3 CRIME SYNDICATE OF AMERICA
The Crime Syndicate has existed in the DCU since 1964, when they were created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky as dark reflections of the Justice League from Earth-3. This world was destroyed following Crisis on Infinite Earths, but Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly pulled the team back into comic relevance in their collaborative work on JLA: Earth 2 in 2000.
Now, the 1964 Crime Syndicate was pretty bad to begin with. This twisted team of Ultraman, Owlman, Super Woman, Power Ring and Johnny Quick established a vast criminal empire on Earth-3. While their actions were never ambiguously nefarious before, by 2000 the Crime Syndicate collectively graduated to chaos and murder for fun. If you consider the Crime Syndicate as a successful version of whatever Dawn of Justice was trying to achieve with Alexander Luthor’s idiosyncratic villainy, think of what an amazing enemy they would be in the DCEU.
2 JUSTICE LORDS
When it comes to powerful and darker Justice Leagues, the DCAU comes out on top with the Justice Lords. This team premiered in the 2013 two-part episode “A Better World,” where President Lex Luthor kills the Flash. Superman kills Luthor in retaliation, and together with Batman, Wonder Woman, J'onn J'onzz, Green Lantern and Hawkgirl, tries to mold the world based on their own design.
Of course, their methodology leaves a lot to be desired. The team is fine with murder, but they prefer lobotomies and torture to keep their world in line. The Justice League is able to defeat the Justice Lord only thanks to the heel-face turn of Lord Batman and the conditional goodwill of their Luthor. But this evil team continues to lurk on the edge of canon, most recently seen terrorizing the JLU. Could the DCEU take on a foe of this magnitude? It doesn’t seem likely.
1 DCAU JUSTICE LEAGUE
This really shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Bruce Timm’s animated interpretation is arguably the best version of the team in DC canon. Its founding lineup isn’t dissimilar to other Justice Leagues on this list, featuring Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Hawkgirl, the Flash, Green Lantern and J’onn J’onzz. However, the team underwent the most beneficial expansion of any other listed Justice League in the 2004 series Justice League Unlimited.
They became a mix of heavy-hitters and minor heroes, from Aquaman, Zatanna and Green Arrow to the Elongated Man, Red Tornado and STRIPE. An expansive cast allows this team to battle against a wide variety of foes, and they are just better capable of working together as a unit. This isn’t to say that the DCEU Justice League won’t achieve this kind of power eventually. It’s just that for now, the DCAU is out of their league in every possible way.
What alternate Justice Leagues do you think are powerful enough to take on the DCEU? Let us know in the comments!