The Justice League is a long time staple of DC comics. In terms of superhero teams, they are one of the best. With such iconic characters at the helm of their franchises, the partnership is iconic in its use of heroes and favorite villains as well. We’re going to break down each member of the Justice League, how they got their powers, and the origins behind the name of the group. To start, we begin with a mighty leader in the group.
How did the Justice League Get Their Powers?
We’re going to base our discussion on the original lineup. The Justice League first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #28 (March 1960) as the Justice League of America. Where else would we start other than with the most mighty Justice League member?
Superman and the Justice League
Superman is born on an alien planet full of power struggles between mighty families. His parents, Jor-el and Lara, send him away to Earth in a spaceship as a baby when Krypton is set to explode. All people from his planet die, and he is the remaining survivor. He is adopted by the Kent family on Earth, and as he grows up, he discovers a slew of superpowers he has.
The main superpower Superman has is strength. He is superhuman in terms of strength, lifting cars with ease. Likewise, he can break steel easily and shift the orbits of planets. He also crushes coal in his hands to make diamonds. He is durable to all things on Earth, only finding a weakness to kryptonite. Superman is said to be too strong even for clothes, which is why his costume is made out of exotic materials. Superman can fly as well, at speeds exceeding the sound barrier. He is known to fly to save people in an instant. LIkewise, he has x-rays in his eyes. This allows him to project beams as a weapon, as well as melt things that stand in his way. His powers came to him at birth, as a prophecy foretold on Krypton.
Batman is the opposite of Superman, in terms of powers. Superman is born with all of his powers from day one. Batman, on the other hand, is born with and possess no inherent powers. Rather, his powers are all from knowledge and training. When his parents are killed, he begins wanting to solve and fight crimes all over Gotham. He is incredibly wealthy, which means he has access to technologies that only the military could dream of. His detective skills are unmatched as well, as he knows how to find the guilty parties at hand. He is described as a genius, and his training makes him a skilled fighter. In fact, he is one of the greatest martial artists in all of the DC Universe.
Batman is also well conditioned, which allows him to take on many foes at once. Superman has called him both the most dangerous man on Earth, as well as the smartest. His discipline allows him to function under pain and resistance. He is multilingual, and great at working as a spy. His feats make him superhuman, but none are from inherent superpowers. Our next Justice League member, however, is superhuman from birth just like Superman.
We first see Diana Prince in All Star Comics #8. Diana is a member of the Amazon tribe. The Amazons live on Paradise Island, a protected island in the middle of the ocean. Nobody is meant to find the island ever, until Steve Trevor, a WWI pilot , crashes into the waters. Because of her want to help, she competes to see who on the island will return Steve to the Man’s World. She wins, and takes him back to his home. Her abilities get her this honor, as she is incredibly skilled at nearly everything. Between being a fighter, athlete, strategist, and smart hero, she is the total threat for all villains.
She’s semi-immortal, and nearly invulnerable to all damage. She has superhuman strength, speed, and healing. This allows her to take damage and rebound from any attack. She also has bracelets that she uses to stop bullets. She also has a golden lasso with which she can strike enemies. Batman goes so far to call her the best melee fighter in the world. She trains so much as a young girl that, from childhood, she is a warrior. Thanks to the training from Ares, the God of War, she is up for any fight.
Barry Allen is a chemist who works for the police. He works as a forensic chemist, but always chooses his job over personal life. He runs late, works slowly, and falls behind all the time due to work. His fiancee grows incredibly tired of his absent mindedness, and asks him to stop working so much. One night, while working late, a lightning bolt strikes a case of chemicals that spill all over Barry. He can now suddenly run extremely fast and has lightning quick reflexes. Because of his love for fighting crime, he does it full time. He is Central City’s crimefighter now, and takes on all the responsibility.
A few of his powers come from tech built by Ira West. One of which is a ring that helps him in a jiffy. If he is in civilian clothes, he can use the ring to spring his costume on. If he needs to go back to civilian clothing, he can use the ring to take it back as well. Barry Allen also invents the cosmic treadmill. This allows him to travel through time, and is used in many stories. He truly just wants to do what is right and fight the bad guys. Batman even goes so far to say he wishes he was like Barry. Unfortunately, Barry is very optimistic and often finds himself in trouble for it.
His iconic red suit with a lightning bolt is a favorite among DC heroes.
Hal Jordan is a fighter pilot who works for an intergalactic police force. Known as the Green Lantern Corps, he fights evil using a powerful ring. His ring allows him become somewhat invulnerable, project hard light constructions, and fly. He can basically make any power with the ring he can think of. His willpower is especially strong as well. Unfortunately, that power can turn dark as well. Hal spends some time as a villain known as Parallax, but in most storylines is good and works as Green Lantern. His powers and knowledge of space allow him to fight crime all over the universe.
He is a protector of Sector 2814, which is the area of space that Earth exists in. Despite space threats like vacuums and black holes, Green Lantern can still travel through them. He dons a secret identity on Earth to stay nearby so he can fight crime. On Earth, he dives into some crime fighting, but galactic threats are his specialty. His inherent talent for taking on anything that comes his way makes him a great help to the Justice League.
Aquaman’s father was an underwater explorer. When his mother died, his father turned to exploring the ocean. This involved looking into secrets that were seen as untouchable. Under the sea, he finds an ancient city much like Atlantis. He made himself a home, and then went on to raise his son there. Aquaman thrives under water. He can breathe underwater, control fish and other creatures for up to 60 seconds, and runs the ocean. Aquaman can speak to fish telepathically, in what he calls their own language. He has gone all around the world using the water to help his efforts.
During WWII, he helped the Allies fight the Axis villains. He also has to deal with sea based criminals, including pirates and a ton of aquatic life that have poor desires. He often quarrels with sailors as well, who use the ocean improperly. While not standing as a strict environmental reminder, he does embody care for the ocean and seas.
Victor Stone is a test subject to a ton of experiments done by his parents. The treatments make him a genius, but he also becomes a bit of a technological monster. He is controlled heavily by his parents, whom he later turns against. He does not wish to be a test subject, and wants free will. As he starts off his own life, he dives into some crime and trouble with the law. He sees that evil is all around, and eventually, an inter-dimensional accident kills his mother. This leads his father to take Victor once more and give him artificial limbs and implants to fight the monsters that killed his mom.
His limbs are weapons, used to attack any and every threat to him. His limbs give him superhuman strength, speed, and other abilities. Cyborg’s body is made of a metallic substance that is very durable. He also has an electronic eye that utilizes a computer system. This gives him good intel abilities. He also can use a ton of tools with his limbs, like grappling hooks and lasers. Lastly, his most popular weapon is a sonic cannon that stuns foes with blasts of sound that can shake the Earth itself.
How did the Justice League Form?
The Justice League is meant to showcase the best DC heroes around. Because of their influence, Marvel began using the idea of teams in comics as well. In Brave and the Bold #28 (1960), the original Justice League is seen as already operating, as if they had been around forever. We see in their origin later down the line how they came to be.
When the Appellaxians came to Earth to destroy mankind, the solo heroes all began battling separately. As they fight off the threat to Earth, they see they all worked well together in taking on a large threat. They decide to form a group together. At the time, they call themselves the Justice League of America. This is later changed, of course, but at the time was very popular. It was meant to mirror the Major League Baseball and the constant naming of things as American.
Who Leads the Justice League?
There are a lot of people who see either Superman or Batman as the leader of the Justice League. In many storylines, they are the ones taking the helm. Early on, however, they were sent to the background so other heroes could shine. In the first run of the Justice League, Batman and Superman are seen as secondary characters. Later on, they would take more leadership based roles.
There are few superhero collectives that rival the Justice League. In fact, memorable groups like the Fantastic Four and Avengers only came from the Justice League’s model. While the Justice League movie may have fallen short, the comics live on as amazing storylines. Don’t let the Marvel films trick you into thinking DC does not make in impact, even today. The Justice League and its younger collective, the Teen Titans, are still as popular as ever. With a hit show and a movie that was released last year, Teen Titans is the latest way that the Justice League is being utilized.
In terms of film use, the Justice League members are still going strong. Wonder Woman 1984 is coming next year. Also, a new Batman trilogy starring Robert Pattionson is looming. Could we see a new Justice League movie in the future? Maybe so. For now, the comic iterations of the Justice League live on. Now that you know their origins, go out and read some of the great runs these memorable characters have.
Taylor loves to play video games in his spare time. He has two degrees in Political Communication and wrote his thesis on Marxism and the exploitation of college athletes. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his wife and two Toy Australian Shepherds. He’s always got headphones in, and he’s a diehard Cubs fan.