Justice League (Season 1, Ep 3): Secret Origins Part 3

Hi! Welcome to my episode-by-episode recap of, and reaction to Justice League. There will be no spoilers beyond the current episode. As is my custom with recaps, I will give you a short summary recap followed by a long and unnecessarily helpfully detailed version. My reaction will follow at the end if you just want to scroll past all of the recap.

If you want to see my prior Justice League recaps, click HERE:

THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:

The remaining heroes gather to rescue Superman and Hawkgirl. As they do so, the invading aliens’ leader – the Imperium – arrives on earth. Initially, the attempt at the rescue fails and everyone is captured. However, J’onn J’onzz has secretly ben shielding Batman’s presence while everyone believes him to be dead. Batman arrives just in time to start the counter-attack.

Batman lets everyone know that he reversed the ionization on the alien-tech earth darkening machine’s crystal and as a result the machines are bringing back sunlight. Batman explains that the invaders are vulnerable to sunlight. The heroes burn the invaders using sunlight until most of them are destroyed. The Imperium flees into deep space on a space ship. As the episode ends, Superman gathers all of the new heroes on a giant satellite built by Batman in order to form the Justice League – just in case they face any other invasions in the future.

THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:

[Previously on Justice League… white Martians invade earth, quickly overwhelm the planet, and begin the process of blotting out the sun so that they can live in perpetual darkness. J’onn J’onzz telepathically gathers together Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, and The Flash to combat the threat. However, Superman, Hawkgirl, and Batman are already captured after splitting up into teams and attempting to destroy the white martin machines that are darkening the planet.]

Snapper Carr reports that the government is reporting another object is approaching earth from space. It is said to be five times larger than the size of the first landers.

Wonder Woman, J’onn J’onzz, Green Lantern, and The Flash gather. Wonder Woman tells Lantern and Flash that Superman and Hawkgirl have been captured. Lantern asks about Batman and J’onzz reports that he acted heroically until the very end. Lantern and the Flash scout the place where Superman and Hawkgirl are being held. J’onzz confirms that they are alive. However, he notes that they must rescue their friends quickly because The Imperium is coming.

The Flash: The who?
J’onn: The supreme intelligence that controls these invaders.

Lantern tells Flash to create a division while Diana watches his back. She quips that he wants to rely on an amateur but he ignores her and gives the command to move. Flash gets the attention of one of the gigantic tripod white martian machines with the laser eye. He gets the machine to follow him. It is unable to catch up with him or hit him with a laser. Through quick movement, he eventually gets the machine to accidentally destroy one of its three legs. It topples over. Flash joins the other three as they enter the facility where Superman and Hawkgirl are being held.

J’onn J’onzz shape shifts to look like a humanoid white martian soldier. He finds two actual white martian humanoids and speaks with them. When they realize he is not one of them, he phases his hands through their bodies and they collapse to the ground as if dead.

Flash: [re: J’onn J’onzz] Is is just me or does he creep you out, too?

The four find the wall behind which Superman is being held but they cannot get to him. Wonder Woman cannot break through the wall with her strength. Lantern attempts to cut through the wall with his ring. J’onn says that they have to hurry because they do not have much time left.

Outside, the earth shakes, windows break, and rubble falls as the Imperium approaches the planet. Inside, Lantern finally cuts through the rock wall and they find Superman and Hawkgirl suspended upside down. As they approach to free their friends, J’onn says suddenly that something is not right. Superman and Hawkgirl open their eyes – revealing that they are red. Lantern shouts that it is a trap. Gas fills the room and the four heroes drop to the ground. Superman and Hawkgirl shapeshift back to their natural white martian form.

Everyone is now awake – including the real Superman and Hawkgirl – but they are all trapped. One of the white martians guarding them shapeshifts into Senator Carter.

Superman: Senator Carter…
White Martian: Unfortunately, the real Carter never returned from Mars.

Superman points out that they used him to weaken earth’s defenses and the martian points out that Superman was eager to help. The Man of Steel says that it’s not over yet and the martian replies that Superman is wrong again. Jut then a ship enters the room where they are gathered. Carter turns and bows before it.

Carter: All hail the Imperium.

An enttity that looks like a cross between a floating jellyfish and a tick speaks to J’onn J’onzz and says that it’s been a long time. It pulls him forward through the air and begins electrocuting J’onn. The Green Martian reverts to his natural Martian form – elongated head with no clothes or cape. J’onn says he will never bow to the Imperium. As a consequence for this statement, it sticks its tentacles inside J’onn’s skin. The Green Martian convulses in pain as we watch a tentacle poke slowly into his brain.

The Imperium says that it senses J’onn is hiding something and asks if this is another of his Martian tricks. J’onn replies by asking if he senses fear. The Imperium presses harder to pull the secret from him. Suddenly J’onn yells “now!” and Batman throws an exploding Batarang at the Imperium. J’onn explains that he mentally shielded him so that he could not be detected. Batman also throws something else and an alarmed “Senator Carter” asks him what he has done.

Batman: Reversed the ion charge.
Imperium: The crystal. Destroy it.

The White Martians are unable to get to the crystal operating their world-darkening machine. As a result, their machine, with the ion charge now reversed, begins un-darkening the world. Sunlight breaks through and shines onto the white martian machine, burning them. J’onn J’onn grabs one of the tentacles of the Imperium and forcibly drags it into the sunlight as it tries to flee.

J’onn: Does it burn your pale putrid skin?

The Flash notes that this will be one nasty sunburn. Batman begins cutting the other heroes loose. He says that the White Martians have no resistance to the sun’s radiation. Wonder Woman replies that Batman found their weakness after all. A large battle ensues with the heroes gaining the upperhand, punching holes in the machine to attack the invaders with sunlight. J’onn J’onzz maintains his grip on the Imperium, holding it in the sunlight as it slowly retracts its tentacle away from his brain.

The Imperium flees into its ship and away from the sunlight. Wonder Woman lassos its space ship and uses her immense strength to prevent it from leaving earth. The ship blasts her with a laser. She drops the lasso and it begins to fly away. Hawkgirl flies up to meet the ship and attack it with her mace. This gives Wonder Woman an opportunity to also fly up and grab her lasso again. As Hawkgirl uses her mace to break sunlight exposes holes in the ship. Wonder Woman forces the ship back toward the ground. Hawgirl finally breaks a large hole into the ship causing the Imperium to shriek in pain. Wonder Woman pulls the ship hard to the ground where it crashes into the earth-darkening machine.

Superman, The Flash, and the others evacuate other human prisoners which have been held inside the machine, too. Hawkgirl announces that the entire place is going to blow. Green Lantern gathers everyone who has not yet escaped and puts a ring-produced shield around them. He then flies the freed captives, inside their shield, out of the machine as it begins to explode. A large white martian ship escapes as their machines topple and sunlight returns to the earth.

Snapper Carr subsequently reports that Superman and a team of other heroes have been driving out all of the White Martians that remain on the planet, restoring order all over the world. A military general says that earth was lucky this time, but then he asks what humanity will do if the invaders ever return. Batman listens to that question and appears thoughtful.

Sometime later, a large space satellite is in earth’s orbit. Superman is on board.

Superman: Incredible. Do your stock holders know about this, Bruce?
Batman: A line item hidden in the aerospace R&D budget. This Watchtower will act as an early warning system for detecting other threats of invasions from space.
The Flash: And it also has a fully stocked kitchen.

Green Lantern and Hawkgirl join Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash. Lantern notes that this is a most impressive installation. He asks what it has to do with them. Superman says that he once thought he could protect the planet by himself. He says he was wrong. He notes, though, that working together as a team they can serve the ideals of peace and justice.

The Flash: What? Like a bunch of Super Friends?
Superman: More like a Justice League.

All of the heroes present except Batman say that they are in. Superman asks Batman if he will join, too.

Batman: I’m not really a people person. But if you need help – and you will – call me.

Superman says that he understands. He is about to say that the rest of them are agreed when Wonder Woman notes that J’onn is not there. Superman finds J’onn elsewhere on the ship and asks if he is alright. J’onn points out that he is the last of his people. Superman says that he knows the feeling. He then tells the Green Martian that they cannot replace the family he lost but says they would be honored if he calls earth his new home.

J’onn joins the other superheroes as the camera pans to The Watchtower floating in space.

roll credits

REACTION:

The unstoppable alien invaders are defeated by… sunlight. That feels a little bit too easy and too convenient a twist for stopping an alien invasion, no?

Swing away.

The explanation does not really even make sense. Deep space is home to more UV radiation than earth because earth’s atmosphere blocks most of it from getting to the planet’s surface. The idea that they have not been exposed to UV radiation in space… doesn’t work. I’ll just assume Bats over-simplified the explanation.

I will give the story some credit, though. Most of the White Martian activity throughout Parts 1 and 2 was done at night. Then they got the earth darkening machines up and running. But how did Senator Carter avoid sunlight for two years? I’ll assume that he did so… carefully.

Note: I am calling them White Martians here… but it’s not clear to me that these are the same White Martians from other sources – though their place in J’onn’s personal history appears to be the same.

I enjoyed the twist that J’onn was keeping secret Batman’s whereabouts the entire time though the story also avoids telling us how Batman survived the end of Part 2. “Oh… because he’s Batman? Okay.”

Speaking of “because he’s Batman” issues: Batman hides funding for the 12-figure Watchtower from his stockholders? Uh, okay. But how did the Watchtower get built? Did Supes do all the work at super speed? Otherwise, there would be thousands of people who know that Bruce Wayne’s company built the Watchtower, right?

In addition: Do we know how Batman figured out how to reverse the ionization of the crystal? “Because he’s Batman again? Oh. Right.”

I do like that Bruce had the Watchtower built, knowing the purpose to which it would be put, and that he does not want to actually join the group that uses it.

Anyway. We have a Justice League – however clunky the storytelling was to get us here.

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