From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Better Left Unseen: Justice League of America

With all of the weak pilots that make it to series on television *cough*BionicWoman*cough* have you ever wondered about the shows that didn’t make it?

Now that Time Warner/DC are trying to revitalize their comic book properties into successful film franchises, with talk of Batman vs. Superman and an ever-changing Justice League movie in various stages of development hell, I’m sure they would prefer if everyone forgot about their ill-fated 1997 pilot for Justice League of America. But like George Lucas and his legendary Star Wars Holiday Special, it’s hard to bury something this bad for long–the stink leads people right to it.

The live action JLA pilot featured an odd core group of heroes: Green Lantern (circa Guy Gardner), Ice, The Atom, Fire, and The Flash (circa Barry Allen). Everything about this show was poorly executed, from the laughable special effects (bad even by the low standards of the late 90s) to the ridiculous costumes; particularly irksome was The Flash’s costume, a gaudy spandex affair which had been done flawlessly six years before in the short-lived CBS series starring Dawson’s dad, John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen. The plot was not even worthy of a comic, and the dialogue and acting are a throwback to the 70s era of the Superfriends and their live-action counterpart, Legends of the Superheroes, which at least had Adam West and Burt Ward along to tell you not to take it too seriously.

It’s sad that the best live action adaptation of the Justice League so far has been in a fledgling form on the WB’s Smallville. Don’t believe me? Check out this pilot for yourself. You probably won’t need to watch much past the credits.

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