There's only one roster that makes sense for the next Justice League movie

Justice League International in comics
(Image credit: DC)

It's going to happen eventually. We all know it is.

With DC Films cultivating a new cinematic superhero universe which will pick up where The Flash's rewriting of current DC movie continuity leaves off, including a new Superman and Batman, at some point there's going to be a new cinematic Justice League.

And we're gonna guess - no shade intended - that whatever that looks like, it won't be much like Zack Snyder's massive, mythic version of the team. 

If only to make a clean break from Snyder's extremely distinctive (and occasionally polarizing) take on the Justice League, James Gunn and Peter Safran's DC Films version will likely be a total departure from what's come before.

And with Gunn's openness about taking inspiration directly from comic books for the movies and shows DC Films is developing, there's a classic comic version of the Justice League that could provide the perfect inspiration for a new Justice League movie. 

No, not Grant Morrison's vaunted 'pantheon' League. Though Newsarama does rate that version of the team as one of the best Justice League line-ups of all time, it might hew a little too close to the version of the team that's already been seen in the movies.

I'm talking about the Justice League International era.


(Image credit: DC)

If you're a comic fan of a certain age, just reading that onomatopoeia either made your eyes light up, or fade into a thousand league stare (pun intended, naturally).

If you groaned, I'll have to quote Jonathan Frakes and say, "I'm sorry, you're wrong."

If you "Bwahaha'd" along with me, congratulations on having outstanding taste, and may you be blessed with good fortune.

For those not in the know, the Justice League International era redefined and refocused the League in the late '80s following a string of disappointing rosters as well as the impact of 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths event, which rebooted DC continuity and started the entire universe over again - kinda like the 2011 story Flashpoint did decades later.

Created by writer JM Dematteis, co-writer and art plotter Keith Giffen, and artist Kevin Maguire, the '80s Justice League initially consisted mostly of newcomers like Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, and the femme fatale/girl next door duo Fire & Ice anchored around veteran heroes Batman and Martian Manhunter. 

At the start, the JLI team was essentially the Bad News Bears of Justice Leagues, with Batman and Martian Manhunter trying to rebuild the League from the ground up with their new recruits.

The team quickly expanded to include a second squad operating in Europe, which included mainstays such as the Flash Wally West, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and Wonder Woman. Then, when the team reorganized into a revived Justice League of America a few years later, many of the group's mainstays remained on the team, with Superman joining on as the leader and anchor of the roster.

Even after the JLI era came to its close, this line-up of the team has remained a cult favorite, recently appearing as the supporting cast in Tom King and Greg Smallwood's critically acclaimed Human Target limited series.

(Image credit: DC)

Now, with DC Films about to pull the same trick in rebooting its movie universe - in a film directly inspired by Flashpoint, no less - the jovial, larger-than-life Justice League International might just be the perfect team to turn to when it's time to find an inspiration for the new cinematic League.

More a gang of misfits finding family and purpose together than an epic collection of the world's greatest superheroes, the Justice League International was a turning point not just for the League itself, but for what the tone of a superhero team could feel like.

Everybody knows the MCU's Avengers as a quirky, jokey, almost familial team full of people who manage to stay somehow down to Earth despite also being larger-than-life heroes - quick with a quip, and often as liable to get caught up in Mjolnir-lifting contests as much as fighting supervillains.

But that super-team archetype, of heroes with feet of clay and mouths full of jokes taking on incredible cosmic enemies, didn't start with the Avengers - it didn't even start with Marvel Comics

The Fantastic Four may have birthed the concept of a team as a family, and the X-Men may have perfected the concept of superheroes as a soap opera, it's the Justice League International era that wrapped it all up in a laugh-a-minute, personality driven package.

(Image credit: DC)

Speaking of James Gunn, he just wrapped up one of Marvel's most well-received movie trilogies in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which so far seems to have stuck the landing with both fans and critics. And the Guardians franchise was built entirely around the idea of unique personalities coming together to bring out each other's strengths and weaknesses (and best one-liners).

That formula has even successfully followed Gunn into his DC cinematic forays so far, Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, which have the "gang of unlikely heroes trying to rally around the big objective" pacing down to an art.

What's more, between the upcoming Blue Beetle movie and DC Films' early slate of projects, the pieces for a big screen JLI-inspired roster are all coming together - from the new Batman in The Brave and the Bold, to the introduction of the Green Lantern Corps in Lanterns, and even the planned Booster Gold series. 

Just add Fire & Ice - who are about to star in their own Dawn of DC era comic title - and baby, you've got yourself a superhero stew going. What's more, the JLI's initial premise of rebuilding the Leagues could fit right into where the DC Films universe is already heading.

In other words, the Justice League International might just be the perfect inspiration for a new movie Justice League, with a mix of mainstays and newcomers all working to overcome their interpersonal conflicts while taking on big, epic conflicts seeming more or less right up James Gunn's alley.

So how about it, DC Films? Isn't it time we all "Bwahahaha'd" together again?

Maybe DC Films could also take some inspiration from the best Justice League stories of all time.

George Marston

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)