Justice League: Mortal - What Really Happened?

4. A Crisis Of Infinite Possibilities...

Warner Bros./Matt Hatton

Whereas 2017's Justice League movie elected to tell a story centred around Jack Kirby's Fourth World with the coming of Steppenwolf (Darkseid's uncle from the comics), Mortal decided instead to tell one that hit much closer to home, inspired by two key comic book stories - The Tower of Babel, penned by Mark Waid, and Infinite Crisis, written by Geoff Johns.

The former story, published in 2001, saw Batman's countermeasures against the League exposed by Ra's al Ghul, who then uses the Dark Knight's strategies to immobilise all of the team's members. It's the definitive book about Batman's relationship with the Justice League, and given the direction Miller wished to take Hammer's Batman in, it makes sense as to why it informed Mortal as much as it did.

The latter story, Infinite Crisis, released during Mortal's production, but its characterisation of Maxwell Lord still managed to influence the film heavily. That book saw Wonder Woman kill Lord after he murdered the original Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, and infected dozens of people with a nano-virus that turned them into superhero-hunting weapons.

Of course, Mortal itself wasn't just a beat for beat adaptation of these texts. For starters, it actually opens with the funeral of a League member, before flashing backwards two days in order to introduce each member of the League individually. Bruce Wayne is monitoring the world through Brother Eye, before he attends a party with Maxwell Lord and Talia al Ghul. From that point forward, it becomes clear that someone is targeting DC's heroes and that they know all about their respective weaknesses, which eventually leads to the formation of the League itself.

Justice League Mortal Wonder Woman Car
Warner Bros.

From that point forward, things get wild. The team discovers that Lord is behind the attacks, but he manages to take control of Superman before they can stop him. Supes then goes on a one-man warpath against his fellow teammates, resulting in a confrontation between himself and Wonder Woman that sees them fighting everywhere, from the moon, to the depths of the Hudson river. It's genuinely epic stuff, and each member is given enough time to shine in their own way, with plenty of purposeful action sequences permeating the third act.

There were some... unconventional, shall we say, creative decisions too, however. Instead of Wonder Woman being the one to kill Maxwell Lord as she did in the comics, that honour goes to Batman. Lord survives, of course, but Mortal falls into the pitfall of the Dark Knight breaking his one rule and it's a little disappointing, to say the least. The climax then sees Barry Allen sacrifice himself to destroy Lord's army of OMACs, seeding Wally West's eventual journey to becoming a member of the League, before the team reunify to fight Starro, who, as we all know, was their very first adversary in the comics.

It's... messy, in parts, but the script isn't without charm. There's actual method behind the madness, and with Miller at the helm, one can only imagine just how it would've shaped up in live action.

Comics Editor
Comics Editor

WhatCulture's very own Comics Editor. Cats, comic books and spaghetti westerns are my thing. Rants about stuff @EwanRuinsThings