What Could Have Been…#28 | The Justice League Of America

What Could Have Been…#28 | The Justice League Of America

The Justice League team has had a difficult time making the transition from comic book page to live action.

A big-budget Justice League film is due to hit the theatres in November 2017. Starting with Man of Steel released in 2013, Warner Bros. has been creating its own DC cinematic Universe.

This was followed by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which also introduced us to Wonder Woman. She will have her own movie this year and that will culminate with Justice League where they will be joined by Aquaman and Cyborg.

However, bringing the Justice League or just the individuals from that team into the live action realm hasn’t always gone to plan.


To my recollection, there haven’t been many portrayals of Aquaman outside of his comic origins. There was a thirty-six episode animation from the late 1960s but nothing else I’m aware of.

In 2001, American television network, The WB, started to air a series detailing the events of a pre-Superman Clark Kent. Entitled Smallville, the series went on to become a huge success running for ten seasons.

The most popular episode of season five was an episode entitled Aqua. The plot was about Aquaman coming to Smallville to prevent Lex Luthor from developing an underwater weapon.

Whilst working on this particular episode of Smallville, the creators of the show, Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, realised that Aquaman had potential as its own series.

Alan Ritchson who played Aquaman/Arthur Curry in the Smallville episode was never considered for the new series because they didn’t want the show to appear as a spin-off to Smallville. After auditioning actors from all around the world, the role was given to Justin Hartley.

In March 2006, production began on a $7 million pilot episode that was filmed in Florida and Miami. The episode was directed by Greg Beeman.

Despite the positive buzz surrounding the pilot, the network decided not to pick up Aquaman for series.

In an unusual move, when Warner Brothers started to make television shows available for download via iTunes, one of the first shows they provided was the Aquaman pilot. It shot to the number one slot for most downloaded shows that week upon release.

You can still find it on iTunes for just $1.99.

Den of Geek recently gave the pilot a viewing, you can read that via this link.

Here is the show’s opening sequence.

Wonder Woman

One of the actors cast in Aquaman was Adrianne Palicki.  Several years later she would also get the chance to try and prove herself as one of the members of the Justice League. She would become Wonder Woman.

In October 2010, Warner Bros. Television had announced they had joined with David E. Kelley (the creator of many American shows including Chicago Hope, The Practice and Ally McBeal) to create a new version of Wonder Woman. All the major networks turned down the project until NBC announced they had changed their minds and had ordered a pilot episode.

When the first official image was revealed there was a huge fan backlash. The costume was quite simply awful with many labelling it as “trashy” and not looking out of place from a porn spoof of Wonder Woman.

First Promotional Picture Vs Final On Set Costume

Warner Bros made alterations to the costume after hearing the comments from the fans. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.

The pilot was described as,

“a reinvention of the iconic DC Comic in which Wonder Woman, aka Diana Themyscira, is a vigilante crime fighter in L.A., but also a successful corporate executive and a modern woman, trying to balance all of the elements of her extraordinary life.”

After the pilot was shown to NBC, they decided not to pick it up for series.

Soon after, the pilot episode managed to find its way onto the internet. Many a fan can now watch this poor take on such an iconic character. I have included the pilot in full below.

Wonder Woman (2011 TV pilot) by kryptofreak

The Justice League of America

If we travel a little further back in time to the nineties, 1997 to be precise, CBS tried to create a Justice League television show.

Due to copyright issues, the more famous members of the team such as Superman and Batman couldn’t be used. So instead, this version of the Justice League was based on the team from the 1980s.

This Justice League contained the Green Lantern, Ice, The Atom, Fire, The Flash and their leader, the Martian Manhunter.

Why wasn’t this a success?

As you may have gathered, the ninety-minute pilot wasn’t a success and CBS declined to pick up the show.

In a move to probably recoup some of the production costs, the pilot was sold to television networks all over the world and been broadcast several times. However, it has never been broadcast in the US.

Reviews of the film have been largely negative with complaints of the plot holes, poor special effects and poor costumes. Apparently, the League members deviated heavily from their source characters and several have described the pilot as trying to be “Friends with superpowers”.

Is it really that bad? Make up your own minds as I have included the full movie below.


John Abbitt

About the author | John Abbitt

@UKFilmNerd | John loves film, and he used to write for his own website, The Tydirium Hangar Bay, in the late 1990s. Whilst that website became lost in the passages of time, John's love of film did not. He's back, writing for The Unheard Nerd.

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