Justice League of America: Pilot (1997) TV Review

Justice League of America (1997) TV Movie Image

After the disaster that was “Batman and Robin”, DC Comics tried to regain face with a live-action television pilot of their popular super team, the Justice League of America. Unfortunately, the finished product only made matters worse and was quickly shelved, never to see the light of day. But eBay shoppers and convention attendees can easily obtain this failed effort, and at the very least satisfy any curiosity about how the team looks in flesh and blood.

The citizens of New Metro live under the protection of several powerful heroes: Martian Manhunter, The Flash, Green Lantern, Fire, and Captain Atom. Our heroes are needed when a mysterious super villain known as the Weatherman (Miguel Ferrer) attacks the city using meteorological means. Can the team stop the villain in time, all the while helping a woman to discover that she has super powers of her own?

Credit should be given to David Ogden Stiers and Miguel Ferrer, as Martian Manhunter and The Weatherman, respectively. As veteran actors, they know a turkey when they see one, but it never dawns on them to phone in their performances. Both are excellent in a show that simply doesn’t warrant such excellence, and their work ethic should be applauded. The rest of the cast just meanders through their roles, delivering lines blandly and without enthusiasm. Superheroes ought to inspire excitement, but this team is so dull they only inspire drowsiness.

The script credited to Lorne Cameron and David Hoselton is poorly written and frequently borders on the absurd. TV pilots are supposed to showcase the show’s strengths in order to attract new viewers, but if this is the best they can come up with you’d shudder to think what subsequent episodes would have been like. The writers also manage to emasculate the heroes, forcing them to recite wince-inducing dialogue.

Helmer Felix Enriquez Alcala doesn’t contribute much either; he seems to have realized he was in charge of a sinking ship and didn’t see much point in expending any effort. He does the bare minimum, moving the production from one scene to another, but any attempts to quicken the pace or add any visual flourishes are absent. Film director Lewis Teague also tried to lend a hand, but couldn’t find a way to salvage things and wisely requested to remain unaccredited.

Great special effects and costumes can mask a multitude of sins in a bad comic book film. Too bad “Justice League of America” doesn’t have either of those. The effects by Digital Magic and Vision Crew Unlimited are amateurish and hardly believable. The costumes are equally bad, looking like something the producer’s Mom made in an effort to save money. It’s sad to see that while the show lacks any substance, the producers cared so little they couldn’t even be bothered to add any style.

There really aren’t enough words in the English language to express just how bad “Justice League of America” is. It joins “Catwoman” and the aforementioned fourth “Batman” film in the pantheon of trauma-inducing efforts. Although the CBS network, horror stricken at what they created, shelved this pilot, it is still available on eBay and at comic book conventions. Only the most curious or die-hard comic fans should consider purchasing this.

Be warned: no matter how low a price you pay, you’ve paid too much.

Félix Enríquez Alcalá, Lewis Teague (director)
CAST: Matthew Settle …. Guy Gardner
Kimberly Oja …. Ice
John Kassir …. The Atom
Michelle Hurd …. Fire
Ken Johnston …. The Flash
David Ogden Stiers …. Martian Manhunter
Miguel Ferrer …. The Weather Man