Injustice: how Superman’s failure tore apart the DC universe

The DC multiverse is filled with parallel versions of Earth vibrating in cosmic harmony. In many of these universes, a milestone event occurs differently, setting off a chain reaction that results in a world very different from the DC Universe we know and love. That’s certainly the case in the Injustice: Gods Among Us universe. This world has turned into a hellish dystopia, and it’s all due to Superman’s failure. It turns out that even the Man of Steel has some major blemishes in his record.

Now that Injustice has been turned into an animated film, let’s explore how the worst day of Superman’s life is the catalyst for one of the most fascinating DC alternate universes of all, with some input from the film’s two stars, Justin Hartley. , who plays Superman and Anson Mount, who plays Batman.

Injustice movie images

The day Metropolis died

The world of Injustice is more or less identical to the normal DCU until one fateful day Joker and Harley Quinn visit Metropolis. As Joker explains, he’s tired of losing to Batman, so he decides to make Superman’s life miserable for a change. Joker pulls his most terrible prank of all, tricking Superman into thinking that Doomsday is attacking him. Only after dragging his opponent into orbit does the Man of Steel realize that he has actually been fighting his wife Lois. When Lois and her unborn child die, that unleashes a massive bomb that wipes out Metropolis. In one fell swoop, Superman loses everything.

This is where the real divergence occurs, not in the fact that Superman suffers a terrible loss, but in how he deals with that loss. In the normal DC Universe, no amount of pain could cause the Man of Steel to lose his faith in humanity. But here, Joker’s attack pushes Kal-El to the limit and causes him to do the one thing Batman never could: kill the Joker.

Art by Mike S. Miller.  (Image credit: DC)

Art by Mike S. Miller. (Image credit: DC)

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The (final) killer joke

In its own way, Injustice is something of a spiritual sequel to the iconic Batman: The Killing Joke graphic novel. In that story, Joker takes aim at Commissioner Gordon to show that anyone can go crazy if given the right push.

Joker fails The Killing Joke, though some fans still argue that the ambiguous final page shows Batman strangling his former enemy to death. But if Joker failed to make his point in The Killing Joke, Injustice may be the story that finally proves he’s right. If he can lead someone as good and benevolent as Superman to slaughter his enemies in cold blood, what hope do we humble humans have?

“That’s the scary part of the Joker, and what makes the Joker such a great nemesis, is that you can never pin down the motivations of someone who’s crazy. Then, of course, all the questions of, ‘Well, it’s Are you really crazy? ‘ I think, obviously, that Joker, the movie, was a very good example of that. So it makes me question sometimes, and I think, in the best moments of the conflicts with the Joker, whether we are dealing with a madman or a really skilled genius. “

“I don’t know if he agrees,” reflects Hartley. “I think it’s something to talk about. I think you can push anyone to the limit, which is what you saw in Injustice. It’s an extreme version, but I think anyone can be pressured. Everyone has hot spots and triggers. Everyone is susceptible and vulnerable to that. “

Injustice: DC Civil War?

It’s practically impossible not to make comparisons between Injustice and Marvel’s Civil War story. This is another case where Earth’s heroes are divided in half by a philosophical debate. Here, Superman’s decision to kill Joker is the first step on a journey that leads him to become the tyrannical ruler of the entire planet.

Like many members of the Justice League, Superman believes that the time for half measures is over, and the heroes must do everything in their power to enforce world peace by any means necessary. Batman and his team believe that this is a line that can never be crossed. But when you’re a billionaire playboy facing off against the strongest man in the world, mounting a resistance is much easier said than done.

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“All the characters in the film face this conflict from the point of view that they are the protagonist, that they are the ones who are convinced that they have a moral and ethical stance from which they are not going to back down. And that is where it arises. war, plus other things like human rights abuses and rampant corruption, “Mount says. “This is a civil conflict. It’s a pure civil conflict, and I think that’s what makes Batman’s stance so interesting, is if you say ‘Batman vs. Superman’ and [in] In many ways, I think it’s probably the worst bet in Vegas history. “

Mount continues: “Nobody wants to take on Superman, but they have no choice. There is no compromise. That is what makes Batman a great character, in general, is that he is a loaded man, loaded with this iron moral. Compass that He has to endure, living in a place that is almost completely illegal. That’s the crux, I think, of what makes Batman such a great hero and an interesting character to watch. “

“God, it’s so relevant to today’s society too, right?” Hartley says. “I mean, something that happens and then how do you go about correcting the problem and when you step in and have a certain side, ‘Well that’s how we’re going to fix the problem. That’s how it should.’ what I’m talking about and everyone lines up. ”They both have good intentions, which is what you see today in the political system. [and] since the beginning of time, actually. “

Making Superman the villain

Where Civil War prevents Iron Man’s pro-registration faction or Captain America’s anti-registration faction from being the heroes of the story, Injustice makes it clear that Superman is the villain in this conflict. His path to hell is paved with good intentions and the blood of men like Joker. But at least we can understand why he makes the decisions that he does. Even Batman, who has often had to restrain himself from killing the Joker in the past, understands the rage and helplessness that fuel his fallen friend.

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“I think you have to, to be a responsible member of the team and a leader, and I don’t think it would be a good story if Superman wasn’t right,” Mount says. “But in terms of who is right and who is wrong, I don’t think I’ve ever really wavered as a reader in my support for Batman’s position.”

Despite voicing Superman, Hartley agrees that Batman’s side is ultimately the correct one. But still, Superman’s point of view in this war is nothing but understandable.

Art by Mike S. Miller.  (Image credit: DC)

Art by Mike S. Miller. (Image credit: DC)

“I don’t know which side,” says Hartley. “It’s funny. I think you would have to fall for Batman when it comes to the right path … That’s a tough situation. I don’t know. They wrote a really good script. That’s part of the beauty of this is that you can. Seeing both sides and then all these horrible things happen, but I don’t mean to say it’s correct, but you can wrap your brain around both sides of the problem. So I think it was just a script and I’m lucky to be a part of it. “

Injustice is a story about Superman transforming from the greatest hero of his time into a tyrant who rules the world with an iron fist. In the end, Batman exhausts all weapons and all countermeasures and has to resort to bringing in the Justice League from the normal DC Universe as backup.

Thanks to the help of our Superman, this twisted and unhinged Superman is finally brought to justice at the end of the first game of Injustice. But even our Superman must surely wonder: is it just a bad day for making the same mistakes? Will your own failure doom an entire world?

To learn more about Injustice, check out IGN’s review of the new movie and learn more about the history of the Injustice franchise. And if you’re tuning in to the DC FanDome this weekend, DC will be hosting a virtual panel and an animated film preview during the event.

Jesse is a personable writer for IGN. Let him lend a machete to his intellectual thicket following @jschedeen on Twitter.