Justice League Unlimited

Season 3 Episode 2

For the Man Who Has Everything

Aired Saturday 10:30 PM Aug 07, 2004 on Cartoon Network
out of 10
User Rating
194 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Batman and Wonder Woman deliver presents to Superman at the Fortress of Solitude for his birthday, but find he's been immobilized by a special "gift" courtesy of the world-conquering Mongul.

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  • For the Man Who Has a Boring Fantasy Life

    I'm at somewhat of a disadvantage here in that I was around when this story was first released. As an adaptation it borrows pretty heavily, right down to the dialogue in places (i.e., "Burn!").

    Mongul is back in a season that looks to give us a horde of returning villains in exchange for all the new heroic faces. It's a little odd when the writers have to latch on to old villains (Mongul, Amazo, Mordred, Morgana) so the audience won't be too badly thrown by new heroes. He's...okay here. Eric Roberts suitably voices him as evil incarnate, although I don't recall him being quite so powerful in War World. Superman beat Draga, and Draga beat Mongul - yet here Mongul walks all over Wonder Woman and still has enough left to go toe-to-toe with Supes.

    The birthday idea makes a little more sense in the comics during the pre-Crisis era when this story was published, where Superman did have truly galactic fame. Here it seems a little odd (if not a full-fledged Goof) for him to be receiving birthday presents from alien admirers. It's not like Superman has a big rep outside of the Solar System, as War World itself demonstrates but is also consistent with the current varying series (which have rebooted Superman as starting his career recently in 2003, according to the Birthright mini-series).

    So the adaptation here fails to answer that point. Instead it shortens the original story, omitting all the aspects where writer Alan Moore had the imaginary Krypton literally falling apart with race riots, corrupt right-wing politicians (including Jor-El himself!), etc., as Superman subconsciously destroyed the place in his efforts to break free. Instead we get a very basic, "I have a family - I lost them." boo-hoo story which in this case is hurt a bit by the half-hour nature of the show. The rushed aspect of the format means that we find out what's going on about a minute after the initial opening and credit roll.

    Perhaps the story would have worked better to start with Superman waking up to his fantasy life, then show us Batman and Wonder Woman after the first commercial break. Showing us the sequence as it does reduces the impact of Superman's fantasy because we know from the beginning, before we ever see it, that Superman's in a hallucination.

    So I'm on the fence on the reduced format - this story seemed too short here but I'm not sure it's really worthy of a 2-part treatment, either. This one just seemed...padded, with lots of fight scenes (and Wonder Woman being brutalized and outclassed) and not really enough of the Superman/fantasy sequence for the audience to sympathize with Superman's loss.

    Batman is spot-on (except for throwing himself at Mongul early on - that seems oddly impulsive), although "cash" seems like a dumb present. Like Superman needs money, or can't crush a few coal chunks in to diamond if he did? Kevin Conroy never disappoints, and he packs a lot of emotion into his own fantasy and recovery. Wonder Woman really doesn't get a chance to do anything but play punching bag.

    That leaves Superman. It's hard to be too impressed with his rage here - we've seen it before directed against Darkseid in a similar situation of metaphorical "rape," and the fact that Darkseid and Mongul could be cousins doesn't help much. George Newbern does a good job of packing some punch into his farewell to Timmy...umm, I mean Van El. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be ironic or just sloppy that Clark doesn't get to say goodbye to the love of his life (or even have 'Loana' make a final appearance) or his dead father, but gets a good sendoff for the son he never had and has only apparently known for a few minutes.

    Overall, this story has some interest as a visualization/animation of the original Moore/Gibbons story, and it's an okay Justice League story, but as just a good story it kinda falls flat.moreless
  • The new series shows it's not just going to be a fireworks display!

    While it's not exactly new territory for a sci-fi series to do the whole parasite-dream skit, it's taken to surprising depth in this instance, especially, all things considered, for a supposed "kids show".

    The plot is simple enough: Batman and Wonderwoman find Clark in the fortress with a plant stuck to him. Someone is behind it. Wonderwoman seeks out whoever is responsible, while Batman tries to figure out how to get the parasite from Clark's body without killing him.

    The interesting twist being that the plant grants Clark, or, erm, Kal-el to enjoy what he's always wanted - eternal bliss.

    Seeing Clark living the Krptonian dream isn't really a shocker, but the level of detail and the plethora of nods to Superman mythology make it an incredibly enjoyable character piece and a jolly good romp. Again, those who made the leap from JL to JLU will surely find enough plot and character to calm those uneasy feelings about the new format prohibiting any time for real drama. This is top stuff!

    And when Batman becomes infected? It raises what was otherwise a solid 9er to a 10. It was extremely cruel to have Bruce live out those moments yet again but this time seeing his father prevail, only to have him taken from him yet again. Powerful stuff.

    Overall, one of the best episodes from Justice League Unlimited.moreless
  • A bad attempt at warping Superman in the storyline of "Perchance to Dream", an old Batman the Animated Series episode where Bruce was taken into his fantasy dream world by the Mad Hatter, it was a great episode, but this wasn't.moreless

    After watching "Initiation" I was hoping that the next episode would be much better. This episode was even worse than Initiation! Seeing how this storyline has been used over and over again, this episode was highly predicatble. The only twist was that Superman was having the fantasy dream instead of Batman, and instead of a dream machine being placed on Superman's head, Mongul used an alien known as the Black Mercy. Even the Wonder Woman fight scenes with Mongul and the reference to "War World" wasn't enough to keep this episode out of the red. A highly disappointing episode and a disgrace to the league.moreless
  • Superman is put into a trance by a soul-sucking plant that allows him to live out his life's desire. And its up to Batman and Wonder Woman to save the day and the man of steel.moreless

    Very revealing of the characters and their deeper wishes. Neither Batman nor Superman's heart desires are shocking: the former for his parents to have never died; and the latter for his planet to be restored. The touches of Kansas in Superman's world are interesting and so is his wife that strongly resembles Lois Lane, with the exception of hair color. Guess Superman has a thing for redheads. Someone should tell Lana. Sadly, Wonder Woman's true desires are not shown, but it is likely that they involved the home she had been banished from. The episode is about the hard choices superheroes sometimes have to make between the world and family. This is never shown more clearly than Superman's last touching scene with the son he could have had, though Batman's choice to give up his dream with his parents alive is equally melancholy. But the superheroes do make the right decisions, the bad guy gets his payback, and Superman has a very interesting birthday.moreless
  • What does a villain give the man who has everything? An alternate reality, of course!

    First off, if you haven't seen Batman Begins yet, go watch it three or four times and then watch this episode. (it makes this one particular sequence absolutely hilarious)

    Alright, anyway you get to see what Kal-El's life might have been like had Krypton never exploded. It's kinda funny too since his wife looks like a mix between Lois and Lana, and her voice belongs to Lois as well. :)

    But in the meantime, you also get to see a villain in this episode that you haven't seen since War World, which is really nice. (not to mention the fact that you get to see one of the few times that someone insults Wonder Woman's fighting skills, all for being a woman.)

    As a final note: What does the one of the world's richest men give the man who has everything? Cash! (What were you expecting, a gift card? ;))moreless
Kevin Conroy

Kevin Conroy

Batman/Bruce Wayne

George Newbern

George Newbern

Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El

Susan Eisenberg

Susan Eisenberg

Wonder Woman/Diana

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Batman states that the Black Mercy has eaten through Superman's costume. When the plant is removed Superman's costume is intact.

    • If Mongul was planning to take over Earth, then why was he still in the Fortress of Solitude? Shouldn't he have just taken care of Superman once and for all and moved on?

    • And if we assume that Superman's birthday is so well-known that aliens send him gifts...why don't any of the other Justice Leaguers give him anything? Some of us might want to see what the Flash would have given him. Or are we supposed to believe that a bunch of aliens we've never seen Superman help know his birthday date, but his teammates of 2+ years don't?

    • Does Superman really publicize the date of his birthday? In the pre-Crisis comics he saved alien worlds every other day (so did Batman in the 60's...), but post-Crisis and in the various animated series he hasn't been quite so active or forthcoming. Maybe his friends Batman and Wonder Woman know it, but do alien planets really know it widely enough to teleport gifts to him? But if alien planets don't know when Superman's birthday is, why is he so accepting of the supposed birthday present?

    • When Wonder Woman calls out to Batman after her fight with Mongul, she's missing the pupils in her eyes.

    • How do aliens know where to send Superman his birthday gifts? His Fortress of Solitude is...well, a place of solitude. Secret. No one on Earth but his closest friends knows about it. Or does Superman use a teleportation forwarding service?

  • QUOTES (10)

  • NOTES (8)


    • Braniac: Floating Robot
      The flying Brainiac looks suspiciously like Herbie, the robotic major-domo that appeared with the Fantastic Four in their animated series and later was introduced into the comic book.

    • Young Bruce: "The Mark of Zorro"
      On the play sign outside the theate that Bruce and his parents came out of in Batman's dream sequence, you can see a sign that says Mark of Zor.... The 'O' is missing, but you can clearly tell it was a take on the character Don Diego de la Vega, or Zorro. Presumably the reference here is to the 1940 version starring Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone, unless the Waynes were real big on the silent 1920 version with Douglas Fairbanks.