Justice League Unlimited

Season 1 Episode 3

Secret Origins (3)

Aired Saturday 10:30 PM Nov 17, 2001 on Cartoon Network

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

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out of 10
218 votes
  • Not a bad start to the series, but the plot and villains are a little lacking.

    First episodes/issues of super-hero teams are hard to do well. There's so much to do—introduce all your main heroes, introduce your villain, find some means to assemble your heroes, build up the villain as a credible threat, and then have the heroes triumph—that it's hard to fit everything in without just going by the numbers. And while this introduction to the Justice League is given plenty of time—three 22-minute episodes—to pack everything in, “Secret Origins” still kind of feels "by the numbers".

    The plot revolves around an invasion by an alien race that, we find out during the story, destroyed the Martian civilization centuries ago. Superman and Batman are the Earth's first line of defense, but the troops are all called in telepathically by J'onn J'onnz, last survivor of Mars who came to Earth to warn us humans about the invasion. The troops consist of Wonder Woman (new to Man's World), Green Lantern John Stewart (with glowing green eyes), Hawkgirl (who Superman seems to already know), and Flash (who's given the most personality -- that of a cocky flirt).

    The first third of the pilot is a great exercise in mounting tension and danger. The first scene in particular, in which a pair of Earth astronauts discover something sinister on Mars, is very tense. Batman and Superman’s growing realization that there’s something brewing are done well, too, and the invaders, disguised as humans, are creepy with their alien language and superhuman strength. The episode then veers straight into “War of the Worlds” territory, with meteoroids hiding alien tripod war machines crashing all over the world. You’ll find it either derivative or a nice tribute, but either way, these scenes are handled well, showing the magnitude of the threat.

    The tension rises through the rescue of J’onn J’onnz by Batman and Superman when the trio are attacked by aliens disguised as U.S. soldiers. The heroes flee and are attacked by the invaders’ aircraft. What follows is a great action sequence as the other heroes arrive and the combined forces of the good guys decimate the attacking aircraft. So far, so good, but it’s at this point that the pacing changes and all the built up tension starts to fade away. During the rest of the pilot, the newly formed Justice League fights some aliens, faces some setbacks, and finally wins out thanks to a plot twist or two that as astute viewer can easily see coming. While the first third of the pilot is a nail-biter, the rest of it definitely feels less intense. Furthermore, the relative strength of the alien invaders seems to fluctuate with the plot. When the Leaguers need a setback, the aliens are tough as nails. When they need a win, the aliens melt like candy (literally).

    What else goes in in this pilot? Well, we meet our heroes, of course. Superman and Batman are likely well known to the viewer through their previous animated series. (“Justice League” takes place in the same continuity as the “Superman” and “Batman” animated series.) J’onn J’onnz (not called the Martian Manhunter here) is given a flashback sequence on Mars that really defines his character. We see a bit of Wonder Woman on Paradise Island to give her some context. I was surprised to find out that she is apparently new to the DC Animated Universe. I thought she would have been a guest star in one of the earlier series. She’s written here as naïve to Man’s World (as she calls it), but still a warrior born. She clashes a few times with Green Lantern John Stewart, who seems more soldier than architect. Flash’s character probably comes through the strongest since he’s the overconfident funnyman of the group. His cockiness is overplayed a little here. It’s funny, but it makes you wonder why J’onn would have summoned him, especially since he’s relatively underpowered in this group of heroes. (So is Batman, but J’onn didn’t summon him, which I thought was a nice touch.)

    Then there’s Hawkgirl, who’s not given much personality here, which is unfortunate since she’s the most unusual casting choice here. In the original Justice League line-up in the comic books, her place was occupied by Aquaman. In fact, she didn’t join the League until much later in their run, long after her husband Hawkman joined. Having her as a founding member is surprising, but it makes sense. The team needs more of a feminine presence, and making up reasons for Aquaman to be useful every episode would be difficult. (See the “Superfriends” show for many contrived reasons for action to take place underwater.) To power her up a little, she’s given some kind of electric mace that seems able to bash through anything. It seems a bit contrived, but otherwise she would just be a girl with wings. Plus, it’s fun seeing her smash through everything that comes in her way.

    In summary, “Secret Origins” does what it needs to. It sets up a fairly credible reason why all these heroes should band together, and it gives each hero at least a few moments to shine and interest the audience. What it doesn’t do is follow through on the promise of the first 25 minutes. The alien threat is just a little too generic and the plot just a little too formulaic. However, it’s still way better than “Superfriends” ever was, and it’s a fun show.
  • just read what i wrote in episode 1

    "Pilot episode"

    It just seems rushed that's all; although i realize that TV has time constraints that comics writers dont necessarily have to deal. We were treated to characters that we hadnt seen in animated form from the comics and that's always a treat, but more importantly was how they were handled. Hawkgirl was given a believable origin and personality and Wonder Woman was "toughened up" so to speak. Yes the alien invasion thing has been done to death and back but when you think of it, what other reason would these heroes have for teaming up or as one fan put it "getting in each other's way. There were many plot holes here(since the plot was somewhat taken from the 1996 revival of the comic series of the same name) but unless your a fan of the comic and a regular reader, you wouldnt know and wouldnt care. All in all, this was easily a coup for everyone involved and set the stage for things to come
  • What a start to the series and end to the first episode...

    J'ohn says Batman is dead and hide stuff from everyone so that at the end he could sneak up and do a suprise attack which cools the hole body of the main ship which keeps drilling to the earth.
    But before that J'ohn senses the mothership coming to earth. And now we know why those Alien people were sending some beams to out of earth. Then Senator Carter reveals who he really is. He was actually and impostor all along. The really Carter never came back and it was all a plan to put all the nukes down by using Superman as shown in part one. Then as the BOSS comes out we see a Jelly kinda thing and he knows something is wrong while trying to kill J'ohn. Then after Batman comes out of the blob and then starts the freezing affect using the crystal. Then the aliens are defeated one by one around the world.
    After that Batman shows his space watch tower and everyone joins to defend Earth. But the Bat says i am in but you call when you need... That was the great part of this episode and this series. Cause it maintained the character styles. So all and all this episode and the three parts was a great way to start Justice League...
  • Brilliant three part episode to introduce Justice League.

    The three part pilot of Justice League is action packed, engaging and very entertaining. Batman tries to track down a bunch of aliens in Metropolis and gets help from Superman, but not even Superman can handle these aliens and gets a memo from an alien named Jon Jonezz aka the Martian Manhunter. Jon assembly earth's greatest heroes, the Green Lantern, Flash, Hawk Girl, and Wonder Woman all to unite against this foe. Working together still proves to be a problem as this league of Heroes stand no chance against this alien Parasite who destroyed Jon's home world. The end of the episode is quite entertaining with Superman talking about creating a coalition of Heroes called the Justice League to protect humanity. I loved this episode, liked how they followed the continuity of the other DC Animated shows, and loved the pilot overall. A very promising start to a very promising series.