The Justice League is certainly one of the most famous superhero groups ever and certainly the most important one in DC Comics’ fictional universe. Present in the world of comics since 1960, the Justice League has included a diversified roster that has saved the world on numerous occasions. Still, despite knowing about the League’s exploits, people still tend to wonder about the leadership of the group, asking themselves this: who is the actual leader of the Justice League? Well, we’re here to answer that question for you.
Despite all the changes throughout the years, Superman has most often been the leader of the Justice League and is considered to be its leader during times of peace. Due to being a better tactician, Batman generally takes over during times of war.
DC Comics, for those of you that are not familiar with the story behind the comics, is a major American comic book publisher founded back in 1934. Along with Marcel Comics, it is the most popular comic book publisher in the United States. DC Comics is a major player in the comic book business and is the “home” of many famous comic book characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and many others.
Now that we’ve given you a short introduction, let us discuss the topic of this article in more detail.
About the Justice League
The Justice League (also known, at times, as the Justice League of America) is a fictional superhero group appearing in stories published by DC Comics. It is the best-known superhero group from DC’s stories. The group debuted in 1960, in the comic book The Brave and the Bold #28, with author Gardner Fox being credited as its official creator.
The Justice League’s origins have varied throughout the years and there is no fixed origin story we could use. What is always the same is that they are a group of Earth-based superheroes from different locations who have decided to unite their powers to protect the Earth from different threats, both local and cosmic.
Membership in the group has also varied throughout the years, with the original roster consisting of Superman (Clark Kent), Batman (Bruce Wayne), Wonder Woman (Diana Prince), The Flash (Barry Allen), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Aquaman (Arthur Curry) and Martian Manhunter (J’onn J’onzz). Later on, various other superheroes have been members of the group, including, but not limited to The Atom (Ray Palmer), Big Barda (Barda Free), Black Canary (Dinah Laurel Lance), Black Lightning (Jefferson Pierce), Captain Marvel/Shazam (Billy Batson), Cyborg (Victor Stone), Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny), The Flash (Wally West), Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), Green Lantern (John Stewart), Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders), Hawkman (Carter Hall), Metamorpho (Rex Mason), Orion, Plastic Man (Eel O’Brian), Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), Power Girl (Kara Zor-L), Red Tornado, Stargirl (Courtney Whitmore), and Zatanna. In The New 52 reboot, Cyborg replaced the Martian Manhunter as one of the seven founding members.
As for their enemies, the Justice League has fought a plethora of different villains, with their most notable enemy being Darkseid, the ruthless ruler of Apokolips. Other recurring enemies are Brainiac, Lex Luthor and other members of the Legion of Doom, Reverse Flash, etc.
The Justice League has been present in a variety of different media, including animated TV shows, video games and a recent live-action movie, set within the DCEU.
Who is the leader of the Justice League?
There is no official act that defines the leader of the Justice League, so – theoretically – the issue is an open one and is debatable. Still, based on the history of the group and the franchise, it is not overly difficult to determine the character(s) that have most often been in charge of the group.
We have to state that the status of leader doesn’t really bring any specific benefits within the League. The leader doesn’t control the other members, he is mostly in charge of organisation, tactics and motivation, but all of the members have equal say in the decisions, with the leader making the final call if the members cannot agree.
So, who is the leader?
As you can see from the gallery above, the leader of the Justice League is usually depicted as being in the centre. This gallery shows us how the leadership changed over the years and how different members have led the League at different points in time. We are almost certain that each of the members led the League at one point in time.
The most common leader, though, is Superman. The Man of Steel was usually the founder of the Justice League and due to being its most powerful, and most noble (in the sense that he embodies what traditional heroism is considered to be) he has most often lead the League both in times of peace and war. Today, though, Superman is considered to be the leader of the Justice League in times of peace, mostly because Batman – who takes up the position in times of war – is a better tactician than the Last Son of Krypton.
The last sentence brings us to Batman, who is the second most common leader of the League. Batman is an excellent tactician and is by far the most intelligent core member of the League. Still, Batman is – due to his secluded, introverted nature – not a natural leader and he is usually unwilling to do it. He usually takes up the leadership during times of war, since he’s the most skilled when it comes to planning and tactics. Batman is rarely depicted as the founder of the League (usually, he reluctantly joins at a later point), but in the DCEU, he is shown to have founded the organisation alongside Wonder Woman.
The other core members have also led the League at one point of time, but each of them has some flaw that make them less capable for the title of leader.
As for Wonder Woman and Aquaman, they are royalty and are natural-born leaders. In that aspect, they have excellent leadership skills and are great candidates for the position of leader (even if we disregard the fact that Aquaman has been a mock character for most of his comic book history). Still, both of them have severe anger management issues and they are prone to outbursts that could cause problems for the group.
Flash and Green Lantern (the Hal Jordan iteration of the character) are extremely powerful, but are exceptionally reckless and immature. They are both very childish and have a tendency of reckless behaviour that often endangers them, both of which are not great leadership qualities. This is why they are not great candidates for the leadership of the League.
As for Cyborg, he does have both the powers and the intelligence, but he lacks the experience. He is younger than the other members and he is also often associated with the Teen Titans, where he’s also not the leader. So, despite his qualities, the lack of experience does disqualify him from being the leader of such an important group.
Finally, Martian Manhunter also has the necessary qualities and is, in a lot of ways, the best candidate for the job. He is extremely powerful, highly intelligent, he lives in the Tower and considers the League to be his family. He is also quite calm and is a great tactician, which puts him on par with both Superman and Batman.
So, why is Martian Manhunter not the leader? Well, you’ll have to ask the writers about that, but it’s most likely because he’s not as famous as either Superman or Batman, and such an important group needs to have a popular and well-known leader.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!