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Justice Society Is Dwayne Johnson's Parting Gift To Gunn's DC Universe

ScreenRant logo ScreenRant 3/24/2023 Jordan Iacobucci
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warning: spoilers for Shazam! Fury of the Gods are ahead!Black Adam may not have been the ground-breaking lifeline that the DC Extended Universe needed to thrive, but it might have provided a new avenue forward for James Gunn's new DC Universe thanks to the introduction of the Justice Society. The Dwayne Johnson-led film was the last DCEU project to hit theaters prior to James Gunn and Peter Safran's takeover of DC Studios, later becoming one of the first franchises to meet its demise as a result of DC's new creative direction. Nevertheless, the most recent entry in the DCEU suggests that Black Adam's legacy may live on in one singular and very important way.

James Gunn finally announced the first chapter of his DCU slate earlier this year, complete with the title "Gods and Monsters." DC Studios' new direction will supposedly include certain elements from the original DCEU, combined with new characters and storylines that will appear in films to come. However, on the long list of casualties from the DCEU was the majority Black Adam, including Dwayne Johnson's titular antihero and Henry Cavill's returning Superman, an announcement which still sparks heavy controversy to this day. Although Johnson and Cavill's characters will not survive the DC reboot, their compatriots in the Justice Society of America may still have a future in the DC Universe.

RELATED: DC's Black Adam & Marvel's Moon Knight Share An Interesting Connection

Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam Introduced The Justice Society

Black Adam introduced the Justice Society to the DCEU, setting the team up for a long future in DC's live-action media. The film introduced four primary members of the Justice Society, including their leader, Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Dr. Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo), who took over his superhero mantle from his uncle, Al Pratt (Henry Winkler). During the events of Black Adam, the team is shown to be under the command of ARGUS and Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who dispatches them to Kahndaq in order to take care of Teth-Adam, who is on the verge of creating an international crisis after his resurrection.

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Although the timeline of Black Adam's Justice Society is confusing at best, especially given Amanda Waller's other interests in the DCEU, the team is immediately shown to be far more functional and present in the franchise than the Justice League ever was. The JSA is implied to have a rotating assortment of superheroes who can be called on as needed, all in service of protecting the world from various threats. The team's inclusion in Black Adam is quite compelling and proves to be one of the best parts of the otherwise underwhelming film. Thereby, the JSA may be the one facet of Black Adam that survive the DC Universe reboot.

Shazam 2 Hints At The Justice Society's Importance In The DC Universe

The mid-credits scene of Shazam! Fury of the Gods surprisingly hints at the major impact that the Justice Society of America could have on the larger DC Universe. In the tag, ARGUS agents Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland) and John Economos (Steve Agee) approach Billy Batson (Zachary Levi) with an offer to join their superhero team. Hilariously, Billy is disappointed to find that he is being recruited for the Justice Society rather than the Justice League. While the scene is mostly played for laughs, it could very well indicate that there is a plan for the Justice Society to play a major role in James Gunn's rebooted DC franchise.

While it remains unclear which old DC movies will remain DCU canon following the franchise reboot, which is expected to come later this year as a result of The Flash, the most recent Justice Society tease is still very good news for the team's future. Fury of the Gods was filmed long before James Gunn and Peter Safran took over DC Studios, but there was still enough time between their promotion and the film's release for its mid-credits scene to be removed, unlike Black Adam's infamous Superman stinger. Choosing to include this scene in Fury of the Gods implies that the Justice Society will in fact return in the DC Universe.

RELATED: Black Adam Repeated A Suicide Squad Introduction Mistake

Who Will Be In The DC Universe's Justice Society?

There are endless candidates for the DCU's Justice Society of America lineup in future projects. In fact, the team already has three promising candidates after its debut in Black Adam. Aldis Hodge's Hawkman proved to be a standout in the film, and a terrific leader of the superhero team. If any members of the Justice Society transfer from the DCEU, Hawkman is sure to be among them. Similarly, both Cyclone and Atom Smasher received promising introductions in Black Adam, setting them up for future appearances as members of the Justice Society. Moreover, because these characters aren't tied to too many DCEU events, they could easily transfer over to the DCU.

Additionally, Black Adam set up a potential Dr. Fate return in the DCU after Kent Nelson's apparent death at the hands of Sabbac. As a leading member of the Justice Society, Dr. Fate would almost certainly return for future missions, either with Kent's surprise return from the dead or with a new hero taking on the mantle. Likewise, another DC hero who recently returned from the dead, Shazam, could find himself as a part of the Justice Society in the future, as Fury of the Gods implies with its mid-credits scene. Consequently, the entire Shazam Family may join the ranks of the JSA, greatly expanding its reserve of powerful superheroes.

Most interestingly, the ending of Shazam! Fury of the Gods implies that the Justice Society of America is interested in expanding its ranks, perhaps in replacement of the Justice League. As such, the DCU's new heroes could all find themselves as new members of the JSA. This would mean that characters like Booster Gold, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and even newly rebooted characters like Superman and Batman could join the growing superhero team. Future films could even explore founding members of the JSA in the comics, including Hourman, the Sandman, and the Spectre, each of whom would be brand-new to general audiences, making the team's new lineup feel fresh and unexplored.

Will The Justice League Ever Appear In The DC Universe?

If the Justice Society is really replacing the Justice League in upcoming films, it is possible that the latter superhero team may not appear in the DC Universe for some time. Public opinion of DC's headliner team has soured after the travesty that was 2017's Justice League, which may cause Warner Bros. to stay away from that particular title in forthcoming projects. While comic book readers know the potential and importance of the Justice League, studio executives may be particularly unwilling to revisit such a major financial and critical failure in the near future. For the time being, DC may stick with the Justice Society instead of the Justice League.

Even with this change, DC knows that the Justice Society and the Justice League are different, and cannot be used interchangeably forever. While the Justice Society can be used to help bridge the gap between the DC Extended Universe and the DC Universe, the true test of James Gunn's new franchise will be getting a successful Justice League project off the ground. It may take some time, but it is highly likely that Gunn has a plan to introduce the Justice League at some point in the future of the DCU. In the interim, however, Black Adam's own superhero squadron could be the headlining team of the DC Universe.

MORE: There's Still A Way For The Rock vs. Cavill To Happen (Without The DCU)

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