The Savage Time


The Savage Time

""The Savage Time" is the first-season finale of the animated series of "Justice League". It first aired on November 9, 2002.

Plot

Part I

The Justice League is returning to Earth from a mission in a distant galaxy; the "Javelin"'s engines having run out of fuel, Green Lantern is towing the vessel with his ring, which he mentions is running low on power.

As they approach the Watchtower, Superman contacts Batman in the tower. Before they arrive, there is a blinding flash of light. When the light fades, the Watchtower is gone.

The League lands on Earth, in Metropolis and are shocked to find things changed: huge buildings, no people outside, and a Nazi-style flag everywhere. A squad of security officers appears and demands their identification. When The Flash makes a sarcastic remark, the guards attempt to arrest him, which gets them attacked by Hawkgirl. The guards call for back-up and open fire. The League battles the guards, but finally run, pulled into an underground hideout by Batman – actually a different Batman, dressed in futuristic armor and willing to use guns.

The League tries to make sense of all this, starting by asking Batman what's going on. However, Batman doesn't know them, nor do his underground army of resistance fighters. Once everyone calms down, Batman reveals that his, Bruce Wayne's, parents were executed as dissidents by the fascist regime headed by Vandal Savage. Bruce now leads the resistance against the regime. When Lantern asks how long the regime has been in place, Bruce answers, since World War II – which the Axis Powers won.

Naturally confused and shocked by all this, it is J'onn J'onzz who quickly concludes that something has happened to the space time continuum, but that the League wasn't affected possibly because they were protected by the aura from Green Lantern's ring. Though they have no proof, it's the only thing that makes sense.

The League, with Batman's help, tracks the unusual energy disturbances they picked up earlier to one of Vandal Savage's laboratory's, where they find a heavy-matter 'black hole' that the scientists were trying to stabilize, revealing that it is a means of time-travel into the past. It seems obvious that Savage used this as a means to change the outcome of the war. The League decides to travel back in time and try to put things right. However, it is risky, as J'onn overheard Savage's scientists saying that the portal will collapse in forty-eight hours. Batman decides to remain behind, saying that if they fail, someone will have to keep fighting against the regime.

Traveling back through time, The League arrives in a ravaged city in France, in the midst of heavy fighting between Allied and German forces, shortly after the D-Day landings. Right away they see what has changed: the Germans are equipped with "War Wheels" – enormous tanks with overwhelming fire-power and crushing size. As the Allied forces fall back, the League leaps into action to save the Allied soldiers, defeating the War Wheel. Upon examination, they find electronic systems and transistors, which weren't invented until after the war.

J'onn deduces that if the portal was unstable whoever was it that traveled into the past could have gotten here months, even years, earlier. When the Axis starts to counter-attack, J'onn decides to go to Berlin to find out more about the source of these new weapons. Wonder Woman chooses to go with him while the other League members go to help out the Allies at Normandy.

In Berlin, word comes from the front of Allied "heroes" with strange costumes and magical powers. Vandal Savage, the Führer, dismisses the stories as propaganda. But as the generals remain skeptical, Savage uses one of his device to electrically shock the general.

As Diana and J'onn approach Berlin, an American spy steals a German fighter. His plane is pursued and shot down; the spy bails out, but he is knocked out before opening his parachute. Wonder Woman catches him, and he awakens to see her bending over him. "An angel...I must be in heaven."

He introduces himself as Steve Trevor, and explains his mission. Allied intelligence believes the Germans are planning to invade England; Steve has stolen one of the Germans' new encrypted communicators, and is supposed to meet a German code expert in France; if he can crack the communicator, he'll be able to listen in and find out when the invasion is set for. When J'onn finally arrives, after dealing with another pursuing plane, Steve pulls a gun on him, only to have Wonder Woman vouch for the Martian. Wonder Woman and J'onn are surprised to hear that Savage – the dictator from the future – is the current Führer. He is apparently a scientific genius whose new weapons impressed the high command so much that they made him their new leader.

Wonder Woman decides to accompany and protect Steve while J'onn continues on and infiltrates the Germans' central command. In a secret laboratory, J'onn finds a laptop computer – and Adolf Hitler, frozen in a cryogenic tube. J'onn is surprised and incapacitated by Savage's new electrical gauntlet.

Near the Normandy coast, as more tanks appear, the League works to evacuate the Allied forces. While carrying a wounded soldier, Green Lantern is knocked down as his ring starts to give out. Hawkgirl goes to help him, but he hands off his soldier to her and tells her to leave him. Reluctantly, she obeys. As the War Wheels bear down on him, John's ring finally runs out of power.

Part II

The Allied forces are under heavy attack while trying to withdraw their forces from one of the beaches. The remaining League members – Superman, Hawkgirl, and Flash – work hard to evacuate the troops. Flash is appalled to hear that Hawkgirl left Lantern behind, and runs back to find him. But Lantern, who has just managed to escape from the war wheels, has been knocked unconscious and remains hidden.

As Superman and Hawkgirl work, a new threat arrives: a flight of Messerschmitts, on a strafing run. Superman and Hawkgirl take to the air to fight the planes, and they are aided by the surprise appearance of a squadron of ace fighters, the Blackhawks. They send the planes running.

Blackhawk introduces himself, and his team, as an independent multi-national team of pilots fighting against the Nazis. He asks for the League's help, and Superman agrees to meet at their island headquarters.

Lantern awakens, and is found by Easy Company, a squad of American commandos. Their job is to destroy the airfield from which the Germans are planning to launch the invasion. Although Bulldozer is skeptical about Lantern's usefulness without his ring, Lantern quickly demonstrates otherwise by showing what he learned in the U.S. Marines, throwing Dozer to the ground.

Savage interrogates J'onn in his laboratory. J'onn assumes that Savage, like themselves, is from the future. On the contrary, Savage explains, the laptop was sent back in time by his future self. On it is a message from the older Savage explaining that he realized that World War II was the best opportunity for him to achieve world domination. The computer contains schematics for advanced technology, as well as information about the Allies' future plans, such as the date for the planned invasion of Normandy. Savage turns J'onn over to be tortured for information.

Steve and Wonder Woman wait for his contact, Ernst, at an abandoned French farmhouse. Wonder Woman expresses surprise that an ordinary man, without special powers, is willing to risk his life for the war. He shrugs and says, "some things are worth dying for." German forces appear. Steve quickly deduces that Ernst was captured, and gave him away.

He tells Wonder Woman to create a diversion while he takes on the soldiers, but instead she almost single-handedly defeats them. One of the terrified soldiers discloses Ernst's location.

On Blackhawk Island, Blackhawk explains that they're planning a bombing run on a large German factory, but they need the League's help to disable its anti-aircraft defenses.

Savage returns to his lab to find J'onn has escaped, and the laptop destroyed. Savage orders the planned invasion to proceed immediately. He is told that this is impossible while the stolen communicator is still missing.

Wonder Woman and Steve rescue Ernst from captivity, but the scientist warns them it is a trap. War Wheels appear, surrounding the jail.

Part III

Wonder Woman breaks off the outer casing of the communicator, then bundles Steve and Ernst under cover and flies out to attack the tanks. In the ensuing destruction, the jail is destroyed, and she gets Steve and Ernst away safely.

The soldiers find the broken casing in the rubble. The High Command is informed that the communicator has been destroyed, and Savage orders the invasion to begin.

With the League's help, the Blackhawks destroy the factory (after Flash runs in and evacuates the workers). In the ruins, they find a jet engine, another piece of advanced technology. J'onn arrives and explains its origin.

Ernst taps into the communicator, and intercepts the invasion signal. When Steve asks where in England it will land, Ernst replies that the target of the invasion is the United States. Wonder Woman prepares to fly off, but Steve asks "what if I never see you again?" She kisses him, and he wishes her luck.

Easy Company finds the airfield hidden under an artificial hill, just as the invasion force is preparing to leave. Savage arrives to take personal command. Easy Company opens fire, and the planes make a rapid take-off. To the others' astonishment, Lantern runs out and boards Savage's flagship.

The Blackhawks land and tell the League that they've also received word of the invasion. Flash streaks west, running across the Atlantic Ocean to warn the American forces, while the rest of the League flies to intercept the planes.

Aboard Savage's plane, Lantern sabotages critical systems. The plane loses radio contact and starts to slow down. Without instructions from their leader, the rest of the planes also slow down. Lantern is captured and tortured by Savage, but just then the League attacks, and Savage's planes return fire.

Wonder Woman arrives, re-grouping with Superman, Hawkgirl, and J'onn. Together, they manage to down or disable several of the planes before Savage's flagship restores communication; on his order, the planes ignite their afterburners, outpacing the League. However, the invasion force runs headlong into anti-aircraft fire from a flotilla of U.S. Navy ships, warned by Flash.

While the plane's crew is distracted, Green Lantern overpowers his guards, and shoots the controls, sending it down. As he struggles with Savage, J'onn, nearby, senses his presence and tells Hawkgirl. She flies to the plane, smashes open the windshield, and lifts Lantern out, just before it crashes into the ocean. Savage is last seen going down under a rush of water.

With Savage gone, and their numbers decimated, the invasion force turns about and heads back to Germany, but the remaining planes are set upon by the Blackhawks. Their job done, the League flies back to Europe.

Back in Berlin, the high command receives news of Savage's defeat and apparent death. General Hoffman, Savage's most vocal critic, immediately moves to have Hitler reinstated as their leader.

The League arrives back in the present just before the time portal closes. A normal Batman is there to greet them. Superman is so relieved that he hugs him.

Wonder Woman visits a retirement home and finds Steve, now a very old man. He smiles, "Angel..." and they share a moment.

Background Information

Production Notes

* According to the "Part II" commentary, nearly every member of the regular and guest cast also doubled as the voice of an anonymous German character. For instance, Michael Rosenbaum, who voices The Flash, also plays Savage's torture expert, Josef.
* Phil Morris, who voices Vandal Savage, appeared in the earlier episode "The Brave and the Bold", as the "General" of Gorilla City. According to the commentary, it helped that Morris, a comic book fan, was already familiar with the character of Savage.

Trivia

* The symbol seen on all the Nazi buildings is the "S" style from the insignia of the SS.
* The episode features a collection of heroes from DC Comics' World War II era, including Sergeant Rock and Easy Company, The Blackhawks and Steve Trevor, Wonder Woman's love interest.
*In the alternate timeline, Bruce Wayne's resistance includes Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake, and someone who looks like Cassandra Cain, in non-speaking cameos.
* Wonder Woman interrogates a German soldier tied up by her Golden Lasso. According to the "Justice League Unlimited" episode "The Balance", at this time she is apparently unaware of her Lasso's power to force someone to tell the truth.
* At the allied camp, the American flag correctly shows 48 stars, as Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states.
* In the comics, J'onn and other Martians are shown to be vulnerable to fire. This is never shown in the series; in this episode, J'onn hangs on to a jet plane in the direct path of the afterburner's exhaust, without effect.
* Unlike his real self, the alternate timeline's Batman has no qualms about using firearms.
* Likewise, in the alternate timeline, two of his resistance fighters appear from behind the fender of a vehicle that strongly resembles the original Batmobile, only it now has a cannon mounted on the front turret, like an armored car.
* Savage makes reference to Nietzsche's concept of the Übermensch, a term sometimes translated (somewhat inaccurately) as "Superman"; Superman has often compared to Nietzsche's ideal, though this may represent a misunderstanding of Nietzche's meaning. This term was also referred to indirectly by Lois Lane in the episode "The Last Son of Krypton".
* The term "Ubermensch" has also suffered from its association with the Nazi regime, which also misinterpreted the concept to align with its own ideas of genetic superiority.
* During the actual World War II, Superman and Batman were involved in many pro-America propaganda comics. Wonder Woman was also created during this era.
* Savage code-names his invasion plan "Operation Endgame". An endgame is the final phase in a game of chess.
* The "Justice League" season 1 DVD set features an audio commentary on "Part II" by Bruce Timm, James Tucker, Glen Murakami, Rich Fogel, and Dan Riba.
* When encountering the first War Wheel, The Flash yells, "Hey Colonel Klink!" This is a reference to a character in the show "Hogan's Heroes".
* When Steve Trevor engages in a dogfight after he steals the Luftwaffe plane, he calls a pilot "Fritz", which was a term used by allied soldiers to refer to German soldiers.
* Adolf Hitler had an apperance but in a frozen state.

Cast

Uncredited Appearances

* Adolf Hitler


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