The Deal: this is the ninth in a series of pitches for the rebooted DC Movies, and the end of Phase One. I’m leaning on AI art to mock-up these pitches, because it adds a layer of humor and weirdness.
Our story begins en media res. The screen is black, and we hear, heavy, human breathing, the sounds of someone running in the rain, and narration, as black boots go crashing through puddles before cutting back to black. “People believe I’m arrogant. That I believe I belong standing shoulder to shoulder with Gods.” It’s Batman speaking, which becomes clear when we see Metallo, just his metal skeleton, the glowing kryptonite powering it exposed, strolling out of the burning wreckage of the Batmobile.
“His car is gone,” Metallo says.
Black Manta floats out of the water. “His sub is gone.” A burning boat floats on the top of the water behind him.
“And I killed his drone,” Cheetah says, watching through a scope as a bat-shaped drone falls from the sky. Her rifle is actually a long-distance taser, single-use, because Flag doesn’t trust her with a firearm.
Batman is running, turns and throws three batarangs, each colliding with one of Boomerang’s boomerangs before continuing to run. “He’s still on the move,” Boomerang says.
“It isn’t about where I belong, it’s that someone has to stand up.” Batman stops, and allows Joker to strafe his cape with a tommy gun to protect a ‘child’ in the middle of the alley. “And in Gotham, not many do.” Batman rises to his full height. The ‘child,’ it turns out, is just a doll stuffed with C4, and Batman has to resume running, rather than confront Joker, as it explodes behind him.
“I told you Amanda,” Joker taunts over their radios in a sing-song.
“You keep these comms clear, or I’ll blow that bomb in your neck just to get your voice out of my head,” Waller barks.
“She’s going to be disappointed when she finds out it’ll take more than that,” Harley says. “Like electroshock. But I wouldn’t rule out a lobotomy.”
“Quinn,” Flag says, and she drops into a side street, keeping Batman going down the alley. But he slices left, and hops a fence on the opposite side of the alley, just over the boards and under a sheet of industrial metal siding. “Damnit,” Flag says, catching up with Quinn. “Are we funneling him, or is he funneling us?” She leaps through the same hole.
“Just keep to the plan, Flag,” Waller says, watching events from a monitoring room through a series of drones and satellites.
Batman gets into the open, and fires his grapnel to the top of an apartment building. Harley and Flag are just behind him, climbing up a fire escape.
“No way,” Harley says, stopping just outside a rooftop door. “I seen Mr. J make this mistake too many times. Never follow the bat into a cave.”
“It’s an apartment building,” Flag says.
“And it was a metaphor. There’s no place he’s more dangerous than when you think he’s trapped.”
“Quinn, there’s two buses out of here, and one goes to the cemetery.”
“Ooh, field trip!” she squeals happily. “I love the cemetery.”
“Just get in there,” Flag shoves Harley through the open door, into darkness.
“Aw, nuts,” she says from inside, before being kicked back out, over the edge of the building. In the same moment, a batarang, carrying a wire, loops around her feet, so she doesn’t go far, and swings down and hits her head against the side of the building. “I feel like I should remember whether you can get a double-concussion,” Quinn says, before passing out.
“I’m going to need backup,” Flag says into his comms.
“This suit was designed for deep sea submersion; it doesn’t fly,” Manta tells him from the street.
“And Luthor didn’t give me rocket boots,” Metallo snipes, running up beside Manta.
“Fine,” Flag says, “Team Full of Density and Excuses, start on the bottom floor. We’ll sweep from the top. You flush him, holler.”
“I’m with you,” Cheetah says, landing in a catlike sprawl after climbing the exterior of the building. “Though I still say I’d be more effective if you let me have a sidearm.”
“He eats mercs for breakfast.”
“I’m here as well,” says the White Martian, “and he doesn’t have to be a telepath to know you’d use the gun on him at the first opportunity.”
Cheetah sticks her tongue out at the Martian. Flag leads the way inside the building. “It’s quiet,” Flag says.
“Too quiet?” Cheetah asks with an edge to it.
“He’s correct,” the Martian says. “The building is empty. In fact, I don’t even see-” liquid dribbles from the ceiling, onto the Martian, and an instant later the liquid ignites as Batman drops down on him, kicking him out of the door and back onto the roof.
Batman takes on Flag and Cheetah hand to hand; they’re both military-trained, so their styles mesh well, for a moment, until Batman compensates. He knocks the wind out of Cheetah, then smashes Flag face-first into a door-jam; Flag does manage to get a shot off, and it pancakes against the back of Batman’s cowl.
Cheetah gets up, slowly, having taken a knife Flag dropped in the fight. Instead, Batman hands her his cape, and points outside, at the screaming Martian. “He’s coated in a napalm derivative; smother the fire, deprive it of oxygen for a few minutes, and it will go out.”
She pauses, and calls in to Waller. “Orders?”
“Damnit,” Waller mutters. “Stand down. Aid the Martian asset.”
She drops the knife, and takes the cape.
Batman only gets a few steps in before Black Manta collapses a wall on his left while Metallo collapses a walls on his right. One goes high, the other low, and Batman is able to leap down the middle, and they clang together, loudly. “Ah,” Manta says. “Clearly I need better sound-dampening.”
“Or a smaller head,” Metallo says. Both give chase. At the end of the hallway, Boomerang turns out of a door. He flings four boomerangs; Batman does, too. Three of the batarangs knock the boomerangs out of the air; the fourth smacks Boomerang in the head, so that he’s falling as Batman runs past. Boomerang’s last projectile detonates as it flies past Metallo and Black Manta, knocking them into Boomerang. As he rounds the end of the hall and into a stairwell Batman slaps an oval slab of plastique with a bat-symbol detonator in the center onto the wall. It detonates as he leaps down the stairwell, catching Boomerang, Manta and Metallo in a pressure wave and sending them flying in the opposite direction from the initial explosion.
The stairwell collapses behind Batman. “I really did tell her,” an eerie voice echoes, through the stairwell, “but no one listens to the jester.” Joker leaps from the shadows and slashes Batman with a knife, managing to cut him, though superficially- mostly because Batman slipped out of his cowl, leaving Joker holding it as he notices a rope hanging over the edge of the stairs. He cuts it, and cranes his neck, holding his hand to his ear, hoping for a thud, but instead hears a door open, and shut. Joker crosses his arms and harumphs, then starts to put the cowl on himself, though we cut away before it’s clear what’s happening.
We see Batman from behind, without his cowl or cape, through a rifle scope. “I’ve got your target in my sights. Advise.”
“I want him identifiable. We have to be able to put a face to this. Give me a realistic assessment of whether you can give me that.”
Batman leaps over and onto a motorcycle, and very swiftly speeds away. At this distance, with Batman moving quickly, armored save for his head, it would be a shot in the dark, at best. “No shot,” the sniper says, and lowers the rifle. Those who saw Cyborg will recognize the voice as belonging to Deathstroke, but shh…
Flag comes to to someone in a Batman cowl slapping him across the face, then in his best Bale Batman voice howling, “Who do you work for?” Flag yelps, and draws, trying to fire an empty gun into the Joker’s chin as he scrabbles to get out from under him.
“See?” Harley says, handing Flag back his magazine and bullet, “funnier with an empty gun.”
“It’s barely a joke if no one lands in the hospital,” Joker pouts from under the cowl.
“I’ve got a broken rib, if that tickles your funny bone,” Cheetah says.
“Me-ow,” Joker says.
“Can the Martian pick him back up?” Waller asks over comms.
“The Martian’s currently extra-crispy,” Cheetah says. He’s mostly off-screen, but we can see a charred limb raised out of Batman’s cape, and hear him moaning.
“Fall back,” Waller says. “We’ll regroup.” She throws her headset across the room.
We cut to black, and show white text: One hour earlier.
Joker is wrapped in a cape from a Phantom of the Opera Halloween costume and leaps over the end of a table, singing “Kill the bat!”, ending what was clearly an energetic song and dance number, most likely to the tune of “Kill the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast. “Come on,” Joker says, “it’s worth whatever we have to pay Disney.” Harley leans into him and whispers in his ear. “They wanted that much? And they call me a villain?” He cackles uproariously, before adding. “I’m joking– we’re both monsters.”
Flag drags Joker off the table by the cape. “Let me just say, this team was designed in the hopes of overwhelming a demonstrably superior force with intel from previous encounters. But you two are the only pair with largely duplicative knowledge.”
“Then why are we both here?” Harley asks.
“Both your psych profiles indicate an unwillingness to play well with others. And since we happened to sweep you both up on the same night, Waller let me have a spare, in case one of you goes boom.” He pantomimes the bomb at the base of their skull exploding.
“Not it,” Harley says, putting a finger to her nose.
Waller clears her throat. “Captain,” she says, before leading Flag away. “Any luck with the alien, Flag?”
“This time it only took 10,000 volts to get him to stop trying to eat my men’s hearts… but I don’t think he’s giving up the goods.”
“That’s fine. We don’t have to get buy-in. We just have to get him in the room with the right one of these do-gooders, and his anger will take care of the rest.”
“What about the Bat?”
“If we need the big guns to take down an industrialist with too much man-pain, you need to find another line of work.”
Batman is driving his, at this point still functional, Batmobile through Gotham. The interior lights turn red, right before Alfred calls over the radio. “Sir, sensors show you’re being shadowed by multiple aerial drones, as well as an armored personnel carrier.”
“Insignia?” Batman asks, taking a turn sharply.
“No known government markings, sir.”
“I’m diverting to site 21.”
“Would you like assistance?”
“At this stage, I’m not willing to risk anyone else.”
“Very good, sir. Happy hunting.”
Lights go from a low red to bright red, with alarms blaring loudly as Metallo leaps from a building down towards the car. In slow motion, we see Batman’s ejector seat send him hurtling just out of the reach of Metallo’s clawed fingers as his feet crumple the Batmobile’s cockpit. The ejector seat fires a small rocket burst before loosing a parachute. Almost immediately, the parachute’s wires are cut by several boomerangs, and Batman bounds off of a nearby wall, kicking free as the chair explodes. He’s able to use the cape to slow his descent enough for him to land, albeit roughly, in a roll. Batman touches his belt to cue his comms. “It was an ambush. Send a drone and the submersible to my location.”
“Set it to circle the site. I might need a quick egress.”
And we’re now caught up to the beginning, matching one of the shots of his boots running, then, where that shot cuts to black, we stay at black, and put up white text: Now.
We go back to the Task Force X HQ. Waller, trying to save face, pivots, saying Batman is maybe the most dangerous of them, that he’s managed to survive on grit and wit, that they need to take out his potential allies to keep him exposed and vulnerable. Joker actually confronts Waller- accusing her of letting Batman go in the hopes of drawing in all these other players, and their weaponizable tech- Martian, Kryptonian, Amazonian, Atlantean, etc.. Waller won’t confirm or deny, but it’s clear there’s some truth to it- that him figuring that out almost gives her a grudging respect for him. He storms off, seemingly in a reasonably normal huff, stating he agreed to kill the Bat, not this suicide mission. Flag tells two of his operatives to follow Joker. He loses contact with them thirty seconds later. Waller triggers Joker’s bomb, and the guard nearest Waller’s head explodes. “Shirt,” she demands of Flag, and he strips it off. She uses it to wipe her guard’s blood off her face. “I told you the clown was too dangerous.”
“And I told you your security was sloppy,” Flag says, sliding the shirt back on. They each think Flag continuing to wear the shirt is a middle finger to the other, proof of the other’s screw-up.
“Uh,” Harley points out the cowl Joker left behind is playing a message on repeat- the same message he’s sent to the rest of the Justice League.
The message continues, as we show a montage, proving that Batman has secreted beacons in each of the League member’s homes, that activate, first showing a holographic bat signal, then playing his message. “These aren’t the circumstances I was hoping to contact you in. In fact, I was hoping I’d never need to. I was content to confine my activities to Gotham, and leave you to your own. That option’s off the table. A rogue government operative has assembled a team of our foes. Tonight they’re hunting me, and I have no doubt, they’ll hunt all of you, next. Divided, we’re easy prey. Together… we might stand a chance. I’ve cleared out the old Gotham Penitentiary. I was going to use it as a training facility, but I also realized a time might come when I needed a hardened site for an assault, isolated enough to prevent civilian casualties. Meet me there. And be careful. Waller has resources and cunning.”
We’re back with Waller and Flag at her HQ. He asks to see her without the guards. “I think there’s something you’re not telling me, Amanda. If you really wanted a military team, you’d have gone with the team I suggested. Or at least let me put these clowns through boot. This is barely a step up from that Central City amateur hour.”
“If there’s anything you need to know, I’ll let you know it.”
“You don’t get to pull that chain of command crap with me. I don’t work for you- that’s our deal.”
She smiles. “I know. But you’re fun when you’re angry.” She pours herself a drink, and doesn’t offer him one. “I did ask. The answer was ‘no’ on both fronts. Eiling. Never said a word to me, but he’s the only one in a position to make a case against us. Fear was we’d be creating better, more disciplined criminals; best-case scenario, we’d be replacing slap-dash heroes with trained ones- who would be that much harder to depose if they ever went rogue, and already have a history of doing just that.”
“And that’s why you let us screw up with the Bat.”
“Oh, he’s good. And I did not put my thumb on the scale. But I also didn’t go all in on that mission, either.”
“Because if we can’t take this ‘Justice League’ without training our operators, maybe they’ll let us do that.”
“Or even give us clearance to start recruiting ex-military, like Deathstroke and Deadshot.”
“Didn’t know Deadshot-”
“Yeah, he was one of ours. Second-most decorated sniper in history. Until we found out he was taking private contracts on the side- and wasn’t picky about whose side they were on. We wiped his identity, and there’s been a Presidential kill order for him ever since. I imagine he’d be willing to do some work for us, to have that rescinded.”
“Deathstroke, though… he doesn’t come cheap.”
“I didn’t say anything about hiring him.”
“I don’t think he’s broken any laws.”
“Mercs always break laws. And even if he was so clean he squeaked, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
“This is why I don’t work for you.”
“Keep talking like that, and I’ll find a way to make you.”
He ignores the threat. “So either we win, you get your proof of concept and your green light, or we lose, and you get proof you need more funding and access to better trained operators. I hope I never have cause to be on your bad side.”
“Good luck, Captain,” she says, and raises the glass she never once drank from.
Batman arrives at the prison on his cycle wearing a new cape and cowl. He interacts with a screen in his gauntlet, checking that his security measures are working. “There’s still time to call in the family,” Alfred says over his radio. “Batgirl and Nightwing are less than three miles out.”
“No. These people are too dangerous, even if I had time to prep them.”
“And if your reinforcements don’t show? Master Bruce… you barely escaped your last encounter intact.”
“I’ve got a radar ping, Alfred. Keep the kids away from here. Keep them safe.”
“As you wish, sir. Godspeed.”
The wind blows past him, and then an invisible jet lands. Wonder Woman leaps out of the cockpit, and shakes Batman’s hand.
“I thought about inviting you to a charity fundraiser,” he tells her.
“I bet they’d pay millions just to see the two of us dance.”
“I meant out of costume.”
“I bet they’d pay double for that,” she says with a glint in her eye.
“She’s funny,” Flash is there an instant later. “I knew she’d be intimidating. But funny? I bet you had the Batman blushing.” Flash runs up to Bruce, only to realize he’s towering over him, and comedically lurching back. “Though I could be mistaken.”
“I’m glad you came,” Batman says before turning around.
“I had to,” we hear him before we see him, Superman flying majestically into their midst. “My mom would kill me if I refused a polite invitation from Batman. Unless I sent one of those little cards, but I can never remember the right etiquette for those. Easier just to show.”
“Could she kill you?” Batman asks. “Does she have access to the right minerals?”
“Huh,” Superman says. “I can’t tell if you’re joking. I usually can. Microexpressions, heart-rate fluctuations, even tell-tale changes in cerebral blood-flow or neuronal activity.”
“He isn’t joking,” Martian Manhunter says. “He rarely does. Though he does remember how.”
“Stay out of my head,” Batman growls.
“You probably shouldn’t be ornery with the Martian,” Hal Jordan says, landing next to John. “He was the one who convinced me to trust you.”
“Oh yeah,” Flash says, as if the thought is only dawning on him now. “This could have been a trap.”
“No,” Aquaman says, rising out of the reservoir beneath the prison. “I don’t believe anyone else could have found us all.”
“I’m not so sure,” Batman says. “Victor, you might as well come out.”
For a moment we join Cyborg in the shadows. “You can totally do this. You’re a fricking Cyborg.” He walks out of the shadows.
“I was hoping he was with you,” Superman says with a smile. “I… heard the pep-talk you were giving yourself. I’m sure you’ll do fine, son.”
“Don’t say ‘son,’” he replies, largely doing a bit.
“Oh, sorry,” Superman says, genuinely taken aback. “I didn’t mean to imply a patriarchal imbalance; I know you’re younger because I can see your telomeres, but-”
“I just thought we were doing a bit- wait, you can see my telomeres?” Cyborg looks down at his arm, and his cybernetic eye scans it. “Weird. So can I. Why didn’t I ever think of that?”
“Presumably because you already know how old you are,” Flash says, suddenly standing in front of Cyborg, “I’m Flash, by the way.” He puts out his hand at superspeed.
“I think introductions can wait,” Wonder Woman says. “You were about to describe the threat.”
Batman drops a metal ball on the ground which projects an image of Amanda Waller. “She’s basically me, if I worked for the government, was a complete sociopath and had been recruiting the most dangerous criminals we’d ever fought to weaponize against us.”
“If she’s basically you the suit quite effectively shapes your thunder,” Flash says.
“And it kind of washes you out,” Cyborg adds.
“Quiet, children, the adults are speaking,” Arthur says.
“Dude, you’re like thirty, not Arthurian.”
Arthur’s confused. “My name is actually Arthur.”
“That’s no excuse for talking like a Shakespearean character.”
“Clever,” Flash rolls his eyes, “because Le Morte d’Arthur was written in ye olde English.”
Batman gets an alarm on his gauntlet. “We don’t have time for any of this,” Batman interrupts, “or any time for me to prep you. They’re on their way.”
“You’re leading them here,” Superman says, turning towards Batman, suddenly short.
“Like I said, we fight them here, they can’t hurt civilians- or use the fact we’ll protect innocent people against us. I asked all of you here for two reasons- one, there’s someone coming here each of you has fought before. Two, I think we share the same goal- saving innocent lives. You want to hate me after, you want to kick the hell out of me after, you can.”
“Something tells me he gives a similar speech on dates,” Flash says to Cyborg.
“Man, I’m just happy to be included,” Cyborg replies. “I’ve fought precisely one costumed weirdo. Usually somebody’d slap an ‘S’ on my chest and make me a sidekick, or put me on the JV squad.”
“We aren’t a team,” Batman continues. “We don’t know one another. Our best bet is to continue to work alone, fan out across this place. I’ve built in automated defenses; all of you have been white listed. But knowing the people coming, my traps will only soften them up.”
Cyborg raises his hand. “Yeah, as the one Black guy in the spooky, derelict prison, I think I’d be remiss in not objecting to us splitting up.”
“Anybody want to pair off with Stone?” Batman asks. “You’re welcome to. I’d suggest refraining from sleeping with him, though-”
“No reason to tempt the Gods?” Wonder Woman asks wryly.
“I will,” Flash says, before stopping himself, “go with you, I mean, not sleep with- I have a girlfriend.”
Cyborg puts up his hands. “No one asked, man.”
“So it’s a no questions asked situation?” Aquaman asks Wonder Woman.
“I heard that,” Cyborg says. “And we’re the children,” he says
“I mean you are like ten,” Flash deadpans, waits a beat, then adds, “Kidding; I can’t see telomeres, and you’re also mostly a robot. Though you do have a very youthful cheek.”
“It’s working for you.”
Superman and Batman pair off, mostly because Clark doesn’t trust him (which makes Bruce like him more), and because he wants to try to keep the vulnerable human alive (which makes Bruce like him less). But Batman has his own plans, and takes him to his control room.
“You really trust this Bat-guy?” Green Lantern asks.
“Trust isn’t a concept in my culture. Agendas, subterfuge, are only possible for short durations, and usually by means of rogue technology. I know who he is; I know what he wants, and what he needs. He has been honest with us, to a point.”
“It’s that caveat that has my Lantern senses tingling.”
Manhunter reconsiders. “He would die to protect any one of us, without hesitating. He involved us only reluctantly, after nearly dying twice earlier this evening.”
“I’m beginning to feel like all of us are metaphorically naked around you.”
“Your ring provides rudimentary telepathic defenses. And it’s not polite to pry. I did look into the man, before we came. I’m a father; I can’t risk myself recklessly.”
Batman comes over the loudspeaker. “They’ll likely let the White Martian take point, in the hopes he can disable some of our defenses. He’s easily the largest threat. He’s a telepath. He could shut us all down from a distance without John.”
“So I’m your shield,” Hal says.
“Did I not mention that?” John asks wryly. “Although you won’t need to be for long. He’s here.”
John telepathically tells Flash and Cyborg where the Martian is. John has Cyborg scan to locate him despite him being invisible, and has Flash attack him with a whirl-wind, which John tells them will disrupt his ability to control his atoms- especially after Batman’s attack. Then he attacks the Martian’s mind.
For a moment Martian Manhunter and the White Martian posture, turning into vast webs of limbs and weapons, before John lowers his weapons. “You aren’t like the others. No bomb in your neck; I suppose you could phase out of it the second you wanted. What did they use to leash you?”
The White Martian lowers his weapons. “Megan. They threatened her- to drop thermobaric bombs on her, her school, your apartment. I couldn’t chance it.”
“No. I wouldn’t ask you to. But your heart’s not in this fight. Yield, and I will make it painless. You will tell them you were injured, and lost.”
He takes John’s hand. “Keep our daughter safe.” John shuts down the White Martian’s mind, and John tells Flash to stop, and the Martian falls.
Suddenly we’re in a different control room. Somewhat subtly, to start, it’s the same basic décor as Batman’s. “Martian’s down,” Flag says, as they watch on cameras.
“With time to spare,” Waller says with a smile, as she watches the Suicide Squad make their way through the halls. “He bought us our in.”
“I’m still not happy to have you on-site. You’re what we refer to as a high-value target, and we brought you into the lion’s den.”
“Had to be done,” she says. “This billionaire playboy has tech even DARPA doesn’t understand. The only way I could control this battlefield without being noticed and digitally cut off was to be on site, hard-wired into the system- a lot of which is our system.”
Waller takes control of a security panel, and tells it to target the Flash, before stopping herself, because he’s too fast to shoot. So she’ll give the hero a chance to save someone, and instead targets Cyborg with an automated gun. Flash tries to save Cyborg from as many bullets as he can, but takes several shots in the legs; Cyborg is able to build a metal shield with his tech that’s able to sop up bullets- though clearly the gun is slowly cutting pieces from it.
Back in the control room, Superman stands over Batman, both staring at a monitor. “Stop shooting at them,” he menaces.
“That’s not my gun. I don’t do guns.” There’s a flash of understanding on Superman’s face; he had an idea of who Batman was under the cowl, but that confirms it for him. “Someone else installed it. And they control it.”
“Can’t you hack into it?” Flash asks, as Cyborg protects him behind a shrinking shield.
“I can’t. It’s hard-wired,” he says, distracted by the gunfire.
“Right.” Cyborg scans the nearest wall, finding the right cable, and punches into it, ripping the wiring out and inserting it into a port in his arm. The gun dies. “Whooh!” Cyborg says, raising his arms before collapsing with Flash. “Think I’ll lay back and have a little celebratory heart attack.”
“S’cool,” Flash says dazedly, largely laying in Cyborg’s arms. “I’m just gonna lay here trying to regrow my legs. I feel safe here, as the little spoon. Don’t tell Iris.”
We cut to Batman’s control room. “You’re not, are you?” Superman asks. “Going to tell her?”
“Only with a compelling reason,” Batman says.
“I assume you have one, for keeping me here, for why I’m not fighting with others.”
“I’ve seen the footage, from your coming out party, at Kansas State.”
“That’s not what it was.”
“I wanted you here because you’re vulnerable, in a way most of the team isn’t.”
“I thought you said we weren’t a team.”
“Teams train together. They trust one another. I don’t see either of those happening.”
“You really have trust issues, don’t you Bruce?”
“What?” Batman menaces. Superman is already a blur, but he’s back an instant later.
“God,” Superman says, putting his hand on Batman’s shoulder. “I’m so sorry. I know what it’s like to lose parents too young…”
“It’s not healthy to stay this closed off.”
“I mean don’t get distracted.” Batman is focused on a camera, and we zoom into it.
Black Manta is advancing on Aquaman. “I thought for sure they would have sprung Orm,” Arthur says. “Or at least found a Colossal Squid salty I kicked it or something. Those diving suits are cool, but this is going to feel a lot like punching do-” Black Manta blasts Aquaman off his feet. Aquaman is wheezing, struggling as he tries to gets up. A little nozzle telescopes out of a wall, and hits him with a comedically large spray of water.
Superman grins, watching Aquaman knocked back on a jet of water. “And they think you have no sense of humor.”
“I’m about 90% sure that his powers are in part water-based, and judging from the heat coming off that blast, it dehydrated him.”
“Any defenses you were planning on using on the bad guys?” Superman asks, as Manta continues to advance. A different device telescopes out of the floor, and sprays oil onto it.
Manta’s suit gives him a warning, about low-friction, right before he starts sliding, kicking his legs wildly before doing a full Home Alone fall on his back. “Nyuck nyuck,” Superman says.
“Quiet,” Batman replies.
Aquaman punches Manta, but the suit is hardened, originally to withstand crushing ocean depths, and then redesigned to withstand Aquaman’s punches, so it barely dents. Manta tries to blast him from the ground, with Aquaman diving out of the way. “Remove the helmet,” Batman says through a speaker.
“Oh, right,” Aquaman says. He rolls out of the way of another blast. Manta tries to stand, but is even more oily than before, and falls face-down. Aquaman gets a knee into his back, and uses the leverage to tear Manta’s helmet off him. Suddenly seeing David, he feels a pang of remorse. “David, I-”
Manta punches him, knocking him back.
“You want me to-” Superman gestures in that direction.
“No,” Batman says, holding up his hand.
Aquaman lunges, reeling back to throw a punch, but Manta has ample time to punch him in the face. Manta freezes, and we see that Aquaman wasn’t throwing a punch at all, but delivering an octopus, one holding a small glass vial, sitting on Manta’s shoulder.
“I imagine you’re familiar with box jellyfish.” The octopus holds the vial up so that Manta can see there’s a little baby jellyfish inside. “Their tentacles are covered in microscopic cells that function like hypodermic needles. I’ve been working with Percy to get the dosing right; too much venom can cause cardiac arrest, but the right dose leads to paralysis. Because I don’t want to hurt you, David; I didn’t want to hurt your dad, either. You can blame me for his death, if you want; but he made a choice, not to look out for himself, or for you. He risked himself for profit. But… I am sorry. I know I played a role in his death. I was rash, and angry, and I lashed out. It was the first time someone tried to kill me, and I didn’t react well. But we don’t have to do this. You don’t have to take your obvious genius and bend it to hurt people. You could extend humanity’s reach into the deepest parts of the ocean, and further into the reaches of space. I hope you choose something better than this.” He turns to go. “Oh, the octopus is going to stay. He’ll give you a couple of injections. The first is a cocktail, some Atlantean medicine, spiked with some cholestorol agonists. It should prevent any long-term damage from the venom. He’ll also give you a dose of tranquilizer.” The octopus produces a syringe, and hovers the needle over Manta’s eye. “It doesn’t go in the eye, though.” Arthur leans in. “He’s not really a sadist; he just has a warped sense of humor.” The octopus flips Aquaman off as he walks away. “I saw that.” The octopus looms over Manta, wringing his tentacles menacingly.
“Diana,” we hear Aquaman call. Then we cut to him searching. “Diana!”
We cut to Diana parrying a strike from Cheetah. “We don’t have to do this, Barbara.” She catches another blow on her bracelet, which clearly hurts Cheetah’s hand. “I have no desire to hurt you.”
“No,” Minerva scoffs. “You just want to protect the status quo, and all the predators that protects.”
Diana ponders a moment. “I don’t. I also don’t know who preyed on you, Barbara, but I would love to help you stop them- or stop those like him.”
Minerva weighs the offer. “You might even believe that. But they don’t.” Aquaman passes on the other side of two-sided glass, thick enough he can’t hear their fighting. “The men you’re fighting with. Men can’t accept strong women. You’ll find that out.”
“They don’t get to make my decisions for me.”
“You might believe that. I can’t.” Barbara unsheathes her claws. “I know I can’t beat you. You’re faster. Stronger. And you’ve been at this a hell of a lot longer than I have. In a fair fight, I’m catnip. So why fight fair?” She produces Flag’s sidearm, and fires slowly. She’s trying to lead Wonder Woman towards a Claymore mine she and Flag set.
“You should help her,” Batman barks.
“I’m not a dog you can order to attack.” He uses his x-ray vision to ascertain her location in the prison. “I have her- if she needs me.” There’s an awkward silence for a moment. “I do have a Kryptonian dog with similar powers… but he’s shorter, cuter, likes being scritched behind the ears.”
Batman pauses a beat. “What breed?” Batman asks, both because he’s genuinely trying, and because he actually likes dogs, or at least, he likes his.
“Uh, Kryptonian, I otherwise don’t know how to answer that.” He pauses, too, realizing what’s happening. “Yours?”
“German Shepherd. Smart, loyal. Alfred named him ‘Ace.’”
“I guess Krypto resembles a labrador, a white one. He’s smart, too.”
“Do you make him wear a cape?”
“He… gets really anxious if you try to take it off him. Yours?”
“I’m not a monster.”
Pause a beat.
“Have you ever called him your bat-hound?” Clark asks.
Awkward silence, before we cut back to Wonder Woman deflecting more bullets.
“I want you to know something, Barbara, that you taught me. I always saw these bracelets as a shield. I used them to protect myself, and my sisters. I was so focused on protecting people, that I didn’t realize, sometimes the best defense,” she turns her wrists, so a pair of Minerva’s bullets bounce off the bracelets, and ricochet to hit Minerva in the knees, and she goes down, “is offense.”
Barbara’s lying on the ground, holding her gunshot knees. “If I call that a sucker punch, do I have to admit you suckered me?”
Diana holds out a bit of cloth to bind the wounds. “I can’t make promises, Barbara, but I meant what I said. If I can help you, or help you help others, I will. And may the gods make room in Hades for the men who oppose me.”
Cheetah thinks a moment, before taking the cloth.
We cut back to Waller’s control room. “Damnit, I’ve lost visual on Quinn,” Flag says. “Should I blow her?”
“If it’s permission you’re asking for, I think it’s the lady who’d be the one to give it,” Boomerang says, tapping Harley’s monitor.
“No,” Waller says. “This place was a prison, built in the old Gotham mines. There’s feet of rock, concrete and ore in places. We still have audio.”
We cut to Harley, walking into Batman’s control room, holding a white flag in one hand and cue cards, the first of which reads, “Hiya, Bats!” with a little heart dotting the I. She quickly flips to the next card. “I’m bugged” (with a crudely drawn cockroach illustrating it). “And booby-trapped.” Her next card has two diagrams, one with an outline of a chest that’s Xed out, and the other with a circle at the neck.
Batman holds up his hand to stop Superman. We zoom in on his mouth, barely moving; we hear it as Superman does, a whisper, but LOUD. “X-rays might set it off.” Clark nods grimly.
Batman pulls a device with a needle and a scalpel from his utility belt, and Harley stumbles backward, falling back into a chair. Batman signs at Clark, and we subtitle it. “Distract her.”
Superman begins pantomiming, and Harley, confused, follows along. “Look? It’s a bird? No, a plane? No- ow, my neck,” Harley moans, as Batman jabs something into her neck.
“The device is inactive,” Batman says at full volume. “It’s probably safer not to remove it in the field.”
“So it’s safer to leave it in my neck?” Harley asks, springing to her feet.
We cut back to Waller. “Detonate,” she commands, and Flag hits the red button with her name on it. She waits a moment, listening for a detonation. “Shit.”
We’re back with Batman, Superman and Harley. “You could have been wrong,” Clark says.
“But I wasn’t,” Batman says. “Receiver was using a WayneTech chip. I removed it.”
Harley collapses back into her chair. “I really need anxiety meds.”
“Who’s left?” Batman asks, leaning threateningly over her, tilting her chair to put her even more ill-at-ease.
“I’d tell him,” Superman says. “He’s really not rational when he’s like this.”
“Who is left?” he asks again.
“When I left the other control room, there was Boomer, Flag, and Waller.”
“Waller’s on site,” Batman says. “And Flag has a fractured rib; should take some of the fight out of him. Should have broken his trigger fingers while I was at it. That’s all?”
“That, and ‘the big guy’ who was apparently a big fan of eating hearts, and the only one who spooked the guards more than Mistah J.” Metallo crashes through the rear wall, and immediately the shielding around his kryptonite core slides away. “Oh, and that guy.”
“Damnit, Quinn,” Batman says, ducking under one of Metallo’s arms even as he connects with Superman, knocking him into the opposite wall.
Batman starts kicking one of the console panels. “What are you doing?” Quinn asks.
“These systems are all water-cooled.” The panel bends inward, and he’s able to tear it loose, and slices through a hose with a batarang in his fist.
“Heh,” Harley chuckles to herself, “his water broke.” The water crests against Metallo’s metal feet, where he’s using Superman, embedded in the rock at this point, as a punching bag. Batman climbs on the chair with her. “Hey, what gives?”
“We’re improvising. Lift your feet.” She does, as he flings several batarangs at some insulated cords along the wall, slicing through them. One strikes the water, electrifying the floor, frying Metallo, freezing him. Superman, no longer held in place by the force of punches, slides to the floor, where he starts being electrocuted. He struggles to the cable, and picks it up, stopping the flow of current.
“That hurts more than you might think,” Superman says.
“We improvised,” Harley says, as Batman sprints across the room. “You should have listened when he said to lift your feet.”
“I’m sure he’s shielded, we’re probably just waiting for his processors to boot back up,” Batman says as he welds a piece of lead-lining from an x-ray protection gown in Metallo’s chest. “That should help,” he says. “Just don’t hit him in the chest.” Metallo grabs Batman by the throat, but Superman is there in an instant, and knocks him back.
“You okay?” Superman asks.
“A choking like that won’t do any more than a day of vigorous growling,” Harley says, as Metallo and Superman punch each other in the face. “It’s kinda like rock ‘em sock ‘em robots,” Harley says, having to leap out of the way as Metallo throws Superman.
“Sorry, ma’am,” he says, before flying at Metallo.
“Ma’am me again and I’ll make you sorry,” she says, kicking at the empty air where he’d been. Batman grabs hold of her chair and rolls her into the hall as a man-shaped dent appears in the door behind them.
“I think we’re safer out here,” Batman says.
“Unless they’ve got some kind of redundancies in the arming mechanism,” Harley says.
“Fair point. Stick close.”
“Yeah. Nobody wants to die alone if they can take someone else with them.”
“If they need line of sight to set off any redundancies, they have to expose themselves.”
“Ew,” Harley says, making a face.
“Now this is awkward,” a voice echoes menacingly through the halls.
“Run,” Batman says, but Harley stands her ground.
“I never thought I’d find you rubbing another man’s rhubarb,” Joker says, stepping out of the shadows with a large gun.
“I thought the emoji was an eggplant,” Harley says.
“I just can’t decide who to shoot first,” he laughs to himself, before jamming a drum magazine onto his gun. “But I’m not Dent- I don’t have to choose- I can just shoot everone!” he cackles gleefully, filling the hallway with gunfire that doesn’t quite drown out the sound of his laughter (or last as long).
Batman shoves Harley down, taking the brunt of the shots in his armor, protecting her. They’re both lying on the floor, unmoving, Batman with his face covered by a few inches of water.
Joker walks slowly, reloading as he speaks. “Of all the girls I shoved to the floor, I never thought I’d find you sleeping with the enemy, though so long as you’re both sleeping with the fish, who am I to com-” close on Joker’s feet, as we see he’s tripped a wire. Joker stops dead in his tracks, and says, “heh, booby,” before an explosion knocks him into the far wall.
Batman sits up gasping for air. “My hero!” Harley says, wrapping her arms around him. Batman is clearly uncomfortable with the affection, and stands stiffly up.
“I knew he had to be hurting you, too. It’s who he is.”
“It is who he is,” she says indignantly, stamping over to Joker and beginning to kick him.
“Ow, my heart,” he says pathetically, as Batman lifts her up and puts her down away from Joker. Batman lifts him up, and Harley kicks him back down. Batman raises a stern finger to her, and she puts up her hands. Batman gets him up enough to cuff him to a metal bar, then turns to leave, before stopping.
“You know, we’d all be safer if he was unconscious.” Unbridled joy spreads across Harley’s face.
“You wouldn’t hit a guy with glasses, would you?” Joker asks, putting on a pair.
“Those are mine!” she squeals indignantly, kicking him, taking the glasses, and then scissor kicking him into the bar with a gloriously satisfying clang. “I just use ‘em for reading,” Harley says, folding them and putting them in a pocket.
We cut back to Waller and Flag. “Given I can hear the thunder of steel men’s fists, I take it Corben’s still in the fight,” Waller says.
“That’s a bad sign,” Flag says. “He’s not supposed to go toe-to-toe. His edge was the surprise. Longer the fight goes, the better the odds it doesn’t go our way.”
“Then let’s stop dicking around,” Waller says. “Time to put our big gun in play.”
“I’m not sure how wise that is. He might decide to just kill the two of us and leave.”
“Captain, if I stopped every time a man might decide to kill me, I wouldn’t have made it past elementary school.” She cues up a mic. “Do it.” She opens a channel into a cell. “I know we’re still getting to know one another. I know you’re still considering whether to just slaughter your way free. But I have a counter-offer. Kill one of these ‘heroes’ for me, and I’ll see all Earthly records of your time and crimes here expunged. Kill a second, and you’re free. Kill them all, and I’ll tell you where I have William Hand stashed away. Whatever you decide to do with him, it will be like he never existed. Oh, and the first ‘hero’ you get to kill is a Green Lantern.”
We see sharp teeth smiling in the dark cell, lit very faintly by a red light. “With blood and rage of crimson red,” the large alien’s foot stomps, shaking his cage as Waller’s soldiers run. “Ripped from a corpse so freshly dead,” his other foot stomps as he tears off his shackles, sending the metal chains flying at camera, “Together with my hellish hate,” he smashes his metal cell, and the doors and all of the walls and even the ceiling fly off in different directions, “I’ll burn you all, That is your fate!” Atrocitus screams, the final words of his oath, as a red lantern symbol burns behind him.
“So… that’s bad,” Hal says. “I thought Sinestro removed him from the planet.”
“Apparently he was stopped by the Earth authorities,” John says, gleaning that much from a superficial reading of Waller’s fleeing soldiers.
Hal’s ring fills them in. “His ring assessed that human casualties sustained in retaining custody of the prisoner were unacceptable, not to mention that the odds of the prisoner escaping during any conflict approached the 90th percentile.”
“John can you-” Hal doesn’t finish the thought before he’s knocked back by one of Atrocitus’ projections.
“No,” John says, phasing through another. “Like your ring, his provides a degree of telepathic shielding. This calls for a more direct approach.” John phases through Atrocitus’ force-field.
“Martian, huh?” Atrocitus says, almost a laugh. “Burn.”
John is engulfed in a burning red flame, before Hal is able to douse him with green foam to put him out. John is able to phase back through the field. “That hurt like fire,” John says.
“You know what else burns like fire?” we hear the words as Flash blurs by. He vibrates through Atrocitus’ shield, and punches him a thousand times, before Atrocitus stumbles backward. Flash vibrates back out. “That’s right: getting punched like a thousand times in a second. You know what that answer wins you?”
“Another thousand punches?” Atrocitus asks wearily as Flash vibrates back through his force-field. This time, however, he’s met with a second, growing field, that shoves him back, screaming, through the first.
“Okay, John, you were right,” Flash says, “that does burn like fire. Vic, you got anything?”
“Yeah,” Cyborg says, “just didn’t want to step on your moment.” He’s got the sonic canon he used on Deathstroke, only now it’s fancy and sleek, and he blasts Atrocitus with it. It looks, from the outside, like the force-field absorbs it without anything happening, but Vic explains, “See, I scanned the frequency of his field, and calibrated my sonics to harmonize with it, turning his field into one big echo chamber.” For a second we pop back inside the field, where the noise is hard to take. Atrocitus drops the field for a moment, to let the sound out. In the moment his field is down, he’s hit in the chest with a batarang that explodes. He stumbles backward, into Diana’s lasso, which she yanks, sending into to the ground, where we see that on his back is the octopuss.
“You know what else burns like fire?” Aquaman asks.
“I can’t be the only one who’s expecting him to say gonorrhea,” Flash interjects.
“Box jellyfish venom.” We zoom on the octopus injecting atrocitus. “Lantern?”
“I got you, little guy,” Green Lantern says, pulling both the jellyfish and octopus away from Atrocitus in a little protective bubble.
Atrocitus scream. “I don’t imagine it’ll cause paralysis in your species, which presumably come from another planet. But sounds like it’s still unpleasant.”
“Fools!” Atrocitus screams, lashing out in all directions with a wave of energy and weapons and flames, knocking them all to the ground. “I will peel the flesh from your skulls and eat it.”
At that precise moment, a human face barely sticking to a metal exoskeleton impacts with Atrocitus’ force-field; it’s Metallo, thrown by Superman. “I wouldn’t start with that one,” Flash says. “I’m pretty sure it’s artificial. I’m sure it would do lousy things to whatever your equivalent of a colon is.”
“Fast-men, stress his shield,” Batman says. Superman and Flash run circles around Atrocitus, pummeling his force-field. “Diana, put the squeeze on him.” She lassos his field and tightens it.
“Lantern, let John in; make sure he can’t surprise us.” We zoom in. Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern are, in effect, standing on the sheath of energy around Atrocitus’ body (the one that’s inside his larger force-field bubble). They see armies of red energy monsters form and unform.
John explains that, “The rings anticipate you; they try to be prepared for whatever you might need. I have connected you, so that whatever he attempts you will counter, automatically.” Another army rises, but this time, they’re joined in battle by a tiny green one.
“Cyborg,” Batman says. “I need the opposite of what you did before- a frequency that will cancel his field. I need a hole.”
“Then call me Dr. Stone,” Vic says, before adding, “kidding, ‘Doctor Stone’ is my father.” He blasts the field, slicing a hole in it.
“Shuck him like an oyster,” Batman commands. He manages to get a batarang in the hole, and pulls, himself, as the others grab on the hole in the field and pull. Atrocitus tries to create a red energy tentacle, but it’s caught by a green glove, he creates a battery of missiles, only for a green ramp to aim the missiles directly into his own face.
“John? I’m pretty sure he’s not fire on the inside,” Batman says.
John smiles. “You terrible, clever man.”
John oozes through the hole into the force-field, then phases past the energy sheath around his body, poring into his mouth and disappearing. “Would you like to do the honors?” John asks in Batman’s head, as Atrocitus’ sheath dissipates.
“John knows everything about your species that you or the Green Lanterns do. Like where to put pressure to bisect your spinal cord.” Atrocitus’ legs go limp, and he crashes onto his stomach. “Drop the ring, and yield, and it stops. Or John and I start getting creative.”
“Bastards,” Atrocitus yelps, peeling off the ring.
“Lantern?” Batman asks.
Hal picks up the ring in a green energy box, and his ring tells them it’s an authentic ring, that Atrocitus is unarmed. “You can come back out, John.” Manhunter phases out of Atrocitus, which lets him leave all of his bodily fluids where they had been.
“I thought he smelled bad on the outside,” John says. “Is that a reference humans still make? I’m… making a list.”
Quinn arrives with the Squad Members, and Waller in tow. Waller has a boomerang sticking out of her forearm. “Tell them what you told me, B-man,” Harley says.
“I can disarm the bombs in their necks, Waller. But you’re going to let them go.”
“Really?” Waller asks, shoulder-checking Harley as she steps to the front of the group. “From where I’m standing you’re holding an exceedingly weak hand. I know who all of you are, under the masks. Two of you are aliens. Two others aren’t human. One is in thrall to an alien military force, another a threat to modern society, and the other a threat to the very fabric of reality. This is one fight you can’t win, B-man.” She leans on the “B” in a way to make clear she considered calling him “Bruce.”
“That’s your problem. You don’t realize you’ve already lost.” Batman has footage from her control room, played holographically. Harley breaks in. Waller is nearer to the door, and tries to slow her down.
“Her bomb is disabled,” Waller barks. “She stops, or we start blowing the other Task Force members.”
“I’m not killing random people for you, Amanda,” Flag says, stepping away from the control panel.
She hits Harley with her gun, and pushes past him, “Then I’ll do it.”
Boomerang hits her with a boomerang in the arm (the one still embedded in the meat), and Harley punches her in the face. Flag puts up his hands.
The footage cuts to Waller training a gun on Cyborg, shooting Flash, shows Waller ordering Atrocitus to attack them.
“I’ll spell out for you what I have, Waller: it’s an agent of the government weaponizing a criminal army on US soil against citizens, none of whom have been accused of a crime. Worse, two of your targets are diplomatic envoys from sovereign nations. And,” documents flash across the screen, “here are the contracts for the tech you hoped to steal and then have replicated. So door number 1 is the end of your career, and your seedy little Suicide Squad.”
“Then what’s the carrot?”
“You live to fight another day. But your indentured army goes free. And so do we. An end to hostilities against anyone in this room. You still get to operate in the shadows, you just stop using us as your proving ground. There will be no reprisals- not from any of us, and not from you, or I go public, and the chips fall where they may.”
“You trust them?” she asks of the Squad.
“I trust that they understand their situation. Right now, I’m the lesser of two evils. But I’ll worry about that. This agreement is between you and me. Of course, you can always try to renegotiate with them.” Flag and Harley in particular are staring daggers at her, but Cheetah understands she could have been the one Waller tried to kill despite their agreement.
“Fine.” She shakes his hand. Waller leaves. Flag stays behind.
“You sure I can’t just kill her on her way out?” Cheetah asks.
“No,” Batman says. “But I do have an offer I’d like to make to all of you.”
“I should make sure she doesn’t make a beeline for the control room,” Flash says, zooming away.
We cut to later. “I’m not sure how I feel about you hiring yourself a mercenary army,” Superman says.
“We’ll have plenty to talk about that, though I view it more as an unorthodox rehabilitation program,” Batman says, but holds up his hand. Batman says, “Mask of Zorro,” into a bit of rock wall, and a piece of cave slides away, revealing a number pad. He removes his glove, and taps in a code, his fingerprints providing the biometric portion of the lock. The cave wall slides away, revealing a sleek black train. “All aboard.”
The ride is smooth, and doesn’t last very long, before they arrive in the Batcave. Alfred has prepared a feast for them, and set a table and chairs out for them to eat. “What is all this?” Superman asks. “You said yourself we aren’t a team.”
“No,” Batman says, “but maybe we need to be. Waller isn’t going away. I’ve known her kind. She may not be this brazen again, but she isn’t done testing us. And she’s far from the worst threat waiting in the wings. I haven’t changed my mind- not completely; I’m not ready to build a hall of justice and schedule regular meetings of our justice…”
“Family,” Superman suggests.
“Corps,” Green Lantern tries.
“Titans,” Cyborg adds.
“Legion?” Wonder Woman says.
“League?” Aquaman offers.
“Avengers?” Flash asks.
“I’m regretting this already,” Batman says. “But for tonight, we endured. For tonight, I need to say,” he removes his mask, “thank you for coming.” He can’t quite bring himself to admit that they came to his rescue, that they saved him, but they did, and they all understand- and understand that each and every one of them would have done the same for them, but also for anyone. That whether or not they say it tonight, they have built something, something that will endure.
We roll credits.
Mid-credits scene: “There’s a bloody morals clause?” Boomerang asks.
“And a death waiver,” Harley adds.
“It’s a liability waiver,” Flag says. “Death, dismemberment, other injury. Benefits are generous; life insurance if we’re killed, full disability insurance if we’re injured on the job. The morals clause just says we punch who we’re supposed to; looks to be modeled on a military code of conduct.”
“It was,” Batman says, walking into their midst. “But like I said, you don’t want to sign, you’re free to walk. You stay, you work for me. I put a team of high-priced lawyers on any prior issues you’ve had, and compensate you handsomely for your time and talents. Unlike Waller, I don’t view any loss of life as acceptable- especially my people’s lives.”
“How handsomely?” Quinn flips to a different page for Boomerang.
Boomerang scoffs. “I got that much in a single day from hitting Central City Bank.”
“And how much of it did you get to keep?” Batman asks. “Scratch that. How deep in the hole were you, between boomerangs and dental work after Flash was done with you? 10 thousand? More?” He pivots away from Boomerang, who is a little pissed, but Harley puts her hand on his arm and he chills. “There are also bonuses. I anticipate us hitting criminal enterprises. Drugs and weapons we destroy, but we keep cash or anything else. Fifty percent goes towards operating costs- with the hope of reaching sustainability- the rest is yours to split evenly. So that figure is guaranteed base pay; you step on a landmine two steps into your first mission and lose a foot, you get that to live on- maybe more, if the rest of the team keeps paying out your portion of the bonuses. Oh, and if you stay on, you train.”
A woman with short red hair and military workout gear drops her bags. This is Batwoman, though we aren’t going to see her in costume for a while yet.
More credits, then one final end credits scene. Bruce Wayne is walking Ace on the grounds of Wayne Manor. He bends over to pet the dog’s head as a gust of wind blows, and the dog whimpers. “It’s okay, boy,” he whispers. “What are you doing here?” he asks without turning around.
“There’s someone I thought you needed to meet,” Superman says, before floating aside, revealing his flying dog, Krypto! The dog lands beside Ace, and they smell each other. “And you must be Ace,” Superman puts his hand out, and Ace sniffs it. Ace looks to Bruce for approval. Bruce gives a little nod, and the dog responds happily, and rubs his face into Clark’s hand.
“Krypto, meet Bruce.” Krypto floats in front of him.
“Does he shake?” Bruce asks. Krypto shakes like he was covered in water, and stares at him with a dopey dog smile on his face.
“Told you he was smart. And yes. If you put out your paw, he’ll shake.”
“How smart?” Bruce asks, putting out his hand. Krypto shakes it.
“I don’t have a precise answer; smarter than an Earth dog, not as smart as a human. The sun affects him the same way it has me.”
“Strong as you?” Bruce pulls the dog forward by the paw, and it rolls, flipping him over. He rolls, landing gracefully.
“Proportionally, at least.”
“Hmm,” Bruce says, eyeing the dog. “That might make him, pound for pound, the most dangerous thing on the planet.” Bruce turns back towards Ace. “I hope he’s a good boy.”
“You said the magic word,” Clark says, as Bruce is mauled by Krypto’s tongue, giving him dozens of slightly too-fast face licks. “Who’s a good boy?” Clark asks, and Krypto flies to him next.
“I think that depends on what you value,” Bruce says, snapping, and Ace sits at attention. Bruce gives him a treat. An instant later Krypto is sitting next to Ace, sitting just as behaved and attentive. “Touche,” he says, and tosses Krypto a treat of his own.
“Wait,” Superman says, “what’s he got in his mouth?” Ace is holding a small plush of an impish figure in an ill-fitting Batman costume.
“Damnit,” Batman says. “That’s his Bat-Mite.”
“Alfred found it on a trip to India. As far as we can tell, the name is a corruption. One of the meanings of ‘man’ is ‘value,’ which can translate to “mite” in Urdu. I’m not sure how he keeps finding the damn thing; I keep hiding it.”
Ace holds it out, and Krypto sniffs it, before licking the doll’s face. We don’t see it, and neither do our heroes, but Krypto notices the imp wink at him, and tilts his head in that confused way dogs do.