Movies & TV

Martian Manhunter's Reveal in Zack Snyder's Justice League Was Eight Years in the Making

The Justice League founding member has been hiding in plain sight since 2013's Man of Steel.
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Zack Snyder's Justice League has us partying like it's 2017 again. After nearly four years—during which you could've hypothetically earned your bachelor's degree—we finally saw what the polarizing filmmaker had in mind for the superhero team-up before he departed the project due to family reasons.

Since the film is nearly four hours long, there's a lot to unpack—including several oh-shit reveals of new characters. Let's ignore Deathstroke and Atom for now, and focus on the big, green, shapeshifting alien: Martian Manhunter. Played by the actor Harry Lennix, the character shows up in two scenes. He first appears around the middle of the film (though time is relative when watching the Snyder Cut, FYI), masking himself as Martha Kent in order to convince Lois Lane to return to work. Then, we meet him in the final moments of the epilogue, when he informs Bruce Wayne that Darkseid is likely still on the prowl. Now, we don't know whether or not we'll ever see Martian Manhunter play a role in the DC Extended Universe going forward. But if we do? His role in the comics tells us that he'd be a major player in Snyder's story going forward.

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First of all? It's pretty impressive that Snyder paid off a reveal he set in motion nearly a decade ago in Man of Steel, showing that Martian Manhunter was hiding as the U.S. Defense Secretary, Calvin Swanwick, all along. Things are a little different in the comics, though, where Martian Manhunter—whose real name is J'onn J'onzz—is one of the seven original founding members of the Justice League.

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Though his comics history has been tweaked over and over throughout the years, the gist is that he's usually portrayed as the last living Martian, going through a tragic story loosely reminiscent of Superman's origin story on Krypton. On Earth, he often adopted the identity of a private detective named John Jones. Then, when he links up with the Justice League, he uses his ridiculously-overpowered abilities—which include flying, invisibility, and telepathy, just to start—to do some of the tougher jobs, being the closest in ability to Superman.

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Now, in the hypothetical scenario Snyder does get the chance to continue telling Justice League stories: Martian Manhunter will likely take a seat at the big superhero table Bruce Wayne mentions in the epilogue. Given that Snyder is likely imagining a trilogy where Darkseid succeedin his plan to take over Earth—and the last living Justice League-ers have to escape an evil Superman's eye—the Martian's shapeshifting powers could come in handy as they try to infiltrate that apocalyptic city teased in the epilogue. More than that? He just seems like a generally calming presence amidst a handful of live-wires like Aquaman and Flash. Here's hoping we'll meet Martian Manhunter again someday.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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