DC Animated Universe

"Initiation" is the series premiere of Justice League Unlimited, and the first episode of the overall series. It originally aired on July 31, 2004.


Trick arrow

Green Arrow's boxing glove arrow.

Green Arrow thwarts an armed robbery of a supermarket. Green Lantern arrives and teleports himself and Arrow up to the Justice League's new Watchtower. Arrow first sees the five other members of the League – Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, J'onn J'onzz, and Flash, then looks around and sees a much larger crowd of superheroes.

Superman addresses the assembled crowd, saying that the newly expanded League has a chance to do real good in the world, provided that they work together and in coordination – that is J'onn's responsibility.

While he speaks, Batman talks privately with Green Arrow, who politely declines membership. In his opinion, the League is too focused on "big" threats, like monsters and alien invasions, while Arrow is devoted to helping "the little guy".

J'onn hands out a mission: a nuclear energy signature is moving across Chong-Mai. Lantern, Captain Atom, and Supergirl are chosen to investigate. Arrow, reluctant to use the teleporter again, insists on hitching a ride home in their Javelin.

Captain Atom spreads animosity

Supergirl's opinion against Captain Atom's stiff, by-the-book, humorless personality.

On the way, Lantern and Captain Atom explain that the country they are visiting is notoriously xenophobic, and it is a criminal act for United States citizens to go there.

Arriving, the team is attacked by the country's military forces. Their commander, General Kwan, orders his men to stand down and apologizes, but firmly rejects their offer of help and tells them to leave.


The nuclear behemoth.

J'onn tells them that they can't go against the government's wishes, but Arrow is unwilling to accept this, and strikes out on his own. He sees Kwan's forces evacuating peasants across a bridge. When a truck spins out of control, Arrow helps save the driver. Angrily, Kwan insists that everything is under control – then a gigantic nuclear-powered robot appears, spraying destruction everywhere.

The rest of the team arrives. Captain Atom attempts to absorb the robot's energy, but there is too much for him to handle. Likewise, the robot is too strong for Supergirl, and Lantern is seriously injured.

The team finds a group of the country's scientists, who admit that they built the robot “to protect us from the foreigners” but they lost control. They have carbon rods that will disable the robot's reactor, but they have to be inserted into a cavity in its chest.

Captain Atom takes the rods and says he has to try, even though the heat from the reactor may destroy him. On his attempt, the heat ruptures his containment suit, and he has to fly into the atmosphere, where there is an explosion of energy.

Green Victory

Green Arrow victorious.

Enraged, Supergirl flies at the robot, but is unable to stop it. Green Arrow picks up the remaining three rods and tries to shoot them into the cavity with his bow, but misses twice. Breaking the last rod into pieces, he lashes a piece to the end of an arrow, and makes the shot. The robot shuts down, and Supergirl demolishes it.


Captain Atom recovering and reassuring Supergirl.

At the Watchtower, League scientists managed to re-capture most of Captain Atom in space, and are in the process of replacing him in a new suit. Lantern tells Supergirl that she acted recklessly and if she ever puts herself or her teammates in danger again, threatens to have her kicked out of the League, but admits she still did a good job. Later, Batman congratulates Green Arrow for defeating the monster and asks how he feels now about joining the League. Arrow is still hesitant, but changes his mind when he catches sight of Black Canary suiting up in the locker room.


  • When John Stewart is recuperating from injuries, he unconsciously calls out Shayera Hol's name. This suggests he hasn't recovered from their break-up after the events of the Justice League episode "Starcrossed".
  • At the end of this episode, Green Arrow is told by Batman that the reason he was offered a place among the League was so that he could keep them earnest. This comes into play during the events of the season two episode "Flashpoint", wherein Arrow plays devil's advocate for the League's enemies at the time and talks Superman out of taking them out.

Background information[]

Home video releases[]

Production notes[]

Production inconsistencies[]

  • During Superman's speech, the position of heroes shifts frequently; S.T.R.I.P.E. even shows up in two different spots in the initial pan. Starman appears in two different locations.
  • When Green Arrow pulls the third carbon rod from his back-quiver, after his first two failed shots, there is still at least one remaining rod in the quiver. However, when he shoots this third one from the mountaintop, there are none left.


  • Per the July 25-31 issue of TV Guide, upon the excitement of being cast as Green Arrow, Kin Shriner showed up at the recording studio dressed as Green Arrow.
  • According to the commentary track of the 2007 film Superman: Doomsday, during the early development of Justice League Unlimited, actor James Marsters was almost cast to voice Green Arrow in the series, but Kin Shriner was ultimately cast instead.[1]
  • Both in this episode and for the entire first season of Justice League Unlimited, the Flash only makes cameo appearances and has no dialogue. His first speaking role would be in the episode "The Ties That Bind".
  • The first shot after the title sequence shows at least eleven unidentified heroes who make no further appearance in the rest of the scene, episode or series.
  • The name of the fictional country "Chong Mai" is also a term used to describe certain types of blood vessels in Chinese acupuncture.
  • When J'onn J'onzz and John Stewart are talking about the nuclear monster in Asia, images of the faces of Copperhead, Cheetah, Shade, and Star Sapphire can be seen on the tiny computer screens.


Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Batman
George Eads Captain Atom
Robber #2 (uncredited)
Phil LaMarr Green Lantern
Lex Lang Robber #1
Soldier (uncredited)
Carl Lumbly J'onn J'onzz
George Newbern Superman
Kin Shriner Green Arrow
James Sie General Kwan
Scientist (uncredited)
Nicholle Tom Supergirl

Uncredited appearances[]


Green Arrow: Well, well, the great and glorious Green Lantern. What, did you run out of alien menaces to beat on, you have to horn in on my turf?
Green Lantern: You're welcome.

Superman: Each of you brings something different to the table. Strength. Speed. Stealth. Whatever. But we're all equal in at least one way: Each of us is willing to make the sacrifices a hero needs to make, even the ultimate one. Since there are so many of us, we have a chance to do more than just put out fires, both literal and figurative. We can be proactive. We can do some real good in the world. But we're going to have to be organized. J'onn'll be up here keeping an eye on everything. He'll be the one to decide who's going where and when. I know a lot of you are used to making those decisions for yourself, but from now on we have to be more coordinated than that. We can't be cowboys any more... or cowgirls.

Green Arrow: Come on, I don't belong up here, fighting monsters and aliens and super-villains. I just help the little guy and in a big club like this, you tend to forget all about him. So gee whiz, I'm flattered to be asked and all, but no thanks.
Batman: Suit yourself. Those monsters you don't fight? They tend to step on little guys.

Captain Atom: I'm not flesh and blood any more, just living energy.
Green Arrow: That wouldn't be nuclear energy, would it?
Captain Atom: With a name like Captain Atom, what do you think?
Green Arrow: I think you're what I marched against back in college.

Supergirl: So, aren't you gonna give me the "you did good" speech?
Green Lantern: You're headstrong, unprofessional and reckless. If you ever jeopardize yourself or your teammates again by running off half-cocked without a battle plan, I will personally see to it that you are kicked out of the League; I don't care who your cousin is. And incidentally... you did good.

Batman: Well, if it isn't the monster killer.
Green Arrow: I was lucky, so was everybody else. Still don't think I belong up here.
Batman: That's the point. Someone like you will keep us honest.


  1. Superman: Doomsday commentary track