"The Once and Future Thing Part Two: Time, Warped" is the 13th episode of the first season of Justice League Unlimited, and the 13th of the overall series. It first aired on January 29, 2005.
The Jokerz have been "upgraded" with cybernetic weapons that are advanced even for that time, and the combined Justice League and JLU have no choice but to retreat, but they refuse to do that except for Terry because they wanted to fight the Jokerz. Batman II tries to open up a boom tube, but his Mother Box is destroyed. Static creates a blinding light, followed by John Stewart creating a maze to distract the Jokerz.
They return to the ruins of Hamilton Hill High School, which serves as headquarters for what is left of the League—the three who have already appeared, plus the aged Bruce Wayne. Warhawk introduces himself as Rex Stewart. John asks who his mother was; regarding his winged suit, he replies "Kind of obvious, don't you think?".
They explain that Clinton has decided to emulate Tobias Manning, and made himself a warlord in his own time, now calling himself "Lord Chronos". In his previous time travels, he had been careful about not disrupting history. Now he has abandoned that restraint, poaching technology from the future and historical monuments from the past, all to transform Gotham into his personal kingdom. Years ago, the Watchtower and the Batcave were destroyed, and most of the Justice League, including John and Wonder Woman, were killed, in an attack by Chronos' cybernetically-enhanced army of Jokerz. Static finds hope in the fact that the elderly Bruce is still alive; logically, that means that whatever the younger self is there to assist them with, they already know they'll win. Unfortunately, Bruce has no memory of traveling through time, which means that history itself has become fluid, and their future is still far from certain.
Meanwhile, in the salon of the Titanic, Chronos wonders aloud how the JLU were able to intercept the Jokerz. He fixes Chucko with a glare and then opens up a time window, showing Chucko accepting a bribe from Batman II in exchange for information of when and where the Justice Leaguers would arrive. He punishes Chucko by sending him back to the time of the dinosaurs, just before the cataclysmic event that killed them off.
Returning to the future, Chronos orders the remaining Jokerz to track down the League. Alone with Enid, Chronos crows that he's proven her wrong, and "amounted to something" after all—rich, powerful, and the undisputed master of space and time. Timorously, Enid reminds him of his earlier warnings about interfering with the time stream, and he irritably snaps at her that he can handle it. Then, Enid gingerly asks him to release her mother (his mother-in-law) from "the thing", like he promised earlier. Chronos' mood blackens, saying that it is no more than her mother deserves, for calling him a failure for so many years—and, he rants, Enid always said the same, when all he wanted was for her to love him. Now openly terrified, Enid begs him to forgive her, but he coldly turns his back on her.
As a result of Chronos' recklessness, serious disruptions in the space-time continuum have begun. To Batman and Bruce's horror, Wonder Woman fades away just as she is suggests that they could prevent everything from happening in the first place; now she never left Themyscira—or worse, was never even born. There are even signs that the universe itself is moving towards entropy.
Batman is able to write a program to shut down Chronos' time belt, but they need to find him first. He figures that the old ways are best, and heads out to track down a snitch. Batman II warns him that Gotham has changed, but he simply asks his older self if criminals are still a superstitious, cowardly lot; the answer is yes.
The combined League captures Ghoul and Batman interrogates him. Ghoul is initially defiant, and Bruce, disgusted that he was ever "that green", shows his younger self how it's really done—and the scene fades to a short while later—as Ghoul is spilling everything he knows in a rapid voice. He says Chronos moves around each night, never staying in the same place but Ghoul knows where his wife is.
In the middle of their search, John phases out and is replaced by Hal Jordan calmly saying "I'm up to speed. Carry on.". The League confronts Enid, staying in a pyramid (poached either from ancient Egypt or Las Vegas). She is as contemptuous of her husband as before, though now she is also afraid of him. She says that his moving around is a myth, and he always stays in the same place. That place is the Elkhorn town jail, which he has poached and planted in the middle of the Coliseum as it's the place where he feels safest. Hal then fades away and John comes back.
Before they can grab Chronos's time-belt, however, Enid rousts him awake, spoiling their ambush. Chronos summons his Jokerz; in the ensuing battle, Static is sucked into a suddenly-appearing time portal.
Another time-shift occurs where a group of soldiers appear, they believe everyone to monsters and shoots at Batman II, he is injured but soon becomes captured and tied together by four clones of Dee Dee. They proceed to electrocute him and he screams in agony. Bruce hears his screams and calls out to Terry, however the screaming ends; Bruce is devastated and mourns the loss of Terry. As the universe itself starts to collapse, Chronos declares that it's time for "another approach". Then he gives Enid a farewell peck on the cheek, yells "you'll love me next time!" and disappears into another time portal.
John and Batman follow, and see he is now heading to the beginning of time, which will enable him to re-write the history of the entire universe and become a god. As they hurtle towards the source, they catch up with Chronos and Batman uploads the debugging program into the belt. They are still heading towards the source... when Batman and John open their eyes and find themselves in the Watchtower cafeteria. Wonder Woman joins them, having no memory of what they've done. John and Batman are the only ones who remember what happened. John sees Shayera Hol, and remembers Warhawk.
John asks about what happened to Chronos. Batman, smiling, says he re-programmed the belt to ensure that Chronos would never come to exist...
In the future, Enid delivers the same scolding she did before; as before, Clinton angrily activates his belt to get away from her—and unknowingly jumps back in time to a few seconds ago, at the beginning of Enid's scolding, over and over again.
- The Jokerz in this episode first appeared in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker where they were the Joker's henchmen.
- Warhawk's real name Rex Stewart is a reference to Metamorpho (Rex Mason).
- John Stewart remembering that Static was "too young to drive" is a reference to their encounters in the Static Shock episodes "A League of Their Own" and "Fallen Hero".
- Since Batman and Stewart are the only ones that still remember everything after the mission is over, the latter becomes awkward around Shayera Hol in "Shadow of the Hawk" and "Ancient History" (but continues to date Vixen) while the former recognizes the possibility (as they witnessed an alternate future and he prefers not to know of what is to come) of growing to a ripe old age where he will have a successor by the Batman Beyond era.
Home video releases
- Justice League Unlimited - Season One (DVD)
- Justice League - The Complete Series (DVD)
- Justice League Unlimited - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
- Green Lantern: First Flight (2DVD, Blu-ray only)
- Static Shock: The Complete Fourth Season (DVD)
- Part One's end credits show Wonder Woman in the group that interrogates Ghoul. However, she was removed from the shot in this episode.
- This episode is one of two Justice League Unlimited episodes where the Batman Beyond era is revisited. The other is "Epilogue".
- The animators seem to have overlooked the fact that Batman (Terry McGinnis) needs to use his retractable wings to steer his flying.
- It's unknown why John Stewart refers to Static as his secret identity since the Justice League only found out about Gear's secret identity in the Static Shock episode "A League of Their Own".
- Bruce Wayne's elderly self has black eyes in this episode, which is inconsistent with Batman Beyond where he's depicted as having blue eyes.
- After the time-line is restored, Wonder Woman arrives at the table before Shayera Hol is seen leaving the cafeteria. But in Part One, Shayera left first (though this may be a result of the time-line resetting).
- The title is a pun on The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
- Dee Bradley Baker replaces Frank Welker as Woof's voice actor.
- Adam Baldwin replaces Henry Rollins as Bonk's voice actor.
- John Stewart stating that the Green Lantern Corps prohibit anyone from seeing the beginning of time is a reference to Krona looking into the beginning of time and creating the multiverse. The image Krona sees is of a giant hand with cosmic energies swirling all over it like Batman (Bruce Wayne's younger self) and John saw at the end of the last time tunnel.
- The Jokerz's prosthetic enhancements resemble those of the April Moon Gang from the Batman Beyond episode "April Moon".
- This story has a strong similarity to the 1994 DC Comics miniseries called "Zero Hour". There are also slight similarities to the 1986 maxiseries Crisis On Infinite Earths, in particular the encroaching "white out" effect that heralds the destruction of the universe.
- Both episodes are thematically very similar to the Justice League episode "The Savage Time". In that episode, the League travels back in time to World War II, and finds history altered because of technology contributed from the future, and also finds itself assisted by a host of DC Comics heroes created for that era.
- Chucko's chief weapon is similar to Darth Maul's double-bladed lightsaber in Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It even has the same sound effects.
- This episode's conclusion is similar to the original Star Trek episode "I, Mudd" when scoundrel Harry Mudd is punished by being surrounded by 500 android copies of his nagging wife.
- It is also similar to All in the Timing, a collection of one-act plays by David Ives, several of which are based on the humorous premise of time being re-wound over and over again by only a few seconds or minutes.
- The graphics on the Bruce Wayne's elderly self's computer screen resembles a reversed Matrix digital rain seen in The Matrix series.
- The monuments stolen by Chronos seen during the episode are:
- One of Warhawk's comments implies that both Wonder Woman and J'onn J'onzz were still active members of the Justice League in the Batman Beyond era. However, both were killed during the Watchtower's destruction, along with Superman. After Chronos was stopped, this fate for them ceased to be and they're presumably still active in the restored timeline.
- This is Hal Jordan's only appearance in the DC Animated Universe.
|Kevin Conroy||Batman / Bruce Wayne|
|Phil LaMarr|| John Stewart|
|Susan Eisenberg||Wonder Woman|
|Michael Rosenbaum|| Ghoul|
Redcoat #2 (uncredited)
|Will Friedle|| Batman (Terry McGinnis)|
Redcoat #3 (uncredited)
|Mindy Sterling||Enid Clinton|
|Adam Baldwin|| Bonk|
Hal Jordan (uncredited)
|Melissa Joan Hart||Dee Dee|
|Dee Bradley Baker|| Woof|
Redcoat #1 (uncredited)
Static: Shayera was one cranky pregnant lady. Although to be fair, if I'd laid an egg that size...
Chronos: Do you know what killed the dinosaurs?
Batman II: We need to find Chronos.
Batman: (dangles Ghoul over the side of the building by his ankle) Where's Chronos? My arm's getting tired.
Static: Wow. Batman playing good cop.
John: I don't get it. Of all the places in the city he could stay, why here?
John: The Green Lanterns have a legend—no one can see the beginning of time. It's a universal law!