One of the newest unexpected series of 2022 is Netflix’s Guardians of Justice, produced by Bootleg Productions. Bootleg is basically Adi Shankar’s production company, through which he makes bootleg-version shorts — and now series about some of our favorite properties. He did one about Pokemon, and now Guardians of Justice seems to be a clear bootleg of DC Comics' Justice League.
Every character in Guardians of Justice seems eerily similar to a character from the Justice League, but are they actually connected? Or is it just a coincidence that Marvelous Man has all the same powers as Superman?
‘Guardians of Justice’ is unsubtly based on the Justice League.
There’s no subtlety when it comes to connecting Guardians of Justice to DC’s Justice League. Guardians of Justice uses mixed modes to tell the story of a band of heroes solving the murder/suicide of Marvelous Man, and every character in the series has a direct correlation to a character in the Justice League.
The most obvious is of course Marvelous Man, who is basically Superman with “Marvel” in his name. He can fly, he has superhuman strength and speed, and his weakness is “caltronite.” Oh, and he’s also an alien.
But the other characters in Guardians of Justice also have uncanny connections to the Justice League. Marvelous Man’s second in command, Knight Hawk, is basically just Batman. From the ominous voice down to his “Hawk’s Nest,” a clear reference to the Bat Cave, Knight Hawk is just like the Justice League’s dark knight. He even parodies a Justice League plotline when he investigates his fellow heroes.
The third character we meet is The Speed, and although she’s a woman, she’s the bootleg version of The Flash. Both heroes’ powers come from a cosmic force, and she even has a speedy arch-nemesis. Awesome Man feels a lot like Shazam, and the narration confirms that when it explains that he knows a magic word that can give him “the power of seven gods.”
Even Aquaman and Wonder Woman, titular characters in their own films, have counterparts in Guardians of Justice. King Tsunami (also the name of a Pokemon) is called “the overlord of the oceans” and he has a trident to go along with his description — although, to be fair, he is green. Golden Goddess has the same alliteration as Wonder Woman, while taking up the mantle as “princess of the god realm.”
And although Black Canary isn’t typically in the Justice League, it’s clear that Blue Scream is a nod to the hero. Both share the power of a “sonic scream.” And then we have Black Bow in Guardians of Justice, who mirrors Green Arrow. For these two dupes, the colors in their hero names also make it clear who the references are. Finally, Little Wing, Knight Hawk’s sidekick, is a clear nod to Batman’s sidekick, Robin.
‘Guardians of Justice’ also draws on some DC villains for inspiration.
One major villain in Guardians of Justice, played by creator Adi Shankar himself, is Logan Lockwood. He’s a natural match of Lex Luthor — beyond the “L” alliteration, both are billionaires and nemeses to the universe’s version of Superman. Then we have Mr. Smiles, an obvious reference to the Joker thanks to his shoddy clown makeup and creepy laugh.
Scottish Skull seems to reference the Black Mask. Black Mask is known as a Batman villain, but most know Black Mask from Birds of Prey, as portrayed by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor. Doctor Ravencroft, another Guardians of Justice villain, seems like a parody of the very caricature-esque Dr Fu Manchu; thankfully the character isn’t a true-to-heart depiction.
Finally, Mind Master seems to be a reference to the X-Men character, Professor X, who can use mind control. However, Professor X is a Marvel hero, so this comparison is a bit of a stretch. Now, the first villain of Guardians of Justice we meet, Galacron, also seems like a Marvel reference to the villain, Galactus, who we first learn about in Eternals. He’s the man in the sky who consumes entire planets to survive.
So while there are definite connections between Guardians of Justice and the Justice League, Adi draws inspiration from all over, and mostly from his own mind. He explained to Comic Book, “This is how my memories work. If I'm recollecting something that happened to me two or three years ago, it doesn't feel like a constant tone. All of a sudden, it will be super bombastic! Then it will feel like a cartoon! Then it will feel dark and dramatic! Then all of a sudden, it will start feeling like Looney Tunes.”
Getting to watch Adi’s mind at work is a treat, especially for superhero fans.
All episodes of Guardians of Justice are available to stream on Netflix.